Review: Nilo Multi-Activity Table

I debated buying a train table. We only own a basic LILLABO train set (IKEA) and expansion rail pack. My chief concern was the useful life of a table.

A family I know has a 5-year-old boy who no longer uses his table and a 3-year-old girl who never started. Little Miss already enjoys trains, so I hope to avoid toy fatigue by not gluing train tracks to the table. We see everyone do it! Where’s the fun in playing with the same track configuration every time?

We settled on a Nilo Multi-Activity Table for $180 at a local toy store (slightly less online) because I was sold on its versatility. The table is mid-range price-wise, assuming the priciest option is an official Thomas the Tank Engine table.

Photo of the Nilo Multi-Activity Table with a train set and farm play set on top of the table. Click to enlarge the photo.What I like about the Nilo table:

1) The legs and side beams are hardwood with rounded edges. 50.5"L x  34.5"W x 20"H

2) A terrain play mat overlay is included which is thin plastic (not fiber board). It’s easy to remove, though I suppose represents a temporary storage issue because it cannot be propped against a wall.

3) The table can be used for puzzles or any activity needing a flat surface. There is no kid-oriented paint or stuck-on artwork which pigeonholes it as a train table.

4) The 18" table legs can be swapped out with 24" legs (an optional purchase) to extend the life of the table as your kid grows.

5) Holes border the edge of the table designed for use with certain toys. Plastic bulbed nails can be stuck in the holes as a launching point for Zoob, Kuncklestrutz and similar toys. The holes are also usable with Nilo Jax (scroll to middle of page), which allows some types of tracks to extend over the edge of the table, and with Rockenbock toys, though I’ve never seen Rockenbock toys.

6) The table doubles as a Lego & Duplo activity area if you add rigid plastic mats (separate purchase) for connecting blocks to the table surface.

7) I can sit with my legs under the table because under-table storage bins are optional. I’m thinking a laundry basket will work fine when the time comes.

8) Setup took 10 minutes, simple as can be.

What I dislike about the Nilo table:

1) The table surface is particle board and is not supported by a center beam. The board slides into grooves on the four hardwood table beams. I doubt standard use would bow the particle board during the first life of the table (e.g., my kid’s usage, I’m guessing to about age 5). A future owner could have a solid wood replacement board cut at a hardware store. Of course, kids should not stand on the table. I’ve seen a marketing photo with kids standing on the table, in direct conflict with the printed safety instructions.

2) At 22 months, Little Miss can only reach the edges of the table. That limits our train track design to a rectangle.

3) A table is another piece of furniture in our family room. I briefly considered an under-the-bed table, but suspect it would still find its way to our family room.

We’ve used the Nilo table two weeks thus far and are quite pleased. It has proven to be a good platform for our farm play set, with our barn sometimes acting as a train tunnel.

Comments

2 Responses to “Review: Nilo Multi-Activity Table”

  1. Carol says:

    It’s good that she’s not tearing the track apart and she’s actually playing with the train set. That’s definately not what my kids did. They spent more time crying about the track coming apart than anything, lol.

    Glad you found something that works well for you!

    May 3rd, 2006 at 7:04 pm

  2. Andrew says:

    Bright Penguin has the best prices on Nilo and some really neat package deals if you are looking to get this quality table fast and at a fair price.

    October 30th, 2007 at 2:45 pm

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