Spice It Up: The Little Plastic Train Co Upgrades

A running joke in the Gumbo Krewe is how much I love light to medium weight train games. Anytime there is a new train game or Kickstarter, pictures get shared and, of course, I click on every link to see if it would be something I’d be interested in. (I have yet to dive into the 18xx games, but someday I will!)

As anyone who has watched Gumbo Live! knows, one of my prized board game possessions is the 10th Anniversary Ticket to Ride set that my wife gave me for my birthday way back when. I absolutely love breaking that game out, especially to show off all of the upgraded train pieces. I especially love when people new to the hobby but who have already played or own TtR see the circus car and gasp in delight!

At one point, one of the krewe sent me a link to The Little Plastic Train Co. Much to my surprise, here is a little start up business servicing people who like to play train games, bringing out beautiful little tin box sets to upgrade your existing games. I reached out to the owner and found out we have a lot in common — the owner is from Louisiana and has relatives just miles from my hometown! Quelle coincidence!

The Little Plastic Train Co was kind enough to send me a sample set for review in advance of the upcoming Kickstarter launching this month. (You can click here to get notified about the project on its launch date and be automatically entered into a drawing to win all five sets!)

Do you need more train sets for Ticket to Ride or other train games? Of course not. But gamers love to bling out their games, so let’s take a look and see if the offerings from The Little Plastic Train Co spice up your gaming experience! We should note at the start that the Mercury train set that we were provided is a preproduction sample; although I’ve been told this is pretty much the final version, as with any Kickstarter project, there could always be some minor changes, and of course, the final version will look even more amazing. Let’s get on to the trains!

The Little Plastic Train Co. offers at least five different sets of trains, all made out of plastic (natch), and all comfortably fitting in a little metal tin the size of those Mint Lab games or the Dice of Pirates game. The cover of each tin has a beautiful illustration of the train you are getting. Inside, you will find 48 trains plus cool little space saucer type player marker. You have just enough to add to your Ticket to Ride game and still have the required three extra in case you lose one that has been standard from Days of Wonder since the beginning.

The set that The Little Plastic Train Co. sent me was the beautiful “The Mercury” tin box. Inside were some of the coolest trains I have ever seen. The krewe jokes about me being a train buff, but in reality, I built one train set as a kid, love reading about the Walt Disney railroad and playing Ticket to Ride, and that’s about as far as my train history goes. But, just like board games, there is a wealth of information on line about old time train, and The Mercury’s online presence was no exception.

The Mercury was the name given by the New York Central Railroad for some sleek steam driven passenger trains operating throughout the midwest. Folks that wanted to travel between Toledo and Cleveland in style. Wow, were these fancy trains for their time: sleek, modern, looking like something out of a pulp sci fi comic book. These “steamliners” operated until the 1950s as air travel slowly took over from train travel.

As you can see, the trains fit perfectly on the spaces for any Ticket To Ride board. They are exquisite little representations of the train pieces on the cover, with surprisingly loads of detail for something so small.

I compared the Mercury line to some of my other games to see if they would work, and of course, all of the TtR games like the Europe board have the same size trains, so that was not a problem.

Even the 10th Anniversary edition sort of works, too. Yes, the other trains are a little bit bigger than normal size, to match in scale to the giant six piece board that comes in the 10th Anniversary edition box, but it was not so out of whack to render it unplayable. If someone did not want to play with one of the main sets in the 10th Anniversary edition, I would happily offer them the Mercury instead.

When I opened up the Capstone version of the Irish Gauge box, I had in my mind that these trains would be perfect fit, but alas, the trains in the Iron Rail line are substantially smaller. On the other hand, if you back all five train sets from the project, you could just change out all of the trains that come with the Iron Rail series for these little beauties, and no one will be the wiser!

My little grandbugs love playing with the bits and pieces in my board game collection, especially the Disney Villainous and Unmatched figures, but they also love playing with train pieces. (I guess model train fandom runs in the family?) Little Evelyn spied The Mercury box one morning and instantly fell in love. She wanted to carry around the tin box all day! I am looking forward to the day that she is old enough to play Ticket to Ride and then we can break out The Mercury set for her to use.

Speaking of breaking stuff out, one more cool thing I discovered when putting away the Ticket to Ride game. The little tin boxes fit right into the holds of the standard plastic inserts in my regular Ticket to Ride and Ticket To Ride: Europe boxes. So easy to put away and they take up no more space.

All in all, if you are a fan of blinging out your games, and a fan of Ticket to Ride or other euro style train games, you should check out the Kickstarter project when it goes live on April 6. The Little Plastic Train Co. has a page where you can sign up to be notified about the project on its launch, and even get a chance to win all five sets!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler sur la piste!

— BJ at Board Game Gumbo

Thanks to The Little Plastic Train Co for sending us a review copy of The Mercury train set.

Board Game Gumbo is a proud member of Punchboard Media

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