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Little Man has been a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends for a long while now, but in the last six months or so the little blue engine has become his toy of choice. I had been buying him the occasional Take n Play engine whenever I saw them on special offer since last Christmas, but for his birthday his Nanny bought him The Cranky at the Docks play set so that he had somewhere to play with his trains that was a bit more exciting than the floor!
As the name suggests the Take n Play range are designed so they can be taken anywhere! The trains are small die cast engines which contain smart magnets on the front and back, so you can link up any trains or carriages in any direction. The play sets are also designed to be taken anywhere, as they fold up quite small, and most of the ones I have seen contain a storage portion for at least one small train.
Cranky at the Docks came in a much smaller box than I expected as it was packed in its storage form.
When you remove it from the packaging you see two grey semi circles of track with a green rectangle of plastic in the middle, joined together by a red plastic carrying handle. You then unclip the red handle to unfold it into an oval of track, and the red handle becomes a signal. There is also a little undercover area for storing a train in when travelling. There is also 3 connection sockets coming from the track so you can join up with additional track or play sets.
In the centre is green Cranky, who needs to be pulled upwards to assemble the crane - you her him click when the layers are in place, and you just push down firmly when you want to put him away. He is quite stiff, and little man struggled at first to put cranky up, although this is to stop him collapsing during play. However once he is up he is easy to spin round.
Cranky has his name written on the side and has a handle on the side which operates his hook, which has a magnet on the end. The play set comes with little plastic barrels which have a magnet inside which can be easily lifted by the crane. My only complaint with the set is it could do with a stronger winch system for the magnet as little man like to try and lift his trains with the magnet (like Cranky does on TV!) and you have to really wind it hard and keep hold of the handle to get them off the ground.
The play set also comes with a little plastic boat (as you are at the docks I guess) which you can store the barrels in, and Salty the little red diesel engine. I liked the fact it came with a more unusual engine, as a lot of the sets I looked at came with either Thomas or Percy, which I would assume a lot of children would already have - they were the first trains we bought for Little Man.
This Play set has been a big hit in our house and we have taken Cranky away with us and to relative's house on several occasions, and his hardwearing plastic still looks as good as new. When folding it barely takes up any room, about 20cmx30cmx5cm, and fits easily into the car. Little Man loves to link all his trains up and push them around the track, putting the signal up and down, and talking to Cranky, and he never seems to get board of it, although we have now bought him a pack of additional track pieces so he can make a larger play area! I have a feeling that there may be a few more of these play sets in our house by the end of the Christmas season!
My mother in law got this in Argos in the summer for £27.99, but it is currently available from Amazon for £22.52 delivered - I would definitely recommend this for any little Thomas fanatics!