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Train for Christmas Tree?
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Author:  paulrace [ Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Train for Christmas Tree?

A reader writes:

I came across your page while researching toy/model trains to buy for my son. He's 5 years old and handicapped, he can't walk, but trains are just something that makes him light up. His interest stemmed from the Thomas The Train shows.. Anyway when checking out the reviews on Amazon it seems that the Lionel trains are plagued with defects/engine issues. I really hadn't expected to pay more than a little over 100 dollars or so for something that could be counted on to circle our tree while he watched. If he could interact using a remote that would be great too.

Can you recommend a train that would meet our needs and could be counted on to be reliable? It would be nice if I could set it up with him, but if I have a good chance of it not working I'd rather test it on my own before he sees it. He doesn't have the strength or ability to be rough with it, if he could sit and watch it circle our tree that would be enough. Its the holiday season and I imagine you're busy, but if you have the time to respond we'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

--------Our Reply--------

Thanks for getting in touch. A lot of the complaints about Lionel stem from when they first moved production to China. A friend who has the old stuff tells me that the new stuff has weaker motors in the locomotive, which is likely true. That said, the quality of the Chinese-built Lionel HAS improved over the last several years, so your chances of getting a Lionel O-gauge train with bad problems are pretty low.

For this age, I would be inclined to prefer the Bachmann Li'l Big Haulers. They're shown near the bottom of this page:

http://garden-train-store.com/begin/kids_trains.htm

The trains are sturdy and more age-appropriate (although you'd have to put the track together and put the train on the track). The downside is that, to keep the price down, the track they add is relatively flimsy - it doesn't sit right on carpet, for example. IF you have a hardwood or tile floor it should be fine.

I wish I had more choices to offer you, but the recent recession was brutal to model train companies, even those that survived cut way back.

If you're thinking about one of those battery-powered trains like Lionel's "G Gauge trains" or the EZ-Tec trains that are sold in department stores, be sure and buy two sets of replacement alkaline batteries at the same time - the batteries that come with them are always cheap, and sometimes dead when the train arrives. Also they have fairly flimsy track, so if you don't have hardwood floors, you'll have to cut a piece of 5'x5' plywood or something to set the track on. Of the two, the Lionel toys are better than the EZ-Tec toys, but if you're really thinking about something that might develop into a longterm interest, I'd shell out a little more cash for Lionel O gauge or Bachmann Li'l Big Hauler.

Hope this helps - Paul

Author:  paulrace [ Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Train for Christmas Tree?

Another reader asks:
Hi, there are four trains I am considering buying to go under our 9 foot Christmas tree, and I would love your opinion on which would be the best one. I have read all the recommendations on your site. I would like it to look as Christmasy is possible, last as long as possible, have as many fun features as possible, and easily stay on the tracks. These are the four trains:
1.Bachmann Lil Big Hauler's Christmas North Pole express – G scale
2. Lionell lines G gauge Christmas train set
3. Lionel holiday G gauge locomotive train set (plays Christmas carols)
4. A Christmas story Lionel train G gauge

I appreciate so so much your opinion! I just can't decide.

-------Our Reply---Please log in and add your own -----------------

I know this may sound funny. But the difference is that the Bachman Lil Big Hauler LOOKS like a toy but runs like a model train. The Lionel Large Scale train sets ARE toys. Nice toys, compared to most battery-powered trains, but still toys. Also, though the look more like real trains they're actually much smaller than the Lil Big Hauler. Plus if you want them to run hours on end, you'll need a lot of batteries.

Do you have kids, and if so, what are the age range; that might help me make a recommendation, too. If you DON'T have small ones, I would consider going to one of the larger Bachmann sets or the Pico set. Yes, they're more money. If you HAVE little ones, my money is on the Bachmann Lil Big Hauler. I like that set a lot, as you can maybe tell. . . .

Obviously you've been to my page of these, but I'll post the link again in case you need it.

http://bigchristmastrains.com/ls_xmas/ls_xmas.htm

Best of luck. And please let me know what you wind up choosing and how you like it,

Paul Race

Author:  paulrace [ Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Train for Christmas Tree?

The second reader in this thread replied:

I have children ages 9-16, but would love for my grandchildren to enjoy it someday too.
I'm leaning towards the Bachman Lil' Big Hauler too!

-----Our reply-------

So didja get a train? Let us know how it worked out. - Paul

Author:  paulrace [ Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Train for Christmas Tree?

So the second poster replied:

I got the Bachman 'lil big hauler and think it's great! Thanks for your advice!

-------Our Reply---------------------

So glad you like it. Have a great spring!

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