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186 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2013 Lionel Polar Express vs Previous Model (6-30218 vs 6-31960)
I'm going to compare this model (6-30218) to the previous model of the Lionel Polar Express (6-31960), since many people seem to be asking what the difference is. That set is already thoroughly reviewed on Amazon. There are many similarities and a few big differences. Which one is better is a matter of opinion. For me, it's the new LionChief version due to the updates and...
Published 9 months ago by Shawn Whaley

versus
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best...
Worked for about an hour. Then the train would move and stop, then move and stop every second. Returned for replacement.
Published 8 months ago by katie swenson


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186 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2013 Lionel Polar Express vs Previous Model (6-30218 vs 6-31960), November 21, 2013
By 
Shawn Whaley "Shawn Whaley" (Atlanta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
I'm going to compare this model (6-30218) to the previous model of the Lionel Polar Express (6-31960), since many people seem to be asking what the difference is. That set is already thoroughly reviewed on Amazon. There are many similarities and a few big differences. Which one is better is a matter of opinion. For me, it's the new LionChief version due to the updates and remote control.

We'll start at the front of the train: The mighty Berkshire engine is almost exactly the same, with some exceptions: There are no longer separate hand rails adorning the sides of the tank. This was a nice detail on the previous model, but I don't miss it. It's been replaced by a handrail that's cast to the metal body. Also, there are two toggle buttons in the cab of the engine, one that turns on/off chuffing noises and the other that turns on/off smoke. (The chuffing sound doesn't actually come from the engine; all sounds are from the tender). The third difference, and this is big, is the previous model used a very simple metal bracket to "couple" the tender, which I never liked. This model uses a new over/under coupler (quick connect drawbar) that's heavy plastic with copper diodes inside. The diodes are responsible for sending sound commands from the engine to the tender and also syncing the chuffing noises with the speed of the locomotive. This works very well - I'm impressed with how accurate it is. And, last, the smoke! The smoke on this engine works very well. The old engine was hit or miss - most of the time the train had to warm up by going at least half speed around the track for a few minutes before there was any smoke. This engine started making smoke rings right away, and they are perfectly timed with the chuff of the engine. I'm impressed.

Next, the tender: Like I stated, the tender is where all the sounds come from. I was surprised to find the tender didn't have any volume controls. In fact, it has no controls at all since it now interfaces with the engine. The tender simply has a speaker inside with a sound screen on the bottom. The sound is decent. Still, I'd like to control the volume. This is Lionel's "RailSounds" module, as opposed to the less feature rich "TrainSounds" or "SteamSounds". If chuffing is turned on, your train can chuff and play other noises simultaneously. With previous versions, the bell, whistle, or announcements would interrupt the chuffing. This is more realistic. All sounds (except chuffing) are controlled by the remote buttons. This works pretty well and makes more sense than using a transformer to control sounds. The previous Polar Express only came with basic sounds. You actually had to upgrade the tender to hear any conductor announcements or chatter. The fact that this is now standard is a very good thing. One thing I do want to point out: The whistle only has a single tone. Some of the better RailSounds have a more realistic steam whistle that changes frequencies. Not a huge deal, but enthusiasts may be disappointed. I'm very happy with the sounds included on this model.

Next, the three passenger cars: Not much has changed here. You still get very high quality passenger cars with metal carriages and sturdy plastic cars. All cars have interior lights that are on when the track has power. There are silhouettes in the windows that adhere to the book and movie - children lining one car, forgotten toys in one, and the last has one lonely child near the back. The last car also has an observation deck and rear light on the crown. The observation deck comes as a separate piece that you attach. The plastic tabs that attach the deck to the train are flimsy. I feel like this piece could easily break, so I used a line of super glue to keep the deck permanently attached. This is really my only complaint with the passenger cars.

The track: You get 12 pieces of FasTrack (8 curved, 4 straight), which is a good deal considering the price of additional track. This is the same FasTrack set that comes with most Lionel starter sets, with the major exception of the single straight terminal section that supplies power. Sets that come with a transformer (this one does not) have a positive and negative wire terminal. This set simply has a jack to connect the power supply. So, here is a question that's better suited for the hobbyist: How many accessories can I power with the supplied adapter? I haven't tested this or running my train up any inclines, so I can't answer that. I do know this power adapter supplies 18 VAC to the track and everything included has ample power. I've even seen video of multiple LionChief trains running on the same track with a single power supply. But, at some point, when you add track or accessories, you'll have to add a transformer. Do I mind that a transformer wasn't included in this set? Not at all. I'm glad they kept the price down. Even a starter transformer would have added too much overhead and this is something you can always add as your set grows. (Tip: If you plan to put this around the Christmas tree, I recommend ordering additional track. This 4 pack should give you plenty of room for presents to fit inside your layout: Lionel - FasTrack - Straight Track - 4 Pack )

The remote: This is the real innovation. Remotes on O-Scale trains are traditionally very expensive. A remote on a starter set is kind of a game changer. The remote itself is lightweight plastic and requires 3 AAA batteries (not included). It's a shame that it doesn't feel more sturdy. Plus, it isn't interchangeable; meaning that this remote has a set frequency that will only power this model. You can't simply pick up a replacement and set the frequency to match the engine. The control knob moves to neutral, forward, and reverse and there are three buttons for the bell, whistle, and announcements/chatter. The response of the controls is very good considering the less-than-wonderful quality of the design.

Function: Once you plug the terminal piece of track into your power supply, the track is powered. Oddly, there is no toggle to cut the power on or off - you have to unplug the adapter to kill power. The remote has an on/off switch, but that only turns the remote on or off. As soon as you set your train on the track you will have light and sound. If chuffing is turned on, you'll hear slow chuffs and steam noises and some chatter after a little while in neutral. If you put the train in low forward or reverse, it crawls decently, not great, at low speeds. The smoke rings are better at low speeds, since you get big, billowy, puffs of white smoke. At faster speeds you can't see the rings. The train handles fairly smoothly - slowing down slightly on turns. It's capable of running faster than you would want to run it. So, caution if you hand the remote over to a child. It could easily derail at top speed. The supplied track is rather noisy, especially on hard wood floors. Placing the track on carpet or a rug improves the noise considerably.

Overall, I love the quality of this set and I think you get a lot of value, even if you were to pay MSRP. But, considering you can find this set for a substantial amount less than the list price, it's even a better deal. The lack of transformer makes it ideal for remote control around a Christmas tree. If you are getting into the hobby it's a great starter set that I hope will last for years. Only time will tell if the electronic components and remote hold up or not.

Also in the set you will receive 4 plastic movie figurines (Conductor, Engineer, Fireman, and the main character), smoke fluid, and a commemorative jingle bell as depicted in the movie (I guess it makes a nice ornament). Nice little extras, but nothing fancy.

One Final Note: Lionel is releasing a LionChief Plus series in 2014 that will have upgraded features such as a toggle for use with a traditional transformer and automatic decoupling. As of now, they have not announced if they plan to release a Polar Express model with LionChief Plus.

This train is in the first release of the LionChief line. There is no toggle that will allow it to run without a remote. The train will run on a track that is powered by a transformer (not included). But, that requires opening the transformer to full throttle and using the remote to control the movement of the engine. I'm only mentioning this because some people prefer using the traditional transformer over a remote control. My advice to anyone who wants the option of remote or transformer would be to wait for the LionChief Plus line to be release.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Had some issues within minutes but eventually was able to get things going, December 13, 2013
By 
H.E.Pennypacker (Columbus, OH United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
After first setting up the entire set (by following all instructions), I was able to move the train forward once and backwards once before it stopped working. The red light where the plug attaches to the track flashed on and off about once every half second or so and the headlight on the engine would turn on and off in unison. The transformer was powering on and off for an unknown reason.

I tried removing all the cars, and I verified all track connections and still this on/off power would occur with the engine on the track. (Made no difference with the tender on the track or off it).

I took 6 screws out of the bottom of the engine and slid the metal body off and tested the engine on the track and it worked fine. I have no idea what was wrong but when I reassembled everything it worked fine.

The other key tip was that the switches which control the smoke and "chugging" sound don't take affect right away. I had to power off and then power on the track to get the new switch setting to take effect.

I give this four stars because it's put together well and runs well. The fast track is good and creates a reliable connection and continuous smooth rail when it's setup on carpet under the tree. I don't know if the initial problems I had were my issue somehow or a manufacturing problem. All is working now!

UPDATE after 12 days of use:
The engine continues to run very well since the initial problem was resolved. The one issue I've had over the past 12 days was that the engine would not smoke. Today, I turned the engine over and let some of the smoke fluid drip out and instantly it began to smoke. You need to put a little less smoke fluid in here than you think and if it isn't smoking, try tipping it over and draining out a bit of the extra fluid.

Everything else works great and it continues to be a hit with the kids.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware of Descrepancys between the Lionel 2013 Ready-to-Run Catalog and this actual 6-30218 Train Set, November 19, 2013
This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
If you are buying this train set, please be aware of the following: The Picture and the detail description in the 2013 Lionel Ready-to-Run Lionel catalog shows and lists "Separately Applied Metal Handrails on the locomotive body. This is not true, these detail features have been removed from the actual locomotive supplied in this 6-30218 Polar Express RTR set. the same applies to the Handrails on the Tender, they have also been removed from this train set. Another discrepancy listed in the 2013 catalog indicates that the set comes with eight (8) curved 0-36 track sections, One (1) 10" track section, and, one (1) Fast Track Wall Pack Terminal section forming a 40" x 50" oval layout. The actual box that this set comes in states that in addition to the (8) curved sections and (1) Fast Track Wall Pack Terminal section, there are really three (3) 10" Straight Track sections (not one 10" track section) forming a bigger 40" x 60" oval layout
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Train is Amazing! Thank you Amazon for my Polar Express Train, December 18, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
I brought this thanks to amazon at a Lightning good price. I did verify the website at Lionel trains they charge 400 Dollars, compared to eBay or Lionel, Amazon has this at a great amazing price. I brought this for my self as a collector, I fell in love with not only the quality Die cast metal of the train, But also was shocked with the Box package it was really well made and put together. I will soon buy the area 51 train next. But if your reading this rating I sincerely Highly recommend this to any person. This is a serious train for mature youngster or adult... My son is 5 years old I am teaching him how to use it.. When he turns 9 or 10 years old I will buy him his own.
I rate this train set a perfect 10+++( Super important reminder) buy 4 pieces of 30 inch tracks extra with this purchase you will need it if you really want this to enjoy the beauty of the trains speeds, and mechanics, also sparks.

May my evaluation helps you in your purchase.
Sincerely, Ivan
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Lionel train set, December 9, 2013
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This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
Great Christmas train set. Easy to set and had running in less then 15 minutes around the tree. The remote control unit is great and easy to use. The fastrack is easy to assemble and works great on carpet. This is a well built heavy train with great detail.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice addition around the christmas tree, December 13, 2013
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This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
Nice train, and I loved the Polar express movie. I love the Train engine design, and everything works great. Great addition for the holidays.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best..., December 9, 2013
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This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
Worked for about an hour. Then the train would move and stop, then move and stop every second. Returned for replacement.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New bells and whistles are cool. Same quality die-cast engine as you'd expect. The new remote works well but needs batteries., November 20, 2013
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This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
We had purchased the traditional O-Gauge Polar Express with the transformer box for my son four years ago. Last year it was damaged in a flood and when I went to replace it, I was concerned that the newer version with the remote control wouldn't be as nice. After watching the demos on Lionel's site, I decided to give the remote controlled train a try. The train itself turned out to be just as nice as the original, and my son (and daughter) love the remote. They got a kick out of being able to control the train from another room and I love that we could put another remote controlled train on the same track. The remote is intuitive and works very well. The extra sounds are a nice plus too, especially for young children who enjoy the extra "bells and whistles". I can see how Lionel is saving some money on the remote (which is made of cheap-feeling plastic), compared to the old, metal, heavy transformer and I think they should bring the price down as a result. The remote requires 3 AAA batteries, and frankly, considering the price of the train and the money Lionel is saving on the transformer, the batteries should have been included. That's really my only gripe. $300 for a train, include the batteries!
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Engine does not work, December 5, 2013
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This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
The construction is very durable, and heavy duty. But, It made it halfway around the track and the engine lockedup and stopped working. We tried everything we could think of to get it to work with no luck. We returned it, and due to a lot of people reporting the same problem, did not get a replacement.

We got it for an early Christmas present for our 2 year old son.. .so maybe we'll do more research and get a different one next year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful addition under the tree, March 16, 2014
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This review is from: Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge (Toy)
Great O-Gauge train, well built and detailed
Great for the kids
requires light maintenance to remain in top shape
also bought Lionel Polar Express Add On Figures
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Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge
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