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Becoming Mamas Gift Guide: Trains and Trucks

Welcome to part 2 of the Becoming Mamas Gift Guide! Last week we shared our favorite books for the infant and young toddler crowd; this week we’ll share our favorite things with wheels.

Baby’s First Train by Haba Toys

This cute little train is perfect for small hands. It’s suitable for a one year old (although I’d recommend tucking away the “cargo” sticks as they are a bit small for a wee one), but still fun for a two year old (or older!). The train cars connect with magnets, which are strong enough to stay together easily, and the wheels turn very smoothly. Haba toys are really well made from quality materials and this little train is no exception.

Plan Toys Engine (left) compared with Nuchi Engine (right)

PlanToys Road & Rail Starter Setand Nuchi Wooden Railway Beginner’s Circle Train Set

Wooden train sets are a pretty big deal for the 2 and up crowd. These simple sets from Plan Toys and Nuchi are suitable for 18 months and up and a good way to gauge your child’s interest in and readiness for a more complicated set. I’ve been somewhat obsessively researching wooden train sets, trying to decide which brand is the right fit for us. These options were attractive because they avoid the commercial marketing of the Thomas sets and are higher quality than other wooden sets on the market. So of course I had to try and compare both!

Both sets consist of basic curved track pieces that form a a circle, just as advertised. The Nuchi pieces are a bit larger, resulting in a larger circle. The Nuchi set also comes with a three piece train; Plan Toys only gives you an engine. The Plan Toys train is slightly larger and has more detail; the Nuchi train cars are simple, bright colors. I feel like the Plan Toys car has better quality wheels although both sets roll well on the track. The Nuchi set connects with magnets; Plan Toys has recently switched from magnets to what appears to be a hook connector (although since I only have one car, it’s hard to say how well it will work). The Nuchi train stays together well. I also liked that the Nuchi set comes in a cute little box that is suitable for storing the set in when it’s not in use.

Callum showing the track piece size

The great thing about both sets is that the track pieces are compatible (this is true of many wooden train sets on the market). So I was able to put both sets together for a more creative track. Both brands have tracks on both sides, making them easier to combine, and are smoothly sanded.

From what I’ve gathered, Nuchi is a newer brand on the market and was started by a guy who worked for Brio (apparently once THE wooden train maker). They are made in China, but claim to be made from non-toxic materials and adhere to high safety standards (I haven’t looked into these claims). Plan Toys (also once distributed by BRIO) is a company based in Thailand that uses environmentally friendly rubberwood in its products. Both sets are great and I’d be happy to add more sets from either brand to our collection.

Green Toys Recycle Truck
I’m not a huge fan of plastic toys (okay, I’m not a fan at all really), but Green Toys products are actually made 100% from recycled plastic and they are also made in the USA. Gavin first spotted this truck at Gymboree, and he was drawn to it among the sea of other toys. Maybe it was the giant tires that he found so appealing, or maybe it was the larger size, but he loved it. I love that it is a recycling truck. Every Friday morning, Gavin and I wait patiently for the garbage and recycling trucks to come down our street, so this type of truck was a great fit for his interests. This truck is good for ages 1 and older.
Green Toys also has a Dump Truck that is nice. Gavin loves his Tonka Steel Dump Truck, but the Green Toys dump truck might be a good alternative.

PlanToys Plan City Road System (Deluxe)

Both of us at Becoming Mamas are obsessed with Plan Toys, and we especially love the PlanCity, which consists of an intricate set of roadways, railways, gas stations, fire stations, homes, and so much more. Gavin loves the cars, tractors, and trucks. I love the aesthetic quality and the green factor. This is a set of toys that your child will likely play with for years. The PlanCity toys are rated for ages 3+, but we feel some of the simpler sets are suitable for our 2-year-olds. Just be aware that there are small parts that could potentially break off, and use your best judgement about your child’s readiness for the toy.

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Published in Gift Guide Play time