Brio vs Thomas vs Ikea Train Sets Reviewed

Train toys

With this Brio vs Thomas vs Ikea train sets review, I’ve simplified the selection process for you by narrowing down on three very popular train sets. All these brands offer very good products. Based on your individual preferences, one of these options should pique your interest.

Depending on your child’s age, if they’ve never had toy trains, then any set is good enough. To make your selection even easier, take a look at my best choice, Brio Deluxe Railway Set. It boasts an easy construction and has a variety of accessories included.

My Top Picks

What these train sets are and why you should buy them

Type of train

Decide whether you’d like a model train set or any toy train design for your child. Though, keep in mind that model sets have more intricate details. That’s because they mimic real trains. The toy trains within this review have no similarity to any actual passenger or cargo trains.


It’s always advisable to have a budget in mind when choosing toys. For cheaper options, the two Thomas & Friends sets, as well as the Brio Beginner Pack, are worth giving a shot. There are even options that allow you to buy in stages such as the IKEA LILLABO series. However, if the cost isn’t a factor, then the Brio Deluxe Railway Set will suit you just fine.

Power source

Would you like a manual or motorized toy set? Keep in mind that with a motorized toy collection, more maintenance will be necessary to keep things operational. For motorized options, pick either the LILLABO locomotive or the Thomas & Friends Super Station. The other three options all come with manually operated trains.

Type of train tracks

Some train tracks are reversible to give you more route options. That way, depending on which route you wish to create, you can alternate the top and bottom. The Brio Deluxe Railway set allows you to flip the tracks to create the path you desire.

Ease of cleaning

Your child may decide to take their train accessories outside to play with friends. Toys that can be wiped clean are always a plus. All the reviewed products are either made of plastic or wood, which are easy to wipe clean.


Can a child do it on their own, or is it something only a parent can handle? Train collections should be fun. When shopping for slightly older toddlers, look for varieties that they can help to assemble. For instance, the full LILLABO train set, the Thomas & Friends Super Station, and the Brio Deluxe Railway Set require adult assistance during assembly. They come with quite a few pieces, so assisting your child guarantees they don’t get frustrated with your purchase. The Thomas and Friends Racing Figure-8 set is, however, the easiest to assemble, and your little one can handle everything on their own. 

Size of the set

You should consider your child’s play areas. You might want to check out this article to learn about multifunctional play areas. The last thing you want is for them to only play with half the train set due to space restrictions. The Brio Deluxe Railway Set and the Thomas & Friends Super Station take up a large amount of space. Be sure to set aside ample room for setting up in case you choose any of these two.


Would you like your child to learn different concepts or just to play? Based on your answer, you’ll know whether to get sets that have varied locations or to keep things simple. If you choose a station with more locations, your child gets the opportunity to use their imagination when including things that happen in specific locations. They can for instance stop at the train station so passengers can alight while others get on the train or give the buildings on the side different meanings. The Thomas & Friends Racing Figure-8 Set, the LILLABO series, and the Brio Beginner Pack are ideal for younger children to build up their imaginative thinking skills. They have fewer pieces, allowing your child to make the most of what they have. Older kids have a more reactive imagination. As such, getting either the Brio Beginner Pack or the Thomas & Friends Super Station will ensure they push their creative boundaries even more.

Brio vs Thomas vs Ikea Train Sets – which one to choose?

The factors mentioned above should guide you in your decision-making process. The IKEA LILLABO series, Brio Beginner Pack, and the Thomas & Friends Racing Figure-8 Set are all affordable toy train sets. However, they come with fewer pieces and, except for the LILLABO locomotive, no motorized trains. By choosing to pay slightly more for the Thomas & Friends Super Station, you’d get more pieces, as well as motorized trains. At the highest price point is the Brio Deluxe Railway set. Though it costs more, it doesn’t come with motorized toy trains. Instead, it has a map that converts into a storage box. That’s something that none of the other toy train collections can boast. 

Best All-Inclusive Set – Brio Deluxe Railway Set

BRIO World 33052 Deluxe Railway Set | Comprehensive Wooden Train Toy Set for Kids Age 3 and Up | FSC Certified Eco-Friendly Toy | Exciting Harbor and Metro Scenes

Product information

  • Assembled dimensions: 44.6×28.75×8.1 inches
  • Weight: 8.09 pounds
  • Batteries: LR44 button cell batteries

Why it’s a good option

The Brio Deluxe Railway Set comes with a variety of pieces. These include tracks, roads, level crossings, stations, a freight train, a metro tunnel, vehicles, and more. The package comes with a storage box that also doubles as a playmat. You also get five different play figures to transport around different areas on the set. Your child will need to move the pieces around the track manually. There are two track levels that your tot can reach by using the included elevator. The metro train engine adds an extra fun element as it uses batteries. Whenever you move it around the tracks, its bulbs light up while it makes train sound effects. No need for an on or off switch as this only happens when the train is in motion.

Who it’s suitable for

Best suited for children aged three years and above.


  • Package comes with batteries included
  • Big enough to accommodate more train pieces
  • Tracks can create different layouts
  • Can be assembled with older children
  • Has 87 pieces
  • Comes with play figures
  • Has a scenic playmat that’s also a storage box
  • Compatible with all Brio train sets


  • No motorized trains
  • Assembly takes long

Is the Brio train worth buying?

The Brio Deluxe Railway Set gives you plenty of pieces to create different experiences. With a handy storage box, you can quickly put away everything after disassembly. With manually operated trains, you won’t experience issues such as trains not running.

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Best for Younger Toddlers – Brio Beginner Pack

BRIO My First Railway - 33727 Beginner Pack | Engaging Wooden Toy Train Set for Toddlers Age 18 Months and Up | FSC-Certified Materials | Compatible with All My First Railway and BRIO World Toys

Product information

  • Assembled dimensions: 20x20x4 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Batteries: none

Why it’s a good option

With the Brio Beginner Pack, even younger toddlers can get in on the fun. The track consists of 18 pieces, so assembling the set is fast. It’s also a good solution for smaller play areas. You’ll get the train tracks, a suspension bridge, starter ramps, and two train cars. These can easily make different layouts. The best part is that a toddler can assemble the train tracks with ease. One of the train cars comes with a rattle. Shake it or spin the outer case to move the balls inside. The two train cars have hidden magnets on both ends. These automatically change polarity to enable your child to connect them from whichever end they please. With the starter ramps, you can extend your layout to the floor or carpet. Their slope makes it easy for the trains to get back on the tracks. As your child grows, you can purchase more sets to add to it.

Who it’s suitable for

The Brio Beginner Pack package has an age limit of three years. However, under supervision, children above 18 months can also use it.


  • Compatible with other Brio trains and tracks
  • Assembly is easy and fast
  • Doesn’t take up too much space
  • No batteries necessary
  • Comes with two train cars
  • Has a rattle
  • Train cars connect magnetically
  • Affordable


  • Magnets are covered with plastic making them less effective

Do Thomas trains fit on brio tracks?

If you have the wooden Thomas trains, they will fit comfortably on brio tracks, e.g. Brio Beginner Pack’s tracks. You can also attach the two sets of tracks by getting adapters.

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Best Thomas & Friends Beginner Set – Thomas & Friends Super Station

Thomas & Friends Super Station

Product information

  • Assembled dimensions: 45×51.9×36 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Batteries: AAA (LR03) batteries

Why it’s a good option

The Thomas & Friends Super Station is a great option to get your child started with Thomas & Friends sets. It comes with plenty of pieces to assemble up to three levels of tracks. Apart from the train tracks, you also get several locations. These include Harold’s helipad, the Sodor Steamworks, the Dieselworks, Knapford Station, among others. Cranky the crane also features here. He can raise or lift loads, dropping them wherever you’d like. Depending on the amount of space you have, you can arrange the tracks to fit where possible. You can also remove the legs to make more room for the train tracks. However, if space isn’t an issue, the legs create tunnels for additional train paths. You can use these tracks with engines from the Thomas & Friends MINIS, Wooden Railway, TrackMaster, and Adventures sets.

Who it’s suitable for

Children above three years can use it.


  • Can be assembled into different layouts
  • You can create three levels of play
  • Tracks are a sturdy build
  • Includes the Tidmouth Shed turntable
  • Has track adapters to attach more Thomas & Friends train sets
  • Can store more than 100 engines
  • Has motorized trains
  • Comes with Thomas, Percy, Harold, and James
  • Offers more than 35 feet of track


  • Assembly can take quite some time
  • Package doesn’t specify the number of pieces you receive
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Best Simple Thomas & Friends Set – Thomas & Friends Racing Figure-8 Set

Thomas & Friends Wood, Racing Figure-8 Set

Product information

  • Assembled dimensions: 4.5x16x9 inches
  • Weight: 2.85 pounds
  • Batteries: none

Why it’s a good option

For parents that prefer wooden train sets, this will work well. It’s a small starter train set that’s suitable for younger kids as it’s manually operated. Assembly of the entire track is easy enough for younger toddlers to manage on their own. The set comes with Thomas and Bertie, as well as a Mayor figure. You also get a drawbridge. As Thomas comes nearby, you can lift it to give him access. There are even crossing gates that you can move to provide Bertie with a way through or restrict it. Both the train and bus can run on the tracks. A station is also included. As your child grows more accustomed to the set, you can buy more pieces. This set comes with adaptors to include more Wooden Railway pieces to it. The collection is also lightweight, making it easy to carry around.

Who it’s suitable for

Ideal for three-year-olds and higher.


  • Tracks are easy enough for children to build
  • Comes with Thomas and Bertie the bus
  • Has a posable mayor figure
  • Pieces create a complete number 8 track
  • Comes with a functioning drawbridge
  • You can move the crossing gates
  • Has track adaptors to attach the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway set
  • No batteries necessary
  • Detailed design


  • Tracks are single-sided. You cannot create more layouts
  • Not all pieces are wooden
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Best Separately Sold Set – IKEA LILLABO series

Train set with trees and buildings

Product information

  • Assembled Dimensions: N/A
  • Weight: N/A
  • Batteries: N/A

Why it’s a good option

The LILLABO series allows parents to build up their toy train collection slowly. You can start by purchasing the tracks and locomotive to keep your child occupied. From there, you can add other pieces such as the bridge set, turntable, rail tracks, and even toy figures. You can also get started quickly by purchasing bigger sets. These include the 45 piece or 20 piece train sets. The 45 piece set comes with train cars, tracks, buildings, trees, and bridges. The toy buildings comprise of wooden block shapes for your child to stack as they desire. The train cars can be attached and detached. They use magnets. IKEA also created these train tracks to connect easily to other train sets.

Who it’s suitable for

IKEA’s LILLABO series is ideal for three years and up.


  • Offers a variety of options to start your train set collection
  • Has complete train sets for purchase as well
  • All LILLABO toys are suitable for younger children
  • Assembly of the different toy collections is simple
  • Packages are lightweight
  • Train cars attach magnetically
  • Assembly is easy enough for kids


  • Buying separate pieces can become costly


IKEA came up with an affordable solution for parents that need train sets and want to build the tracks in bits. Also, the train sets comprise entirely of solid beech. Attach the LILLABO series tracks to your existing train sets to extend it.

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Choosing a train set isn’t easy. You’ll look into the price, material, and acceptable age group, among other criteria. In the end, you should get a toy your child will appreciate.

Train sets are also a good toy since they can function also as educational pieces. Playtimes centered around them mean that your child can get to invent stories around these toys. With different tracks, they get to figure out the layouts they prefer to create a fulfilling session.

The Brio Deluxe Railway Set, for instance, offers multiple train track levels. Have good decision-making and playtime.

Last update on 2024-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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