CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
Lionel Trains Polar Express Train Set - O Gauge
- Transformer controlled forward, neutral, and reverse operation
- Locomotive has operating headlight and puffing smoke; air whistle in the tender
- Locomotive features die-cast metal locomotive body and frame
- Operating couplers on rolling stock and on rear of tender
- Passenger cars feature interior lighting and silhouettes in windows
- Powerful maintenance-free motor, two traction tires, and separately applied metal handrails
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The stylish engine bus has a nostalgic, old-fashioned design and is impressively detailed. View larger.
The set comes with figures modeled after characters from the 2004 film. View larger.
The pieces of the train set are easily assembled, from the smooth linking of the cars, to setting up the track. The instructions are sometimes vague: for example, the train needs to charge before it runs, but we didn't understand that from the instructions and spent some frustrating minutes wondering why the train wouldn't move.
Otherwise, the toy is a delight to set up and play with. Most of the parts are reassuringly heavy and durable, including the impressive transformer that powers the train. There is a small learning curve associated with learning to drive the train, especially for electric train novices, but kids will quickly catch on with their parents' help. The small figurines that can ride atop the cars are a nice entertaining feature. However, they are small and can get easily lost, as well as pose a choking hazard to younger kids.
Attention to Detail Creates a Lifelike Experience
The Polar Express has some especially nice features, like the smoke fluid that you can add to it so that it emits puffs of smoke as it chugs along. The realistic-sounding steam whistle is also a great touch. The transformer that powers the train is heavy and solid, with a big throttle that's easy for little hands to operate.
Testers found the train easy to assemble, and once charged, it went smoothly around the oval track. At 60 inches long and 40 inches wide, the track is not particularly big, but you can extend it by purchasing more track pieces from Lionel (sold separately). In general, we enjoyed the old-fashioned quality in the train set's well-crafted parts, as well the numerous design details (such as interior lighting, retro styling, and a working headlight) that made the Polar Express come alive.
What's in the Box
1 die-cast steam engine; 1 coal tender; 2 coach passenger cars; 1 observation car; 1 CW-80 transformer; Santa's Bell; 4 articulated movie characters; 1 bottle smoke fluid; 40- x 60-inch oval track (with 8 curved sections; 3 straight sections; 1 power terminal section); and instruction book.
The train puffs smoke and makes convincing whistle sounds as it makes its way around the track.
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Top Customer Reviews
After Christmas, a major department store had these for 50% off the suggested retail price. I could not pass this up. The department store also had one of these on display.
All I have to say is "wow". The locomotive is actually metal. It smokes; it has a whistle; it lights up; and it's a train. The power pack is nice and stout also. For anyone who had train sets as a kid, this is a blast from the past. It reminds me more of my father's Lionel set from 40-50s than the plastic one I got one Christmas as a kid. It is very well detailed. I would probably have paid full price and felt ok about it since it is good quality.
The bell is a nice touch.
The figures are neither here nor there. Maybe if kids are a little older they might be better. Just a note: The fireman does not have the same long hair as the video.
The track is a lot easier to work with than the old Lionel with the pins from back in the day. You do not need to tack the pieces down to keep the track together either.
The locomotive moves smoothly. It is heavy and stays on the track well.
The cars light up brightly.
At 4 years old, my son primarily watches and hits the whistle button. He has operated the speed a little. The track would be tough for him to work with. Stick with Geo Trax or wooden Thomas if you are not going to work with/supervise your kids on this.Read more ›
The locomotive is a die-cast 2-8-4 junior Berkshire, and although the pilot (cowcatcher) is exaggerated, it's a nice looking locomotive. The wheels and trucks are metal, too, although the product specs don't say so.
The passenger cars are nicely lit.
The set comes with Lionel Fastrack, which is nice-looking, durable, and reliable track.
The set comes with a CW-80 transformer, which reportedly fails 50% of the time.
The locomotive has a lousy smoke unit; some work okay, others don't work at all. You can find ways to repack the unit with pink insulation on the Internet, but why would you want to take a new train apart?
The decorative bell and whistle on the locomotive are plastic and flimsy.
The metal handrails on the locomotive that I received were unevenly applied.
The plastic rail on the observation car is a joke. It is flimsy and falls off easily.
The couplers on the passenger cars are plastic.
I've heard a lot of complaints that the passenger car shells are plastic. Well, that's true, but it's really hard to find metal passenger cars these days, made by anyone. It's also hard to find trains made in America. In fact, there's only one company that still makes them here, and they are priced for the serious hobbyist.
I returned my set and went with another brand.
A number of comments here had to do with the fact that the first "run" of the train sold out before it even hit the warehouses in 2004. Nowadays, the rush isn't so great, but that doesn't mean there won't be a last-minute "run" on the set if a network station shows the movie in December. Unlike most "Christmas Trains," though, this set is tasteful enough to be used on any O gauge railroad all year round. And it's built like the Lionel trains your grandfather grew up with, solid enough to last for generations.
Happy Holidays - Paul Race, editor, Big Christmas Trains
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After only a couple of days the smoke element went bad and I have had to have the engine repaired three times. Looks real nice but not worth the money or hassle. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Peter Welch
Love my train set. Nice heavy engine, and the cars are just like the movie.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I've now owned this train for years, and the set was shipped with a CW-80 transformer that has gone out on it after hardly any use. No excuse for this. Read morePublished 5 months ago by M Leck
DON'T BUY IT anywhere you have to ship it. Or at least make sure you test it our within the 30 day window. Read morePublished 6 months ago