We spent a week in Cape Cod and my 3 1/2 year old watched Day of the Diesels several times over the week. So when we came home to find this Cranky and Flynn playset had arrived from Amazon, he was ecstatic. The DVD actually has the promo for this set on it.
- Remote controlled Cranky! Huge (3/4 of the height of my son), smack-talking, 360 rotating, with dual action hook (picks things up with the hook or with the magnet in the hook). Plus he's very stable. When played with separately, my son has spent hours crashing Cranky around. His arm doesn't move while hoisting (though it can be raised or lowered), rather the hook lowers and raises on thick string. I gave this 4 stars as sometimes the hook doesn't lower correctly, with a little tug on the hook it unspools. (UPDATE: changing to 5 stars...the problem with the hook has gone away after a few weeks!)
- The crate that Flynn is delivered in (blue) has some great options. Put it on a length of straight track to be a trestle bridge. Move the button on the side and it stops Thomas in the crate. My son can then close the doors and lock him in and hook him onto Cranky. Note that if the crate is on the ground, the doors will stay open as there is a piece that depresses on the bottom to release the door lock.
- Flynn! I listen to my son reenacting things from Day of the Diesels and then making up new adventures. He talks as he plays, saying things like, "Flynn is a hero, he's going to put out the fire!" and "Put me down, creaky Cranky!" My son plays with him by pushing or by turning him on (Flynn is motorized).
- "Sound off" switch. Even moving the hook up and down makes noise unless you flip this switch. It is nice to quiet things down a bit.
- Cranky auto shut off (shuts off after 20 mins of no use). There's a lot of batteries you have to use and I love any way that saves from having to recharge all the time.
- The button that makes Cranky talk also resets Cranky to face the oval and puts his hook right over the loading area. You can cancel the reset by pushing a directional button.
I was worried that the small round track would make him lose interest quickly, but it didn't. He leads Flynn + car round and round (mostly hand pushing the trains rather than turning them on). He brings Thomas and his car from the Zip, Zoom, and Logging Adventure set (from Misty Island Rescue, complete with zipline) to race with Flynn. He has Cranky "capture" Thomas and lift him up, then Flynn has to save him. Then he'll detach Cranky and take him upstairs or outside to find things that Cranky can hook and lift. He loves laying on my bed with Cranky and enacting Cranky crashing down (there is an old episode where Cranky isn't nice to the little engines, falls over in a storm, and they save him). He turns Flynn on and sends him chugging around the house (we've had move the couch and other furniture a time or three to save Flynn).
I was also worried he wouldn't be able to figure out the controller. But he was a pro after only a few minutes! see video)
My son has tried several cranes and has been so disappointed. The Plan Toy wood crane's claw is too loose so it doesn't pick things up. The crane on his Mickey rescue vehicle deploys but doesn't hook on very well, and the claw from his Toy Story III playset is next to useless. Therefore I am thrilled that I have finally given him a crane that picks things up!