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The Coolest Toy I’ve Ever Seen.

by Lori Dwyer on December 17, 2012 · 7 comments

As we’ve discussed many times before, my kids have a thing for trains. Steam trains, in particular.

I consider it some kind of karmic punishment. I hated Thomas as a kid, probably only because my younger brother adored it. The old–school Thomas theme (before words and personalities and whatnot) carries with an unpleasant undertone of cranky sibling nostalgia. Even with that in mind, I’m still slightly suspicious of the Thomas and Friends revamp. With words in the theme song, and trains that have animated faces and each their own individual voices.

And, because I am old, I just really miss Ringo Starr.

Whatever. TV show and merchandise being mostly unrelated, anyway, I held no preconceived grudges against the Fisher Price Thomas Speed n Steam that was delivered to the TinyTrainHouse last weekend. And I’m grateful for that. Because when I say this is the coolest toy I have ever seen in my whole life, you might believe me.

And I mean that- really. This Thomas is truly awesome– everything you hated about remote controlled toys for little ones, Fisher Price has already thought of. And they’ve fixed it.

There’s no annoying, thin metal antennae to snap, bend and render the toy useless. Secondly, the controls are so, so simple. The green arrow goes forward. The blue button changes ’modes’, but only requires one press on it to make Thomas get all piston–happy and shoot off across the floor. The yellow arrow is, technically, ’reverse’– but not. The most frustrating thing for a three year old is attempting to manipulate an RC toy when the concept of a three point turn is many teenaged years away from them. So Thomas doesn’t just reverse, he also spins himself around, so he’s facing back the way he came from. Or any other other direction you like, really– he just keeps doing 360′s until you take your finger off the button.

So ridiculously simple. So damn ingenious.

Thomas Steam n Speed also, as his implies, blows real steam– but cool steam, not hot steam–from his smoke stack. Say what you will about children and imagination and so forth, I do, even from my fantastic plastic standpoint over here, totally get what you’re saying. But the reason Thomas is so very cool is that he’s a steam train. And, unless you happen to live in the TinyTrainTown, you just don’t see them all that often. Filling up his tiny water tank seems to last a very long time, even with only ten ml’s of water in it; and is super easy thanks to the little plastic dropper provided which actually tucks into a compartment underneath Thomas, so it won’t get lost in that draw of batteries, phone cords, paper clips, pens and other junk that I know you have somewhere at home. Because everyone has one. I call it the Basket of Doom. Speaking of, Thomas takes four AA batteries… consider yourself forewarned, and therefore forearmed.

Anyway. The Thomas Speed n Steam is, completely honestly, one of the most awesome battery–powered toys for little kids that I’ve monopolised away from my children. And, of course, the Chop and the Bump love it, too– I can tell by the way they are prepared to fight one another to the death for possession of the remote control.

So this one gets an extraordinary five out five jellybeans on the RRSAHM Ranking Stuff Scale. Well done, Thomas, well done. Cinders and ashes, indeed.

So you can buy your very own Thomas Speed n Speed, I’ve got a $100 Toys’R’Us voucher up for grabs. Fill in the form below and tell me- do you groove on the new, animated Thomas; or are you more of a traditionalist Thomas fan? 
25 words or less-ish, please, and Australian residents only (again, I know, I know…). This one opens Monday 17th November and closes midnight Wednesday 19th Novemeber AEST. You can find the T’s and C’s right here.

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by Lori Dwyer on October 24, 2011 · 23 comments

This post has been forming itself, crocheting itself in tiny stitches in my mind, ever since I walked through the door of the TinyTrainHouse.

I’ve been reluctant to write it… because I know, psychologically, that what I’m doing here is called ‘meaning making’. Taking something as torrid and awful as the death of someone you love, and trying to put some form of purpose around it, some kind of framework for it to fit in beyond a group of atoms and cells that grow, and live, and die, and decay.

But knowing that… does it change it? Not at all. You can know exactly how something works… and there can still be magic in it.


Because does it feel like Tony sent us here, to this house; that he sent this house to us? Of course it does.

How could it not? When it’s just the type of house we always discussed buying for ourselves, in a few years time… taking our Purple Life with us?

When it’s got everything I always said I wanted in a house- floorboards, a dishwasher, built in ‘robes, a ceiling fan, a Hills Hoist clothesline…

And a garden full of flowers, for his daughter and his wife. The flowers we didn’t have at our wedding, cost and time prohibiting, and he always promised he’d give me.

And then there’s the steam trains… the Chop’s favorite thing on the planet. We did steam trains, in our Purple Life. Trains even has it’s own label on my blog.

And every Sunday, here in TinyTrainTown, the view from our front window is this…

I know… a string of small coincidences, that might mean nothing at all. And after losing the dog, my faith in the whole idea was sorely shaken. But, as I mentioned In The Powder Room, my mum and her philosophising helped a good deal (as the philosophy of mothers often does)…. that maybe Scarlette stayed as long as she could, until she knew we were safe… and then headed back to her master.

That helps enough, fits enough, to fit in with the scheme of things… we’ve found a perfect little family home for the little family that is the three of us, at a price that suited perfectly too.

It sounds melodramatic and over the top…. but ‘heaven sent’ seem to be just the right words to use.

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