If you start the engine at 80-100% speed to get the smoke starting and back the throttle back to 50-60% it's easily visible... the faster the locomotive goes the more difficult it is to see. The included smoke fluid did not seem to generate nearly as much effect smoke as the MTH ProtoSmoke product (also sold on Amazon) when tested in the same locomotives.
Yes the train runs by itself. You use the remote to turn it on, blow the while and control the speed level. Once the speed level is set, the train runs continuously. Thanks! Lisa Laing, My Hobby Place & Toys
This one, for $199, is this year's model. The more expensive one is actually last year's. More importantly, this one has a remote control that is pared to this specific locomotive. This means you don't have to be at the transformer to run it AND if you ever get another engine, you can easily run 2 trains independently of each other. The more expensive set does NOT allow you to do that.
You can buy extra track, cars, landscape, etc. Money, lots of it, are needed with this great hobby. I have track that goes through entire house...if I'm watching TV and Honey is in kitchen she can put a sandwich on a car and deliver it to me. I send a thank note back.
This set has On/off switches for smoke and sound. RailSounds RC sound system with steam chuffing and background sounds, whistle, bell, and user-activated announcements. Basically ON/OF control but no volume control. I see that another loco option has volume control: Pennsylvania LionChief™ Plus 2-8-2 Mikado SKU: 6-81297
Lionel manufacturers all kinds of cars, landscape accessories, tracks, etc. The best place to see what Lionel offers is their website and on-line store. There are many "authorized dealers" and unauthorized dealers. Most of the unauthorized dealers are legit (i.e., they sell valid Lionel products)..they just don't have the papers from Lionel to say that they (Lionel) will honor the warranty for items purchased via the unauthorized dealers. Lionel headquarters will honor warranty during the one year warranty period of the product - buyer needs to contact them directly to get a "Return Authorization Number".. Amazon, for example, is an "unauthorized dealer" but they are very legit, etc. I always search Amazon first to get prices, reviews, etc. Often their prices are lower and sometimes the Lionel on-line store has better prices.