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Old 10-29-2013, 07:51 PM   #1
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Help me pick a train set!

We built a train/lego table for dd for Christmas, and I want to get a starter wooden train set to go with the table. I don't want one that's too big because she's already getting a ton of stuff for Christmas, I don't want to spend too much, and I figure we can give her add-on pieces for every gift-giving holiday. I really want to get a high-quality set that will stand up to long-term rough use. There are some in Zulily today, but I thought I would ask for advice before I make any decisions. I don't want Thomas or Chuggington. Brio is too pricey. Right now, the brands that I'm looking at are Nuchi, Bigjigs, and Plan Toys. From what I've read, Nuchi train sets are really high quality, and Zulily has a good deal on their figure 8 train, but it doesn't come with any extras, like people or trees (of course we could always get those separately so that's not a deal-breaker). The Bigjigs figure 8 set looks nice and has a ramp and a bunch of accessories. It is the same price as the Nuchi set, but I don't want to get it if the quality is not great. There are also some nice looking sets by Plan Toys, but I read a couple of reviews that said that the paint comes off of the trains quickly. Also, Amazon has this really big "conductor carl" set for only $40, but I'm not sure the quality would be very good at that price. Anyone have experience, positive or negative, with any of these brands? Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-30-2013, 05:32 PM   #2
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Re: Help me pick a train set!

In all honesty, I would go with any of the wooden sets. They are all interchangeable, and over time you will want to add more pieces with more variety. Have you looked on your local craigslist? That's where we got our amazing set for much cheaper than retail would have been.
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Old 10-30-2013, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: Help me pick a train set!

We have a mix of everything. It has all lasted through a few years of rough play - except for the couple pieces a dog snuck off with.

I think our Chuggington pieces are our favs. Our girls never liked the Thomas cartoon but have collected several of the trains. Truly, our target & toysRus brand items have lasted as well as anything else.
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Old 10-30-2013, 06:55 PM   #4
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I will come back and can give opinions on a lot of those brands (and more) after dinner! I am burning my pizza!

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Old 10-30-2013, 07:33 PM   #5
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Re: Help me pick a train set!

I agree. We have several brands as well and they've all held up about the same. We even have tracks from Ikea that have done great and are much cheaper (price, not quality).
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Old 10-30-2013, 07:35 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by raymark
We have a mix of everything. It has all lasted through a few years of rough play - except for the couple pieces a dog snuck off with.

I think our Chuggington pieces are our favs. Our girls never liked the Thomas cartoon but have collected several of the trains. Truly, our target & toysRus brand items have lasted as well as anything else.
I like the Chuggington track the best too. The majority of our track is Melissa & Doug and it has held up well. We got a nice M&D set last Xmas at a great deal from Kohl's. We have all kinds of trains (Chuggington, Thomas, M&D, cheap Target knockoffs), and my kiddos play with them all equally.
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Old 10-30-2013, 08:24 PM   #7
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Re: Help me pick a train set!

I would do a wooden set, and watch craigslist. All my kids wanted was track and trains. No need for buildings, trees, or other accessories. None of ours were new to us and the kids never noticed at all.
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Old 10-30-2013, 08:49 PM   #8
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We have a combo of Thomas, 25 year old Brio, new Brio, Circo (target), Imaginarium old and new (toys r us), big rig, Carl conductor, melissa and doug, and another random amazon set (just track).

Long story short, my favorite is brio (I know its expensive, but the quality is scores above the other), but its no longer sold in the US and hard to find. My next fav is big jigs. And if you care for my lengthy explanation...

All of the ones I mentioned work pretty well together. Some have trains with reversed magnets and trains are too tall for some bridges (even within their own brand [imaginarium, conductor Carl]). We just play that into the story line. The one brand that 75% of its track would not work with any of the others was IKEA. IKEA also just felt junkie to me and I gave it away to a trainless kid.

In regards to conductor Carl, you get what you pay for. It works, its cute, but its definitely on the lower end of our train spectrum. We have had it for a year and it its held up OK. Two pieces broke, one fixable. Its actual brand name is brybelly. And conductor Carl, himself, is too tall to go under any bridges (including his own... its strange).

Circo and imaginarium are OK. They are pretty well built to last through a kid or so. I feel like their bigger pieces are a bit finicky. If their bridges and tunnels aren't perfectly aligned then the trains can't run right.

Big jigs seems very sturdy and well made. No complaints. I love a lot of their pieces.

The rest (just m&d and nuchi) aren't noteworthy good or bad.


Eta: my DH and ODS love trains and everyone knows it so we are gifted train stuff like crazy...

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Last edited by RunawayBunny; 10-30-2013 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 10-30-2013, 09:01 PM   #9
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Re: Help me pick a train set!

We bought up a box of 30 year old Brio for next to nothing. If I was buying, my money would be on Nuchi. So adorable!
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Old 10-30-2013, 09:43 PM   #10
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Re: Help me pick a train set!

Very helpful! Thanks for the advice everyone! I think I will check out craigslist before I buy anything new.
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