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.) In many cases, the Amazon button will give you a choice of vendors. For more detailed information about why Large Scale railroad products seem to come and go and why I have stopped listing prices for most products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."
Update for November, 2021 - 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 are in the same price range.
In addition, Bachmann has produced two, much more rugged items, a professional-quality, metal-geared Christmas locomotive, and an "Eggliner," a dandy little locomotive on a very solid frame.
Flying off the Shelves - The PIKO Christmas starter set, which was widely available a few months ago had disappeared from the shelves of most vendors I trust. Plus, with most shipping companies getting totally overwhelmed by the end of November, you want to order anything you have your heart set on as early as possible.
Just for Fun - 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 together.
Contacting Us - If you have any questions, please contact us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. That said, I tend to get a couple hundred e-mails a day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sometimes I don't get to the last ones until Groundhog Day. So if you have an urgent question, don't wait too long to ask it.
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.)
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 Blue 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.
These dandy little locomotives are based on products originally made by AristoCraft, a major manufacturer of high-quality garden trains that unfortunately went out of business as a result of the 2008 recession.
Bachmann bought at least some of the molds and maybe some of the spare parts, and they used them to create this line of short-but-sweet self-powered vehicles.
As far as I know, Bachmann's first Christmas-themed eggliner was #96276, which had wreath and garland graphics.These are out of stock every place I checked.
The Bachmann-branded Eggliners being produced today seem to be using the same power trucks Aristo used in some of their locomotives - much more durable and reliable than the trucks in Bachmann's streetcars. They will pull a short string of cars, too. In fact, if you're considering setting up a display railroad where the trains will need to run unattended for hours, a short train pulled by an Eggliner may be your best choice.
Right now the only Christmas eggliner that seems to be currently available is the candy cane version shown above. As of this writing, three different vendors are selling it through Amazon. To see the listing, please click the button on the right.
Bachmann's Metal-Geared Christmas 4-6-0 (#91805)
A few years ago, Bachmann announced a line of metal-geared 4-6-0s, which cost many times more than all of the locomotives on this page so far. They all list in the $1000 range, though, of course, discounters are selling them for less.
The current versions also feature Pittman motors, the most popular motor for model trains of all scales. They include all the extra piping and other detailing that the Anniversary locomotives included. Plus, for "rivet-counters" (extra-picky modelers), they produced new molds for the tender that folks say are much more realistic.
Unlike the other locomotives on this page, they do not include a built-in sound system. But they do have a speaker built into the tender, and a plug for plugging in the sound system or controller of your choice. (For example DCC with sound).
In other words, it's a top-notch model that competes favorably with brands that have long boasted better running and or better detailing than Bachmann's standard 4-6-0s. And it's still cheaper than, say, a new LGB Mogul.
Best Uses - Bachmann is no longer making Christmas-themed passenger or freight cars, but you can use this locomotive to pull any car from any train on this page. Or most cars from most other Large Scale trains. So if you already have a Christmas train and your locomotive has crapped out, or you want a more impressive locomotive, this might be a good choice.
Or if you have a vision of an elaborate Christmas train and you want to start with this, then keeping your eye out for other pieces, that's fine, too.
The only caveat is is you want to pull an AristoCraft train with these, the couplers are not exactly compatible. No problem, you close both couplers, then drop one into the other, still closed.
About Display Railroad Use - If you are setting up a Christmas display railroad and want to use this locomotive, be sure to design things so that it is out of reach of small children. For Christmas railroads that children can reach, consider the Eggliner, which is pretty robust and can pull short trains easily.
Note for November, 2021 - At the moment, these are getting hard to find. One vendor who sells on Amazon still claims you should be able to get yours before Christmas. Other vendors advertise them on "backorder." That said, I have no idea whether Bachmann will ever produce another run of these. My apologies.
To check stock on Amazon, please click the button on the right.
What about Used?
Caveat Emptor - Buying Used - Bachmann made more Christmas trains than all the other G gauge manufacturers put together, and they still turn up on auction sites, though several of them are over 30 years old, and at least half of the locomotives that turn up have been damaged by rough handling.
That said, I've put together a list of those trains, with comments about their relative quality, in case you come across one. Click on the picture to see the article.
Lionel Ready-to-Play Christmas-Themed Toy Trains
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.