Order Some Really Big Fun for the Holidays!
Large Scale is the name garden railroaders give to trains that are made to be run in outdoor railroads. These trains are two to six times the size of trains people usually use indoors. They are sturdy, and they are big fun. Don't plan on setting a Large Scale railroad up on your coffee table, though.
The trains on this page are included simply because I've owned versions of each of them and think you would like them, too.
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. (In fact, I've caused a "rush" on several products just by listing them on these pages.) When I have access to more than one source, I provide multiple supplier buttons to give you a better chance of getting the trains you want (as long as you don't wait until mid-December to make your choice, in which case all bets are off). In many cases, the Amazon button will give you a choice of vendors as well. For more detailed information about why Large Scale railroad products seem to come and go and why I have stopped listing prices for certain products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."
Update for October, 2020 - Folks who want a large scale train to decorate their front porch or run around a big Christmas tree find their choices changing every year. Since we last updated this page, Bachmann, maker of the first train below, has stopped introducing new trains in this line, so stocks on the one train we show are getting "thin." Unfortunately, the prices reflect that. (No, we don't sell trains ourselves or set other folks' prices on them.)
As you shop around, you may discover that the smaller, but more rugged products from LGB or PIKO are in the same price range. Either should give you may years of service.
Also, if you're looking for something that kids are going to play with, you might consider a Lionel "Ready-to-Play" set. They run on non-standard track, so you can't put them direcly on your garden railroad, but the track curves are the same as what comes in other starter sets. Just be certain to buy a bunch of batteries. And take the batteries out when the trains go into storage - more of these have been damaged by leaking batteries than all other causes put togethe.
At the moment, there are still some great choices, but if you have your eye on something specific, don't wait too long.
If you have any questions, please contact us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
Note about Suppliers: While we try to give you get the 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 or other purchases 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.)
How To Help Our Site for Free: If you find our tips, explanations, and recommendations helpful when picking out a product, Please Bookmark This Page and come back through it when you're ready to order. It costs you nothing, but it helps us know what pages you find useful, and it helps our advertisers know who to support. And that, in turn, helps us provide more useful resources. Thank you!
Bachmann G Night Before Christmas Train Set - This
train is big and colorful. It is based on the Bachmann Big Hauler series of trains, whose slogan used to be "Any bigger and you'd have to buy a ticket." In spite of the Christmas lettering, the locomotive pulling this train is an accurate model of a Baldwin locomotive that ran on many American railroads between 70 and 140 years ago.
Although the track is best kept indoors, this train will run reliably indoors or out.
For other information about this train, or to check on pricing or availability, please click on a "check stock" button below.
LGB Christmas Train Starter Set - In 2018, LGB's new owners reissued LGB's most popular Christmas train, the seasonally-decorated version of a train you can see on our Garden Train Starter Set page.
The current set is in a charming dark blue and gold color scheme. The "Stainz" locomotive has a ball bearing mounted B?hler motor as well as a headlight and a smoke unit.
A full circle of brass track and a power supply comes with this set - and you can buy add-on LGB track and cars just about anywhere Large Scale ("G gauge") trains are sold.
Don't Wait Too Long - Based on the way these trains are marketed, LGB won't issue another Christmas train set until all of these are out of the stores, and sometimes there's a big gap between the last set leaving the warehouse and the next set hitting the stores.
If you want a Christmas train that will run and run, click the button to learn more and to check stock at Amazon today.
PIKO G Scale Christmas Train PIKO has been making model trains for years, and they've been making model strucures for garden trains for at least three decades. However, we didn't see many Large Scale (garden-sized, or G Gauge) trains from Piko, until LGB got into trouble, and their sets became hard to find. A US-based company that had been importing LGB, began importing PIKO large scale trains so they would have something to sell. The trains have been well-received and are considered reliable.
This is the Christmas version of PIKO's most popular starter set. It is based on an early 1900s Porter-style locomotive used in many industries and small switchyards. Last year, these were hard to come by, but this year there seem to be plenty in stock. Just don't wait to long to find out for sure, because things get crazier the closer you get to Christmas.
To check on pricing and availability please click the button to the right
Note: If you'd like a look at similar trains that aren't decorated for
Christmas but would still look great around your tree or in the back yard, check out the
Garden Train Starter Set page.
For about a decade, Lionel made battery-powered toys that would run on Large Scale track (45mm, about 1 3/4"), so they were marketing them as Large Scale trains. They were toys, not model trains, although I found them useful for things like setting up temporary railroads where visiting children could run the trains.
For a review of these trains, click here. As the review says, they were fun, even though they are almost 100% plastic and much smaller than the electric trains on this page. Unfortunately, when Lionel discontinued production, certain "scalpers" bought up a lot of remaining stock and started selling them for 3-5 times what they sold for in stores. So if you see a battery-powered "Large Scale" or "G Gauge" Lionel train listed for more than, say, $80, don't waste your money.
Conversion to 2" Track - Lionel has now changed the line over from running on 45mm track (about 1 3/4") to 2" track. They are essentially the same trains I reviewed and own, but nobody else makes track for them, so you're stuck with the chintzy track that comes in the box or paying ridiculous amounts for add-on pieces. That said, they are a good value if all you want is a single train set to run around the tree or for the kids to play with in the basement.
If you order a set, be sure and pick up some extra alkaline batteries. Six alkaline C cells run the train (get 12). That said, these trains have great play value for youngsters and are far better made than most plastic toy trains. In fact, the price of plastic toys has gone up so much in 2018, it's hard to find an $80-$120 toy that will provide as much value or hold up better than these.
The Thomas the Tank set is especially worth noting - it's a kid-friendly alternative to G gauge or O gauge sets that cost several times as much and - in the case of the O gauge set - have more breakable pieces.
The following links show the most popular versions of these as of December, 2018.
Lionel has introduced several more Ready-to-Play sets in smaller batches, so they come and go quickly. If you want to see what else is available, including a diesel passenger set, click on the button.