A Look At the Modern Electric Toy Train
There's something about a train layout which fascinates everyone - kids and adults alike. The lights, sounds, and movement of the trains are captivating for everyone. The modern toy train runs the gamut of pull toy, wind-up, battery powered, and electric. All make fascinating toys and hobbies.
There are four different basic types of trains on the market today. There are toy trains, model trains, collectable trains, and outdoor trains. Most people are surprised to find out that the majority of train buyers are adults buying for their hobby. The advent of some really neat trains for children in recent years has started a trend of trains for kids again.
Toy trains are different from the other trains in that they are meant for small children to play with. Manufacturers include Lionel, Leaning Curve, Tomica World, and Ertl. Toy trains are larger than model trains, and much more durable. The coupling systems are easy to use, and the wheels are large and easy to put on the track. Some good examples are the Thomas The Tank Wooden Railway System by Learning Curve, Tomica World Road 'N Rail System, and the Ertl Miniature Railways System. These trains are colorful, rugged, and encourage creative play.
Lionel is the oldest toy train manufacturer in business, and is easily the most recognizable name. After all, most of us had Lionel trains as children. The three rail track system is its most recognizable feature. The large size of the trains and easy to use couplers make the system very friendly to children. There are many neat accessories, working and static, that add a lot of fun and excitement to the trains. New is a Thomas the Tank play-set, complete with Thomas, Annie, Clarabel, track, power pack, and play-mat. Another new introduction is the Little Lionel Learning System, which includes a locomotive, tender, passenger car, train station with clock tower, and 25 pieces of track.
Learning Curve's Wooden Railway System is a complete train system for kids. Featuring the popular TV character Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends, the system comprises over forty characters, lots of track options, accessories, and sets. Suitable for ages two and up, it appeals to both boys and girls. The cars and track are of durable wooden construction, and feature easy to operate magnetic couplers. Learning Curve and Lionel are collaborating to create some very nice engines and play-sets for kids.
Model trains are suited mostly for adults and older children. Model trains are not meant to be toys, as the trains are too fragile for little hands. Model trains are accurately scaled down versions of the real trains that still work so hard to haul freight and other modern necessities. Model train scales include G, O, HO, N, and Z scale.
O scale is the approximate size of Lionel trains. Real O scale is a bit smaller, and operates on a two rail system similar to HO, N, and Z scale. At 1/48 scale, the trains are nicely detailed.
The most popular by far of the model trains is HO scale. At 1/87 scale a lot of layout can be packed into a reasonably small area. The amount of different accessories, buildings, rolling stock, locomotives, and other paraphernalia is staggering. Virtually any era, location, or rail application can be modeled accurately in HO scale. HO is approximately half the size of O scale.
Becoming more popular every year is N scale. At 1/144 scale, it is about half the size of HO, so a fantastic layout can be achieved in even less space than HO. Small apartments and mobile homes can have a layout in N scale. Coffee table layouts are popular, as a layout can be placed right in the living room.
The smallest model train is Z scale. At 1/288 scale, it is tiny. The cars are the size of postage stamps. It is more popular in Europe than in the US. Mostly German manufacturers, the trains are extremely high quality and nicely engineered.
Collectable trains are trains and accessories which can be run on a layout, but usually aren't. Purchased as an investment, or simply for the personal pleasure of owning the trains, these trains are usually very high quality and nicely detailed. Lionel is one of the major train lines collectors purchase, but there are others. Older Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and other trains from yesteryear are considered quite collectable, with some pieces highly sought after.
Outdoor trains are popular in some areas. G scale is the train of choice for the outdoor railroader. The track, trains, and accessories are large and durable. 1/22.5 scale means the trains are large - G scale is the largest of the model railroader scales.
Model trains are an integral part of American culture, having bound together generations of children with a common thread. Children of all ages enjoy trains to play with and be around. Adults can carry childhood memories into adulthood with their trains. The magic of model trains transcends the ages. Everyone loves toy trains.
© 2012 Hobby Hobnob
Build A Train Layout
Thomas The Tank Engine Toy Train
HO Scale Electric Trains
N Gauge Model Railroad
Back To Hobbies