And when I say, the best investment in a Toy, I mean both: monetarily and developmentally! BRIO was founded in Sweden in 1884, and it continues to make quality toys which will be enjoyed by generations. All wooden parts are made from 100% FSC-certified beech wood from sustainably managed forests. BRIO toys are very versatile, and are sure to encourage your child's creativity and imagination.
Just like LEGO for Julia, BRIO toys have been able to sustain Adrian's attention at two years old for a long time: an hour or more! (If he plays with Julia, then even for longer.) BRIO, however, involves a different "building" skill than LEGO, while still instilling the same qualities: creativity, innovation (Adrian does not follow instructions), patience, and so much more! Julia too loves playing with BRIO since sets are usually gender neutral, featuring both: boy and girl figurines for the countless pretend play possibilities.
Adrian building BRIO independently at 2 1/2 years old
Adrian uses all the sets simultaneously. His imagination is the limit, and every time a new BRIO City emerges.
We started with a Deluxe Railway Set (buy here) when Adrian was around two years old, and then slowly we have been expanding our BRIO collection with various other sets (see below). However, the Deluxe Set is sufficient to start with, and it will offer hours of imaginary play. The only other item I would suggest to purchase is a locomotive (buy here), which can pull a lot of other engines or tenders.
We do not sort the individual sets (they are all mixed together), we just separate the wooden tracks (storing them in a fabric cubicle drawer/buy here), and transportation and accessories, which are stored in these round basket with handles.
The Fire Chief is rescuing someone from a burning Farm (buy here). The Farm set includes a train engine with a cargo car, a farm tractor with a trailer, a two-story barn with hay loft, track crossing, a cow, a horse, hay and fencing; as well as eight track sections with special track crossing section and "cow crossing" warning sign. Special two-story barn has a mechanical magnetic crane which can hoist hay into the hay loft for winter storage with a turn of a red knob. You can also use the crane to slide the hay out and into the farm tractor or a wagon and drive it out to the livestock. The hay wagon has a magnetic hay bale with two dowel pegs to secure the load for transport. When it's time for animals to move inside the barn, your child can load them into the train car with the help of the fold out ramp and pull the car with the engine.
Adrian is obsessed with fire-trucks! This Fire Engine set (buy here) comes with a fire engine, fire train car, and a Fire Chief figure. The child can raise the ladder and uncoil the fire hose, and the Chief can climb the ladder while holding the fire hose. With a push of a button the engine makes realistic lights and sound effects. (Note, the engine will not run on its own; the child has to push it.) From all the sets, Adrian uses Fire Engine set the most since there are a lot of role-play possibilities, and he can use it with a Green Doll House (read a post about it here) or a Farm collection (read a post here).
Thomas the Train (buy here) is also one of Adrian's favorite because of all the Thomas books we read! It is compatible with all BRIO parts, accessories, and wooden tracks. Thomas the Train is also able to attach to other BRIO engines or tenders since it uses the same magnetic connector at the end, making the linkup easy.
Thomas the Train features a working headlight that lights up when the engine is moved. It also whistles and features fun train sounds! Roll once to hear him chuff and whistle, or roll the wheel faster for speedier engine sounds. Note that Thomas the Train does not run on tracks on its own though, so the child has to push it, which is a great fine-motor excericese.
Safari set (buy here) is a great BRIO starter for any wild animal adventurer lover. It even comes with a mischievous monkey who, while hanging from a tree, is waiting to steal hay off a wagon.
For those children loving vessels, Cargo Harbor set (buy here) is a great addition as it comes with a container-ship with hinged cargo bays, button-activated motorized train engine, mechanical draw bridge and a pivoting crane.
Next to the crane is a magnetic bell signal (buy here). It requires no batteries and is motion activated. "No risk of anybody crossing this track unnoticed. When a train passes, the bell rings!"
A monorail wagon (buy here) is great to transport to and from an airport.
Two-floor waiting Brio Station (buy here).
Children love this Metro Set (buy here), which comes with light and sounds train engine (pictured below), two passenger cars with sliding doors, ticket kiosk, Metro map and two passengers.
Adrian uses this travel train a lot (buy here), which comes with a three-car train, an engineer and a passenger. A child can open the hinged cab or passenger cars and the engineer and passenger can fit right in.
Adrian also uses PlanToys Road & Rail set (buy here), which is also BRIO compatible.
Adrian loves constructions vehicles, and this Action Train (buy here) offers it all! It consisits of a battery-operated motorized engine which runs on its own and pulls spinning cement mixer and a rocking coal wagon. The engine powers down the tracks and can pull other wagons with a push of a button. The cement mixer car spins and the coal wagon rocks back and forth.
For those who do not have patience or time "piecing" individual sets together, I suggest purchasing a BRIO Deluxe Set (buy here). The set comes with 87 pieces, and a storage box which opens up into a map (a similar BRIO Play Mats are sold separately for $70+ ).
It is a complete working city from BRIO. Drive the motorized Metro city train around the city and pull into the Metro station to pick up passengers through the sliding doors on the train. With this battery powered light and sound engine, the faster you push it, the more light and sounds you create. Drive the second City passenger train to the station to pick up passengers. Stop at the two-story station and unload passengers and take them to the lower level using the mechanical lift. Take the cargo train to the shipping port and use the mechanical, magnetic crane to unload the container ship onto the train. Drive the train through the bright red tunnel and cross over the three special train trestle bridges to get through the rock cliffs and the roadways underneath. Load the cargo trucks and drive on and off the special road sections complete with a special track crossing section with working safety gates. The set comes complete with a special storage box that also opens up into a unique Brio world play mat. Made from solid Beech wood, sanded smooth and meticulously painted with 6 coast of water-based lacquer for a chip resistant, vibrant finish.
Some BRIO trains are battery-operated, running on tracks independently, and some can even pull others. Like on the picture above, the Red Locomotive (buy here) is able to pull that many units! Each unit "attaches" to the next via a magnetic bumper, and thus, you can end up with a very long chain of choo-choos!
This locomotive goes forth and back and makes very realistic sounds. Front lights, the "Choo-Choo" sound, as well as forward and reverse functions are operated by buttons on top of the engine.
Adrian also likes to mix in PlanToys building blocks (buy here).
BRIO toys have been Adrian's favorite toy since the age of two. He looks forward to exploring, imagining, and creating! Bringing cities to life, utilizes his cognitive and problem-solving skills, as well as allows him to express his creativity. Possibilities of play are endless! Let the innovativeness and individuality of your child be expressed through pretend-play and wait and see, what BRIO City will emerge next!
p.s. See here Adrian using BRIO at three years old.