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Wooden Train Set Brand Profiles

When making a wooden train set purchase or adding on to your current set, it is important to understand how brands vary.  Here you will find brief profiles for many of the brands we recommend on our site as well as a chart that compares basic figure 8 sets across all brands.

This post contains links to products sold on Amazon.com. If you click on one and subsequently make a purchase of any item within a  24 hour period, we will receive a small commission from Amazon.com at no additional cost to you.  Read our disclosure policy for more details.

1.  BigJigs – BigJigs was started in the 1980s by two former teachers who wanted to make educational wooden toys.  Still a family business and UK based, Bigjigs uses sustainable resources for all of their wooden toys.  Bigjigs is also environmentally conscious with regard to packaging.  Bigjigs Rail is their line of trains , while they also offer Bigjigs Road if your child is more into cars and trucks than trains.  Bigjigs is also one of the few wooden train set makers that offers options that are geared toward girls.  Reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this brand, often citing durability and price as attractive features.  Bottom Line:  Durable with lots of options

2. BRIO  – BRIO is one of the most well known wooden train set brand names.  A Swedish born company that is now a global group of companies, BRIO continues to make its railway toys available through its Brio AB company.  While it is one of the more expensive brands, BRIO’s reputation for the highest quality is echoed by reviewers over and over again.  Accessories and options are more than plentiful.  Bottom Line:  Reputation and selection. High quality with price to match

3. Chuggington  – TOMY offers Chuggington wooden train sets, which are based on the animated children’s tv series and are also offered in a die cast train set version.  These are a hit with those who love the Chuggington characters and show.  Reviewers note that the plastic content is higher in these train sets than some others.  Bottom Line: Standard quality with big points if your child is a fan of the character

4. IKEA Lillabo  – While IKEA only makes a limited number of wooden toys, this brand wins on affordability.  IKEA only offers a handful of accessories, and they are far less detailed than some of the other brands, but reviewers tend to give glowing reviews for what you get for the price.  IKEA product details do not indicate track compatibility, however most reviewers have been able to make them work with other track brands with various levels of effort.  Bottom Line: Basic set for GREAT price.  Hit or miss track compatibility.

5. Imaginarium  – This brand is owned by Toys R Us  and is very affordable.  Reviewers often note the compatibility with BRIO and Thomas sets (no forcing pieces etc.) and the ease with which their little ones can put together the track on their own.  Buyers should note that if they are looking to stick with one brand over time, this one has a very limited selection of accessories.  Bottom Line: Limited choices, but affordable and Compatible

6. KidKraft – KidKraft is a brand you are likely to come across at big box stores and is probably the most affordable on our list when you look at the number of pieces you get for the price.  Buyers should note that KidKraft sells full sets only, not individual accessories, so if you are looking to add on, you will need to do so with other compatible brands.  This brand has a lot of fans among reviewers, although a common issue some have noted is that the trains don’t always move along the track as smoothly as you might like.  Bottom Line: Most affordable per piece.  Full sets only.

7. Maple Landmark – A small company out of Middlebury Vermont, Maple Landmark specializes in wooden toys and gifts.  While among the more expensive wooden train sets, reviewers love that they are made in the USA  and of the highest quality.  The tracks also stand out from other brands.  While they are fully compatible, Maple Landmark uses laser engraving to etch track ties, giving them a very unique look.  Another unique identifier of Maple Landmark trains is that even the train wheels are made of wood instead of plastic.  Check out their name train cars to personalize a train that spells your little one’s name.  Bottom Line: Unique quality sets them apart. Made in the USA. 

8. Melissa & Doug  – Another affordable wooden train set brand, Melissa & Doug offers compatible wood tracks and a good selection of accessories.  Reviewers tend to give very high marks to M&D’s train sets with occasional complaints being around the strength of the magnetic connections and some derailment issues (especially when mixing with other track brands).  Bottom Line: Great option on a budget

9. Nuchi – Nuchi train sets have a unique visual appeal that is slightly different from other wooden train sets that can often seem similar to each other.  The higher price tag seems to be backed by reviewers being impressed by the high quality of these sets.  Bottom Line: Quality with character

10. Orbrium  – Orbrium is a company whose only focus is wooden trains and accessories.  They offer low cost wooden train sets that reviewers give high marks to for quality.  Accessories are more limited than some brands.  Bottom Line:  Limited choices, but affordable with good quality

11. Plan Toys  – This brand, out of Thailand stands out for several reasons. The first is their Green concept, which utilizes the entire tree.  With PlanWood PlanToys takes leftover sawdust and wood chips from their toy production and mixes it with formaldehyde-free glue  Using pressure molding, they create a stronger, more durable High Density Fiber that is not treated with heavy chemicals. Another noticeable difference is that the trains use plastic instead of magnetic connectors.  While you won’t be able to connect with trains from many other brands, Plan Toys feels that this addresses some safety concerns.  Sets have a sleek and modern design and many have tracks that reverse from rail to roadway.  While reviews are sparser than some of the more traditional brands, they are mostly very positive.  Bottom Line:  Unique and environmentally conscious

12. Thomas and Friends  – If your child is a fan of the Thomas characters, then you may be considering this brand — or your child may not be giving you a choice. While Thomas sets tend to be among the most expensive wooden train sets, they receive high marks for quality from reviewers and have a huge number of accessories and related items for the throngs of Thomas fans out there.  Bottom Line: A Must for Thomas fans.  Non-fans should at least consider other brands.

This post contains links to products sold on Amazon.com. If you click on one and subsequently make a purchase of any item within a  24 hour period, we will receive a small commission from Amazon.com at no additional cost to you.  Read our disclosure policy for more details.

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