BRIO is a well known brand in our family. Before my son could speak words, he spoke train. Two years ago, we began attending model train conventions to add to our growing boys collection. However, even at eight years old, BRIO trains remain his top favorite. When I showed him the newest engine, their Battery – Operated Steaming Train, his smile grew as big as it did when we brought home his first engine ever. He immediately pulled out the other engines in his collection and started sizing them up to each other.
As he lined them up, he explained what made each one unique, and why he liked it. “This one is like the Polar Express,” he says pointing to the BRIO Speedy Bullet Train we picked up a month ago. “This one is a little smaller.” He says aloud, as he fidgets with his BRIO Old Steam Engine to line up exactly how he wants to see it. He then hands me the box with the Battery-Operated Steaming Train we received from Ravensburger, his way of asking it to be opened for him. The minute it hits his hands, he begins to examine the engine, zooming it past his eyes, as train noises come from his lips. After he introduces himself to this new engine, we can talk about how it works.
“This one has a tinder, and it couples here,” he explained to me. When he pulled the “coal” from the tinder, he paused and looked up at me. “What’s this do?”
In the tinder is a little squeeze bottle, shaped as the coal and seated in the tinder. At the bottom of this bottle, there is a little funnel. “This is for the water,” I told him, and his eyes lit up more. It was as if he was afraid to ask the next question, in case he was wrong. “Does the water go into the train?” he hesitated. “Does it make steam?” When he noticed my smile, his grew even bigger.
“I want to try!” his sister piped up.
We read the directions and learned the “coal” sucks up the water, which we then deposit into the first hole at the front of the engine. To start the engine, he held down the first red button. Push the second red button once and the train pauses. Push it again and the engine reverses, which delighted the kids. As the engine is going, water vapor puffs out of top of the engine, simulating a moving, steaming train engine.
This was our first five minutes with the new engine. With our tracks all set up and ready to go, we installed batteries into the engine, and added the water per the instructions. While the hubby was nervous about handing an electronic water toy back to the children on a carpeted living room, the BRIO train never leaked water, or seemed to be phased with a derail. The kids giggled in delight as the steam engine chugged along, puffing “steam” through the top, like a real train engine. The vapor is like a cold mist humidifier, so there’s no need to worry when the kids hold their hands in it.
We watched the train go around the track a couple times on it’s own. When we started adding more cars, the engine worked fine on the flat part of the tracks. When going up hills, however, adding any extra cars added enough resistance to the engine, it had a hard time chugging up them. If your just using the Battery-Operated Steaming Train, and the tinder it comes with, it rolls up hills just fine. Even one extra tinder held the steam engine back enough, it needed some extra help to move a long.
Regardless, the kids spent hours watching the steam engine go around the tracks they build for it. In our house, Polar Express is a year round affair. The kitchen floor is our icy lake and trains are free to roll where their pistons take them. The realism of the BRIO Battery-Operated Steaming Train makes it the new favorite engine for acting out that scene.
If you or your child are train enthusiasts, this is one worth adding to the collection. So are these books.