This crane and funnel set was a present my son received for his 4th birthday this year. Since getting the crane it has become one of his favourite train accessories as he is able to use it to unload and load up his various wagons.
Brio for those unfamiliar with the brand Brio is the market leader in wooden trains and most other manufactures' whether it is Big Jigs, Tesco or similar all try to make their wooden trains compatible with it. The company has being making trains and train sets since 1958 and makes all of it bits from beech wooden that makes it very durable.
The crane and funnel legs are made from green plastic and are wide enough to straddle the tracks. The straddling of the tracks is one of my son's favourite elements as he likes to use the crane to direct loads around his tracks from this vantage point rather than it sitting at the side of the tracks and not being as easy to access the loads on the wagons. The top sections of both the funnel and crane are made from both wood and plastic.
The funnel operates by turning a plastic dial to the side of the funnel. This is easy to operate and my son can manage it without any difficulty at all. The yellow crushers then feed the stone brick between them for it to be "crushed" these plastic bits take the stone easily and it remains intact without any real damage at all just pretend. Most of the other loads we have don't really seem to fit between the crushers but seem to then stack up inside. Whilst this doesn't really bother my son at present it could possibly lead to frustration in the future.
The crane operates by a dial that winds and unwinds the thread and magnet pulley section that lifts the loads. The magnet seems to be fairly powerful as it lifts not only the brick supplied with the set but other loads we have such as the milk wagon and the load from the tilt wagon. The magnet holds the load well as it turns and swivels the load around the tracks to be lowered into trucks and the like without being easily dislodged.
My son loves this little set as it allows him to make the most of some of his goods wagons that he has and to move them around the track. It is great for his imagination as he is able to have coal depots, quarries and transfer things to shops and other places.
The set is also good for fine motor skills as turning and manoeuvring the crane and funnel takes a bit of practice to see how they work and to manipulate the loads around the tracks.
Overall this a great little set that goes well with wooden train set and tracks it is easy to use and fun to play with. It allows great movement of loads from wagons to sidings and back again and my son uses it most of the times he plays with his train set. At between £10 from Ebay to around £30 from Amazon it isn't a cheap set but it is definitely worth it for the fun and enjoyment my son gets from it so 5 stars still