Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Wooden versus metal?

By DK Wilson

My son adores his wooden track, and because it’s now available in most supermarkets, and Ikea, they are easy to pick up.
My nephew, whose father is a ‘purist’ railway enthusiast, believes that my son won’t respect a metal set when he gets it and feels his son should only play with a traditional set.
It’s an argument that’s been raging for weeks now, and I thought I’d share some thoughts.

My son’s wooden track is worn, beaten and generally well out of shape…but is still playable with, generally fits together and can take being dismantled and reassembled several times a day if required. It provides endless fun for my son, doesn’t mean that he needs an adult to supervise, rewire, or help him reset points or anything else that gets stuck, bent or otherwise out of shape.
The trains too don’t need as much care – if he happens to chip or scratch the woodwork, all we do is repaint it – something he enjoys immensely as he can ‘design’ his own train sets. It doesn’t take much to do, and best of all, it can all be tossed in a box, and put away, without having to meticulously pack it up again.

On the other hand, he worships his papa’s metal set, and it’s true that he gets much more enjoyment out of the rare occasions he gets to play with that. But as for playing with a set of his own, I think that would have to wait.
The logistics and space required for just setting up the ‘metal’ track is huge – it’s quite intricate (in my opinion anyway) and takes quite a bit of wiggling, gentle coercing and sometimes slight bending to get it all to fit together. My son, being very young, gets frustrated and can’t help…so we either have to set it up before he arrives or hope he’ll wait patiently.
And once set up, because it’s an old set, he’s not allowed to touch it, just watch, which seems to take some of the fun out of it for him. So when he’s older, I’ll get him that metal set.
Which he can put away himself, with meticulous care.

For the moment though, I think his wooden set is ideal.

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