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In 2010 my husband bought this Chuggington Interactive set for his son for Christmas. At that time my stepson was 3 and utterly mad on trains and Chuggington in particular. He had asked Father Christmas for a train set for Daddy's House and so duty bound off we went to find something not too expensive and not too big to fit in our little house. We had seen it priced at about £60 but found it online for sale for about £20 from Woolworths online and thought it was a good deal.
The main selling point of the 'interactive' range of the Chuggington train sets is that the trains can 'talk' to one another and certain parts of the track can have some dialogue too. In this set there are a collection point, a drop off point and the train sheds with Vee. Each section has sensors / buttons to press to get the 'interactive' elements to work. So we thought - excellent, looks like we'll have one happy chappie! It has little bits of cargo to carry around, supplied with a Wilson and a little truck carriage. It has a twisty section of track and a turntable at the sheds.
Come present opening time he frantically tears at the paper revealing those unmistakeable Chuggington characters on the box, cue excited little boy. So we open it up, get everything out and then start tackling the construction... Very complicated, so much so that said excited little boy declared he would go and 'Do Playdoh while you make it, just give me a shout when you're done.' Leaving Daddy and Stepmum to piece it together. Putting in the oodles of batteries and hoping it all works. So some half hour or so later we wearily call to the boy, busy in the kitchen with his Playdoh, that it is now ready. In he comes and is enthralled with it, however is constantly falling over it all, knocking the supports over, wanging Wilson down the twisty track section so he flies off the edge and even gave Vee a rather hard time.
He likes the fact that when the Chuggers are in the shed that they make sleeping noises, however he gets super frustrated that he has to keep pressing the bit on top of the sheds to get Vee to say 'Wake Up Chuggers' and has often lost his temper having to press it several times to get her to say it (as she has to go through her repetoire of other phrases!)
After a few times of playing with it we've noticed that the connectors between the sections of tracks are already showing signs of wear, and I can imagine that if he lived with us full time and was playing with it more regularly that it wouldn't last long, unless it was a toy that was left out fully constructed all the time. The drop off point has a red light at a little gate section - and this has stopped working on ours (had done after only a few plays) so even though the batteries are still good, the light has given up the ghost - and said little boy always asks each time why it isn't working. We did get two other Chuggers to go with it - Brewster and Koko and yes they do talk to one another and I'm guessing the claim of 300 different phrases must come from having every single item of Chuggington Interactive as I only seem to be hearing the same few phrases over and over again.
The set itself is somewhat limited and samey and we are now loathe to put it together each time he wants to play with it as we know that 20/30 mins of putting it together now leads to about 10 mins of him playing with it before he gets bored. We know that family have got him the bridges and tunnels set for Christmas 2011 but due to all kinds of problems we've not been able to exchange gifts yet so not sure how easy it will be to add this into the existing set.
It would be better if they had spare truck carriages as currently with three Chuggers they have to share one truck to pick up and drop off the goods.
There are several other sets which can connect up to this one, but I think that if you have the room to keep toys like this out all the time rather than having to dismantle it and rebuild it each time, it's not going to last tremendously well.
When he first had it he really struggled to connect the Chuggers to the truck carriage and found that often the Chuggers had trouble staying on the track, especially round corners.
I think it would have been better to have a more traditional wooden set with more flexibilty on building the track to how you want. I think there is too much stock these days in having 'interactive' things that make noises, have flashing lights etc and that perhaps it leaves more for the imagination to have your child make their own train noises!
In all it's an ok train set for us - it spends most of its time in a toy box and now hardly gets played with, but when it was the new toy on the block it was played with for hours on end at least three times! Perhaps once we get the other set to connect up it might be a more entertaining toy.
My boy is train mad so when we saw the chuggington all round train track we decided to buy it for him as it was at an amazing £20 when it usually retails for around £50.
As it is a large set I did think it would take a long time to set up but once I opened the pack it was worse than I thought. There was instructions which were detailed with a letter and number of which part of the track goes where. On the track itself there are these corresponding numbers and letters to show how to make the set up.
Upon trying to piece the track together is where the problems started. Each piece slots together and needs to be clicked in to place and we found it so hard to get all the pieces together and in place . The track is made of plastic but for a toy that retails at £50 the plastic seems cheap quality which I was very surprised about.
Once completely built my son started to play with it and had a little while of good play but the track kept popping out of place with every crash the trains were having. Any knock or fast movement and we would have to spend time fixing it and there fore interrupting little mans stories he was making up.
You can but a whole range of accessories to go with this train set numerous different engines which all interact with each other.My son has 4 of these and although they are not motorised they do make sounds when you press a little button on them or when they pass each other they can recognise each train and have phrases from the show they say. Again we found these rather awkward and they have to pass each other at a certain angle for the sensor to make them work which can be frustrating for little one. At £10-£15 each these can be a costly addition.
Usually I only have a small section for my negatives but unfortunately this time this spot is reserved for the positives. The track contains many interactive points to keep little one happy and as there are over 300 phrases this means it keeps it fresh and new for children while playing.
Over all we were disappointed by this set it seems to be poorly made can not handle even 10 minutes play with a 4 year old and my son is that frustrated that it now sitting in its box in thee hall. I would not recommend this toy to anyone it was a waste of money for us even at the £20 sale price.
This was the big present for my sons 3rd birthday. He really loves trains and already had talking Action Chugger, which he had bought with his own money after Christmas, and talking Dunbar, and often plays with both. This set is currently selling for £59.99, but I am certain I paid much less. I think it was on special when I bought it, just after Xmas.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX:
A small roundhouse which sleeps 3 trains and Speaks in Vee's voice.
A crane to load cargo.
A small arch with a drop down barrier.
39 pieces of track.
6 pieces of cargo
Plastic Vee (which always falls down).
Supports barriers and a couple of base parts.
WHAT IS NOT IN THE BOX:
If you look at Amazon's photo, a fuel station is still clearly displayed as part of this set. This is no longer listed on their list of contents though. One of the main reasons I bought this set was the fuel pump - which is no longer included. A couple of other bits were missing as well. I phoned the company, who were happy enough to send the missing support bases, but at first informed me they had stopped including the fuel pump with this set, but planned to reintroduce it soon. She suggested I wait a few months and buy a new set ..... or I could just buy the pump separately for around £12. I declined, and stated that I would rather take this up with trading standards for false advertisement, and they decided to just send me the part. The parts arrived about 2 weeks later. If you choose to buy this set, you may or may not get the fuel pumps.
A bridge and tunnel are listed on Amazon's site, but these were not included in my set, although I did buy them seperately, packaged with Brewster. I am not certain but believe this may have been added after my purchase, and perhaps the set now includes these instead of the fuel pumps.
Also this set really does work better with more than one engine. I bought Brewster, Koko, and one other engine to go with this, plus we already had two. I would imagine most children would want at least Brewster and Koko though, as they are the main characters in the series.
Could be summed up in one word "Nightmare". The track bits are very fiddly, and impossible for either my 3 year old or his 6 year old brother to assemble. I have trouble with my hands and found assembly extremely painful. My husband was helping as well. Between teh two of us, this took us well over an hour the first time. Don't expect to set up and walk away though. It comes undone quite easily, so frequent repairs are required. I would also advise that this is very large - too large for a table, and it takes up a lot of floor space.
Once set up though, both children do enjoy this. The engines must be pushed along the track, but they will race down the ramp and go a fair distance if pushed to the top. The boys both enjoy this. They also really like the crane and loading cargo, although it is difficult for the little one. The youngest has more fun putting the trains into the roundhouse. I bought a proper bridge and tunnel separately as well which they love, and the fuel pumps are ever popular as my sons both have a thing for filling up vehicles with "car food" or in this case "train food". They enjoy all the different sound effects which really are quite varied. The ad states this is capable of 300 phrases, but no I am afraid I am not going to count them.
When I set this up I can be guaranteed the children will play with as long as I will keep putting it back together. They do like this toy, and I can't rate it down too much, but I wish I could just set it up and let them play on their own.
A whopping 11 batteries will be required to run this if you do not get the fuel pumps. The pumps add another 3 and each additional engine or accessory will add more. Batteries were supplied with my set, but they do not last long. You must remember to turn off each piece when not in use. The fuel pumps went through 3 Duracell's after only one use because we forgot to switch them off.
I was not at all impressed by this company. I do feel if the contents of a set are to be changed, this should be made clear to buyers. I have to admit, at times I really regret buying this. It takes up so much room, and requires so much set up for a limited amount of playtime. The cost of batteries also makes this an expensive item to use. Our old wooden set still gets much more use than this.
Still- it is Chuggington, who for those of you without very young children, is immensely popular at the moment. The engines are well detailed and their voices realistic. They really do recognise each different engine or play area, and the dialogue changes appropriately as they greet each other by name, or comment on specific activities. As much as I hate this toy - my sons do enjoy it so I am giving this 3 stars.
DO I RECOMMEND IT?
If your child is a huge Chuggington fan, as my youngest is, then yes, it might still be worth all the headaches. I would suggest you shop around for awhile and wait for a sale at least, because I do think £59.99 is just way too much for this. But I would also advise that the die cast Chugginton sets are very similar, without batteries, much sturdier, and a fraction of the price. The only advantage to this set is that the engines talk to each other.