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I have to confess to watching an insane amount of animated television these days. Believe it or not, since my son was diagnosed with Autism and having a sensory disorder, we were actually encouraged to keep the television on in the background when we are at home as it helps to center his attention. One of the by products of this is that as he's getting older he's crossed to the dark side and decided he likes...Thomas The Tank Engine. Gulp. Now, I'm partial to a bit of Mickey Mouse. Heck, I quite like Disney Cars, Despicable Me and the other Pixar films. But Thomas The Tank Engine? I can't stand it. In fact, it makes me grimace! I have no idea why, especially since my own family tell me that as a little girl, I too adored the good old steam engine that seems to befriend us all at some point. Maybe I watched it too much as a child and subconsciously I had my 'Thomas' fill in a small number of my early years? Who knows? All I do know is that I can't stand it! (I jest!...a little....) The happy medium for our household has been to buy Thomas Toys and make sure the DVD's occupy Nana & Grandad's house so my son can watch it when he's elsewhere but enjoy interacting with it at home with the toys. One of our recent birthday purchases was this Thomas and Friends Take n Play Tidmouth Sheds Play set. The Thomas and Friends Take n Play range is the biggest of the main stream Thomas ranges. Consisting of different play sets and track sets, all made of plastic, you can choose from a huge amount of sets and characters. The trains themselves are diecast models and usually made of metal but the other items in the range are plastic. In fact the range is so huge it usually has it's own isle in Toys'r'us, or it does in our local store anyway. We switched to the Take n Play range only recently after starting on the Thomas Wooden Railway range, which has now either been discontinued or just isn't actively being grown as a range. Either way we quickly realised we weren't going to be able to get additions to our wooden set easily and switched to the plastic Take n Play range so that birthday's and Christmas etc gave us the opportunity to grow our collection. We were looking for a few bigger, key sets which we could buy as a good starting base and I have heard good things about this Tidmouth Sheds set but had previously been put off by the price. However recently Toys'r'us had a sale and they had a collection of sets in one which was on offer and included Tidmouth Sheds along with two other sets, four trains and many accessories for £69.99 instead of £99.99. Saving over £30, we went for this collection but if you buy Tidmouth Sheds on it's own you will be looking at paying approx £36.99 depending on your retailer. Tidmouth Sheds consists of a large yellow and green shed with five doors to allow access to Thomas and his friends. It also has an attached oval shaped track which stretches out in front of the sheds. In between the run of track is a red turn table for you to put your trains and turn them around so they can easily move in to their correct position to continue on their journey or enter the sheds. The turn table is operated by a simple little knob on the top of the turn table itself. The track itself is the usual Take n Play track, sturdy grey plastic track with quite deep grooves to ensure the trains aren't easily pushed over the sides. It's one thing I like about the range actually, as sometimes children can get over excited while playing and could cause the trains to come off the track which ruins the play time as you have to constantly put them back on. You don't have to worry about that with this as the track is one of the best I've come across at keeping the train inhabitants on course. The track is also connectable at two points, one either side of the shed itself which means you can connect to other track pieces of sets from the range which is great and one of the main reasons we bought it. When you are finished playing with this set, the track folds in to two halves and tucks underneath the sheds and clips in to place, and with the attached handle it means you can carry it around as a travel set. The sheds back wall folds out too which gives easy access to the trains which can be stored inside and carried around, so it does actually double as a carry case which is great because it means you've always got a small part of the range to take around with you if you go out etc. Tidmouth Sheds isn't the most exciting part of the Take n Play range but it is one of the key pieces we have and is always the centre of our tracks when we get it all out. My son loves to use the sheds as the 'house' for his characters. It's very durable, considering my first impressions were that the plastic wasn't the thickest. Ours gets a lot of heavy play and we haven't had any problems with it. My only slight criticism is that the grooves that separate the lanes inside the shed are quite shallow, this is surprising because the track has deep ridges and yet in the shed the trains easily slide around when carried as there isn't anything to keep them in place. And as metal diecast trains they chip/dent easily so it's something to be aware of. Other than that, this set is portable, a great size and acts as storage too. And although I think £36.99 for it when purchased alone, is quite a lot, compared to other items in the range it is relative. While I do think the price makes it too expensive for a one off treat, it's a great addition as a birthday or Christmas gift. Overall impression-a great addition to the range, a must for little Take n Play fans everywhere.
A few years ago my son was very "in" to trains. we decided to buy him a train set and some trains and upon seeing the Thomas the tank engine; take and play sets (at one point it was known as "take along" sets) , we decided these were the trains for him. We could add to his set as he got older as well as them being good quality. The trains retail at around £5 each and are die cast metal, so very good quality. One thing my son liked to do was take toys with him when he visited his grandparents. The problem with taking a train set with him was that pieces would get missing and he'd come home upset that he had lost his track. On one camping trip we met a little boy with a few Thomas take and play sets where the track folded out from under a building. Needless to say our son wanted one of these for himself so for his next birthday he received the Take and play Tidmouth sheds play set. In the set he got the Tidmouth sheds, with 5 green doors for the trains to go through to sleep, as well as a large loop of track and turntable which folded out from under the station, and yet another Thomas the tank engine. If you collect these sets you will be surprised how many Thomas the tank engines you will end up with, so many sets come with Thomas, it would be nice to have a different train with each different set, or get a voucher to choose your own train??? just an idea!!! Anyway....at £35 it wasn't cheap, but it was what he wanted, and it meant he could take his train set to grandmas and not need any extra track which would get lost. he could also put the trains inside the station for transportation. The set connects to the normal take and play tracks and is used every time we build a track, it is the centre of the tracks we build and the trains will always go back in the sheds and new ones appear. It is a lovely little station and a useful little set. However, in use the green doors can be quite difficult for children to open. Even now at almost 5 years old my son sometimes struggles to open the doors. As with any door, there is the risk of fingers getting trapped, and as the handle on the doors are quite small and fiddly everyone in the family has trapped a finger or some skin in the door at some point.... Also the back of the station opens, which is a good thing if your trains have come off the track, and its easier to push the trains forwards out of the doors than to fish them out from the front....BUT....when transporting trains it does have a tendency to open and spill all the contents out....lost trains gain more tears than lost track I can tell you!!! Its also caused a few paint chips on the trains if they've fallen on the floor outside. All in all it is a lovely little set, almost worth the £35 paid as it has been well played with. BUT due to the risk of skin trapping, and the difficult to open front doors and the too easily opened back door....I have to award this 3/5 stars and no more.... I would recommend but it may need some adult help to open the doors, and supervision to ensure fingers aren't trapped.
My little boy is Thomas crazy. For Christmas, we decided to indulge his Thomas craziness and start collecting the Take and Play train set. If you know anything about Thomas you will have heard of Tidmouth Sheds. The great thing about the Take and Play collection is that they are a self contained train set and can also be extended to include other toys in the Take and Play range. As the name suggests they are fully portable too with a carry handle and clips for the track sections. Tidmouth Sheds comes with an oval section of track (that folds underneath when in transport mode) and the sheds with 5 individual compartments that can hold 5 diecast trains. It also has a turntable section allowing you to drive out all the trains from their shed. The back section of Tidmouth Sheds also opens, giving you full access to any jammed in trains or other toys. It is quite pricey new at around £30-£35 from most retailers but it is worth it. The oval track can be extended with extra sections of Take and Play track that can be bought separately, so in theory you can end up with a massive train set. The trains are diecast metal and about £5 new from retailers. If you are buying Tidmouth sheds new then one diecast engine is included in the price. The only disadvantage to buying new is the cost to be honest. If you are collecting all the sets then you will have to pay out a substantial amount. However, you can buy Tidmouth Sheds second hand on sites like Ebay or Gumtree for a fraction of the price. The Take and Play range is expanding all the time, so this toy will last for as long as the Thomas fad does! We have taken Tidmouth Sheds everywhere and it's not too bulky to be fitted into a packed car when going on a holiday or long journey visiting.
For Little Man's birthday in the summer we decided to extend his Thomas Take N Play collection with a few new play sets. The one he really wanted was Tidmouth Sheds which we got for £34.99 in Toys R Us. Tidmouth sheds is the place where all the engines sleep at the end of the day, and the play set is a colourful replica of that. The play set is constructed out of plastic with yellow walls and a green roof with 5 matching swing doors for storing engines in. There is an oval of track and a red turntable which sits at the front of the shed, with a little handle for manual turning. The track and turntable fold up completely under the shed, and there is a handle on the roof for easy transportation. This play set has fast become one of Little Man's favourites. As you get a decent sized oval of track and lots of room for storing engines, it is great for playing with on its own if you are short of room, and because it folds up so well it is one that we have taken on many journeys with us. Little man is often contented to take his trains out of one door, give them a spin on the turntable and put them back in a different compartment. At the top of the oval there are two connectors for attaching more tracks, so when we have more time at home we often use this one to cover the living room floor in track and play set. The position of the connectors make it easy for the trains to access the sheds or oval of track, unlike some of his play sets where I cannot see the logic of the connection points, so this is a great one to link up as well. The only downside for me is the lack of walls between the train compartments, as if you fill the sheds up with trains and carry it about, when you open it up again all the train are usually bunched up in one corner! As most of the trains are painted metal die cast this can cause increased wear and tear on the paintwork. Another little niggle is the handles on the doors are not very big and they often stick, so I tend to get summoned for door opening duty - not that I really mind as I love to join in with the track creation! The play set comes complete with a die cast Thomas train, which I find a bit of a disappointment as a lot of these sets come with a Thomas train which means we now have four of them - although we have sent one to each of the grandparents! As there is over 50 trains available I do think Fisher Price could be a bit more creative with the trains they supply. This set has been a real winner in our house. It has been all over with us, and is constantly played with at home, but still looks brand new despite 6 months solid use. I would recommend it as a good starter set due to the amount of trains it holds, the decent run of track and its ease of transportation. Although it wasn't cheap, I think it represents good value for money for all the use we have had out of it so far, and I think this is going to be a big feature in our house for a long time to come! Although there is a few small niggles from me, Little Man still gives it 5 stars! Available from Amazon.co.uk for £32.97 delivered.