Lionel Model Trains

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To own a Lionel model train, whether a 1950s model or a modern release, is to own an innovative piece of Americana. Lionel developed in America around 1900. As a manufacturer with retail stores, they were a major force in model railroading until the end of the 1960s. Legendary Lionel model train sets continue to roll in many U.S. homes. New classics are in production today. America’s love affair with Lionel is so strong that in 2006 they were included in the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Many owners tell tales of learning to run the family train set from their dad or granddad. They wax nostalgic about the whistle, the steam locomotive’s smoke, and the working crossing gates. They now continue the tradition with their kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. Even babies can be entertained watching the show, especially when their favorite toy bears and bunnies ride the rails. Warm feelings and memories seem to live on in these sets.

New sets offer the same potential to create tradition, whether wrapped up in a tidy set or built over time from individual components.  Age doesn’t matter. An 8-year-old and an 80-year-old can share their joy and wonder together. Families can enjoy running the train, building layouts, and plotting out model train track design features.

Lionel’s come in both the time honored, standard O gauge model train track size and in G gauge. Some G gauge sets are battery powered. For children, the O and G gauges are good choices. Lionel trains are large enough for small hands, but not so big as to be cumbersome. Older adults who have a hard time with small objects usually find the O and G gauges to be more pleasant as well.

It is true that adults should supervise all children with model railroads, but in the O and G gauges, it’s more possible for children to design and build their own layouts and scenery. It can be a real confidence booster for children to have success with train sets like Lionel’s.

Nostalgia seekers should try the New York Central Flyer, a true classic. Other good choices when seeking to preserve history are the Grand Central Express, Santa Fe Steam Freight Flyer, or Pennsylvania Flyer sets. Lionel has something for just about every model train purist or old timer.

Children, teens, and adults can recreate the thrill from books and films with the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express. Young ones will be excited by the Peanuts Christmas, North Pole Express, Boy Scouts of America, or the Thomas and Friends sets. Adding a few seasonal accessories or special cars can keep the layout fresh and exciting all year long. Those with a sweet-tooth might enjoy adding a few of the Hershey company inspired cars, like a Milk Duds Hopper car. There’s even a Lionel Hershey’s Freight G-Gauge Set that runs on battery power.

The easy set up feature might be one of Lionel’s best strengths. They simplified model train track design through their innovative FasTrack system for the O gauge line. The FasTrack can run on just about any surface in the home, office, or school. Use it on counter tops, table tops, hardwood flooring, or even on carpet. When choosing a ready to run set, everything necessary to set up and run the model train is in the box.

The name Lionel remains universally known. It’s an American icon, after all. With the wide appeal to children and adults alike, and with its fair price point, it’s hard to imagine any other hobby that could offer so much joy to so many people.

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