HIT Entertainment’s 2013 Holiday Preview

Photo: Jackie Reeve

Last week my daughter Hannah and I went to preview HIT Entertainment’s holiday line, and I was really, really impressed. In addition to an extensive showing of Thomas the Tank Engine products, Mike the Knight also has some great offerings this year. The toys covered a nice range of ages and they were accessible to both boys and girls. I loved that.

Mike the Knight has really taken off this year. We speculated at the preview that perhaps this is because the parents are all fans of Game of Thrones? One of the nice things I learned about this series is that Evie is very popular with boys as well. She’s a wizard-in-training. What’s not to like? There is great gender crossover with all the toys and the show itself, which appeals to me for the preschool set. My daughter isn’t quite there yet, but I like to know the options for when she’s old enough.

Mike and Evie are coming to DVD for the first time with Knight in Training, and I also really liked the Transforming Sword. The sword becomes a light, makes swashbuckling sounds, and has a belt clip. As a grownup I think that sounds like fun and I can only imagine this in the hands of preschoolers.

Photo: Jackie Reeve

The big Mike the Knight toy this year is Glendragon Castle which is a playset with sounds and ten separate play pieces and characters. This is for ages two and up.

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Photo: Jackie Reeve

The new packaging on the Mega Bloks Thomas sets is so clever. Keep and collect the boxes, then snap them together to make a track for the cars inside. These are for ages three and up.

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Photo: Jackie Reeve

My niece and nephew have a small ball pen in their playroom. I have seen what a hit that is when all the kids in the family get together, so I think this Railway Playland (ages two and up) could be a giant hit for the holidays. It isn’t actually train-related, but that’s just semantics to a Thomas fanatic, right?

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Photo: Jackie Reeve

This year for the first time ever, a girls’ Thomas the Tank Engine costume will be available for Halloween. The company recognizes that girls also really like Thomas, and this is a step towards including them. Can I just say how much I love that this costume is girly and not pink? I think this is a smart move from HIT.

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Photo: Jackie Reeve

Thomas the Train Trackmaster Quest for the Crown┬áis the big train set this year.┬áReleased this month, it’s one of several Thomas toys connected with the big September release of Thomas’s latest DVD Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway. The motorized railway is for ages three and up, and it’s full of challenges to extend play time.

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Photo: Jackie Reeve

I mean, a mine collapse? A broken track and crashing gate? I’ve never had a train set, but this sounds like a whole lot of fun.

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Photo: Jackie Reeve

The Thomas and Friends Up and Down Rollercoaster won’t be available until fall (Angelina Ballerina is not included), but I think this is another big hit. The other kids at the preview could not tear themselves away from it. It comes with ten feet of track and holds up to 50 lbs. of weight, and the kids I saw had no problem pushing the train back up the track to ride it over and over. It’s for ages 2-5 with an MSRP of $129.99 which isn’t cheap, but I stil think it’s just awesome.

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Photo and cute baby: Jackie Reeve

My husband grew up with Thomas the Tank Engine in the UK, and my daughter was so taken with this elaborate Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway setup that I instantly knew what to put on her Santa list for the two of them to share.

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Photo: Jackie Reeve

I thought the All Around Sodor Interactive Train Set was absolutely fabulous and it was my personal favorite toy of the day. It’s for ages 18+ months, with nice big plastic trains, tracks, and buildings. Thomas has color-coded buttons that correspond to buildings along the railroad. Push the button, and Thomas goes straight to that building for a chat. It was great to see a train set for toddlers, and a really clever one at that. I will be keeping my eyes open for this to go under our tree. It should be available this month.

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Jackie Reeve is a Core Contributor and former Senior Editor at GeekMom. She's a librarian, a writer, and a quilt designer. She's wife to an Englishman and mom to a little geek girl, and she blogs about life and crafts at The Orange Room. Jackie's obsessed with cardigans and thinks Die Hard is the best Christmas movie there is.