Thomas & Friends - Daring Dragon Drop

Thomas & Friends has been a huge part of children's lives for so many years - 31 in fact. The striking characters, faces, colours and stories, grip  little imaginations and I think most the kids I know are fans of Thomas and enjoy train sets. Thomas is one of the most recognisable characters for all of us and it's clear why he has remained so popular, Thomas is fun, exciting and imaginative. Above all, Thomas is nice, simple and traditional. He is moving with the times though!

The fun of the TV shows comes alive in all the Thomas toys. We have had a few in the past and they seem to be getting bigger and better. With the new film coming out, there has also been a release of fun film related toys to go alongside, as you would expect.

We were sent this brilliant fold away toy train set from Fisher Price, called the 'Daring Dragon Drop' from the Take-n-Play range. The set comes in several parts and the dragons head part and light up roaring mountain top, is the first 'WOW' that we got when opening this play set. Lights and sounds just seem to add a whole element of excitement for a toddler. The set takes some putting together and contains pretty clear instructions (though I wish they were in colour) and requires no tools, which is always good! I would recommend doing this away from the excited toddler though, as it takes a very long time otherwise! Bless them and their 'helping'. The set came with batteries included, so we could get straight to play.

A loves trains and some of his more 'baby' train toys have become slightly redundant, so a shiny new exciting adventure going Thomas set gave him the biggest smile.
You can buy other sets in this range and they all join together to create greater adventures. I think A would have preferred more bits than just this one loop, so the more the merrier I guess with these - this is our first so far. I'm sure we will add to the collection though very soon. Baby S is seriously in love with this toy too and loves posting things into the dragons head and sliding it up and down the rails.

'A thrilling adventure awaits Thomas at Dragon Island! When Thomas finds a shield on Misty Island he bravely goes to explore Dragon Island to seek out the legendary dragon. With a volcano on the way though, Thomas must try and escape, but first he must cross the dragon bridge.'

Ease of play

It look me a little while to work out how to play with it (this may just have been my lack of imagination), but my son A is nearly 4 and was happy to get stuck straight in driving the train around whizzing and making engine noises. I did have to search YouTube to find a video of how to use the dragon drop part. I'm not sure if this is just me - but it wasn't immediately obvious how to use it. Once you get going though, you can drive the train up the hill, into the dragon, tip the top and on the sound of roaring dragon and flashing lights, the dragon is released and Thomas flies down and is released onto the track. The motion then carries him some way round the track where there is a little treasure chest for him to find the golden shield at the start, this then attaches to his front magnet - very smart and made for some fun 'treaure hunting' play. 
For me, a motorised train would have made this even better, A though (the target market!) wasn't bothered at all by this and was happy to drive the train along along the rails, making up stories along the way. Once put together, the set can be shrunk down and packed away pretty small (hence the Take-n-Play label!) which is good for space saving and transporting to Grandparents houses or entertaining them at an appointment. I liked that there wasn't too many small parts to come lose, so it was super quick to tidy away at bedtime. I would have liked this toy even more if it folded into a box or shape instead of just shrinking down, but as someone with a house full of plastic, the shrinking down is very much appreciated - more toys should do this!

Additional items

You can also buy characters individually such as the brilliant but cheeky Skiff from the new film, Sodor's Legends of The Lost Treasures. I wasn't exactly sure what to do with Skiff, but the kids loved driving him along the tracks with Thomas and spinning him round - it seemed to keep them amused.

This toy has a play value of 3+ which I think is about right, given that to use the dragon and volcano parts properly, it does require some patience while it's all worked out. My daughter (one) was happy with this too but obviously didn't 'play' with it in the same role-play way that A did.

Best bit?

The zip line part of this is definitely the best bit. It takes some getting used to but A seemed to have fun once we had worked it all out. Although he would give this a thumbs up, I think he needed more tracks and attachments to hold his attention for too long, not long ago, I think he would have sat for hours on end playing with this alone though and he is four next month. The lights and sounds are great on this and really make play fun.

To buy or not to buy?

I would say if you have a big Thomas fan, particularly one that has seen or is excited about the movie, then this is definitely a buy. For an older child, it would maybe be more fun having two sets to link, so I would buy this but only with extras to hold A's attention. This is just the way A plays, he is definitely not a 'less is more' kid and with his other wooden sets we tend to have to fill a room with track which he will then keep entertained with for a long time! I think the magic of this toy really comes along once you are familiar with the film plot and can get stuck into the adventure. A enjoyed playing with this set, he liked the speed, sounds and lights and with a few more carriages to play with - he was a happy boy and this definitely has the wow factor. This toy retails at £36.99 and can be found in most good toy stores.

Thanks for reading,