As a young boy, I always wanted a Tracy Island. Now that I’ve had one to play with for a couple of weeks, does the reality live up to the childhood dream?
I’ll admit it. All three of our children are huge fans of the new Thunderbirds Are Go series but I was probably the most excited member of our household when we took delivery of our interactive Tracy Island.
It certainly looks the part and is packed full of features. The set includes over 50 actions, lights and sounds and a separate wrist communicator. (You’ll need three AAA batteries and three LR44 watch batteries to operate these.) Thunderbirds 1 and 3 have automated launch mechanisms – the former emerging from beneath the sliding swimming pool – while Thunderbird 2 has its own rising pad complete with folding palm trees and Thunderbird 4 even has its own separate ramp. (Although sadly there’s no space for Thunderbird Shadow.)
The back side of the set is open, revealing the launch bays and Brains’ lab.
In terms of offering a variety of options to allow kids to re-enact their favourite Tracy family adventures, it’s a great toy. Our kids love it.
But it’s not without its flaws.
First of all, potential buyers should be aware that the set, while it is built to match the Thunderbirds Vehicle Super Set which contains Thunderbirds 1 to 4, does not come supplied with any of the vehicles. This is disappointing for a toy with a RRP of £79.50, whose enjoyment is dependent on having the Thunderbirds to go with it. The four-vehicle will set you back a further £29.50 at the full retail price, although if you shop around you should be able to purchase both the island and the vehicles for under £80 in total. Don’t be caught out by buying Tracy Island on its own!
It’s also not the easiest set to assemble, although with a little patience the instructions are fairly straightforward. Chances are that you will need more than the 30-45 minutes assembly time stated – it took us closer to 1¼ hours. There are over 40 decals to attach, some of them quite fiddly. And the exterior of the island is made out of large interlocking pieces made from a flexible moulded plastic which needs to be firmly wrestled into place – a second pair of hands and selective use of brute force come in particularly handy here.
As we discovered, it’s certainly not a task to attempt with eager young children hanging off you asking “Can we play yet?” If you’re giving this as a Christmas present, I would recommend assembling it beforehand to avoid aggravation.
Once finished, though, the end result looks impressive.
My one major concern with the toy is whether it will stand up to extended rough play. In particular, the launch mechanisms for Thunderbirds 1 and 3 require a lever to be pushed down to lower the launch pad rather than pushing down directly on the pad itself, which can easily damage the mechanism and cause it to get stuck mid-launch. If you have younger children or ones who have a more robust approach to play, this may prove to be an issue.
Overall, would I recommend the Interactive Tracy Island? It’s a great-looking playset with lots of good features that kids will love. But the build quality isn’t up to the standard I would expect of a toy costing up to £80. Personally I would have preferred a more durable toy and sacrificed some of the interactive features. It’s not a bad toy by any means – it’s just not quite F-A-B.
Disclosure: I was provided with this product for review purposes. However, all opinions are my own.