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What train set should I buy for Christmas?



Choosing the right train set

(click here to discuss this article) 

 

When choosing a train set you first need to take into account the age of the person you are buying it for. For this reason I have split my advice into children and adults.

 

With the massive number of entertainment devices in the modern home there are many distractions from pursuing a model railway hobby.

 

Before you read this advice remember that the right set is not always the set they want nor is it the set I recommend. You should balance what the person wants against what would be more entertaining for them. This is the difficulty of buying presents for others.


Children (under 14)

 

Well for children the key words are operating interest and ability to expand the railway. With that in mind, I would always get a set that includes at least one point and preferably two. Watching a train go round and round a loop of track (or stopping it and watching it go the other way round and round the loop) gets very boring very quickly. Sidings = Interest.
 

To get the most out of the sidings I would advise you to buy a freight set which has an assortment of different wagons. This allows you to shunt wagons from one siding to another, drop wagons off to be loaded and pick up loaded wagons. With trucks or flat bed wagons your children have the option of loading them with toy cars, soldiers, lego bricks, etc.

 

Passenger train sets have limited entertainment value for children (I was a child once). You can leave a carriage or two in the sidings but it's not that exciting or different, particularly when the carriages all look the same and they can't carry a load.

 

If possible I would also recommend you buy a few track packs and/or extra wagons. Hornby's trakmat system allows you to build a model railway layout step by step. Each packs adds some more track to your layout without you having to figure out which pieces of track to buy. These items can be bought after Christmas if their interest holds. Remember there is no point spending hundreds of pounds/dollars on a model train set if they are going to lose interest in only a few weeks.


For this reason I would recommend the following sets:



Hornby Model Railway Train Set Trakmat A

Hornby GWR Passenger Freight Train Set

Product Code: R1138

 

RRP Price: 89.99 NMS Online Price 86.00  < Click Here

 

Production Details:

The versatile GWR 0-4-0 locomotive makes easy work of hauling the 2 open wagons and the small coach around the oval of track which includes an additional siding providing an area where selected wagons can be deposited and collected again as the train travels the circuit.
The set also includes a midimat on which the track included can be placed. Additional track packs and accessory packs can be added to extend the layout to a fully functioning model railway.

 

The pack includes locomotive, 2 wagons and a coach, Track; Basic Oval (1178mm X 1010mm) and track pack A, Wall Mounted Power unit for operation from AC mains 220-240V AC 50Hz, Train Controller, Power Track, Trakmat: Midimat (1600mm X 1280mm).


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Fantasy Model Railway Sets


For younger children a Fantasy set is a great way into this hobby. The set to buy this year is the Disney Pixar Toy Story 3 train set which features the train from the very popular toy story 3 movie.


Thomas the tank engine train set is always a great buy especially if your young ones love the TV programs.


Hornby Percy And The Mail Train Set - R9284

Age: Suitable for 3 years+

Hornby Percy And The Mail Train SetHornby Model Railway 2015 Product

Thomas The Tank Engine Range

Product Code: R9284

 

RRP Price: 79.99 NMS Online Price 78.00  < Click Here

 

Production Details:

Hornby Percy And The Mail Train Set. Mail Coach can both pick up and drop of mail. Recreate your own Thomas the Tank Engine™ adventures with the Hornby range of 00 gauge Thomas & Friends™ engines, carriages and train sets including all of your favourite characters from the iconic TV series.

Contents:

Percy the Saddle Engine 0-4-0, Sodor Mail Operating Coach Set, Red Oxide Vent Van, 3rd Radius Starter Oval with Track Pack A (with one point and a buffer stop), Train Controller (R8250), Wall Plug Transformer (P9000W), Power Connecting Clip (R602), Thomas and Friends™ MidiMat (1600mm x 1180mm)


Age: Suitable for 3 years+

Hornby Thomas the Tank Engine Train SetHornby Model Railway 2015 Product

Thomas The Tank Engine Range

Product Code: R9283

 

RRP Price: 59.99 NMS Online Price 58.49  < Click Here

 

Production Details:

Hornby Thomas the Tank Engine Train Set. Recreate your own Thomas the Tank Engine™ adventures with the Hornby range of 00 gauge Thomas & Friends™ engines, carriages and train sets including all of your favourite characters from the iconic TV series.

Contents:

Thomas the Tank Engine 0-6-0, Annie and Clarabel Coaches, Red Oxide Vent Van, 3rd Radius Starter Oval, Train Controller (R8250), Wall Plug Transformer (P9000W), Power Connecting Clip (R602), Thomas and Friends™ MidiMat (1600mm x 1180mm).


Recommended Sets For Adults (aged 14+)

 

Adults are a bit different as they are more likely to appreciate the high level of detail on modern model railway products. For this reason I would recommend a more expensive high quality set. I would still recommend a freight set for interest but this is less important for adults. They can always expand the set at a later time. I would personally advise you to buy a quality historic express train set. Something like the Flying Scotsman or the Master of the Glens (P2) would be good options. These models are often of sufficient detail that they can be displayed as ornaments if the model railway interest fades.

 

For the reasons above I would recommend the following sets:

 

1.   Hornby Flying Scotsman - This is one of the most popular train sets for Christmas. This set comes with 4 LNER teak coaches and includes track pack A and B which gives you two sidings to enjoy. The newest version of this set has uses the new track packs and building packs. The track packs that are included in this set gives you one long siding which will hold most of the coaches and comes.

 

You may want to buy at least another track pack (track pack C) to give you another loop of track to run on. If the hobby takes off I would suspect the next purchase will be a freight loco and wagons.


Hornby Model Railway Train Set Trakmat A

Hornby The Flying Scotsman Train Set

Product Code: R1167

 

RRP Price: 174.99 NMS Online Price 132.00  < Click Here

 

Production Details:

The most famous locomotive and train in the World features in this superb Hornby train set. The striking apple green liveried class A1 “Flying Scotsman” helps to recreate those wonderful days of train travel in the 1930s when the two great railway rivals, LNER and the LMS vied for the lucrative passenger traffic between London and Scotland.
The track circuit in this set can be extended to fully complete the included MidiMat layout using additional track and accessory packs thus creating an exciting and fully functioning model railway.
Additional coaches can be obtained to extend the train.

Contents:

The pack includes locomotive, 3 LNER Teak coaches, Track; Basic Oval (1178mm X 1010mm) and track pack A, Wall Mounted Power unit for operation from AC mains 220-240V AC 50Hz, Train Controller, Power Track, Trakmat: Midimat (1600mm X 1280mm).


Hornby Train Set - Hornby Virgin Pendolino Train Set - R1155

Hornby Model Railway Train Set Trakmat A This Model Railway Locomotive is DCC Ready

Hornby Virgin Pendolino Train Set

Product Code: R1155

 

RRP Price: 192.49 NMS Online Price 145  < Click Here

 

Production Details:

This exciting and dynamic train set featuring the 4 car Virgin Trains Pendolino and carries the latest livery which incorporates the Alstom branding as well as the instantly recognisable logo of Virgin. This superb Hornby train, which is DCC Ready easily negotiates the oval of track included in the set and ably shows off its accurate tilting mechanism, especially when travelling at speed. Each "drive" unit has lights that illuminate in the direction of travel.

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DC or DCC? What is DCC?

 

Both DC and DCC refer to the method of powering and controlling the movement of the model locomotive. DC stands for Directional Current. DCC stands for Digital Command Control.

 

DCC control has almost done away with the need for isolation sections. With DCC you can have a single siding full of locos and only the one you want to move will move.

 

In the past to run more than one train you needed a second controller and a second loop of track. If you wanted to cross from one loop to the other it involved moving the first train in to an area where it could be isolated for example in a siding before you could move the second train on the first trains loop. If you then wanted to move the first train on to the second trains loop you would have to put the second train in an isolated section and then move the first train out and on to the second loop.

 

Confused? I know I am

Remembering which switches to move to do this and having enough isolated sections of track big enough to hold both of you trains on one loop of track is very unlikely unless you previously thought of this.

 

DCC takes away all the complex point work involved with operating more than one train on your model railway layout. You also wont get the problem of crossing the circuits (sort circuits) by changing the points, or accidentally running two trains at the same time because you didn’t isolate one of the trains or you switched the wrong point.

 

The only problem with DCC is leaning how to use it and the fact that it is very possible to run two train’s head on into each other, but then it wouldn’t be fun without a hint of risk. There is also the problem of modifying old locos to run with DCC and fitting DCC chips to DCC ready locos. It would also be difficult to return non DCC locos that have been modified to run on DCC back to DC control.

 

The above problems are easy overcome with some time spent learning the control and paying your local model shop to install DCC chips in to any old locos you have. All New DCC sets come with DCC chips fitted to the locos and are the best way of introducing someone to DCC control. If you have never had a model railway set I would probably recommend you go straight for a DDC set if price is not an option.

 

If you think that DCC is right for you then I would recommend the following DCC Train sets:


Hornby Model Railway Train Sets - Hornby Mixed Freight Train Set - R1126

Hornby Model Railway Train Set Trakmat A This Model Railway Locomotive has a DCC Decoder Fitted

Hornby Mixed Freight Train Set

Product Code: R1126

 

RRP Price: 249.99 NMS Online Price 205 < Click Here

 

Production Details:

You can really see the benefits of Digital Control once this set is assembled. Each of the two locomotives has a decoder factory fitted and are immediately ready for operation. Independent control is guaranteed for each loco even though they may both be on the same track. When the powerful diesel locomotive is coupled to the four wagons included with the set, the Class 08 diesel can then pull them round the circuit just stopping in front of the little BR 0-6-0 J83'. The BR 0-6-0 J83 can then be reversed carefully so that it couples to the front of the 08. Then by programming the engines to work in unison the double headed train can move off down the track. The set includes a new design Hornby TrakMat.

Contents:

BR 0-6-0 Class 08 Diesel, BR 0-6-0 J83 Steam Locomotive, BR Ore Wagon, 7 Plank Open Wagon, BR 12 Ton Vent Wagon, Tank Wagon, Oval of Track With Single Siding (track pack A), DCC Select Unit Controller and Transformer


An addition to DCC control in 2013, is the introduction of the Hornby e-Link which allows you to control your train and the layout from a computer. This is probably the future of model railway control and it comes in at a price which is lower than standard DCC control.

Something to note is that a computer is required to control the trains. They can not be controlled by the e-Link alone.


Hornby Western Master PC Controlled Train Set - R1173
Hornby Model Railway Train Set Trakmat A This Model Railway Locomotive has a DCC Decoder Fitted

Hornby Western Master PC Controlled Train SetHornby Model Railway 2013 Product

Product Code: R1173

 

RRP Price: 159.99 NMS Online Price 149 < Click Here

 

Production Details:

Hornby Western Master computer controlled train set.

Digital train set with 3 assorted wagons. Uses e-Link interface.
Hi-Tec set with plenty of potential for track and layout extension.
This set features smart 0-6-0 GWR tank locomotive and three assorted wagon. e-Link interface included. PC / laptop required
Control via RailMaster / e-Link plus PC / laptop (not included.)
Track layout: Extended oval with siding and buffer stop.
Includes Midi TrakMat

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Suggestions

 If you have any suggested changes to the model railway sets recommended on this page please email me with your suggestion and comments. This page will be under constant review as new model railway train sets and associated products become available: email: info@newrailwaymodellers.co.uk

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