|Written by Paul D. Race for and|
Lionel Trains are on the Upswing! When we started adding Lionel trains to our buyer's guide in 2004, only a handful of sets were generally available. In fact, adding trains to this page often caused the suppliers we linked to to sell out in a matter of days, and we got used to spending much of the time between Thanksgiving and December 15 tracking down new suppliers to link to. (After December 15, sorry - all bets are off.)
Support from folks like us, combined with Lionel's introduction of the best-selling Polar Express train have caused Lionel's "stock to rise" among train lovers of all ages. Today Lionel is selling more kinds of train sets with more road names and more different locomotives than they have in decades, including the Berkshire locomotive they reintroduced in the Polar Express set and the realistic-looking, solid 0-8-0 they are now including in several sets listed on this page.
In addition, lots of folks who bought their first Lionel set to go around their Christmas trains are finding other uses for them, including Christmas villages and year-round O27 railroads a lot like the O gauge railroads our grandparents used to build. These trains are great for all these purposes. (Of course Lionel also offers trains decorated specifically for Christmas, if you are primarily interested in a Christmas display.)
Whatever you want to do with your trains, we're here to help, with information, tough questions, and help finding hard-to-find sets. Please contact us early if you have any questions, though - we do get swamped with questions by mid-November and stay that way until about Valentines' day.
Note about Availability and Pricing: Although I try to keep an eye on things and to recommend products that are reasonably available, the model train market does fluctuate, and any product on this page may change price or become unavailable without prior notice.
November, 2011 Update: Each year Lionel sends a bulletin to its biggest distributors and chains telling them which trains they plan to offer for the following Christmas season and asking how many each company wants to order. In early 2011, the economy looked a little weak, and not many orders were placed. Now folks are a little more confident, and these trains are flying off the shelves. In fact several trains we has listed in mid 2011 are no longer available. In other words, if you are interested in any of these trains in particular, consider ordering now.
For more detailed information about why model train products seem to come and go and why we have stopped listing prices on our "buyer's guide," please see the article "About Pricing and Availability."
Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the trains and other products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)
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|The Lionel(r) Pennsylvania Flyer Train Set - This train features a rugged die-cast Lionel 0-8-0 locomotive with working headlight, operating smoke unit, and whistle. The set includes two freight cars, a large FasTrack layout, and the powerful CW-80 Transformer.
Note: This train used to have an Atlantic 4-4-2 locomotive; now it has an 0-8-0, which is a different style that is just as much fun to run. If you have the old Pennsylvania Flyer and you like Pennsylvania RR, this is a good addition to the old set. That said, it's been in high demand. Again, if you want this train (or any train on this page), avoid disappointment and order now.
Please click a button for more details, or to check price and availability.
|Lionel Wild West Set-Lone Ranger Train Set - This train was reintroduced without fanfare in 2010, but has come into high demand. Many folks over the years have liked the old-timey look of this set. The set includes a large FasTrack layout, and the powerful CW-80 Transformer.
Again, if you want this train (or any train on this page), avoid disappointment and order now.
Please click a button for more details, or to check price and availability.
|The Lionel(r) New York Central Flyer Train Set with RailSounds - The tough die-cast metal locomotive equipped with the RailSounds sound system brings the Flyer to life with steam chuffing, whistle blowing and more. This set includes a 4-4-2 steam locomotive and tender, boxcar, flatcar with stakes and bulkheads, caboose, CW-80 Transformer, smoke fluid, "How-to" instructional video and more. There is enough track to make a 40"x60" oval.
Lionel introduced this train in 2003, and it mostly sold out by late 2005, so we took it out of our catalog. Then they made another run, so we are able to relist it again for 2008. Now stocks are getting thin again. In October, 2009, Amazon replaced this train in their listings with a different train in a Western theme, and I had to scrounge to find a vendor that has this one in stock. In other words, don't wait too long.
|The Lionel(r) Pennsylvania Flyer Train Set - This train features a rugged die-cast Lionel Atlantic locomotive with working headlight, operating smoke unit, and whistle. The set includes two freight cars, a large FasTrack layout, and the powerful CW-80 Transformer.
Note for 2009: This train has been so popular that it has spawned not one, but two other versions (shown below). That said, the version with the Atlantic (4-4-2) engine shown above will not be reissued for some years and it's certain that some vendors will sell out before Christmas. So if you like this version, consider placing your order soon.
Limited Edition! The Lionel(r) Pennsylvania Flyer 50th Anniversary Train Set
This version of the Pennsylvania Flyer includes all the features of the set above with a fancier paint job on the locomotive. It was issued in smaller quantities, so if you like the look, don't wait too long.
Check stock by clicking on a supplier button to the right.t
New! The 2009 Lionel(r) Pennsylvania Flyer Train Set
New for 2009! Lionel also offers this set with an 0-8-0 "road switcher" locomotive that is based on the locomotives use in very large freight yards and very congested industrial districts of the mid-20th century. These locomotives needed to be able to pull a train as long as any freight train, and they had to be able to do it backwards. So if you don't have an 0-8-0 in your collection yet, this set could make a nice addition.
Please click a button to check price and availability.
| Still the Best! - Thomas the Tank Engine Set Lionel's O Gauge Thomas set is a solid starter set with many of the features of their more "realistic" trains. As of October, 2009, it is the only track-powered Thomas set in production that makes sense to let kids play with. No, you can't give it to your five-year-old in a box and hope for good (or even safe) results. But once you have put it together, your kids will get a lot of play value out of it. Thomas's eyes move as he goes around the track, pulling Annie and Clarabel. Two Railway Workers and Sir Tophman Hat are included, as well as enough of the new, more attractive FasTrack track system to make a 40" x 60" oval, and the CW-80 transformer for more power.
Editor's Note: The Thomas and James trains on this page are the largest Thomas and Friends(r) trains currently being manufactured. I have a set in Large Scale, which are half again as big as these, and I have to say that either train creates a great deal of excitement when kids are around. While I wish the Large Scale versions were still available, I am glad that Lionel is expanding their O gauge line, so that the average family can have a quality Thomas set that is big and sturdy enough for little hands to handle.
| Expand the Fun - Thomas the Tank Expansion Set More cars and more track. Increase the size of your railroad, and give Thomas or James (below) more choices to pull. This set includes:|
and availability information.
| Give Thomas Some Company! - James the Red Engine Like Thomas (above), James's eyes go back and forth. He also has three different expressions. Buy James to add to your Thomas and Friends set, or to pull the expansion set above.
Click on a "check stock" button for pricing |
and availability information.
|Expand Your Empire With More Track. Most of the trains on this page come with Lionel's new "FasTrack," which looks better and goes together easier than traditional O-27 track. To give your train a little more room to run, consider adding a few pieces. This 10-inch Straight Track Section is the same as the pieces that come with the all of the sets on this page. Please click on the button to check price and availability.|
Lionel FasTrack Curves A set of four curved pieces, along with a few more straight pieces, will give you many more choices of how to set up your railroad. These are what Lionel calls O-36 curves, the same curves that come with all of the sets on this page. Please click on a supplier button to check price and availability.
|Lionel FasTrack Railer - The Railer is used to help you and your family easily roll your locomotives and rolling stock onto the tracks. No more fiddling with the wheels to get them on correctly. Instead, you set this on top of the track temporarily and "feed" each car through it to get it onto the track. Great for kids who are just learning about trains. This product works with all the train sets on this page.|
Other Pages You May Find Helpful
"O Scale Accessories - Our O-Scale Accessories page includes many relatively inexpensive details such as bridges, fencing, and stations, that will bring life to any O-Scale or O-Gauge railroad. Click on the picture at the right to see that product page.
"O Gauge Christmas Trains
- If you are getting a train set just for Christmas, check out the O Gauge Christmas Trains page. This page features Lionel's exclusive Polar Express train, complete with a Berkshire locomotive, three passenger cars, and several add-on car options. Other Christmas trains and accessories are also featured. These trains will also look nice with your Christmas village structures, if you have room for a track circle (about 40" minimum).
"Tribute to Tinplate" Project Articles -
This is not a buyer's guide page, but a series of projects that pay "Tribute to Tinplate," based on the tinplated-steel trains and towns of a century ago. You make the structures out of cardboard, but our free downloadable commercial-grade graphics and instructions will help you make heirloom-quality reproductions of classic tinplate stations, bridges, and more. Inexpensively add an authentic vintage look to any indoor railroad.
"O Gauge Christmas Trains - If you are getting a train set just for Christmas, check out the O Gauge Christmas Trains page. This page features Lionel's exclusive Polar Express train, complete with a Berkshire locomotive, three passenger cars, and several add-on car options. Other Christmas trains and accessories are also featured. These trains will also look nice with your Christmas village structures, if you have room for a track circle (about 40" minimum).
"Tribute to Tinplate" Project Articles - This is not a buyer's guide page, but a series of projects that pay "Tribute to Tinplate," based on the tinplated-steel trains and towns of a century ago. You make the structures out of cardboard, but our free downloadable commercial-grade graphics and instructions will help you make heirloom-quality reproductions of classic tinplate stations, bridges, and more. Inexpensively add an authentic vintage look to any indoor railroad.
Note: Family Garden Trains(tm) and Big Christmas Trains(tm) are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are
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