The Boy loves Chuggington at the moment and he gets very excited about whether or not the episode that is on is a 'normal' episode (the morning one) or a 'special' episode (the 'badge quest' one on at teatime). Therefore when I opened up the Toys R Us box last month, I was excited to see the Chuggington Interactive Puffer Pete Steam Around Set.
Designed using Smark Talk technology, this train set features engines which recognise and talk to other engines, as well as being picked up by specific buildings and accessories with sensors and the same technology in it. That in itself is a massive bonus and draw to this set. Having tested the more traditional wooden style railway with normal engines, to hear Puffer Pete declaring that he loves being back in the Ol' Town when he gets to the station, was a novel and quite attractive feature.
The other selling point (from the manufacturer) of this train set is that it features 'real' steam from the water tank and chimney in the station. Water was involved in this process, but it's not a hot steam so it's quite safe and won't burn little ones. The other reason that it won't burn your child is because the amount that comes out is so minute that there's no danger (look at the video to see what I mean). Bearing in mind the packaging shows a bucket-load of steam billowing forth, this is misleading and a bit pointless in all honesty.
On this set, as opposed to the Under and Over, the track pieces are plastic and not interchangeable with the wooden set. I personally think this is a shame because it limits the play possibilities with it. The pieces don't have any electrics hidden in them so there's no reason for them not to be compatible.
As The Boy has had a lot of new toys recently to play with, and will be having even more in a week's time, we decided to test this ourselves and donate this to Ty Hafan, Children's Hospice. My husband was told to unleash his inner child and have fun with it. An hour later I popped my head in through the dining room doorway to check on him; he was still setting it up having had difficulty getting it out the box and fasten the track pieces together. This is a 36 year old man. My son is two years and I don't hold out much hope of him constructing the track himself (unlike the wooden set). The track pieces click together and once joined are fairly sturdy which is a bonus, especially on the raised sections.
One of the additional features of this set is the turn table so that Puffer Pete can go one of two ways around the track. It isn't stiff, it's really easy to turn and works well. It could do with being bigger though as Puffer Pete has a hopper wagon joined on the back but the pair of them can't fit on it together.
And so finally to the carriages. I like the fact that Puffer Pete has a bank of sayings and that he can interact with the buildings and accessories. There is a small light on his top which flashes when he's picked up the signal, or there's a button on the top too to make him speak or 'choo-choo'. This is clever and I'm impressed with it. I was disappointed that there was only one carriage included in the pack as the product description says: "Destinations recognise and interact with interactive engines. This magical open ended play system includes over 300+ sounds and phrases (when used with other Chuggington interactive products)…" However, each of the other engines are £9.97 so it's quite pricey to see the 300+ sounds!
All-in-all it's a good set. It usually retails for £49.99 but Toys R Us have it on sale for £34.99 at the moment which I think is a far more realistic price for the products that you get.
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We were provided with this for the purpose of this review. Our opinions are honest and unbiased.