|Written by Paul D. Race for and
|This page features collectible trains and towns that are not season-specific - that is you can leave them out all year long if you have the room and will. They are limited-edition collector's items, and most of them are available through subscriptions, which means that you buy each collection an "issue" at a time. We also include links to many other pages that may be helpful.
Choose from Many Trains and TownsOne of the best parts about building a display village or On30 railroad today is that you can use materials both from collectible manufacturers (such as Hawthorne VillageŽ) and from model railroad manufacturers (such as Bachmann). You can always start out with a "display" featuring mostly collectable pieces and pick up some modeling and railroading skills as your miniature world expands. Or if you have been a model railroader all your life and now you want your railroad to look like it belongs to a more specific place and time, you may take advantage of all that the "collectible" pieces manufacturers have to offer - in many cases they're more reasonable in price than you might think. This page provides a guide to collectible trains and towns, as well as links to other trains and towns you may find useful.
A Note about the TrainsThe "O" in On30 means that the trains are in O scale, that is they are 1/48th the size of the "real thing." Most display villages are about the same scale, too, which is why they go so well together. The "n30" means that the trains are models of real-world trains that ran on tracks that were relatively narrow, as train tracks go. These "narrow gauge" trains were generally owned by relatively small railroads, and they could go places where it would have been too expensive to build a "standard gauge" railroad. In hobby terms, that means that they:
Most On30 trains featured on our pages fall into one of two categories:
Update for April, 2012 - Due to a post-recession shortage of products, nearly every product that was on this page in 2011 has gone out of stock. In the meantime, our main supplier for these trains has changed all of their links, so that even the products that are in stock need to be relinked. On top of all that, we are rebuilding the BigChristmasTrains.com site on a new server, so there are some glitches there. In other words, we apologize if you click on a product and nothing happens, or you're taken to a generic supplier page. The good news is that several trains and towns that belong on this page are still available, and we'll link to them as soon as we can. Because some of these collections have been coming and going so quickly, we will be including the original advertising verbage for now. If a product sticks around a while, we'll try to add a review in our own words. So stay tuned, and please contact us if you have any questions about Hawthorne Village or On30 trains that you can't easily find the answer to on our pages.
Note about Availability and Pricing: Although I try to keep an eye on things and to recommend products that are reasonably available, the trains and towns featured on this page are mostly limited edition collector's items. This means that any product on this page may suddenly become unavailable without prior notice. If you "click through" to see details on a product, and nothing happens at all, or you are routed to a supplier's home page, please let me know and I will correct the page and make any recommendations I can. For an explanation of how subscriptions work, please see the article "About Subscription Trains" For more detailed information about why products seem to come and go and why I have stopped listing prices for certain products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."
Note about Product Descriptions - One "side effect" of these products' tendancy to "come and go" is that several trains that I spent a half a day reviewing and writing about have gone "extinct" the next week. So I have gone to using the supplier's descriptions and photographs for most products and adding my own observations where applicable. That said, if you have specific questions about any product we list, please contact me. If I don't know the answer I almost always know how to get the answer.
Note about Suppliers: While our readers have reported excellent experiences with the vendors referred to on this page, 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.)
Because Hawthorne Village trains are subscription trains, each piece is actually considered a separate purchase. (The price advertised on the Hawthorne Village web site is the cost of each collectible piece.) In the first shipment, you receive the locomotive, which is an exceptional value. Then about a month later, or when the next piece is available (whichever comes first), your order for the next piece is automatically processed. On the other hand, if you want enough of the train to run by any particular time (say by Thanksgiving), you should consider getting your order in early. There is also a good possibility that some of these trains will sell out in 2007. (One popular train on this page did sell out in 2006). If there's one you really want, don't assume that it's "safe" to wait until later - I have not heard from one reader who was disappointed with his or her train, but I have heard from many readers who were disappointed because they put off ordering a subscription until it was too late. These are delightful trains and a great value, so order your favorite soon if you don't want to miss out! For details about how a subscription train works, please click here.
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