Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

[Amazon] Wooden train tracks

I was surprised a few months ago when my daughter asked me to buy her a train set. Train sets are more of a boy thing, I had thought. I myself had a small electric set when I was a kid and I was looking forward to getting back into scale model railroads when my son is a little bit older.


I went to a local Toys R Us and confirmed that my daughter wanted a wooden train set, similar to the Thomas the Train set that is very popular. I of course went to amazon to see if I can get something cheaper, and bought the above “compatible” train set and tracks.


Some things to note:

  1. [Train Car] Reasonably well made (out of wood), but the wheels have a lot of tolerance, so that there is a lot of play along the axle. This makes it a bit awkward to push them on the wooden tracks, especially at a switch/splitter track element (1 to 2).
  2. [Tracks] I didn’t have that much trouble assembling some simple track layouts, although a few pieces either did not fit others or it was a tight fit. These track pieces are mated as a ball and  U ends ( think of it like o] ), and the few pieces’ ball ends were sticking out too much to fit neatly in the “U” of other pieces.
  3. [Tracks] Most troubling was that this set of 100 did not have matching switch/splitter elements, only one particular type. These elements are 1 track into 2 (1 to 2). To make a classic double oval track layout you would need two types of switch/splitter elements. One will need to have the U at the 1 track end (1 : U) and the ball at the 2 track (2 : ball) ends. This set did not have the other set, 1 : ball and 2 : U. Note this is not a symmetry problem, you can turn the element over to get the orientation correct (left split or right split). But once you split the track into two, you will never be able to combine them again without the 1 : ball and 2 : U element. I will need to order another set specifically with those elements.

[Amazon] Frozen Elsa Doll

Disney Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll

While I still manage to geek-out and purchase tech items (mostly embedded hardware) and games (strictly Steam or GOG during sales), with a daughter and a son now I am paying a lot more attention to kid-oriented toys.


I bought the above Elsa doll for my daughter’s recent birthday. Not really an expert, but it seemed well constructed and reasonably close to the Frozen movie. No music or anything fancy, just the doll with sparkly dress and a pair of blue shoes.


Two things to note

  1. The shoes fit reasonably well on the doll’s feet, but with rough handling can get dislodged. They have already fallen out two times over as many days while my daughter was playing with the doll.
  2. The sparkles on the dress come off easily and I can see sparkles on my daughter’s face and hands. When I see them I wash them off, but long term I am not sure how healthy it is. I have noticed my daughter sometimes gets redness around her eyes after playing with the doll, no doubt because sparkles came off close to her eye and she started scratching them.


From what I can tell on there are a lot of knock-offs for this doll, and comparing pictures I believe I have the genuine Disney product sold directly from amazon (I rarely trust non-amazon sellers). There is some room for improvement but my daughter seems happy and so am I.