Not All Trains are Made Equally
One woman’s experience typifies the problem of finding the right electric train set for toddlers. A woman went to a large toy outlet in search of trains for her boys, ages 5 and 6. She had always loved here grandfather’s set, but it had been passed down to her brother. Her hope was to find one like it. What she selected was a large set that had two trains. It was priced reasonably and seemed to be perfect for her boys.
Imagine her dismay when the boys had rendered it inoperable in just four days!
These weren’t particularly destructive children. They were typical of their age. When their mother wrote, she was rather indignant about the whole episode. After all, the grandfather’s set had endured generations of young hands. Why couldn’t the new set do the same?
I asked her key questions. (Never ask if the train is O or HO or ‘Lionel’ – many get them confused. You’d be surprised how many thing HO and Lionel are one and the same!) I asked her how long the straight track was, and what the distance was between the rails. Then I inquired about the box and brand. Since that had been discarded, it was simple to have her look at the cars. A description of the cars was a help, too.
The problem was obvious: she had bought the wrong type train for children ages 4 and 6. it was not her fault. The people working in large toy outlets know very little of anything on the shelves, never mind trains. The box art and price doubtlessly caught her attention. Nonetheless, she did not know and had no reliable source to inform her.
All trains are not made to the same standard of durability. “Quality” is a matter of those for whom a train is intended. For a scale modeler, quality involves delicate details. A parent buying for a child wants durability and the ability to withstand hard use. What makes for a better product for the scale modeler probably makes a very poor product for children.
Ah, but how would you know that? Unless you are involved in the hobby or have a reliable source of information, it all looks like six of one thing and half a dozen of the other. That’s why I am here and this article is posted for you: to aid you in selecting the best train for your child.
The fact that you’ve found this page likely means that you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle looking for information about toy trains for a special child in your life. Well, they are a lucky child to have someone like you. Lots of people would just go to a toy store and grab the first thing, or the cheapest thing, that they see. I also hear people say things like their three-year-old got a train set because daddy wanted one. What daddy wants may not be the best choice for a child. You care enough to do some research, that makes all the difference. It will help make the trains that you buy for them more special. And there’s a lot your pre-teen can learn from their trains.