Tag Archives: Wooden Railway

BigJigs Roadway Zebra Crossing Set

When Merry from Patch of Puddles put out a Twitter call for reviewers for Manhattan Toy products, I jumped at the chance before remembering that actually I don’t have any children young enough any more… However Merry also offered products from the BigJigs Road and Rail series, which we love.

It is no secret that I adore wooden toys, and I do think that wooden rail sets are up there as one of the ‘must have’ toys for children (right up the top of the list with boxes, sticks and mud!) I’ve been fortunate to be sent the BigJigs Level Crossing Set to test for compatibility with other Road sets, and when I was looking at that I fell for the Zebra Crossing Set which Merry kindly sent to us for review.

The first lovely surprise on receiving the package was how the set was presented in its box. Often these sets are in closed boxes with only pictures on the outside but with this you can see what you’re actually getting, which was very exciting for DG as she helped me unwrap.

The box had already been torn before I took the picture, but I glued it back together. Sharp eyes will see the join! The box has been battered somewhat so just look at the lovely things inside...

As a hit on its own, it worked as DG instantly tore the box open and started playing (and has selected it independently on many occasions since). However, we do have other road and rail pieces so these were soon added into play, along with other cars and trains. DG got the first play because MG was at school when the parcel arrived, but MG has also stolen it from DG played with it regularly too.

Here's the Zebra Crossing in action with some Plan City roadway. DG is driving a train carriage over the road bridge, of course... This is a set-up in order to take the picture because I stupidly didn't take any when the girls were actually playing with the crossing, but it looks fab doesn't it?!

This set includes a zebra crossing road piece, two other road pieces, one car, two orange beacons, a street lamp, a children crossing warning sign and two wooden children. The fact that the whole set is based on UK road signs is a huge bonus, and therefore can also be used in conversations to talk about how to cross safely. My children quite enjoyed running over the wooden people at this point, I don’t think that was quite what I meant to get across to them!

Zebra Crossing Set and Level Crossing (no other sets included in this picture). Please don't take the fact that our Level Crossing is broken as any sign of the quality of the product. It's just my children leave their toys in weird places and some idiot in big boots didn't notice it was on the floor where it shouldn't have been and stepped on it *cough*

As a toy in isolation, this set probably isn’t quite enough to keep attention for too long. However, it doesn’t need a huge amount to give it longer play life. It would be great with one of the starter road sets, but the addition of the Level Crossing Set not only gives a connection to any existing rail sets you may have but also includes two slopes that make the transition from carpet road to wooden road easier for the cars, trains, trucks or whatever vehicles the children have chosen to use.

There's a reason she's called Destructo-Girl... I think she might be running a child over in this, back to the drawing board with road sense education...

All in all, a definite hit with MG and DG, and a great addition to any wooden road and/or rail sets. I’m really grateful to Merry for giving me the opportunity to review this. If you don’t already read Merry’s blog then I also heartily recommend going to Patch of Puddles to catch up.

Disclaimer: We were sent a BigJigs Zebra Crossing Set from Play Merrily Toys in exchange for a review post. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own.

Bigjigs Wooden Roadway

Wooden railway sets are fantastic – there are so many different shaped track pieces, practically all the different brands are compatible with each other and there are accessories to fit every budget – from stations and engine sheds to shipping docks and cement works. Plus all the engines and rolling stock. The main brands are Brio, Thomas Wooden RailwayPlan City and Bigjigs. Brio is great for the serious train fan with a selection of famous trains and great quality sets. Thomas fans have all the Thomas trains to choose from with Thomas Wooden Railway, although I’m not as keen on the Thomas track as it doesn’t connect as well with other brands. Plan City is the most expensive but is beautiful. Bigjigs is the budget range but, comparing cost and quality, it’s also the best value for money.

As well as railway, Plan City has wooden roadway which adds to the play as you can then connect parking garages, petrol stations, airports… You don’t need roadway but the Plan City vehicles are so nice they deserve their own road 😉 There are more serious arguments for roadway: increasing the complexity of a rail/road system gives greater problem solving skills and the varied interest keeps them being played with. I had bought some Plan City roadway for MG and DG, so I was really pleased to see Bigjigs had bought out a range so there is more scope for expanding our existing pieces. I must have missed Brio’s roadway range being released, so I can only assume it’s fairly new too but I love that there is now roadway from three of the major wooden railway brands.

I’m not a huge fan of ‘sets’ when it comes to wooden railways. I feel that it’s nicer to be able to pick and choose pieces to build up the railway, which is why I haven’t mentioned any of the high street store brands when it comes to wooden railways. On the whole, they seem to offer a ‘small’ set and a ‘big’ set and nothing else. With Brio, Bigjigs, Plan City and Thomas Wooden Railway there are a huge selection of track pieces, rolling stock, buildings and accessories to slowly build up a unique and tailor-made set that suits your own children’s preferences (and your budget).

My favourite online toyshop, Play Merrily, very kindly sent me the Level Crossing Set to test for compatibility with Plan City roadway. Looking online, Bigjigs roadway looks like it has been designed to be most compatible with Brio roadway – both have white centre markings and slightly raised edges; whereas Plan City roadway has grey centre markings and slightly depressed edges.

Brio on left; Bigjigs on right:

Plan City compatibility (Bigjigs on right; Plan City on left):

The Bigjigs roadway is slightly wider than Plan City and there are the differences in colour marking and edge but otherwise they fit together well and the differences will make no difference to play value – besides, in the real world, roads do vary 😆


Review of the Bigjigs Level Crossing Set: I am so glad I was sent this set, I’d wanted to get MG and DG a level crossing for their train/road but the cost of the Plan City one had put it on hold (approx £12 + p&p) The Bigjigs level crossing has more play value because the gates not only stop the road traffic, they can be pushed ninety degrees to stop the trains instead. All this for under £5 (+ p&p). If you have no other roadway, it’s worth getting this version of the level crossing because it includes ramps so road play can move onto the carpet if prefered but then there’s the option to add roadway in the future (and it’s the same price as the railway level crossing).

I will definitely buy more Bigjigs roadway, in fact I plan to get the Zebra Crossing Set next. Not only does it look fun to add to the girls’ existing pieces but I can sneak some roadsense education in whilst they’re playing. Even without any other items of roadway this looks like a great set to talk through road crossing scenarios with small children.

BigJigs Rail Mini Track

[Written: September 2010]

This is a great pack to add to a wooden railway system. When making large track layouts, there are often times where you end up with two innie or two outie connectors next to each other that therefore can’t join together. This set includes small track pieces with innie connections on each end or outie connections on each end, solving the problem (I’m sure innie and outie connectors have proper names, but I don’t know what they are I’m afraid!)

The normal small track pieces are very useful to get the track layout to connect too. The set includes 8 pieces of track.

BigJigs Shipping Container Yard (for Wooden Railway)

[Written: September 2010]

Background: I have two daughters, aged 3.5 years and 15 months. They have a variety of wooden railway pieces – no big sets but various smaller sets, buildings, trains and accessories from the four main toy wooden railway manufacturers (Big Jigs, Brio, Plan and Thomas). I look for pieces that create interesting and non-limiting play options for them.

Review: Big Jigs Rail Container Shipping Yard is a fantastic addition to an existing wooden railway set. It comes with the main track piece that has an extended area for a building and the (removable) magnetic crane, plus a lorry, a canal boat, a train carriage and two shipping containers with magnetic tops (many of the Big Jigs Rail individual carriages have removable containers with magnetic tops so lots of combined play if you already have some of these carriages.)

There is a separate wooden ramp that the lorry can drive up to the yard – this allows the train set play to start connecting with other vehicles that you might already have (e.g. cars, wooden or otherwise, and perhaps a garage, airport, play mat etc.) The picture doesn’t show it very well but this set does come with a small barge / canal boat which can hold one shipping container. This gives three loading / unloading options: onto or off the barge onto or off the lorry onto or off train carriages. The magnetic crane has a slightly flimsy cord which is a little too long (the weight of the containers pulls it down) but kids seem to be drawn to anything magnetic and the unloading/loading options, plus circling the crane between the barge, lorry and train has kept my girls amused for some time (a definite plus in its favour!)

Being Big Jigs, it is cheaper than other wooden rail sets and therefore excellent value for money for the variety of play options it provides. A very good gift for train-mad children who already have a wooden rail set.

BigJigs Rail – Village Station

[Written: September 2010]

I really want to like this Village Station. Actually, I do really like it but when my daughters are playing with their wooden railway this often gets left in the box.

It may be because they are very young (3.5 years and 15 months) They like the pieces that connect together, and this station doesn’t. I think the slightly larger Train Station would be a better choice if you are going for just one station, as it will connect to the track so the trains can go through the station. This Village Station sits at the side of the track, which does make it very versatile to move around once a track has been put together.

Sadly, I can’t give it 5* based on my experience with my daughters, but it is a lovely piece and older children may appreciate it and get more imaginative play value from it.

I recommend it for imaginative play with a railway, it doesn’t give the construction play that other rail pieces give.