This is a sponsored review post in collaboration with Brio and Mumsnet
For a long time now we’ve been huge fans of Brio in our house. It’s one of those classic childhood toys that appeal perfectly to children and adults alike. I know there’s nothing my husband loves more than creating a hugely complex train track around the ground floor of our whole house, and my son, Max, loves nothing better than playing with it all once it’s built. My youngest, Ben, also likes to get in on the action, destroying the train track, much to his brother’s disgust! But I’m sure in no time he’ll be joining in properly with it all and we’ll have a whole family of Brio fans. So we were just a little bit excited to review the new Brio Smart Tech range!
Brio Smart Tech transforms the classic Brio into a new interactive world where your child can really take control of their experience. STEM learning toys are so popular at the moment, and it’s amazing to see how they can really bring complex concepts to life and teach children about the world and how it works. It’s the perfect way to really let your child’s imagination run wild, while letting them learn about cause and effect at the same time.
Smart Tech adds a whole new dimension to Brio. It’s fully compatible with the rest of the Brio World railway system and uses RFID technology to bring it to life, allowing your child to play with it in a new and exciting way; creating, experimenting, and customising their imaginative world. The Smart Tech Engine is battery powered and propels itself around the track, interacting with a series of tunnels and other buildings which make sounds, light up, or cause the engine to change direction.
The Brio Smart Tech gives so many possibilities for play, with lots of different Smart Tech enabled additions to your Brio World. Let me introduce you to some of them and give you our honest review…
The Smart Tech Engine
The Smart Tech Engine is the essential part of the kit – the bit which makes everything else work! Brio describe it as the brain and the centrepiece of the Smart Tech world, and it works by activating various lights, sounds, and different motion functions as it drives around the track. It just needs two batteries to set it going, and means that none of the other additions need batteries. Surely every parent’s dream!
You can buy the Smart Engine in a set with two Action Tunnels, or in a much bigger set, which includes a carriage for the engine, the red steps you can see above, two Action Tunnels, and quite a bit of track too.
The Smart Tech Barn
The Brio Smart Tech Farm includes a pig, horse and a cow, which come to life as the train drives though the barn, with the animals moving and making animal sounds. There are also hay bales which are stored in the roof of the farm, and can be put into the train and transported around the track.
There is a dial on the top which means that the train can either pass straight through the farm, or make it stop and wait.
The Smart Washing Station
Max is a bit obsessed with washing the car, so the Smart Tech Washing Station was a big hit. The train enters, and then moves into the ‘washing’ part, where the rollers whirr, and the train judders back and forth, as if it’s being scrubbed. Once it’s finished being washed, it reverses back out of the washing station and is ready to be on it’s way.
The Smart Workshop
All engines need fixing at some point! The Smart Railway Workshop comes with an Action Tunnel that means the train makes a clunking, broken down noise as it drives through. Once it enters the workshop, it moves up on the raised track, so that the workman can fix him from underneath. It makes a lot of ‘fixing’ noises before the train is ready to be on it’s way again. One extra little feature is that the train has to have passed through the Action Tunnel in order to stop in the workshop – otherwise it will just drive straight through.
The Smart Action Tunnel Set
The Action Tunnels were one of Max’s favourite features, and he loved dotted them around the track to see what happened. The Smart Action Tunnel Pack includes tunnels which make the train slow down and then go faster.
What Did We Think Of Brio Smart Tech?
I have to say straight off the bat that I’m a huge fan of wooden toys. I think they have a huge charm about them and they last so well. The Smart Tech additions to our Brio World collection update it for children, incorporating all those interactive aspects that modern children expect, but it retains the charm of the original Brio railway track.
My husband is a software developer, and it’s already clear that Max has inherited his engineering mindset, so I knew that the ‘beginners coding’ aspect of this would be hugely appealing for him. Max loved being able to predict what the train would do when he put a particular tunnel in place, or turned one of the knobs.
Although Max loved building train sets before, I often found that his interest in them once they were built could be fairly short lived. The Brio Smart Tech has completely changed that – the first time we set this all up, he sat there for hours, sending the engine around the track, repositioning bridges, and just happily playing. Max is a child who does love imaginative play, but this really brought it all to life for him and encouraged him to come up with scenarios that were new and exciting for him.
The range of additions are really well chosen too – if Max is a typical child, then fixing and cleaning things are top of the agenda, so a workshop and washing station are such good choices.
If you’re looking for a good Christmas present for aged 3+, I think Brio Smart Tech would be a great choice. It’s certainly been a huge hit in this house, with the boys big and small!
You can find the Brio Smart Tech range available on Amazon.
Disclosure: I was sent the Brio Smart Tech products for review as part of this post, and compensated for my time.