Affordable Alternatives to Big Name Brands
- What: IKEA LILLABO wooden trains and track
- When: 12 months to 6 years
- Why: Durable, affordable, multiple layout possibilities
- Where: IKEA
Two of my three kids obsess over modes of transportation, trains in particular. We’ve owned at least one wooden track set since my eldest son turned one. He’s spent oodles of time with them, and we’ve spent a shocking amount of money building his collection. Luckily, unlike some kids, mine don’t care about faces on their train cars. That means we had more affordable options.
We scored our first three sets from IKEA on the recommendation of a friend with a child slightly older than ours. At $10 for their start set, which includes an engine with three cars and a bridge in the figure eight set up, it can’t be beat. Like everything else from IKEA, you have some assembly required. In this case, you insert the plastic connectors into the wooden pieces.
In case your child also wants to expand their layout, they sell two additional sets. The bridge and tunnel one features a 12-piece set with supports and an additional hill as well as a plastic red tunnel that can be placed anywhere along the track. The second expansion set includes additional straight pieces, curves, and two splitters.
If you’re not sure you have a train enthusiast or just want to expand your toy options, the IKEA sets provide a great starting point. If your kid likes trains but doesn’t need to recreate every track imaginable, all three sets should tide you over quite a while. All these sets work with any other wooden sets you already own or might purchase in the future.