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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2010
This was a purchase for my 6 year old son to "upgrade" from thomas the train. He immediatly loved it from the start.
The track went togehter in seconds, the buildings needed some hobby cement, but they were easy to assemble. The switches were manual, but they were great. In a past version of this set I had bought for my nephew, the train would always derail, but the company has improved it so it wouldn't derail as much. The headlight had to be rewired when we got it, but it was nothing duct tape couldn't fix. It also came with a cool little guide on how to get started in model railroading as a hobby. Great tips on everything. Some things that could have been better, The switches could have been remote, the crossing would have operated a bit better, the power pack could have been a bit easier to set up. Trees came with the set, an operating log car, and a bunch of other goodies. We hope to buy more track so my son and I can build a table for him to play on.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2012
This is pretty much Life-Like's older Life Like Railroad Empire HO Scale Train Set, but they changed the name to "Diesel Driver" and replaced the Santa Fe locomotive and caboose with Union Pacific-branded equivalents.
Even with the name and railroad change, it's still a great semi-elaborate starter set, with a relatively unique over/under double-oval track setup, the classic log dump and railroad crossing "action" accessories, trackside shanty building kits, and many scenic accessories (autos, figures, trees, tunnel, signs and utility poles.)
Though I am still a bit confused on why Life-Like still offers their sets with horn-hook couplers. Most of Life-Like's locomotives and rolling stock hasn't changed much since they came out in the 1970s. They still do perform well, but I'm surprised they haven't switched to knuckle couplers yet! Although horn-hooks are backwards compatible with knuckle couplers, this is just a friendly heads-up.
The Power-Loc track is great for starting out with, but you may eventually want to upgrade to a more semi-professional track, like Atlas's Code-83 snap track (it uses nickel silver instead of steel rails!)

Besides that, if you set up this train set on a piece of plywood with some kind of "grass" material on it (either green ground cover or a grass mat), and add more building kits and track and other accessories, you would pretty much have a real "Railroad Empire!" (It still lives up to its original name!)
(The name change could be likely so it isn't too similar to another similar "top of the line" train set Life-Like has offered since the 1990s, Life-Like HO Scale Train Set Freightline USA, which still retains the Santa Fe road name on the locomotive and caboose!)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
I'll start by saying that my seven year old son and I really love this train....now. Assembly was a pain and there was one vital piece of track (the switch track) which was missing from the box and was hugely disappointing. All set to return it to Amazon when I was able to find the piece at a local hobby shop. The power-loc track is not as easy to snap together as they describe it. Did I mention it was a pain? Although the track "snaps" together it is still a bit delicate because the small metal connectors can easily bend if mishandled. I'm baffled that the manufacturer says you can hang the track on the wall for storage because I think it would break after the first or second time. We have it laid out on plywood and it is a perfect sturdy base. All in all it's a great starter train and if you treat it with TLC I think you could really really enjoy it. I am looking forward to working with my son to build a nice town and landscape around it.

In terms of age...I would not recommend it for anyone under 7. The wheels on the train are very small and you have to use the re-railer piece quite often but once you master that it's no problem at all. I can see where a younger child could be very frustrated and honestly it's much more of a starter hobby train than a "play and put it away" train. That said, I like this set because it has a double oval track with an elevated bridge - much cooler than just a single oval. The working railroad crossing signals are awesome. It's a great little set and a heck of a lot less expensive than the $250 Polar Express! All in all - I recommend it and a little dose of patience goes a long way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Good value for the money. Excellent detail on the railroad cars. The track was as easy to assemble as advertised. Many of the accessories are very small so this must be purchased with the age of the user in mind.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2011
they need to improve on a few things, the power-lock track really is a pain to put together and take apart,had a one piece break before we even had the track put together, and the little metal connectors between the tracks will fall out and are really hard to find which also makes that part of the track useless. you can only run the train at slower speeds in certain areas of the track our it will derail and/or tip over. even with all the negatives my son still has fun with it and loves the look of the engine, although i think he would have more fun if things were improved.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2013
Just received the box and noticed there was no engine , thinking it may be somewhere inside with the tracks I opened the box which ripped in a corner and then noticed this rip makes a replacement of the product not possible. What do you do with a train set missing the engine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2011
I've bought this set for my 6 years old son , he is very happy , he loves trains , not so durable a lot of cheep plastic , but good price . best for beginners
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2011
I bought this set to play with my grandson. The trouble involves an inability for the train to stay on the tracks as it goes through either the switch tracks or the crossing gate - both integral parts of the crossover track pattern. You can imagine the disappointment felt by my grandson. Finally after great frustration, I threw away those parts, and simply used the set as a circle. So, after having spent all that extra money, I wound up with a cheap circle. My advice to anyone looking at this set (or the manufacturer) would be to, instead, look at Lionel or bachmann (the latter a friend bought and is very satisfied). When my grandson leaves for home, this set is being tossed in the garbage. I remain wiser, and a few bucks poorer for the exercise.
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on January 3, 2012
this is a nice beginner train set - this was a project for me and my grandsone - I would suggest not laying out the train with the tressel - it never did balance up correctly - we had to go back and re work the lay out to just a flat setting on the board - it is not a lionel and the other cars are a bit chincey - and the cross over track had issues with causing the train to jump the track - but you get what you pay for and I got it to do what I and my gransone wanted it to do, after some work.
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on March 27, 2014
THIS IS SO LIFE-LIKE I FELL ASLEEP BESIDE THE TRAIN SET AND WOKE UP AND FOR A SECOND I THOUGHT I WAS LAYING BESIDE A REAL LIFE FREIGHT TRAIN. LIKE I TOTALLY,FOR REAL, THOUGHT THAT I WAS SLEEPING BESIDE A TRAIN TRACK. TOTALLY RADICAL!
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