Chuggington vs. Thomas Wooden Railway

A lot of little kids are enjoying the wooden trains.  Who can blame them?  Trains are just awesome.  Still, though, when parents are trying to figure out how to indulge their child’s train love, they often find themselves wondering some big questions.  Chuggington or Thomas?

While my friend Jo likes to tell me that I’m a big geek for the massive Train Track Tuesday layouts, I insist that I don’t actually play with the trains.  I just build them so that my kids can enjoy them.  Although I do sit down to encourage that my kids play and use some imagination….  Okay, fine, I play trains with my kids from time to time.

All Wooden Train Brands Play Nicely Together

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying some spare pieces from the bulk bin at the local toy store or if they are Chuggington, Thomas, Brio, Melissa & Doug, or whatever else.  They all interconnect.  That means you (or your children) can put together a more varied world.

Train Track Tuesday (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Yes, It’s Expensive

Sure, you can frequently find smaller complete sets used for $100.  However, when you go to the local toy store to buy a wooden railway roundhouse, you’ll find that they are well over $75.  (And over $100 in Canada.)  If you bargain hunt, buy extra track pieces from the bulk bin instead of going name brand, and look for sales, it will only cost an arm instead of an arm and a leg.

All Brands Aren’t Equal

Sure, the track all plays nicely together, and some of the “off brands” do have awesome accessories.  Bridges and tunnels in particular can be awesome from the not so big name brands.  I love the Melissa & Doug Skyline Bridge.  But the “off brand” engines are a bit of a disappointment.  Don’t go cheap on the engines and cars, because they are just far less interesting.  The engines are often flat and boring; the cars are often flimsy.  Stick with Thomas or Chuggington engines and cars.

Which is better? Thomas or Chuggington?

Neither.  Both.  If you’re looking at the television series, I’ve got nothing.  We’ve never seen Chuggington shows and watch the odd Thomas on Netflix.  While I’m particularly fond of Sir Topham Hatt/The Fat Controller, I don’t notice the trains seeming to have distinct personalities in the newer episodes.  But with the toys?

Norton likes the Thomas trains best of all.  They are all older style engines, and let’s just face it, those are way cooler.  They’re cute and aesthetically pleasing.  Skarloey is his favorite.

However, for Eudora’s little hands, the chunkier, less detailed in shape Chuggington engines have a distinct advantage.  They’re the more modern, block shaped engine rather than the old fashioned “steamies,” so they’re easier for smaller hands to hold and maneuver.  That block shape means that there are no chimneys for Eudora to put in her mouth.  They are also just a smidgen taller, so there’s the occasional thing that won’t work together.  (For example, Chuggington engines don’t fit so well under the Thomas the Train Stop & Go Station… but the Thomas the Train Early Engineers engines don’t fit so well, either.  I’ve yet to run into any other clear cut cases where the two products don’t play well together.)

If you’re out to do a full-blown themed room, you’ll do better with Thomas.  There are more readily available companion merchandise pieces like beds, bedding, and even a little toddler sized living room suite.

What Do I Suggest?

Mix and match.  Mix and match as much as possible and remember your child’s tastes.  Sure, both Chuggington and Thomas have roundhouses.  But the Chuggington Double Decker Roundhouse with its nifty little elevating platform and options to separate may be more interesting to a young child than the single layered Deluxe Roundhouse or Tidmouth Sheds.  However, the Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Quarry Mine Tunnel and the Chuggington Wooden Railway Rocky Ridge Mine Tunnel are practically indistinguishable.  And the Thomas the Train Deluxe Over the Track Signal is way more awesome than the Chuggington equivalent.

I suggest that you go for the coolest option that’s within your budget.  Since they are frequently the exact same price, it’s a bit easier.

Do you have a wooden railway enthusiast in your home?  How do you choose between Thomas and Chuggington?

Train Track Tuesday

Train Track Tuesday (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Forgive the image quality.  This week’s train track was so large that I couldn’t actually fit it in one frame, even with my wide angle lens on my camera.  So I had the husband use the panorama option on his phone.

I’m pretty proud of this creation.  It took a few days… and Eudora didn’t destroy it beyond knocking over the occasional piece.  In the interest of making it more interesting and giving trains more places to go (since it doesn’t seem like a “Very Useful Engine” would just go gallivanting for no reason), some Fisher Price Little People was incorporated.  If you like what you see and want to add to your own collection, please order using my affiliate links below!

Chuggington Elements:
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Double-Decker Roundhouse
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Koko & Hodge’s Clock Tower Set
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Koko’s New Look
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Old Puffer Pete
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Safari Cars
*Chuggington Wooden Railway – Green Wilson Engine

Thomas the Train Elements:
*Thomas Wooden Railway Flynn & Water Tower Figure 8 Railroad Track Set 21 Piece
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Figure 8 Set Expansion Pack
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Early Engineers Busy Day on Sodor Set
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Early Engineers Round About Station
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Deluxe Over – The – Track Signal
*Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway – Echo Tunnel
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Harold The Helicopter
*Thomas Wooden Railway – Toby The Tram Engine
*Thomas Wooden Railway – Skarloey
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Wacky Track (2 pieces)

Fisher Price Little People Elements:
*Fisher-Price Little People Noah’s Ark
*Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm
*Fisher-Price Little People Barnyard
*Fisher Price Little People Zoo

Other Elements:
*Melissa & Doug Zoo Animal Train Set
*Bigjigs Rail BJT135 Red Brick Tunnel
*New Wooden Train Cross X Track fits Thomas Wooden Railway and Brio Sets and Tracks
*Train Track Piece – CrossRoad Track – 100% Compatible with All Major Brands including Thomas Wooden Railway System – By Right Track Toys

A Day with Thomas – Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum (Not So Wordless Wednesday)

Here in Prince George, we’re pretty lucky.  Sure, the shopping is rotten, but it’s an outdoor wonderland of things to do.  One of the cool things that we don’t do often enough with Norton is take a trip to the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum.  When I found out that the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum was having A Day with Thomas, I decided that we had to take Norton.  Besides, he just plain loves trains anyway (as demonstrated by our Train Track Tuesday posts).

The husband and I weren’t sure what to expect with A Day with Thomas.  The Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum has a ton of old trains from various periods in railway history.  Considering that Prince George is a railroad and forestry town, there’s a lot of history for us to appreciate.  Some of the trains are from around the same period as the Really Useful Engines of Sodor.  We found a variety of cuteness.  The trains (and farming and forestry equipment) were labeled and had “faces” put on them.

A Day with Thomas - Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum (Not So Wordless Wednesday) - Cloth Diaper Addicts #WordlessWednesday #Thomas

Norton is saying hello to Thomas and Annie while a very large and useful truck looks on.

While there were some smaller models of Thomas floating around, I think Norton was pretty impressed by the very large Thomas.  (And the husband was also impressed by what they managed to do with a tarp and some red duct tape.)

A Day with Thomas - Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum (Not So Wordless Wednesday) - Cloth Diaper Addicts #WordlessWednesday #Thomas

Not only is Thomas (now retired and) happy in this picture, but he’s still a Really Useful Engine! Norton was impressed by that big and happy face!

We also saw some other characters from Thomas and Friends.  A pair of antique passenger cars were named Annie and Clarabel.  Eudora and I sat down in the dusty and worn leather and tweed seats of Clarabel’s passenger compartment.

day-with-thomas-ww

Eudora wasn’t too sure about this whole sitting thing. She really wanted to run up and down Clarabel’s narrow passenger aisle in the middle of the car!

By the end of our tour of the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum, Norton was getting pretty uncooperative.  He was enjoying running in and out of the various cars, in spite of the heat.  He was getting tired and uncooperative.  I also knew that he would really enjoy taking a ride on the mini train through the museum.  I tried to tempt Norton with taking a ride, and he was interested.  He decided that he just knew where we would board the train and decided to lead the way… in the total wrong direction.  When I finally caught up with him, I ended up having to throw a kicking and screaming three year old over my shoulder.  He was crying “Ride train!” over and over again… and continued screaming right up until we sat down on the little train.  Then, of course, he understood what I was trying to do (which was, of course, exactly what he wanted to do in the first place) and was all smiles.  He was delighted when the little train made its way over bridges and through tunnels.  He was just amazed by the vintage firetrucks that were housed at the back of the property.

Yay, train!

Yay, train!

The only downside to the train ride was that Norton had such a good time that he didn’t want to get off.  He was slightly mollified when the conductor let him honk the train horn.  Still, though, like many other parents before us, when it was time to leave, Norton was kicking and screaming.  A bit of ice cream took care of that and made his day.  All in all, it was a worthwhile trip.

What kinds of museums does your family like to visit?