The Small Controller got the Giggling Troublesome Trucks (for wooden railway) for Christmas, so we’ve had them for a couple of months now. They weren’t something that was specifically requested, but apparently Santa knew of The Small Controller’s love of recreating James’ derailment from The Adventure Begins, and so thought they’d be a good idea.
They are a fascinating product. They are rolling stock, which I have long understood the play value of, but can’t actually be loaded with anything: one has a non-removable load of a grey material that might be ballast or gravel, the other (the one that giggles) is covered with a red tarp.
They are also, kind of, characters. Kind of, because one Troublesome Truck is very much like the next. At some point in the future this might be an interesting starting place for a conversation about stereotypes and marginalized characters in literature, but for now it simply means they have a bit of personality which sets them apart from other flatbeds and boxcars. The facial expressions are pretty great, which is not always the case with wooden railway pieces. They actually look like the CGI cartoon that most toddlers these days are familiar with. The Small Controller refers to the grey one as having an “oh no!” face.
The sound effects, as I mentioned, only come from one truck. There is no way to turn it off, except removing the batteries, which as with any modern toddler toy requires a screwdriver. It is set off relatively easily, with pressure to the top of the truck rather than a smaller button. All of which is to say; if you are a parent quickly irritated by sound making toys this is not for your household. It is however not that loud (as compared with other tot toys), and the voice recording is clear and matches the Troublesome Truck voice in the modern episodes. The ease with which it can be triggered delights The Small Controller. The limited repertoire is also less of an issue than it is with engines. We only have two in the house (and one a hand-me-down), but the Troublesome Truck is activated far more often than the specifically requested Talking Gordon that The Small Controller also got from Santa. Troublesome Trucks just don’t say that much by and large, so three utterances suit them pretty well.
The one feature that I didn’t expect, and that is both fun and actually troublesome is that the cars rock to the extent that they can pull off the line if they happen to be on a tight curve or at points. One rocks side to side, the other back and forth. They look awesome traveling along a straight track, and derailments are certainly common on a toddler’s wooden railway, but it does make me glad that The Small Controller got them as an older toddler. Consider your toddler’s physical ability to get trains back on the line, and emotional ability to handle added frustration. At the right stage these could improve both, but too early they may prove discouraging.
They get played with both specifically as Troublesome Trucks and as rolling stock (making long freight trains is a passion at the moment). In terms of playtime, they see more of it than a lot of engines.
Overall the Giggling Troublesome Trucks have been a fun and good addition to The Small Controller’s railway, and I hope this review helps you decide if they might be right for yours. If you have questions about the Troublesome Trucks that I haven’t addressed here please feel free to email me. I may add any such questions and responses to the review.