When was the last time you traveled by train? Did you take your kids with you? If you've missed to do it, take them next time. Traveling by train can't be compared to driving a car, it's a whole different experience.
Children know this. Even if you are attached to your car, they know the truth: trains are better. Trains are magic vehicles that plod like snakes bringing the smell of distant places and the spirit of an adventure.
Kids Love Toy Train Sets
Everyone who played with a train set remembers the interest this toy provoked in them. Trains aren't like the other toys. They are friendly and
that introduce children to real world objects that are interesting, less casual, and suggest no violence.
Trains provoke interest in history, geography and mechanics. Provided that you spend few minutes with your children and their train set you can teach them a lot of knowledge while having fun.
Normally most vehicle toys like cars and planes are considered to be toys for boys, but trains are good for girls too.
There are two main types of train toys that interest us, the retro toys fans:
Wooden Train Sets
The simple wooden toy train sets typically don't have no mechanism, neither rails. They are less detailed and intended for younger children. They can be "driven" anywhere on their wooden wheels although they often come with train tables from wood or other material. Here is an example of such a simple wooden train.
But there are also other, more detailed and more exciting wooden train sets that have tracks and can actually move on them. Even they aren't too realistic although children of age 5 to 10 will like them. You may like them too ;)
Tracks for such trains are often sold separately so you can build more creative landscape and path.
Wooden train sets need to be cleaned regularly as they tend to collect dirt around the wheels, the traverses and on the surface where they are touched. You don't want dirty and greasy toys, so just clean the toy with soap and water and dry it well with a wipe.
For more fun some train sets contain other objects like animals, people, stations, trolleys and so on. As these sets are flexible, you can also add objects yourself. Just make sure they make sense. A car on the rails does not make sense.
If you are interested in knowing more about the history and the technical details of the wooden toy trains, this page at Wikipedia offers information with great detail.
Mechanical Tin Trains
Mechanical wind-up trains are a whole lot more exciting and unfortunately far less popular. Replaced by the electric trains there are now very few models available and the prices are often high.
Typically mechanical train sets are made of good quality tin, have metal wheels and present lots of details. Some of the best models project
trains from the past but there are also models of modern high-speed trains.
If you have an older kid or you want a train toy for yourself, do consider a wind-up mechanical tin train - it can't be replaced by a wooden toy, neither by an electric train. It's a lot more realistic, much cooler and seeing it move on the tracks is awesome.
See the two lovely tin trains below (unfortunately they don't include tracks):
What About Making Wooden Train Sets Yourself?
Yes! We love making wooden toys, and trains are just toys. While working with wood is the same for most kind of toys, there are few things regarding making trains you may want to know:
- The moving parts. Unless you want a static model the wheels may need to be attached to a metal axis so they can roll smoothly.
- The engine can be made of cylinder block and a rectangle block attached to it. If you are planning for details, work on them before joining the two parts.
- The train cars are just rectangles connected to the engine and to each other (you can use cord).
These were just basic directions. Here are some more detailed guides:
- Wooden trains with cutting chart
- Detailed toy wooden train
- Stacking Train blocks toy plan - this is for a simple train, but the plan is good and free.
In addition to these free plans there are many places online where you can buy premium plans for $9 to $10. This is money well spent especially if you think you'll make more than one train.
If you have built a wooden train yourself, we'd love to hear from you and publish a picture of your train!