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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2012
First off, this is a toy. Plain and simple. It's big, it's plastic, and it's very lightweight. It comes with enough track to make a loop around your Christmas tree, and that's it. I've read the reviews here and for the Polar Express, and I'm baffled about some of them. The train has never come uncoupled for me, and I've never had it derail. But I run it on hardwood or linoleum flooring, I don't have carpet in my house. The track is difficult to push together, but once it is together it takes quite a bit of force to have it come back apart. I replaced the batteries immediately, and the train straight out of the box just worked. No problems there. My only problem was range. I could operate it standing nearby, but often the train would lose the throttle signal and slow to a stop. Usually hitting the bell or whistle button would wake it back up, but it would happen often unless I laid the controller on the floor inside the loop of track.

Well, I fixed that. Details here: [...]

Basically, I purchased a $5 28" telescoping antenna from Radio Shack, and replaced the antenna in the remote. Now I can reliably control the train from across the house and upstairs.

If you get a bunch more track and some additional rolling stock (train cars), the Hogwarts express will have a hard time pulling them - especially up an incline. Not because it lacks power, but because it's so light. If you open the locomotive up (four screws on the bottom) there is plenty of room inside. I went to my local motorcycle shop and got a bunch of stick-on wheel weights, and stacked them over the drive wheels. I plan to run this in my garden, so I'm probably not your typical purchaser. As it comes out of the box, it's more than fine for a child. I'm just a bit of a train nut, and I wanted one too! :)
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 8, 2009
This is my first train set as well as my daughter's first, and I'm not sure who is enjoying it more.This is a perfect set for a child's first train. My three year old loves it. The track is easy to assemble, and the train itself simply requires you to place it on the track and link the cars (super easy to do!). I do recommend an extra track pack. The train is large, so you want to give it some distance in which to travel.

The remote control is easy to use. My daughter can easily understand the forward and backwards motion and gets a kick out of stopping the train and sending it in the reverse direction. The bell and whistle are authentic sounding but not at all loud. The train has an auto shutoff--if you leave the train idling for 10 minutes, it shuts off. I love this because my daughter doesn't want to ever turn it off, but this way, if she quits playing with it, it will shut off on its own.

The one drawback is the battery power. The 6 C batteries it came with died in less than two days. I will definitely be purchasing a couple of rechargeable 9.6 volts to deal with that issue (one to keep in the train, one to keep in the charger so that the train is always ready to go).
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2010
Verified Purchase
I ordered this train for my two year old, who lives, eats, and breathes "choo-choo trains" right now. Of course his father and I appreciate that it's the Hogwarts Express. First strong point is the easy to unpack and repack box, designed repeat storage. Secondly, the track snaps together easily and firmly, and can be configured in three different shapes. I made a circle, which is 4+ feet in diameter, and fits perfectly around our tree. I ordered extra track, but will return it because i really don't need it. The train cars are sturdy, hook together easily, and have swivel wheels so they stay on the track. The RC remote works well, and is simple enough for my son to operate on his own; he loves the bell and whistle buttons! The train has a "power up" button, which initiates realistic train sounds. It will power down automatically after 10 minutes. At full speed, this train really moves! The only complaint I have is that, like other reviewers have mentioned, the included batteries for the train are a waste. Our's literally lasted less than 5 minutes. I should mention that in lieu of C batteries, you can also use a rechargeable 9.7V battery (not included). Bottom line, get the train, have extra batteries on hand, have fun!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2012
I own 2 of these, the Hogworts Castle & the Penn freight model. Make no mistake, they're toys. But that's not a bad thing. I gave them a more realistic paint job, added some details & lit the passenger cars. Big difference.

On the plus side: For the young, the new "G" scale (outdoors) modeler, these are great! They have that Lionel quality & they work well enough. Unlike other cheap knock-offs, the throttle is variable, forward & back. They have a bell & whistle & they're remote controllable to about 25 feet+. When you change speed or stop, they behave like a heavy train under inertia - a neat little feature.

On the minus side: It looks like a toy more than a model. The chuffing, whistle & bell sounds don't carry very far outdoors & the remote control can be a little flakey - but now I'm nit-picking.

I have about 200 feet of outdoor G-scale track & now I don't worry that the track is providing a clean circuit. These trains roll regardless of conditions & frankly, they roll more often than the models. I don't need to worry about the grandkids crashing my "good ones". These aren't "great", but they are "good" & just plain fun.

A "coupon"... I opened the remote controller to fix a loose antenae. I found a 3rd button not availed. To my delight, when I pushed it, the "Harry Potter" loco played a songbook of Christmas caroles & the Penn freight welcomed me to the Polar Express.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2010
Verified Purchase
We knew the batteries that came with the set would be dead from reading reviews. But the remote does connect well with the train. It says it works up to 10' away, but we've had to hold it about a foot from the train. We'll probably return it. (following the train around the tree with the remote isn't very fun)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2011
Verified Purchase
I was surprized at the quality concidering the price, I did exspect it to have smoke that came out of the stack but the little boy that recieved it was happy with it and it put a hugh smile on his face. The first one had a factory defect, but I was so pleasantly surprized at how easy it was to return it. I had just had neck surgery and couldnt drive or lift the train set as the box was so large and heavy, but when I went on line to find out how to return it I was so so very happy that they sent out a replacement even before I sent the other back and to top it off they came to my home and brought the replacement train set and took the one that was for return and I didnt have to do a thing or put out money for return shipping or handling. I'm so happy that I will be shopping here more often. If I would have used Amazon for the past 4 years I would have saved alot of time and money and return postage for items that where over priced and not up to par. The quality and price where so great I never thought I would be able to get this child his Train set but it made his Christmas and mine. Thank You so Much for the "EXCELLENT" service and product, I cant thank you enought. Sincerely Tee
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2012
Verified Purchase
To celebrate my granddaughter's first Christmas at my house, I purchased this train for my son (an avid Harry Potter fan) to share with her during the holidays. It was to replace the Christmas tree trains he had as a child, now very old and unsafe. His face just lit up when he saw the box and he began setting it up within 20 minutes of his arrival from the airport. It's a great looking train and fits nicely around the tree. Unfortunately, the second car which holds the batteries had deformed wheels unlike wheels on the other cars and it would not stay on the track - of course, without that car, the train can't run. You can imagine our disappointment and I was particularly upset that my special surprise was ruined as there was no time to order another before Christmas. I have no idea if the bad wheels were a fluke or a basic design flaw. If I could get another with proper wheels, I would.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2012
Verified Purchase
This is a GREAT starter train. We've had so much fun with it. It's easy to assemble and fun to operate. We haven't had any problems with the remote transmitting. We use it with a rechargeable battery as so many other reviewers have suggested and that works very well. Just wish it was easier to find extension for the track so we could expand its route!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2009
We got this train to put around the Christmas tree, since it was on sale at toys r us we got it figuring my daughter could enjoy it after the holiday's also. The train when we assembled it did not work only because the batteries that came with it were dead. We went out and bought new batteries and started it up. It moves pretty fast and goes forward and backward. It looks really sturdy and I thought it was a great buy. We are happy we bought it because my daughter enjoys using the controller for it and watching it light up and go around the track. I would recommend this train to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2014
Good Plastic Battery Operated first set, for kids under Nine years old. Purchase direct from Lionel store for $89.95 with free shipping.
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