Fire Trucks

June 10, 2012

Fire trucks are awesome. What’s not to love? I got a ride on one once. The firemen were heading out, I came by on foot wearing something fetching, and voila: a ride to the pub on the Upper West Side on a fire truck. It was fantastic.

We live a few blocks from an old-school firehouse and I needed to find Astrid a fire truck that met her expectations after seeing a real one and ringing its bell. It was surprisingly challenging.

Bruder MAN Fire Engine (with working hose)

There are two basic types: realistic ones with noises and hoses and ladders or “little kid” ones with larger and fewer features (and no break-off-able parts for choking).

In general, I try to steer clear of loud toys, but the siren is what first attracts kids to fire engines, so you can’t not have it. That concession made, I did stop short of getting her a giant one with all the bells and whistles, although I’m sure when she’s a little older than two and can work them herself, the ones with the hoses will make a reappearance on the radar.

The little kid ones were hard for me to get next to. The Green Toys fire truck doesn’t much resemble a fire truck except that it’s red and has tiny ladders, and inexplicably their vehicles’ wheels won’t run on hard floors. What fun is that?? In general, I like Plan Toys a lot, but their wooden fire truck just wasn’t close enough to the real thing for me.

These were my favorites:

Tonka’s Lights and Sounds Fire Engine. Medium-sized (bigger than Matchbox but smaller than giant) and with three brief sounds, Tonka’s Lights and Sounds Fire Engine was my final choice. The ladder moves and the doors open and that’s it. Astrid misses that it doesn’t have a bell, but other than that, it looks and sounds like the fire engines she sees all the time, and it fills the need without filling the room (or breaking the bank). We may upgrade later to one with people and hoses, but for a two year old with a limited attention span, Tonka’s is great. A little steep at $30+, but I couldn’t find any cheaper. About $30-35 at Amazon

For slightly older kids or full-on fanatics:

Bruder makes fantastic trucks, including several different fire trucks. They’re expensive though (nearly $70) and the size is a bit big for a city home (19″x10″), but if you’ve got the budget and the space, they’re sturdy and realistic looking. The final deciding factor for us though, besides price and size, was that none of them look like the basic “rectangular box with ladder and bell” that lives up the hill in our fire house. Still, great trucks and all the moving parts are attractive for an older toddler. $50-$70 at Amazon

Do you know the difference between a “ladder unit” and a “fire engine”? Yeah, me neither. But Playmobil does. The guy at the toy store explained to me all the different kinds of trucks that are in rotation at the city’s fire houses so I would understand how comprehensive and accurate Playmobil’s offerings are. Ultimately, I decided not to invest in another line of toys (in addition to the Legos and blocks we’re already navigating), and, like Bruder, Playmobil’s are big, but if you’ve already got your foot in the Playmobil door and have the space, they are cool. Various trucks, firepeople and station, $28-$80


2 Responses to “Fire Trucks”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Hi, I like your review. I’m searching for a fire truck for my 15 month old who loves to push buttons for lights and sounds. Do you think this Tonka one is good for his age, or are there a bunch of small parts? I’m not crazy about the chunkier baby trucks as I think he’ll get bored quickly. Thanks.

    • emma Says:

      Hi Elizabeth – I got our daughter the Tonka I mentioned at about 18 months and it was fine. She’s pretty careful with her toys though. I guess it’s possible he could break off the doors or the ladder extension with some effort, but beyond that there aren’t any removable parts that pose a hazard.

      We upgraded her to a more interesting and larger Tonka when she was two and a half – it is bigger and louder but she and I both like it better. The cab is big enough to hold Weebles or Playmobil figures or a Calico Critter or two + the ladder swivels on battery power if you push one of the levers, so that’s a big draw. It’s inexplicably tough to find online – it’s called the “Tonka Fire Rescue” or “Tonka Mighty Motorized Fire Defense Truck” – but I came across it for $20 at Costco right around Christmas, if memory serves. It looks like this, for reference: (You can see the motorization lever/toggles on the side if you zoom in.) If I had it to do again, I’d probably opt for the larger Tonka Fire Rescue vs. the smaller one I recommend here, but she does have them race each other, so two fire trucks is clearly essential for that!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: