Having three girls, I had never purchased any Thomas the Tank Engine sets before this one. My youngest daughter is two and her best friend is a little boy who loves Thomas. I thought it would be nice for them to have something to play together when he came over that he would really like, so I purchased this set on sale at Target. When I took it out of the box, I realized it was something that was going to have to wait for my husband to put together. There were a LOT of pieces and a lot of directions. Not something you can undertake as the only adult in a house full of three kids. So once the kids were in bed, my husband put it together. Took him a couple of hours to get everything exactly as it was shown on the box. Took the kids exactly two minutes to destroy it completely once they began playing with it!
This Thomas set is battery operated, and the engine has a remote control. It is a very cool feature to be able to use the remote to move Thomas forward and backward, and it also plays the Thomas theme song and makes cool train noises. The set is also compatible with other battery operated TrackMaster engines, although they simply have on/off switches and don't use the remote. Playing with the remote was a big hit and a lot of fun for all the kids, ages 2-8, who have been over to play.
The set has a lot of track, as I mentioned, and it is really fun to watch Thomas go around and over the bridge. The sheds are not really that great, in my opinion, I would have chosen a set without them if I had it to do over. They fall apart when the kids touch them and they really don't add anything exept frustration to the set.
All in all, this is a GREAT toy. I couldn't believe how many kids played with this when they have been over to our house, all ages and genders. The biggest drawback is that they like to take it apart and make their own tracks and it takes forever to get it back in the original configuration which is how my daughter likes to play with it. So now it's just in a box and they take pieces out and set up little tracks, it hasn't been set up in it's entirety since it's first destruction! But I would defnitely recommend this without much age or gender restriction, everyone has lots of fun with it!