It's no secret that my kids are very lucky to have as many toys as they do. From small to large, innovative and unique to classic and traditional, they are extremely fortunate to be growing up with such a wonderful variety of items to enjoy.
But out of the hundreds of toys that we've played with, there have definitely been some that stood out above the rest in terms of quality, entertainment and all around fun. These are the ones that have grown with them and have provided hours and hours of open-ended creativity, imagination and inventiveness; ones that I would be happy to have in my home and proud to give as gifts to all of the kids that we know.
And, without a doubt, our favorite name in toys and educational products is the one and only Melissa & Doug.
One of the leading designers and manufacturers of educational toys and children's products, Melissa & Doug has been offering customers products of tremendous value, quality and design since they first started back in 1988. With nearly 1,000 unique toys that, in my opinion, really are superior to the rest, there is something for kids of all ages to love and enjoy.
I can't clearly remember our first Melissa & Doug purchase... although I wish I could. It might have been the beginning of our huge collection of play food or the first of many colorful and fun wooden puzzles that my girls now both adore. Or maybe it was one of the magnetic activities... because I know the Princess Elise Magnetic Dress-Up Set was an early selection. Either way, we have loved them all.
So when the Melissa & Doug Wooden Railway Set arrived, there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be an instant favorite for years and years to come.
Now, I've seen trains before, of course, but I have never seen a Melissa & Doug Train Set to fully understand just what makes them so amazing. The pictures on the box did look pretty nice, but when I opened it up to see all that was included, suddenly the magnitude of this set just made sense.
We're talking over 130 top-of-the-line wooden pieces in every size and shape that you can think of... and, in fact, including many that I would never have thought of on my own.
First, there were dozens of the traditional train tracks, in both straight and curved options, of multiple lengths that were not only smooth and durable, but double-sided to ensure that you could place them in just about any direction and still have them fit.
But just being able to make a circle or a ramp is far from all that can be done with Melissa & Doug toy trains. The roundhouse engine shed and roundtable, magnetic cranes, suspension bridge... the possibilities are endless!
And actually, I looked at all of these innovative pieces for a minute and wondered if I had enough creativity to come up with a way to fully make use out of them. Thankfully, Melissa & Doug had thought of people like me who like a little help getting things going once in a while and included four full color and clearly labeled diagrams that were easy to follow so that anyone could have a complete train masterpiece.
As Big Sister E and Little Sister B admired the six-piece freight train with cargo, four-piece passenger train and three-piece flatbed truck with cargo, I set to work putting together a layout that they could enjoy.
I was so glad to see that the track pieces snapped snugly and easily into one another and that kids would have no problem doing any of the construction themselves. Whether I was laying things out flat, using the wooden braces to set up a raised level or connecting it all together in the middle with the movable roundtable, the construction process was definitely a big part of the fun.
After sitting back to admire our accomplishment, Big Sister E and Little Sister B dove right in to start playing. With the huge variety of places and ways to play, it was all that they could do to decide where their train was going to go next. Who could blame them?
Retailing for $119.99, the Wooden Railway Set is actually a great value for the money. All of the tracks and trains are compatible with most other brands of wooden tracks, so there's no worry if you already own a different kind or gain others to your collection somewhere down the road. Each of these high quality tracks and accessories (did you see those cute trees and traffic signs?) will provide fun no matter what.
As there aren't any electrical parts, flashing lights or battery-operated motors, this train set is all about imaginative play for any young train engineer (and their siblings, friends and parents, too). Designed for children ages three and older, the easy-to-follow visual instructions can give ideas or kids can just let their creativity take over to design the configuration of their dreams.
The Wooden Railway Set has been far from disappointing and every time we have played with it has just furthered my devotion to all things Melissa & Doug. We have yet to find one of their toys that hasn't been an instant hit and I know that all I have to do is see this logo...
...and it means quality, safety (and thorough testing to prove it) and fun. If I had start over and pick all of my kids' toys again, there are some here that I would leave out. But all of the Melissa & Doug items? I'd definitely purchase them all over again.
Do you have a train fan in your life? Even if you don't currently have one, one look at this train set could convert just about anyone to an engineer and, thanks to the generosity of Melissa & Doug, one person will find that out because...
One lucky person will win a Wooden Railway Set from Melissa & Doug*!
*If you've won any other Melissa & Doug Giveaways or Contests within the past 12 months you are not eligible to participate in this giveaway.
To enter to win: Visit Melissa & Doug and tell me one of the many amazing toys that they sell that you (or your child) would love to own.
Extra Entries (available after the mandatory entry above is completed; please leave a separate comment for each entry in order for them to be counted).
1 Extra Entry (per method) if you follow Melissa & Doug on Twitter, Like them on Facebook and/or join their Treasured Toy Club Email Newsletter.
1 Extra Entry (per giveaway entered) - Enter any (or all) of the giveaways running on Thanks, Mail Carrier for the duration of this giveaway.
1 Extra Entry if you follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway by copying and pasting the tweet below and leaving me the link. Tweet daily for an extra entry every day!
I want to #WIN a Melissa & Doug Wooden Railway Set (ARV $120)! @MelissaAndDoug is the best! #thxmailcarrier http://bit.ly/edXoJM #giveaway
2 Extra Entries (per follow method) if you follow me with Google Friend Connect, subscribe to my RSS feed, subscribe to Thanks, Mail Carrier by email or become a fan on Facebook.
3 Extra Entries if you put my cute button up on your blog. Please leave an address where it can be found.
3 Extra Entries if you blog about this giveaway linking back to Thanks, Mail Carrier and Melissa & Doug. Please leave an address where it can be found.
Giveaway will end on January 14th at 11:59pm CST. Do me the favor of leaving an email address or making absolutely sure it is visible in your profile, I have to have a way to contact the winner. The winner will be chosen by random.org and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to contact me or respond to notification or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.
A big thank you to Melissa & Doug for providing a Wooden Railway Set for me to review as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.