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Collecting Thomas the Tank Engine Trains

Updated on October 1, 2010

If you have a young child, odds are you are familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine. Little boys and girls seem to enjoy the tales of little Thomas with his can-do attitude. With the help of his many friends, he always finds a way to complete his tasks and be a "really useful engine." Along with watching the many episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine on television, there are dozens of episodes also available on video and DVD. Some of these videos and DVDs also come with the wooden trains featured in the episodes, which is a great way to add to your growing train collection.

Collecting Thomas the Tank Engine trains can be a time consuming (and money consuming) hobby for parents and their children. If you aren't sure where to begin, the following guide will help you along.

Thomas and Friends

Paint Splatter Thomas
Paint Splatter Thomas
Winter Wonderland Thomas
Winter Wonderland Thomas

Types of Thomas Trains

There are several different sets of collectible trains. They include:

  • Ertl (Die Cast and Plastic)

  • Take Alongs (Die Cast)
  • Wooden
  • Battery Operated

Each offers its own problems with collecting from finding which stores are licensed to sell them to trying to find them in particular countries. If you're willing to invest the time and effort, you'll end up purchasing them around the world in order to round out your collection. Make no mistake- parents are probably more driven to complete a set then their children are!

Ertl - These trains are a little hard to come by in the United States. They can easily be found on eBay though, coming from Europe and Australia. There are both plastic and die cast versions of these trains, though the die cast are more common. Prices vary, depending upon how old the trains are and what they are made of. Buying a "lot" on eBay is probably the best way to acquire these trains.

Take Alongs - these small die cast trains are perfect for children to play with and carry everywhere. They are also inexpensive, making them a favorite of parents on a budget. These single and double packs usually sell for about $5 - $7 per package.

Wooden - probably the most popular version of the trains to collect. The wooden trains are the most expensive to purchase, ranging in price from $9 to $15 for single packs to $25 or more for multiple packs. Personally, my only complaint is that the paint tends to chip on these trains when they are played with for a long period of time, making them less valuable over time. If you want to collect these to sell later, keep them in their original package, unopened. (Buy one to play with, the other to keep for selling later).

Battery Operated - these plastic trains are fun for kids who love to just sit and watch the trains roll by. Some of the older versions operate on C batteries while the newer versions operate on AA batteries. They sell for about $8-10 for the trains and $10 for the 3-pack coach sets.

What Thomas Trains to Collect First

The first train everyone collects is Thomas, since he is the heart and soul of each episode shown on television. His cute little face is the reason so many children are attracted to the character. It doesn't matter what type of train it is, but he should be part of everyone's collection.

Other main characters you should collect first include:

  • Annie & Clarabel
  • Toby
  • Diesel
  • Percy
  • Salty
  • Gordon
  • James

If you're collecting these for your children, they will undoubtedly want one of the train track sets and the train table to play with them on. The train table is manufactured by several different companies and is advertised as a Thomas the Tank Engine Train Table or as Brio compatible. These can be purchased at Toys R Us, Target and many places on the Internet. Shop around for the best prices, especially during the holidays.

These tables are great for kids to play on, no matter what types of Thomas trains they collect. Each of the different types of trains come with their own kind of track, and they all work well on the train tables.

What Thomas Train Set do You Collect?

What is your favorite type of Thomas the Tank Engine train set?

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