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 Polar Express G Gauge Train Set (battery operated one) that was offered for sale this Xmas Is it any good did it have some problems?Reason I ask is I have seen almost everyday since before Christmas on Goodwill's auction site, at least two or more for sale there and had thought about picking one up..
  But that seems like an awful lot of those sets to be donated either by persons or bossiness  Without these all being returns for broken non working  or just being junk etc. So any info would be great thanks
 

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I second this sentiment. I know that we have a regular poster or three here who bought one of these, so time to fess up: is it a steal - or something to walk away from?
 

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I bought two of these sets for my grandson.  One he has at his house and the other I kept here so he could have a train of his own to run on my layout.  First of all THESE ARE TOYS,not models,  made for the 4 and up age group.  Any idea of making something out of them would probably be a waste of time.  They are 1/32 or smaller in size.  However they do run ok. The transmitter is reliable up to about 40'. The speed only has a couple settings. There is a kind of lever on the control for forward and backwards.  It has a built in time delay so a little guy can't jerk it from one direction to another. Also a button for a whislte and bell in a very weak sound system.  For the one I kept at my house I did tweak it a little to improve performance on my layout. The wheels are way out of gauge so they were reset. I put some lead weight on the pilot wheels.  The loco is set up to run on C cells or a rechageable battery. For $25.00 I was able to order a couple 2300mah NIMH batteries and a charger.  The tender comes with a built in Tamiya plug for a battery,The  batteries I ordered are basically plug and play. I did have to do a little tweaking on the battery compartment to get it to slide into the battery compartmemt.  Like I said,and will repeat, these are toys,but for a 4 year old it it great.
 

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I'll second Paul's post.  

These are TOY trains.  They're great for to run around the Christmas tree and very easy for kids to run.  I did run mine on the outdoor layout and it ran fine.  Battery time is limited with the C cells.  It's best to run it with the rechargeables as Paul stated.
 

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Thank you both.

I've thought long and hard about picking one of these up, but from the little I saw in the adverts, they very much had a overly 'toy-like' appearance. I wasn't sure what sort of couplers it had or if they could be changed out. I didn't have a clue what to do with the plastic track. In the end, my main reason for going for one of these sets would have been the locomotive...but that alone wouldn't cut it.

Can the locomotive handle any sort of a grade?

The scale thing counts against it, though. How do the passenger cars size up against an off the rack Bachmann passenger car anyhow? Noticably smaller?
 

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I'll just say this about the loco.  Very light,  plastic drivers and  four traction tires. The couplers are dummy knuckle about 1/32 scale.
 

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I think I would run this locomotive on a flat track, no grades and pulling only the 2 cars that are with the set.  I ran it around the tree at Christmas and it ran fine but with the "C" size batteries, the run time wasn't great.  The 2 year old grandson loved it...  Made the purchase worth while....  :):D/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif
 

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A friend we had not seen in years phoned to let me know she was at an auction and they had the Polar Express set that was going to be auctioned. She thought it was brand new so I had her bid on it.

She (I) won the bid and we picked it up from her last night.

Everything said about it on this topic is true. It is a lightweight toy but for that purpose it should work fine. I believe the set had been taken out of the box and tried (the batteries had been installed) but they appear to be the original batteries and there was no visible wear which makes me think it had hardly been used at all.

We saw a Polar Express set for sale at a train show last weekend for $250. At that price someone would have been ripped off big time but as a toy train set for a young child it will probably be appreciated by my granddaughters. It is certainly not in the same class as Lionel's Thomas the Tank which is unfortunate. I would have been willing to pay a lot more for a higher quality set.

I do not understand Lionel's logic in going from producing top quality O Gauge trains that last a lifetime to producing G Gauge trains that are at the bottom of my quality acceptance levels. I cannot see anyone who starts with a G Gauge Lionel train set ever wanting to buy an O Gauge Lionel train set.

It is as if Lionel has taken the position that while years ago model trains tended to become a life long hobby that today's children only see trains as a temporary interest soon to be forgotten.

Jerry
 

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The fantasy is that if you sell an item that lasts a lifetime, you have sold ONE item. If you sell an item that wears out, you MIGHT get to sell another one. Detroit tried it heavily in the 1970's through 90's (and still has somewhat of that mentality) and I know several other areas of merchandise that is dabbling in that arena... the trick now is to make it just quality enough that it might last a long time, but still eventually break such that you will replace it.

Silly balancing act, but there none-the-less.
 

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Posted By Jerry McColgan on 03/09/2009 6:53 AM
Snipped for relevance

"....It is as if Lionel has taken the position that while years ago model trains tended to become a life long hobby that today's children only see trains as a temporary interest soon to be forgotten.....

Jerry"




It is as if [most companies have] taken the position that while years ago [their products] tended to become a life long [interest] that today's children only see [] as a temporary interest soon to be forgotten.....

Think about the, comic books, the trading cards,the Barbie craze, the hotwheels craze, the matchbox craze, Legos, Slot cars, etc.

Model trains are part of the nostalgic thing. The toys of todays youth do not generally have that type of longevity and neither is there many companies trying to induce that type of thing. Toys have got to be bigger and better than they were last year. (even Legos have jumped on this bandwagon) Does that encourage longevity of the toy? Nope. Trains however do encourage that. Somehting that can be bought and added to over time. Do most kids attention spans cover that gap now though? Do they realize that toys they played with yesterday are still good today? next week? next month? Next Year? For my grandkids?

Food for thought.

Chas
 

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My own opinion is that Lionel should have paid more attention to Bachmann.

The first generation of Bachmann 10 wheelers were made cheaply and did not hold up well but from that start Bachmann improved their product line through the Anniversary model and many of the Bachmann 10 wheelers (not just Annies) have a history as good running locos. Add to this the Bachmann Spectrum line and the quality is higher.

In my opinion Bachmann, Aristo-Craft, LGB, Hartland, Accucraft, USA, Aster and even Lionel (plus those I've forgotten to mention) all tend to give good value for what they cost. My "problem" with Lionel is that while I (and my granddaughters) like the Lionel Thomas the Tank and we may like the Lionel Polar Express, I have been willing to let a stranger (such as a kid at a train show) run Thomas but I would not be willing to let a stranger run the Polar Express because I suspect it does not have the durability to hold up to any significant running time or abuse.

Lets face it, kids are rough on toys (perhaps especially rough on trains). I clearly remember myself as a kid running a red Lionel loco full speed into stacks of cardboard boxes over and over. The tough Lionel loco just kept running and running.

I have to admit that when I look for a toy to buy for my granddaughters I am more interested in buying something that they will grow out of than something they will wear out or break.

Its not that I consider the Polar Express to not be worth what I paid for it - it is just not as tough as I would like for it to have been and I would have much preferred track power over something that will burn up batteries and probably corrode when the batteries are eventually forgotten and left inside the tender and remote.

The truth is that I was wanting to buy the Polar Express the day I heard about it but it has taken until now for me to get around to buying it because of price - when price was not originally a factor. Comments posted a year ago combined with battery power has (in my case) lost Lionel the sale of a new set since I ended up buying a 2nd hand set.

Its not just the loco. The entire set is obviously made to meet a much lower standard (and price) than Thomas the Tank. Admittedly the kid in me also wanted a Polar Express train set - but not this one. This one will just for the granddaughters. After running it once around the track I put it back in the box until such time as a granddaughter might want to run it.

Jerry
 

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Posted By Nicholas Savatgy on 03/09/2009 10:20 AM
Back in Feb, we did a small table top show at a civic center and this little guy showed up with his dad and asked if he could run his lionel. we said yes and it acually ran well








That's the most decent act I've heard of in a long while.


Les
 

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I have to scratch my head and wonder why Lionel would put it's name on that plastic "G" Gauge thing and then turn around and make an Ogauge $2500.00 2-10-10-2 steamer...

 

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Posted By spodwo on 03/09/2009 8:49 PM
I have to scratch my head and wonder why Lionel would put it's name on that plastic "G" Gauge thing and then turn around and make an Ogauge $2500.00 2-10-10-2 steamer...


Only design engineers and family businessmen think in terms of quality of materials and durability... Bean counters think in terms of cutting costs and maximizing the profits for the next few quarters (why worry about long term, either for the product or the company if you're just gonna bail with your golden parachute at the first chance you get to go someplace else for more money?)

Either that or they figure that with the movie merchandising tie in they will sell tons over a short period, even if it's a turd-- because the kids will want it, and then in a few months they'll want whatever comes next..... so why bother spending very much on product development?


As for the O beast, there's a BUNCH of big money collectors in that scale, so of course they'll chase those dollars.
 

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the sadest part of these is that there is no parts support so when they break there is little I can do to help the customer.......
 

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If you put a quality name on junk - and the "junk" is in high visibility places like Target - then the US consumer associates your name with "junk". Someone made a decision....they should have just stuck to the O' Gauge Polar Express [which sells very well] set instead of turning out that thing.
 

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SPod nailed it for me. After working at a hobby shop that sold a little of everything I am convinced that while they can make some good stuff they chose NOT to do so and as such they are losing sales. In my years selling trains I could tell when I had someone blindly buying a brand name and someone discerningly evaluating the product. In the hobby shop we had year round folks who bought by askign questions adn lookign athte products close up. For a few weeks at the end of the year we would have folks buying brand names and for a few weeks in the following new year we'd have folks returning name brnads and or upgrading if we could then take the time to sell them. Still many (too many) simply tossed the old broken toys aside and never came back.

Chas
 

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Lionel seems to consider G gauge to be toys.
 

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Posted By Torby on 03/10/2009 6:55 AM
Lionel seems to consider G gauge to be toys.


They always have, the closest thing to a scale model they've ever done in G was the Atlantic and a few freight cars, maybe their Geep, everything else they've made has been completely toylike. Why expect any different mentality today? Despite 20 years now of a growing market in large scale and ever increasing scale detail and fidelity, their upper managment still cannot wrap their collective heads around the idea that large scale is anything more than "Plastic in the Petunias" at least their latest offerings suggest this mentality certainly hasnt changed.
 
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