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Not the Lionel that you remember...
on January 22, 2010
I bought this set with the hopes that it would become something that would stay in the family for generations - like my father's Lionel set. For those of you who don't know, Lionel Corporation is long gone, and Lionel LLC (the makers of this set) acquired what was left of the company a while back. It's not the same. Here are my two cents:
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.