It’s no big secret that we all love trains in this house and as Monkey turned 6 today we had an extra special treat for him. Something that would also get our Christmas festivities underway. We were thrilled to be asked to share our thoughts on the Hornby Santa’s Express Train set.
The Hornby Santa’s Express Train Set is recommended for children aged 8 years and over to be able to play with independently. With Daddy P and I, both growing up surrounded by Hornby sets, we know this guide to be accurate. Monkey’s grandparents bought him the Hornby Flying Scotsman set as his Christening present and we’ve been keeping that safe for him. But under supervision I feel a 6 year old can get hours of enjoyment from these sets and the Hornby Santa’s Express Train Set is proving me right already.
This set makes an oval train track, perfect to go around your Christmas tree. We’ll be testing this out next week when we put ours up. The set comprises a 0-4-0 locomotive Santa Express train, a 7 Plank Open Wagon complete with presents (which can be removed), a Reindeers in Transit Box Van, track components to make an oval layout (119 x 108cms) complete with Power Track and Straight, R8250 Train Controller with P9000 Transformer, a Hornby MidiMat (160 x 118cms) which you can run tracks on, and fix to a mounting board, a couple of Railway worker figures and a couple of plastic components that we have no idea what they are for! There’s an engine maintenance manual included in the set, but I do feel a set specific manual would be a useful addition, or a parts list, so we could work out what these mystery items are for.
Putting this aside, the track slots together along the rails, too fiddly for a 6 year old, so Daddy P was eager to assist with track construction.
As the set came together, both Daddy P and I were transported back to our childhoods, I think we were as excited as Monkey to receive the Hornby Santa’s Express Train Set! Once the Oval track is constructed along with the Power Track and Straight, you connect the transformer and plug it into the mains and you are ready for Santa to deliver his presents.
The R8250 Train Controller is very simple to use, Monkey figured it out in seconds. By turning the dial you control the speed of the Santa Express and when the train is stationary you can move the slider to make the train go forward or reverse (great for when you want to back the loco up to couple up to the wagon and van).
The couplings on the Hornby trains clip over the retaining bar on the adjacent train/carriage, and Daddy P and I have shown Monkey how to put the train together carefully. This area is the most fragile part of the set, and I wouldn’t recommend younger children to be left in charge of coupling, unsupervised.
The loco, wagon and van have two sets of fixed wheel assemblies, making them easy to line up on the rails.
Now for the fun part, actually running the Hornby Santa Express Train Set. Monkey has been in heaven since we set it up. We all love trains here, and I can see this set giving Monkey and Daddy P some real quality time together, over a shared love. You can run the Loco both pulling and pushing the Van and Wagon as Monkey discovered. Remember Mummy, we sometimes get pushed by steam trains rather than pulled! Yes Monkey, we most certainly do.
The Hornby Santa’s Express Train Set R1179 is priced at £69.99 and makes a great starter set. We see Hornby as an investment as it has such long-term play potential. We’ve promised Monkey we’ll get his Flying Scotsman set out over the holidays and join it up with this set, along with the other accessories we’ve been buying for him since he was born.
I think the excitement will mount when he realises his birthday treat for the weekend is going on a real Santa Express train ride, and knowing Monkey as I do, he’ll be straight back home to reenact the experience with his Hornby set!
disclaimer: we were sent this set in exchange for an honest review