Before my daughter Grace could walk or talk, she had laid her chubby hands on a BRIO train set. She played with it every time we visited Great Grandad, the pieces smooth and worn from generations of use. She clicked them together and giggled as she sent trains rolling down hills. Grace never played alone, of course. Cousins, parents and grandparents crawled around the floor, each with their own view of which piece should go where. If you’ve got a train set, you’ll know what I mean! Inspired, we started to build our own BRIO collection at home and we’re adding new pieces all of the time. This year, Christmas came early with the chance to review a new BRIO product with sound technology. To say my now 4-year-old loved it is a bit of an understatement!
Testers: 4-year-old Grace, mum and Dad (40 going on 4!)
The product: We tested the Smart Tech Sound: Action Tunnel Travel Set. It comes complete with a track, bridge, nice chunky passenger toys, a station, battery-operated train and action tunnels.
Special features: Wow so many! The train is pre-programmed with different sounds, lights and actions, which are activated by different parts of the track. So, it whoops when it travels downhill and there are moveable arches that make it travel backwards, power up or “break” (it slows down and groans like Grandad after one too many sprouts). You can also record your own sound effects, which had my daughter rolling around the floor laughing. Our train clucked like a chicken and of course broke wind (we do have a 4-year-old!)
Is it easy to use? Absolutely. There’s a simple, numbered illustration that shows you how to set up the track, which was possible to follow even with an impatient child telling you to hurry up. If you’re buying the set for Christmas, don’t forget to buy AAA batteries (they’re not included).
What the parents thought: Like all BRIO train sets, the pieces are easy to assemble, great quality and built to last. We like that this set is compatible with our other BRIO track pieces or can be played with independently. We’ve watched our daughter grow with BRIO and noticed this set provided different opportunities for play and learning. By positioning the tunnels around the track, the child is programming what they want the train to do in advance. And of course we love that it made her laugh!
What Grace says: I like it 100 out of 5! The train is so funny when it makes the noises. I think everyone should get one.”