Sadly, many children only get the one or two trains that come with their wooden train sets and miss out on the enjoyment, imagination and education that playing with different locomotives bring. If only there was a handy roundup the best wooden train set engines for children by children that parents could pick the best trains from…
Before we get into the compilation of the best wooden trains take a look at this. It’s an old school Thomas wooden train and sadly no longer available but just look at it!
If you ever see this in a boot sale don’t hesitate to grab it.
Anyway, here are the best wood trains from my toy box picked for their fun, entertainment, value and realism to inspire imagination and educational value. These have been picked on the basis of entertainment value my children and those of friends visiting got from them, their comments and reviews from across the rest of the web.
The Mighty Red Action loco from Brio has it all going for it and will power your child’s imagination to the max.
A built-in motor lets it zoom around the track – forwards and, unusually, backward – under its own battery power even when pulling several wagons.
While it may seem expensive you get a lot more bang for buck than with other wooden engines. Along with the motor, it also has lights, sounds, and a handy switch to disengage the motor – so it can also be pushed around under hand power – all of which makes it pretty good value for money.
The glorious Red livery with Yellow lines, numbering and domes give it a distinctive finish and make it a firm favourite for every child while it’s excellent manufacturing quality and strength mean it can withstand toddler play making it a favourite of parents too.
- Sounds, lights, and electric motor
- Forward and reverse power
- Button for push-along play
- Strong engine, able to pull carriages and freight wagons
- Rubber rings around powered wheels to improve traction.
Toddler Score: “Wow!!!”, “It’s my turn!!”
Parent Comment: “All in all – if you’re looking for an electric train to run on wooden track – get this one you won’t be disappointed.”
> Get the Mighty Red Locomotive.
This delightful cheeky little engine will please any Thomas fan.
Bright colours and smooth running ensure hours and hours of play while high-quality construction will keep mums and dads happy too.
The ideal number one train to start a Thomas collection.
- Nice detailing
- Bright vivid colours
- Holds up well to knocks, drops and scrapes
- Wipes clean.
Toddler Score: Still holding it when he fell asleep – next to the train set of course.
Parent Comment: “My son is a big Thomas fan and loves trains so I thought I would get him this for Christmas and I want disappointed. The quality is good and it fitted in well with my son’s wooden train set.”
> Get Thomas The Tank Engine.
TIP: While these trains are pretty hard wearing any toddler toy is going to take a battering so to make the finish on these wooden trains last longer add a coat of varnish (available from DIY stores) to them beforehand.
This will protect the paintwork from chips and scratches and extend their life. Obviously, follow the drying instructions of the varnish before giving the painted trains to children and follow the safety instructions supplied.
Don’t ask steam perfectionists to play with this as it’s flawed in several aspects as a reproduction of the Mallard (the colour is off and the front wheels aren’t right). But let’s face it, this is for kids and as a fun engine for children to play with while learning and being inspired by tales of the record-breaking speeds this famous engine achieved it’s hard to beat.
- Swivel wheels for cornering
- Comes with educational information about the engine’s evolution and working life
- Includes engine and tender.
Toddler score: Two thumbs up.
Parent Comment: “well constructed and survives all the treatment that it has been subjected to by a 3yr old boy.”
> Get Mallard Train.
Who doesn’t know of George Stephenson Rocket, the iconic early steam engine that set the standard for 150 years, and this wonderful little wooden version – licensed from National Railway Museum – is a charming rendition.
Like other engines in Bigjigs outstanding Heritage Collection series, it’s a good reproduction of the original and robustly made – so it’ll stand up to rigours of toddler play – and comes with notes and a picture of the original engine on which it is based.
- Faithful reproduction of the iconic steam engine
- Funnel folds down to allow passage through tunnels
- Vibrant Yellow and Black colours just like the 1829 original
- Great educational aid – the history of steam and transport.
Toddler Score: “oooh, choo choo”
Parent Comment: “My 5-year-old got this as a present and he absolutely loves it.”
Get the Rocket.
EXTRA: How To Care For Wooden Trains
Looked after wooden trains will last for years. Here are 3 simple tips to keep them safe.
- Don’t expose to heat or cold: These trains are made of wood which expands and contracts when heated or chilled. Keeping them away from extremes of heat – radiators for example – will help them last longer.
- Keep them dry: Wood doesn’t like humidity or water, warping and distorts when damp and wet, so avoid getting the trains wet (no bath times!) and leaving them outside at night.
- Clean them: Use a child-friendly cleaner and wipe down the surfaces regularly, food and dirt can clog wheels and work its way between parts leading to breakages and disappointment.
While there are quite a few wooden high-speed trains I’ve picked the BRIO Shinkansen Passenger Train for a number of reasons.
For starters, if you’re going to have a high-speed train you want the fastest right? Of course and this Brio train is based on none other than the iconic Japanese Shinkansen Bullet trains, which were and are the fastest trains in the world. Not only does it have the distinctive wedge shape nose but Brio has done a great job matching the colouring and livery, with a bright white paintwork and blue stripes just like as the original.
Secondly, they feature a clever wheel arrangement that allows them to pivot as the train negotiates bends. Without this arrangement, the length of the trains would cause derailments. It’s smart arrangement and allows the train to be longer than other wooden trains so keeping the look and feel of the real Bullet trains.
Finally, this is a great train for older kids for whom might be thinking of upgrading to Lego. They can start with play with this and when the time is right to move up to Lego for which there’s a matching high-speed train set.
- Looks just like the real thing
- Clever pivoting wheel arrangement for bends
- Distinctive design and paintwork
Toddler Score: Shouts of delight
Parent Comment: “once he had that train, he didn’t want to open other toys, from that day, he considered this train as his treasure.”
Get the Brio High-Speed Train.
So which of these wonderful trains have you got or is there another you think I should include, share your child’s favourite in a comment below. And if you’re looking for more help, advice and tips on wooden trains see my guide to children’s wooden trains.Disclaimer: Some links on this page will take you to Amazon or eBay through which you can buy the products mentioned. These links are made under the Amazon and eBay affiliate scheme which means that although the price to you doesn't change I get a small commission on the orders you place. Please see the disclaimer for more details.