Oct 16 2006

Ethan Creations

Published by at 10:25 am under daily,kids,photos

The boy loves to build. Wooden train track layouts, GeoTrax train track layouts, or just blocks, the boy just looooves to build. Here is the latest engineering feats from the offices of Ethan P., Architect. I’m saving the lego creations for another day.

For the record, we have 3 GeoTrax sets – the Workin Town Railway, the Mt. Blast Construction Co, and the Cross Valley Junction. The wooden tracks…. Hmm. A whole crapload of the very simple Ikea tracks, which comes with 1 engine and 3 cars.. I think we have 3 of those sets total, and then a miscelaneous assortment of tracks that came with his train table from Costco, made by KidCraft.

Also for the record, I don’t recommend the KidCraft train sets from Costco. The official layout was too tricky to be put together by Ethan, at about 2 1/2. The risers for the higher level tracks had to be positioned JUST SO, right where two tracks connected, and then if it was shifted at all, one of the tracks would fall, causing chaos, and sometimes *gasp*, trains falling to their doom and little disappointed sighs and frustrated exclamations of, “IT FELL MOMMY! I NEED HELP!!” It really forces the user to be “careful” while playing lest the layout fall apart, which is asking way too much of a toddler.
A few of the key pieces (the 2nd story bus station) broke only a month into our ownership which made building the layout that it was intended for very difficult (couldn’t really build the layout without the 2nd level bus track. The track went up a hill to… nothing.) It also had a “control tower” that broke after 5-6 months. Some of the smaller pieces were falling apart all the time as well. Our set came with two wooden airplanes, and the wings and tail pieces were always falling off and had to be glued back on. It seemed there was always one small piece or two on the counter waiting to be fixed, or waiting for the glue to dry so they could go back into circulation. This was 2 years ago though, so maybe the sets are sturdier now. The tracks themselves however are doing fine and are still in heavy rotation, especially the track switcher pieces, and the crossing gate pieces (although the plastic gate pieces are barely hanging on). The set also has a huge amount of little pieces that Ethan uses sometimes, the people, the trees, the signs, the plane, the landing strip for the plane..

The table has served us very well, but the bottoms were constantly falling out of the trundle drawers, and sliding them back under the table was always problematic. They were large and heavy, with heavy caster wheels, and when you slid them under the table, they had to be perfectly straight or they’d hit the back table legs, and then you had to work it forward and try to angle it back correctly and blah. Way too hard for toddlers. I replaced them with big plastic bins that were much easier for little hands and muscles to manuver.

All that being said, I just looked at the KidKraft set Costco has for this year, and damn, it looks cool. Ethan would LOVE it 🙂 A STEAMROLLER! A CRANE! I can see I am NOT going to be able to take Ethan with me to Costco after Halloween. Still, I see that the track risers have to be EXACTLY in the right place on those high tracks. If they would just toss in a bunch of extra risers that you could use as additional support, it would do a lot for useability. The track “hills” are not the right height for a typical block, so they can’t even be reinforced that way. I could have dealt with the broken pieces and the heavy trundles if the set was actually easy to USE. It’s too bad really, the new set looks super cool. KidCraft can definitely get the imagination working though, and I did always love that they were all made of wood. Nice to get a break from the plastic stuff. (Now if only the pieces wouldn’t FALL APART…)
Wow, I got off on a tangent there. But Christmas is coming, so this little review might come in handy for parents of toddlers!

– amy

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