Trains are big at our house and I know we’re not alone. We also live in a small apartment, so if Graham decides he’s going to pull out his wooden tracks, odds are it’ll take up half the living room when he’s done. The wooden tracks have served us well, but I admit that when I first saw TOMY’s Chuggington StackTracks all I could say was, “My kid would love these.”
I’ll be totally honest, I saw those StackTracks at a party at BlogHer in 2012. I gushed and gushed over them to the person repping TOMY. But it wasn’t until this year that I finally got a chance to review them. I did not let the long wait hold me back, I jumped at the chance. If anything, Graham was way more ready for them now than he was a year ago.
There are a bunch of Chuggington StackTrack playsets, we received the Chuggington StackTrack Rescue at Rocky Ridge Action Playset with the accompanying ChugPatrol DVD. The fact that the playset has an accompaying episode is cool, though it hasn’t influenced Graham’s play, but I do think it’d be good for the re-enacting types.
So, parents of train enthusiasts, here’s the skinny: The StackTracks come with a variety of pieces, some flat, some going up, some going down. There’s a bunch of hills and turns and other stuff that makes trains go fast. There are guard rails on the side so you won’t lose your train on tight curves. And there are supports to stack to hold up the elevated parts of the track. The set came with 2 trains (Koko and Wilson, who Graham has always called Rilsen because it’s the name of a kid in his class last year) and they’re die-cast plastic.
Overall, it’s very easy to assemble for an adult. The track pieces fit together very simply and obviously. It may take a child under 5 a little effort to figure it out but they’ll make progress quickly. The supports are also easy to attach. There are some extras that come with this playset: a gate to break through, a boulder to chase you down the hill. These extras are a little harder to get on and off and click on over the supports. The track looks a little intimidating. But it comes with instructions for 4 layouts. One of them has a detailed set of instructions to assemble, the others are pictures. Once I’d gone through one assembly, I was good for the rest by sight. Younger children will probably need a parent to assemble for them.
- As I’d hoped, it takes up less space than the wooden tracks. The stacking means they can go up instead of all over the floor.
- The kids get way more into it than with the wooden tracks. We’ve had it for over 6 weeks and I’ve waited to see if it wears off… but it hasn’t.
- The trains look just like the ones on the show, lots of character and the kids seem more eager for pretend play with them than some of the trains we have on the wooden set.
- The price of this one set is about the price of one stinking Thomas train. Seriously, the price of Thomas merch is ridiculous. I am HAPPY to expand beyond Thomas gear.
- I was really worried that we wouldn’t be able to do anything with this set beyond the planned layouts. It took Graham about a month before he started building his own tracks. They may be wobbly and he may ask for help, but he’s showing creativity, and he gets to show a lot more of it than he can with the wooden tracks.
- There are multiple StackTrack sets and they all can fit together. And yes I will be asking for StackTrack merch for Graham this Christmas because I think we could design some wicked awesome tracks.
- The trains can couple up, always good. And it’s a more secure coupling than the magnetic wooden trains.
- Price is good, a new train is $5.99 or so and a set runs from $20 to $40, with expansion packs varying in price.
- They’re just plain fun. Here’s a look at Graham playing with the set:
- Younger kids will need help. As I mentioned, some of the extra elements like the gate are harder to connect.
- Some layouts are wobbly. The supports don’t actually click into place, you just push them together like legos. So if someone bumps the track this can lead to a big collapse. This only happened to us on a couple of layouts, but it is an issue. The tracks themselves are nice and strong, it’s the supports that I wish were better.
- The many kinds of track pieces may frustrate some kids.
- Overall, I’m just not sure this is going to be a good product for kids who are very perfectionist, anxious, ASD, etc. If you think they’ll have a meltdown if the track falls down, this may not be the set for you. With that said, Graham can certainly fall into that category sometimes but he’s at the point now where a track that falls down can mean extra excitement for the story he’s telling in his head.
Both kids have really enjoyed playing with these tracks and I find that for us the positives outweigh the negatives by a good amount. I’m weary of putting together wooden train tracks, there’s only so much I can do with our limited amount of straights and curves. We just have more fun putting these together, whether we follow the instructions or not.
So, would you like to bring one home? The kind folks at TOMY are giving away one Chuggington StackTrack Rescue at Rocky Ridge Action Playset and a Chug Patrol – Ready to Rescue DVD for your kiddos. Want to enter?
Mandatory entry: leave a comment on this post letting me know the train lover in your life who’d love these StackTracks.
Bonus entry: Tweet this: “Win Chuggington StackTracks from @Tomy_Toy from @jessicaesquire! http://bit.ly/1ae53QQ” and make sure you leave a comment with the link to your tweet. (You can find it by clicking on the timestamp of the tweet.)
Rules: No purchase necessary. By leaving a comment you agree to the rules of this giveaway. One entry per household. Limited to entrants over 18 in the US and Canada. Contest begins as of the time of this post and ends on 10/31/13 at 6 pm Eastern Time. The winner will receive a Chuggington StackTracks playset and a Chuggington DVD, a retail value of approximately $40 US. The number of eligible entries received will determine the odds of winning. The winner will be chosen randomly using the plugin And the Winner Is… Winner will be notified by email and must respond within 48 hours to receive their prize. If the winner does not respond within that time, a new winner will be chosen. The prize will be provided by TOMY Toys. Don’t Mind the Mess is not responsible for any problems with receipt of the prize. This contest is governed by the rules of Massachusetts, void where prohibited
Disclosure: Thanks to TOMY for providing us with these products for review.