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on November 30, 2012
Overall, this is a nice set for someone who wants to put a train around the tree. If you want to have a set that you can expand, I recommend that you consider a more-expensive set. The main negative that I have on this set is that Lionel includes a low-power PowerMax transformer. This has enough power to run this set, but if you add track or accessories then you'll need a bigger transformer like the CW80 which costs around one hundred dollars. Here's what I see as the pros and cons:

Pros - looks good; has headlight, smoke, whistle and lighted caboose; fastrack is a nice track system; can add lots of Lionel accessories; Amazon price of two hundred ten dollars is a respectable price.

Cons - weak transformer; Christmas music boxcar needs a 9v battery and the on switch is on the bottom of the boxcar.

10/2014 Update - In 2013 Lionel started to produce basic remote-control electric trains called LionChief. Running a train with a remote is more fun than doing so from the transformer. I still like this set, but take a look at the LionChief sets before you buy. This set is a traditional transformer-controlled set.
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on November 11, 2013
This is our second train we have purchased over the past 14 years. I read all the reviews on all the trains & it came down to this one. Most of the cons listed for this train weren't substantial enough for me to rule it out.
I am so glad I chose this train. My 4 yr old & 13 yr old love it.
Let me list the things that were MOST impressive to me:
1. It doesn't come with cheap, plastic track like so many do. (and all the aggravation that comes with those cheap tracks)
2. It has the remote controller so the speeds, whistle & directions can be controlled very easily.
3. It is electric powered...so no changing batteries every week.
4. The Christmas music is not high pitched & overbearing on the ears. The music is actually enjoyable.
5. It has a whistle, a headlight & the caboose lights up.
6. The high speed setting really IS FAST!!!
What I do NOT like:
1. The smoke is so extremely light that you really have to focus to see it.
2. I did NOT realize that although the bell sound button is on the remote control, this particular train does NOT actually have the bell...you have to purchase & add that.
3. It is fairly loud when running the train at full speed.
Seriously, though...it's a great train.
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on November 15, 2013
I bought this train set to enhance the holidays for my daughter and found myself caught up in the nostalgia. I added 6 10 inch straight track sections and screwed it down to a christmas village display I made. There are tabs under each track if you want to attach additional wires for an even spread of power throughout the track. You can solder these or use connectors you can buy at home supply store like I did. There is absolutely no power loss from additional track as others indicated. I will though upgrade in the future to a higher output transformer as I add more accessories and use the 40cw it comes with for auxiliary needs. The box car plays random short clips of Xmas music but the speaker is a little loud. Yes you need to turn it upside down to switch it off and on but I just choose to leave the car off the main track and place it a small section of auxiliary track for display and not worry about. I also bought a chessie locomotive with crew sounds and caboose and these run great too with this transformer. The whistle is a bit weak at slow speeds but the faster you go the louder it seems to get. Kinda like a whistle in the distance. Smoke is also low output at low speeds and not much better at fast pace. Don't keep the smoke switch on unless drops of fluid are in the reservoir or it will ruin the smoke box. A bit pricey but very cool addition and should last a long time with care. The track can be cleaned with a lionel clean and lube kit or you can clean it with some rubbing alcohol. Same with the train wheels. Don't forget the gears and axles need periodic oiling. There are many videos online to assist with the maintenance. Buy with confidence it's a great product.

Update: I fixed the low out put whistle as any train set apparently with ages 8 and older has a federal restriction on decibels thus the whistle being so low. On the lionel website they have a fix in which you unscrew the tender car screws and remove the top. Then you clip the capacitor and solder back down. It took me 5 minutes and voila the whistle was louder or a normal decibal in my opinion. The numbering on the fix I does not Match the circuit board but the picture is almost identical and easy to figure out. If you try it you will know what I mean. Go to lionel website and look up this train and you will see the troubleshooting PDF on the side. Additionally, I don't believe the made in china inferior product as many have claimed on new lionel trains. I have a 1974 USA made chessie system locomotive with die cast trucks that is inferior to my made in China 2010 merger chessie loco. And this was a limited edition item. The detail is a notch above in the china model and the sounds are superior also albeit the trucks are not die cast but the wheels are. Yes I would like this train set to be made in the USA but it is not inferior to any of the USA lionel products I have.
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on December 26, 2012
Fun train set, One minor problem, switch for music on boxcar is on the bottom of the car, poor design, should be on one of the ends.
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on August 20, 2013
This train set is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a train for under our christmas tree and this fit the bill perfectly. The set arrived in great condition, setup was easy, and it works as intended.
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on June 13, 2013
the set came in as described. but I thought it would be of much better quality. being a lionel set. it runs ok. but is a way cheaper version of lionel then im used to. really lite plastic. plastic couplers. very basic. I guess you get what you pay for. but for what they charge. I think they could have put more quality into it. its a shame on the name of lionel to put this very poorly made unit out. two and three hundred dollars is a lot to a lot of people. we deserve better. from lionel. this I would expect to get if I were buying from china. not lionel. but the train does run like they say. 40watt transformer. track is only good standard thing. train very lite. but if you just want a train that runs. this is it. but don't expect the lionel quality you used to get. I guess it went down the tubes. for the price they could have made it better and still make a profit. they spend more on advertising then quality I think. that's my opion only thank you for listening
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on December 31, 2012
I ordered this train on Amazon because all the stores around me that carry trains were out. 2 day shipping was very reasonable and showed up as advertised. The train was easy and quick to set up on christmas eve and the kids loved it. Everything worked. Great starter set. My only disappointment was when I saw Made In China. I hope my kids take up the hobby for my sake.
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on January 9, 2014
Since I was the only one in our household climbing a ladder to decorate and undecorate our huge Christmas tree, I gave away the tree and replaced it with this Lionel Santa's Flyer. What a hit with our grandchildren! They love driving the train and especially sounding the whistle. The track is easy to assemble, the train moves well on the track, and the colors are beautiful and bright. We learned you have to run the train for awhile for the smoke to appear and ours was very light. The music is nice in short bursts, but can become annoying. It is a little difficult to turn the music on and off while the boxcar is on the track. You have to remember where the switch is and feel around to find it or you have to decouple and turn the boxcar upside down to move the switch. A small annoyance. Just driving a train around and around can get boring so we decided to add pieces each year to our set. Our oldest grandchildren will help us decide on a figure 8 piece or a bridge or something next year. We have now started a tradition at Christmas with this lovely train and our grandchildren that will continue for years as we pack it up and bring it out each year.
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on December 26, 2012
It's a nice train with variable speeds. We wish the steam was a little more noticeable than it is. Also, we had to get one car fixed for about $5 because the couple broke during shipment. Just took it to the local hobby shop.
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on December 21, 2013
Like most other I purchased this for use once a year around the Christmas tree. I liked the idea of everything in one box with no extras required.

The train set arrived and assembly was quick and easy. Everything functioned as advertised. Depending on size of you tree or how large you want the track to be consider buying an additional set of straight track.

There were two issues the stopped me from giving a 4 start review.

1. I expected a better quality train engine and cars for the money. There are some small plastic clips that hold a railing on the engine. A couple of them were broken. A little bit of super glue and all was fine however it should not have been required. The tanker car had similar quality issues with the railing/piping around it. Nothing was broken however the fit and finish was not up to my standards.

2. The smoke on the engine. I followed the instructions and I will say it either does not work or you can't see it. I will admit it was late last night when I was trying to get it working however others have made the same comments about not being able to or hardly seeing the smoke.
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