12 of the best toy train sets

Wooden, electric, plastic and magnetic trains and tracks for children of all ages and stages to enjoy...

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A train set is the ultimate classic children’s toy – whether they’re teeny, tiny or 10. Perfect for letting their imaginations run wild, practising hand eye co-ordination, and enjoying building the track piece by piece.

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Over the years, some have gone tech with motorisation and electronic features, or cool designs based on characters like Thomas The Tank Engine and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express – but there’s still plenty of old-school wooden train sets to choose from, too.

Check out 12 of the best, top-rated train sets for children aged 18 months to 12 years…

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1. Carousel Wooden Train Set, £10

Age: 3+

What it is: A 60-piece wooden train set, with straight and curved track pieces that you can flip over to make into a road, too. Includes trees, people, animals and traditional village buildings, such as a sweet shop, fire station and hospital. Made from FSC-approved wood.

Why we love it: It looks lovely, the pieces are chunky and nicely detailed, the set is durable, there’s lots of options for moving the track lay out – and it’s amazing value for money!

We love that it allows for a little wiggle room for kids to try and make their own track, so creative! Our child toy testers reckon all this makes it a perfect first train set – also awarding it GOLD in the Best Wooden Toy category at the 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Large Tesco stores, countrywide (but not online).

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2. Thomas & Friends TURBO Jump Double Train Set, £37.49

Age: 3+

What it is: A Thomas-themed track with a jungle twist, inspired by his adventures in South America (if your child loves the Thomas movies, you’ll know what we mean). It comes with a full track layout – including a big bank and 2 booster tracks – palm trees and a motorised Thomas train. Requires  2 AAA batteries for the track to work,

Why we love it: It’s fast, fun and high energy: as well as switching Thomas to Turbo mode, you can – thrills! – launch him in the air and even make the booster tracks change colour. Fortunately, the set is sturdy and easy to set up. You may find it works best on a hard surface, rather than a carpet.

Available from: Smyths Toys

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3. Magformers Sky Track Play Set, £69.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A set of 44 construction pieces that can be connected to make lots of different monorail tracks. Includes a sky shuttle, a lift, a 360 degree shuttle spinner. Requires 2 AA batteries.

Why we love it: This looks very cool and it’s super-easy for kids to create a track without adult help. The shuttle spinner that makes the train go upside down had a real ‘wow’ factor for our child testers, who gave it Silver in our MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Amazon

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4. Brio Deluxe Railway Set, £224.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 36-piece wooden track (measures 113.5cm x 73cm when set up), with 87 play pieces, including ramps, level crossings, 3 stations, a crane, suspension bridges, 5 figures, assorted accessories (including ticket machine and luggage) and, of course, trains with wagons or carriages.

Why we love it: Brio train sets are (worthily) renowned for their quality, attention to detail and longevity. This set is not exactly cheap (Brio sets rarely are) but it’s beautifully designed and made, and is absolutely jam-packed with features to thrill a small train lover (there’s even a ferry crossing). An investment buy, for sure.

Available from: Amazon

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5. KidKraft Adventure Town Railway Set & Table, £184.65

Age: 3+

What is it: A large (110cm x 79cm x 53cm) wooden play table with moulded edges, a landscape design on top and 2 collapsible storage bins underneath. Comes with a whopping 120-piece accessory set, including train track, vehicles, people, trees, a crane and a helicopter.

Why we love it: Astonishingly, this big sturdy table can be assembled or packed away in under 1 minute – without a screwdriver or allen key! We also love its kid-friendly height (ideal for standing and kneeling) and the detail in the accessories. It won Silver in the 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards, because our child testers’ parents felt you get a lot for your money.

Available from: Amazon

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6. BigJigs Fairy Figure of Eight Train Set, £25.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 40-piece wooden set, with engine and carriages, wooden houses, trees, a fairy and (obvs) a spotty pink mushroom.

Why we love it: We love the fairy/train mash-up vibe! It’s good value for a quality wooden set, with chunky wooden pieces, and is compatible with Brio, Ikea and most other branded wooden track pieces, should you wish to extend it. Extra points for being made from responsibly sourced materials.

Available from: BigJigs

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7. Lego Duplo Number Train, £12.99

Age: 18 months +

What it is: A 23-piece train (but no track) with 3 carriages and bricks, numbered 0 to 9 to stack on top. Comes with 2 figures and a cat.

Why we love it: It’s bright, chunky, cheerful: the perfect first train. The counting theme is a nicely incorporated – and the cat is a lovely, toddler-pleasing touch.

Available from: Amazon

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8. Wooden Magnetic Garden Friends Train, £15

Age: 18 months to 3

What it is: A 12-piece wooden track, with 4 animal carriages (bird, bee, butterfly and ladybird) and a rainbow bridge.

Why we love it: This is a beautifully simple – and well-priced – starter set, with cute gender-neutral styling.

Available from: Amazon

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9. LEGO 75955 Harry Potter Hogwarts Express, £69.99

Age: 8 to 14+

What it is: This impressive 801-piece LEGO set contains a LEGO model of the Hogwarts Express train, and even one side of Platform 9¾! The train has a removable side panel/roof for when building’s done and it’s time to play wizards – as well as 4 seats.

Comes with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Remus Lupin and the Trolley Witch minifigures, plus Dementor and Scabbers (Ron’s rat!)figures – along with a host of recognisable accessories.Built, the platform is 17cm long and 31cm wide, and the train is 46cm long and 5cm wide.

Why we love it: The ultimate Christmas or birthday gift for any LEGO/Harry fan, this set is really complex. It’s an unusual build, because there’s a platform that’s just as a important as the train, rather than a track to build. It should also be pretty easy to follow the instructions, which is essential for a set like this.

There’s also tons of play potential, acting out the Harry Potter books, movies, or even making up their own adventures for JK Rowling’s famous trio.

Available from: Smyths Toys, John Lewis and Argos

10. Green toys Train, £34.49

Age: 2 – 7 years

What it is: A sturdy, eco-friendly steam engine which can pull two additional cars that link together to form a long train, or easily unhook for stand-alone train play.

Why we love it: We love that it’s so eco-friendly! It is made from recycled plastic milk bottles. And it’s really great quality too, making it a toy that will really last. It’s chunky, so a great size for a toddler to have fun with. The wheels roll easily on both carpet and a wooden floor, and the whole thing can even be put in the dishwasher! It doesn’t come with figures, but the train opens up so you can put some inside. Playmobil or similar would fit really well.

Available from: Green Toys

11. Ikea Lillabo 20-piece basic train, £8

Age: 3 +

What it is: A 20-piece track that comes with three trains and a bridge.

Why we love it: It’s inexpensive, so it’s a great choice if you want to see if your little one is going to enjoy playing with trains before you invest in a huge amount of track. If they do love trains, you can add on lots more from the same Ikea Lillabo range – or all the pieces fit together with Brio and BigJigs, making it a really versatile wooden train track.

Available from: Ikea

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