Holiday Gift Guide: My Thomas the Train pick this year and More!

One of the things that both of my boys have in common is a love for Thomas & Friends!  We have a whole variety of wooden Thomas engines and track, but ever since the recent movies came out, Liam has been eyeing the more 'sophisticated' pieces and I think that they've fallen in love with the Thomas & Friends: Take-n-Play Rumbling Gold Mine Run that I received to review!

From the Manufacturer:
Thomas has an important job helping the Sodor Mining Company. He roars past the rumbling gold mine and races by the exploding mine shaft in this golden adventure! Pressing down on the tower makes the gold rumble while Thomas triggers the exploding mine shaft as he chuffs by. Includes track to connect to other Take-n-Play playsets. Thomas is a durable die-cast Take-n-Play engine that can connect to other Take-n-Play engines and vehicles with magnet connectors that connect either way. Playset folds up and includes a convenient carry handle. Includes 2 AA batteries.

My review:  While I have to say that I have a personal love for the old wooden Thomas set, I can totally see where the Take-N-Play series wows the preschoolers!  Making a whole variety of sounds - rumbles, explosions and more!  This set tells a story that enthralls kids!  I think Liam likes it better because he can still manipulate the pieces but they have an ingrained story which he can follow and retell - which is where he is developmentally right now.

The story is a simple one:
Simply roll Thomas up to the Gold Mine entrance ramp and then press the water tower to start the action. As the gold starts to rumble, lifting the tab on the back of the mine causes Thomas to move through the collapsing mine while the gold nuggets bounce around inside the cave. Thomas rolls out of the tunnel doors and down the ramp escaping danger. While rolling past the abandoned mine he sets off another explosion of rock, revealing a giant reserve of gold ore as gold nuggets fly out from the top!
Liam stays engrossed for hours... or would if Erik didn't keep trying to get in his way.  I personally love how durable this set is!  Erik (who I know doesn't meet the minimum age requirement, but loves him some big brother, supervised of course) has tried to do his Bam Bam impersonation and it didn't cause any damage!  

I also love that when Liam is done playing with it, it folds up so nicely and everything goes away - which in my book is the one biggest improvement over the classic Thomas!

If you're looking to add to your Thomas collection or start one than I think this would be a great set to do it with!

Some other great ideas from American Greetings and HIT entertainment:

Whip up special treats with Strawberry in your very own Berry Sweet Kitchen!  The stovetop creates magical sounds as you cook – the frying pan sizzles, a cooking pot boils, and the tea kettle whistles to let you know the tea is ready!  Includes kitchen playset, frying pan, cook pot, tea kettle, plates, cups and three cooking utensils. For ages 3+ Requires 2AA batteries, not included Toys R Us exclusive

Thomas is spreading holiday cheer!  This new deluxe TrackMaster™ set captures the wonder of the holidays as Thomasrides around a beautifully detailed, snow-covered track featuring a winter wonderland of motorized destinations, lights, music and holiday decorations.  The set includes a motorized Thomas engine, two cargo cars, a holiday caboose, two pieces of holiday cargo, white "snow-covered" track, four destinations, and motorized action including lights, sounds and spinning features – all perfect to set up around the Christmas tree. Set requires 9 AA batteries, not included.

The stupendous on-your-feet ballet game! Angelina Ballerina is the star of the show – and guess who she wants on stage, too? YOU! Practice the dance moves, step by step. Every time you play, it’s a new ballet routine! When show time arrives, turn on the music and take center stage!  This fun new game comes with a bonus CD of Angelina Ballerina music.  This game is a 2011 Oppenheim Platinum Winner.

Disclaimer: I received the review product at no cost to me.  All opinions are my own.