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BRIO Wooden Railway Blog

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  • Sometimes you just get lucky

    Anyone who has collected BRIO for any length of time is familiar with the #33532 Car Wash set. Listed in catalogs from 1986 through 1990, it had two foam rollers that are notorious for disintegrating as they age. It is almost impossible to find a set with the foam rollers intact. Most have large chunks missing from them, with small pieces of foam that flake off at the slightest touch. The foam apparently dried out over time, and the rollers crumbled as a result. I've even seen a set in an unopened box where the rollers had complete come apart, leaving only piles of blue dust inside.

    But every now and then you get lucky. I found this one recently, and to my amazement the foam rollers are almost completely intact:

    This photo is as bad as I could make it look. There are some depressions in the foam, but very little is missing and the rollers still look cylindrical. This is the most complete I've even seen them in over 15 years of looking.

  • Changes to BRIO Distribution in the U.S.

    Back in January of 2015, BRIO AB was acquired by The Ravensburger Group (Ravensburger is most widely known for its extensive line of jigsaw puzzles). At the time, BRIO did not have direct distribution in the United States, instead relying on Schylling Inc. to serve as a middleman. For those of us in the United States, there was nothing good about this arrangement: Schylling chose to import only part of BRIO's product line, updated their catalog annually while BRIO was introducing new products in both the fall and spring, and lagged the European markets by a year or more.

    When Ravensburger acquired BRIO I was hopeful that this all of this would change. Ravensburger has had U.S. offices for decades, and could serve as the direct distributor for the BRIO line of toys. Sure enough, this appears to be what has happened: BRIO has been dropped from the 2016 Schylling catalogs, and U.S. retailers are seeing the current generation of BRIO Wooden Railway products. We still lag the European markets, but only by months instead of a full year.

    I view this as a significant improvement. I'd rather see the U.S. get new products immediately, of course, but Schylling never was a very good middleman and I am happy to see them out of the picture.

  • A Sneak-Peek at BRIO's new Products

    BRIO's web site has posted some thumbnails and larger-size images showing what appear to be some of their new toys for 2016.

    33789_Lumber_Loading_Set.png

    The first is #33789, the Lumber Loading Set (click for a larger, alternative view). Note that the red, tied-arch bridge is yellow in this starter set, and the yellow train car with the green arm looks somewhat similar to the #33316 Lift and Load Train from the early 2000's. It's not visible in the large image and hard to see in the small thumbnail, but there does appear to be a conveyor or slide in this set as well.

    33829_Figure_Play_Pack.png

    The second is a series of figures, #33829 the Figure Play Pack.

    The file names on the larger images suggest that these will be part of the "Hero" them.

  • Coming soon from BRIO

    BRIO has made a couple of interesting announcements in the past couple of weeks. While details are still a little thin, here is their sneak peek at some new Wooden Railway products for 2016:

    BRIO World — Railway App

    BRIO's first ever game app, BRIO World — Railway will let you build your own virtual BRIO railway complete with track, trains, accessories and characters. The worlds will be interactive and will supply "missions" for you to complete as part of the play experience. The more you interact with the game, the more your world will grow and the more features will be unlocked.

    The app will sell for 2.99 EUR (with no in-app purchases) and be available for tablets, phones, and traditional computers running iOS, Android 4, and Windows 10. Read the press release on BRIO's web site.

    Character-based theme: Village

    BRIO will launch a new set of character-based themes, starting with Village. Rather than try and summarize this one, I'll quote from the press release:

    Village is BRIO’s first character-based play theme that encourages boys and girls to play together with the help of stories from their own everyday life. The Village environment is constructed with modules like the Family Home and School Playsets, the Market stand and Ice-cream shop. Staying true to the BRIO spirit, it is up to every child whether to assemble the predefined modules or come up with their own creations. Everything is in the same scale as the railway sets, and themes in the BRIO World can easily be connected as part of a bigger setting.

    See the press release for more information.

    Other new accessories

    Look for a new accessory called the Lumber Loading Set. Built with a sustainability theme in mind, it comes with trees, and tools for planting them. The Rescue theme launches in the fall, and they've announced three accessories: the Rescue Emergency Set, Central Firestation, and Firefighter Helicopter.

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