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SWould you give this to a 3 year old.

ive just bought the Thomas the tank set for my 3 years birthday, however I’m now having second thoughts.

one the track is very large for a starter kit and also I think he’s likely to break the trans on there first outing. Any thoughts?


5265 posts

JonnyB 40, welcome to the Hornby Forum. Smile


The boxes do state 3+, but I do think that rating is still too low. I woudn't give a three year old a Hornby train set, nor would I give a four year old one. I would probably wait until they are at least six or seven. They are too delicate for a child under six or seven. Don't forget, this is a model railway, not a dieast or plastic toy.


These are personal views. However, please do not let me stop giving it to your son. I am just letting you know that if I were in your situation, I wouldn't give a child a train set at that young age.



A Thomas & Friends OO, HO and OO-9 Model Railway Gauge's Collector Since 2005, an Eddie Stobart Spotter and Collector Since 2010 and an Airfix QUICK BUILD Collector Since 2017


146 posts

i built my 3 year old grandson a little set with a couple of loco's etc ,when he is with me and i show him he is fine ,but on his own 

its a wreck .so i think a little supervision is required at 3 , but made fun as well ,


5265 posts

I agree with jane2, in the way that I would supervise a child with a model railway, but I still don't recommend you give a three year old your 3 year old, the Thomas train set, in case it get's broken and knocked about.



A Thomas & Friends OO, HO and OO-9 Model Railway Gauge's Collector Since 2005, an Eddie Stobart Spotter and Collector Since 2010 and an Airfix QUICK BUILD Collector Since 2017

I was very young when i got my first two trains maybe 4 or 5. I got the percy with 2 troublesome trucks' Annie and Charaphel percy and thomas. Except the old percy being a too lightweight fast train to begin with both trains and rolling  stock run very well. Also thomas has had many accidents but is still the strongest tank engine i know( as it won a strengh competition .with loads of others engines. However it is up too you if you give it


9047 posts

 Not Thomas  specifically, but my grandchildren even when quite small were allowed to drive grandad's trains under supervision, but I don't think I would leave them to play unattended with an electric train set. We do have a huge amount of wooden trains collected over many years and these were much more suitable for them when they were small. Huge play value and much less frustrating when derailments occur.


Thinking back to my own children's early days we bought a cheap plastic gauge O train set with battery powered locomotive. Of obvious German outline it operated reliably and its larger size made re-railing much easier for small fingers.

Green trains are best!


10764 posts

Community Moderator

Children of that age have no concept of ‘it will break if roughly handled’, they expect everything to bounce, so the Brio wooden trains or robust pound shop plastic type with magnetic couplings are a better toy for them to bash about.


I think most dads buy a train set or slot car set for their too young child but it is fulfilling a self need in actual fact.


That said it does no harm to set the thing up and show the child under supervision the joys of model railways and how to look after stuff.



Halton Brat - Running Win 10, 64-bit - RM (Pro-Pack) with Elite as Controller-A, Select as Walkabout and E-Link as Controller-B - Locos are mostly TTS. http://www.halton96th.org.uk/page21.html


3222 posts

I received my first Hornby train when I was four (1951), and it lasted for very many years. My grandson is six, and although careful, you usually find a wheel comes off a new toy within thirty minutes of receiving it. I did buy a Thomas set a couple of years ago, but it is still hidden away. I think when it says 3.5years, they assume they child will not be putting it in his/her mouth.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away

I wouldn't allow them to play on their own as I think they are far too young to be using it on their own. I think you should just supervise them whilst they are using it or alternatively by something that is more appropriate for example the Thomas Wooden Railway stuff. I believe the age ratings on these packs are far too low and they should be more like 7 or 8. 


16 posts

I have just built a 6 x 4 layout on a folding board for my 3 year old grandson.

He plays with the trains very well and the only problem we have had is when the driving rods on the Thomas loco kept coming off the wheels. Even after it had been returned to Hornby for repair !

He is well versed in the speed of the loco and he does take great care.

He is left alone for periods driving the train on his own.

So really, it is personal choice with a large dose of how the child reacts to his new train set.

I am happy to let him run his train as he wants. We all have to learn !

Joe H

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