Choo choo?
November 28, 2009 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Toy train filter: I know not of toy trains, but would like to buy a set for a Christmas gift. Specifics inside.

Mr. Cestmoi's favorite Christmas as a kid was getting a toy train set. I'd like to recreate that for him this year (his parents got rid of the one he had as a kid so that's not an option), so this is a surprise (i.e. I don't want to give away what he's getting so I can't ask too many questions.)

What I've gotten out of him so far is that he likes the postwar lionel ones, and the New York line. I don't have a large budget for this, so my current thought is that I'd like to get him a basic track and a train or two (so it will go around the tree), and then he can add on more things later.

Is this a reasonable plan? It looks like they are both O tracks so I assume this will work? Do I need anything other than just the tracks and train (there seems to be a million different controlers on eBay and I'm totally lost)?

I'm totally new to this and lost, assume I know nothing.

Also, is there anywhere you recommend shopping? I'm in the NYC metro area, I know there are a few hobby stores in mindtown, online options welcome too.
posted by cestmoi15 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total)
Gotham Trains on West 35th is the niftiest shop I know about, but I also noticed that Lionel (or someone using their licensed name?) has opened up an awfully swank spot in Rockefeller Center.
posted by rokusan at 8:29 AM on November 28, 2009

O scale has two styles. Lionel brand is often called O27 scale (but confusingly referred to as "Traditional O Scale" on the Lionel website), with three-rail track. There is also fine-scale/expensive O scale used by modelers creating realistic model railroads. It sounds like you want the former.

You need O27 track, one locomotive, a few cars and a transformer (the controller thing). There is a thing apparently called a universal lockon that connects the wires from the transformer to the track. It's probably easiest and most authentic to get a Lionel transformer. That reduces the search space for the controller significantly.

Lionel has sets with everything needed to get started, but this will be much more expensive than going used. There is a lot of used Lionel out there. With a toy train used is pretty easy to present- try to have it set up already and the box is irrelevant.
posted by jjray at 10:27 AM on November 28, 2009

Another good brand is MTH. I have a set of MTH . Lionel trains even work and can be controlled and run on mth track and transformers.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:18 AM on November 28, 2009

Definitely a reasonable plan - an awesome plan actually. Your husband will be super-thrilled.

However, just as a warning you may open Pandora's box, and your entire home may be filled with toy trains in a few years. Just a warning. :)
posted by radioamy at 11:50 AM on November 28, 2009

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