First wooden train sets are available from many different companies, either featuring circle layouts or figure of eight tracks and starting from as little as £10. I knew the boys would love the new Farm Train Set from Bigjigs. So when asked to review it the question in my head was ‘if we went back in time (and didn’t have a box full of track already) would it be worth the extra to start with this one?’
This review will look at the 44-piece Farm Train Set but there are five other accessories available within the range. The range sees railways meander their way through farmland, apple orchards, hay sheds and chicken coops. The main Bigjigs Farm Train Set costs £30.99, which is £6.50 more than its award-winning Figure of Eight Train Set.
Unpacking the box
Unpacking the box, the usual Bigjigs care has been taken over packing. For example, each of the wooden pieces is wrapped in individual pieces of paper. I was slightly surprised that about a fifth of the box was simply filled with a cardboard holder to ensure pieces didn’t move around – why not just a smaller box?
Bigjigs is one of the best wooden train set suppliers when it comes to accessories and scenery. Even just a quick scan on Amazon shows this. The Farm Train Set features a clever and beautifully painted apple tree bridge and tunnel. The engine is painted as a brown and white cow, and pulls a chicken and hay stack. Six apple trees, three animals, two haystacks (not three as in the Bigjigs photography) and two people complete the accessories. There are 25 pieces of track, including 12 small curves and two bridge ramps.
This review continues below. You may also like to read the Wooden Train Set Guide
Building the railway track
Building the train track based on the instructions is easy and generally within the grasp of a five- or six-year old. The apple tree bridge in our pack, however, was extremely tight fitting. While this means it will remain very firmly together, I wouldn’t have fancy our chances of getting it apart regularly if we had needed to have stored it flat.
Getting under way
Pushing the train around the track, the ride is smooth and the bridge sturdy. The curves are tight (thus making quite a square figure of eight) but this is fine for the little train that comes with the set. The way the apple bridge is built it is easy for a toddler to push the train through.
Having recently written about the best train tables, I measured the width once built and at 95cm it would comfortably fit on typical tables.
What the kids think
Two kids – Zachary, 6.5, and Jacob, 2.5 – were unleashed on the Bigjigs Farm Train Set to see what they thought (see video). Both really liked the train and the apple bridge. They helped build it and enjoyed laying out the accessories. They quickly turned to inventing stories about the farmer loading hay and chickens onto the train to be delivered.
“I love the apple tree bridge. I also like the train that’s a bit like a cow. The set is simple. There should be a horse to eat the hay. There is a pig, sheep, chicken and duck which don’t eat hay.”Zachary, 6
One thing that frustrated Jacob was that while one of the hay bales fit on the train, the other two didn’t. It might be just that my boys want as much as possible to fit onto the train rather than as scenery but I think this set would have been improved if there had been two of the smaller hay bales than two larger ones that don’t fit on the train.
As expected, this set in isolation was far more suited to the toddler than the school boy (who quickly went and got several extra bits including Tidmouth Sheds). Jacob turned from engine driver and farmer to lumberjack after deciding that the narrow-trunked apple tress were too easily knocked over on carpet and so he deliberately laid them all down. (Well, with farm incomes so low perhaps diversification into lumber yard and children’s train rides is a shrewd move).
More in the Bigjigs Farm Range
I’ve not seen any of the rest of the Bigjigs Farm Range myself. Judging by photos and online reviews where available, I think two of the three tunnels – Country Windmill and Hay Barn – look like winners. The former I think Jacob would love to turn the sails, while the latter would be brilliant for a 3.5 or 4 year old to pull hay off the train into the barn (again, another reason to have hay bales that fit on the train). The Chicken Shed Tunnel and Farm Bridge look nice and would fit well with the set but don’t stand out that much from other tunnels and bridges. Bought by itself, the Farmyard Train simply adds a carriage with a pig in it.
In summary: Bigjigs Farm Train Set
Overall the Bigjigs Farm Train Set and its companion pieces are a really cute extension of normal railway play. It is best suited to younger children, especially those who love farms or avoid cities, construction and the like in some similar sets. Compared with the Brio equivalent farm train set, Bigjigs’ is more of a railway set, more traditionally designed but less interactive as Brio’s majors on the hay barn and tractor.
The set sits squarely price-wise between entry-level sets (where I’d recommend you consider the Figure of Eight Train Set) and more complex ones where my two favourites from Bigjigs are the Bigjigs Dinosaur Train Set (that we reviewed before) and the Town & Country Train Set. So coming back to my original question, of whether a younger me would have bought this as a first set, the answer is I would have either gone for one like the Figure of Eight Train Set, or gone the whole hog and got the farm set, hay barn and extra track (including longer curves that this set doesn’t have).
Bigjigs provided me with the Dinosaur Train Set for free to review. All opinions are my own or those of the kids. Certain links above take you to Amazon.co.uk should you wish to buy one of the products. I earn a small commission without any cost to you for my work if you use these links – which will be used to take two train-loving boys to Japan.
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Thanks for reading. You may also like to read the Wooden Train Set Guide