Collectible Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Toys

Since I covered collecting vintage toys in previous articles I thought I’d cover something I see as a future collectible toy, Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Toys. Given the recent death of George Carlin, who stared as Mr. Conductor on the PBS series Shining Time Station, I thought this was a good time to take a look at this potential collectors market.

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There have been several Thomas the Tank Engine models made over the years, from early models made by the series creator, Rev. W. Awdry, to die-cast models made by Ertl and Meccano. However, the ones I think that will have the most future collectible value are the wooden Thomas the Tank Engine toys made by Learning Curve.

Learning Curve used the standard Brio scale for model wooden train sets which made the compatible with other playsets. This allowed children to easily mix and match Thomas wooden train components with other Brio compatible components. They were also very creative in the products they developed, emphasizing both fun and learning. I think this is one of the best things about these Thomas the Tank Engine toys.

The downside of these wooden trains is that they are rather pricey. You can easily spend $100 or more on a simple Thomas the Tank Engine playset. A larger set with a playtable could run you $500 or more. But kids get a lot of constructive and interactive playtime from them so they’re worth the price.

While the Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Toys are rather durable, kids do tend to wear them out, beat them up, leave them out in the yard and so forth. Due to their popularity and their tendency to become worn, that’s why I see them also as a collectible investment. Mint or excellent condition Thomas the Tank Engine toys will probably come into demand as kids who grew up with Thomas the Tank Engine TV shows like Shining Time Station come to an age where they begin to feel nostalgic. Some models, such as the Lady train from the Thomas the Tank Engine Movie have been retired and are increasing in value. Setting a few of these Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Toy Trains aside for the future might a good, low cost, collectible investment.


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Comment by trade show booths
2008-06-24 08:42:25

hi Frank, My four year old son is a Thomas fan. If it was up to him, we’d be broke, but we’d have a house full of Thomas trains. Thomas toys do seem to come at a premium, but they make the kids happy. We went with the (die cast I think) metal version trains. The metal trains seem to be bullet proof. They’re heavy too, so don’t give to a little kid that spontaneously throws stuff in your general direction. Wooden trains might be a better option for those kids. :) ~ Steve

Comment by jfc
2008-06-24 09:19:34

Hi Steve,

My son, who’s 11 now, had a huge wooden Thomas layout we started putting together for him when he was 3. Unfortunately, most of it has been used and abused and lost over the years. I wish we had preserved some of it better for him but he did have a lot of fun playing with them.

Comment by Fergus Mayhew
2008-07-02 10:42:39

Oh, I loved Thomas the Tank Engine when I was a kid … we had all the original books, and I practically learned to read with those. My kids have a fair number of Thomas the Tank Engine models, but they’ve never quite clicked for them somehow.

And to show my age; I remember the original TV episodes, where Ringo Starr was Mr. Conductor, not George Carlin!

Comment by Judy Online
2008-07-04 06:31:30

Many years ago, I used to read Thomas the Tank Engine books to my children, and now decades later, they are reading them to their children. My grandson loves to play with his Thomas the Tank engine wooden trains, which sometimes seem to be threatening to take over my daughter’s house.

I always enjoyed the books, both because they are great stories, and also because each story carries a nice moral or lesson without being heavy handed.

2008-07-07 22:33:32

My son and daughter are enjoying their Thomas the Tank Engine set now. I doubt if it will be worth anything when they are done with it, though! Kids are sure rough on toys. C’est la vie!

2008-07-08 04:06:46

I live in a railroad town, Thomas the Tank Engine is extremely popular. I’m glad there are still pure things for children to enjoy. Though I have to admit I grow tired of watching the same Thomas the Tank Engine video after the second repeat in a row.

Comment by Maya Tutorials
2008-07-18 15:53:32

My daughters are enjoying their Thomas the Tank Engine sets.

Comment by Kitchen Remodeling
2009-01-24 11:25:31

My son really enjoyed these Thomas sets when he was a little kid. We must have spent hundreds of dollars on them. Unfortuantely, we sold them all at a garage sale a few years ago for pennies.

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