gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Tomy Thomas And Cranky Coal Loader Review

Christmas is closing in, so why not sit back and partake of a few shameless toy reviews alongside your usual diet of games and technology?

If you’re not familiar with the series, kicked off with the Thomas Post Office Loader then let me introduce you to Thomas and Cranky. This is the second, I think, of the Thomas “non-stop-action” toys, which use an ingenious mechanism for sending a little motorised vehicle shooting around the track and adopting interchangeable covers- taking on the guise of Thomas and Lor1 to transport little plastic balls around the play set.

And not only do Thomas and Lor1 spring into action, but the motor in the little grey vehicle also serves to power the elevator and Cranky the crane, supplying quite probably the most amount of action I’ve ever seen driven by a single AA battery.

Setting aside the increased amount of ingenuity and action, this new set has other benefits over the original. Despite so much extra going on, it actually occupies significantly less floor space and is much more tightly packed and robust. Whereas getting the original on a reasonably big coffee table prove to be troublesome, this set, whilst still fairly large, is not ungainly.

Moving the toy whilst assembled, unless you have the hindsight to pick up a cheap wood off-cut from Homebase on which to stand it, is impossible without it collapsing back into its constituent pieces. So, if you plan on setting it up on the living room floor, you will find the fact that it actually fits back into the supplied matchbox-style box quite handy for putting it away. That is, of course, once you get accustomed to the set-up process.

Obviously the Tomy Thomas And Cranky Loader is as much a toy for Dads as it is for the kids, I know I was both challenged whilst assembling it and thoroughly enjoyed myself. And my daughter even gave a little cheer when I finished… I think she might have been patronising me. It’s a definite Christmas-day mission to pass some time until the monotony of the toys endless cycle of action dawns on you.

Fortunately the motor in this thing is pretty hardy, so you can pop Thomas on top and send it zooming across the living room floor. Tomy have provided for this by allowing the little metal guides, which keep it on the track, to be folded up into the train.

Once you’ve conquered the complex assembly process it’s just a matter of placing the unassuming, grey, motorised thingameebob in the right place on the track (I still haven’t figure out quite where that is) and watching it slip underneath the shells of both Thomas and Lor1 which then whiz around the track on their respective missions.

I grabbed the nearest thing I could find which records video (I’m between cameras at the moment) and slapped together a quick video showing it in action:

If you happen to have the original set you’ll be pleased to know that they can, it would seem, be combined together into one set- there’s a fork in the track which is terminated and serves to turn Thomas around, but the enterprising Dad can always see what could be made of this. I don’t think this combination is supported, it would appear entirely accidental to the design, but perhaps Tomy will take advantage of it in future.

Overall this is an excellent toy, made all the more so by the fact you only have to sacrifice one of your precious AA batteries to power it. Whilst you may think it lacks in re-playability, my daughter has the original Post Office Loader set at her Grandparents house and is always eager to fire it up. It can currently be had at for a not too shabby £27.99

Sunday, October 11th, 2009, Toys.