Train Set Review

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Why Buy Model Train Sets?

Enjoying the nostalgic hobby of building and running model train sets can be a refreshing diversion from today’s world of fast paced technology. Adults and children alike can enjoy building and assembling their own railroad. If you are getting started as a train hobbyist, look for a complete starter set rather than buying separate components. By purchasing a set, you will save money and you can build on to it as you go.

The most impressive train sets offer a multitude of features, including air whistles, headlights, figurines and signs. Our top three picks for the best train sets are the Lionel Union Pacific Flyer Freight Train, the Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer Freight Train and the Life-Like Trans-American Express. To learn more, read our articles about model train sets.

Train Sets: What to Look For

Trains come in different scale sizes, so you’ll want to be aware of the size of the model you are purchasing. The G Scale is the largest, and these trains have the ability to run outdoors. The O Scale is smaller than the G Scale and was most commonly used between the 1930s and 1960s. It is popular with collectors. Currently, the most popular scale is the HO Scale. It is smaller than both the G Scale and the O Scale. The N Scale is the smallest size and is often used for decoration. Keep in mind, larger scales are generally better for young children to use.

As you choose the best model train kit for you, keep these elements in mind:

Features
Look for trains that have built-in features like operating smoke stacks, air whistles, and headlights. You’ll also want to make sure your train is durable. The most durable train sets have locomotives constructed out of die-cast metal. These tend to last longer than engines built out of plastic. The more metal parts, the more durable the train is going to be.

Versatility
Our favorite train sets include tracks that offer multiple configurations. That way you can change the shape of the track you lay. Also, look for manufactures that have expansion track available so that you can extend the track length.

The best model train sets offer you the basics for operating straight out of the box, with options for modifications. Since the HO Scale is the most popular, you’ll be able to find a large assortment of accessories and components designed to fit this scale, so that you have more options for personalizing your train set.

Many train enthusiast enjoy assembling complicated configurations, but if you are just getting started, look for train sets with tracks pre-attached to the roadbed so that you don’t have to manually attach the tracks to a flat surface. Most all-inclusive train sets come with tracks that are ready to snap together and operate without the use of tools.

Accessories
Many model train sets include a variety of accessories, including telephone poles, signs and figurines. The more accessories that your first set offers, the better. That way you can customize and enhance your scenery without having to spend more money.

Help & Support
Most manufactures have phone and email contact information on their websites. Some websites offer access to forums and clubs so that you can contact other train enthusiasts for questions and assistance.

Today’s train sets are well-designed and innovative feats of engineering. They are packed with features, and you can choose your own themes, scenery and accessories. Assembling and operating these miniature trains offers hours of entertainment for your whole family to enjoy.

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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Lionel Union Pacific Flyer Freight Train Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer Freight Train Life-Like Trans-American Express Lionel The Scout Bachman Rail Chief Life-Like Trains Rail Master Bachmann Santa Fe Flyer Lionel Thomas & Friends Atlas Trainman Bachmann Pacific Flyer
Lionel Union Pacific Flyer Freight Train Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer Freight Train Life-Like Trans-American Express Lionel The Scout Bachman Rail Chief Life-Like Trains Rail Master Bachmann Santa Fe Flyer Lionel Thomas & Friends Atlas Trainman Bachmann Pacific Flyer
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Visit Site
Visit Lionel Union Pacific Flyer Freight Train
$296.97
Visit Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer Freight Train
$190.00
Visit Life-Like Trans-American Express
$125.42
Visit Lionel The Scout
$133.79
Visit Bachman Rail Chief
$87.77
Visit Life-Like Trains Rail Master
$70.86
Visit Bachmann Santa Fe Flyer
$57.83
Visit Lionel Thomas & Friends
$154.52
Visit Atlas Trainman
$175.00
Visit Bachmann Pacific Flyer
$63.17
Ratings
9.75
9.38
9.13
9.00
8.07
8.00
7.75
7.25
5.38
4.50
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
8.75
10.00
10.00
8.75
8.75
10.00
8.75
8.75
10.00
10.00
10.00
7.50
8.75
10.00
7.50
6.88
10.00
10.00
8.75
6.25
8.75
8.75
8.75
5.00
8.75
10.00
7.50
5.00
8.75
10.00
7.50
6.25
0.00
5.00
5.00
5.00
0.00
10.00
 
Features
Scale O O HO O O HO HO O HO HO
Included Cars 5 3 7 5 4 3 3 2 4 4
Track Length (inches) 60 60 65 45 47 45 36 60 48 36
Track Width (inches) 40 40 47 38 38 38 36 40 36 36
Track Pieces 12 12 25 10 13 16 12 12 12 12
Minimum Age 14 8 8 8 14 8 14 8 14 14
Target Audience teen-adult child-adult child-adult child-adult teen-adult child-adult teen-adult child-teen teen-adult teen-adult
Multiple Speeds
Boxcar
  
Caboose
 
Headlight
    
Whistle
   
  
Smoke
 
      
Traction Tires
 
  
  
Metal Locomotive
 
  
 
 
Lighted Interior
        
Flat Car
 
       
Metal Rims
     
   
Bell   
    
  
Durability Score 100 100 85 100 85 75 75 95 70 75
Versatility
All-Inclusive
Expandable
Snap-Together Track
No Tacking
Multiple Configurations
     
Versatility Score 95 95 100 95 95 70 70 70 70 70
Ease of Assembly 100 100 90 90 95 85 80 85 90 90
Accessories
Roadbed
Figurines
  
  
  
Moving Accessory
 
       
Telephone Poles  
  
    
Signs  
  
    
Help & Support
Instruction Manual
Phone
 
Email
 
Instructional DVD
  
    
Warranty 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr