Customer Reviews: Lionel Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Train Set - G-Gauge
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on January 31, 2012
First off, this is a toy. Plain and simple. It's big, it's plastic, and it's very lightweight. It comes with enough track to make a loop around your Christmas tree, and that's it. I've read the reviews here and for the Polar Express, and I'm baffled about some of them. The train has never come uncoupled for me, and I've never had it derail. But I run it on hardwood or linoleum flooring, I don't have carpet in my house. The track is difficult to push together, but once it is together it takes quite a bit of force to have it come back apart. I replaced the batteries immediately, and the train straight out of the box just worked. No problems there. My only problem was range. I could operate it standing nearby, but often the train would lose the throttle signal and slow to a stop. Usually hitting the bell or whistle button would wake it back up, but it would happen often unless I laid the controller on the floor inside the loop of track.

Well, I fixed that. Details here: [...]

Basically, I purchased a $5 28" telescoping antenna from Radio Shack, and replaced the antenna in the remote. Now I can reliably control the train from across the house and upstairs.

If you get a bunch more track and some additional rolling stock (train cars), the Hogwarts express will have a hard time pulling them - especially up an incline. Not because it lacks power, but because it's so light. If you open the locomotive up (four screws on the bottom) there is plenty of room inside. I went to my local motorcycle shop and got a bunch of stick-on wheel weights, and stacked them over the drive wheels. I plan to run this in my garden, so I'm probably not your typical purchaser. As it comes out of the box, it's more than fine for a child. I'm just a bit of a train nut, and I wanted one too! :)
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on April 5, 2012
I own 2 of these, the Hogworts Castle & the Penn freight model. Make no mistake, they're toys. But that's not a bad thing. I gave them a more realistic paint job, added some details & lit the passenger cars. Big difference.

On the plus side: For the young, the new "G" scale (outdoors) modeler, these are great! They have that Lionel quality & they work well enough. Unlike other cheap knock-offs, the throttle is variable, forward & back. They have a bell & whistle & they're remote controllable to about 25 feet+. When you change speed or stop, they behave like a heavy train under inertia - a neat little feature.

On the minus side: It looks like a toy more than a model. The chuffing, whistle & bell sounds don't carry very far outdoors & the remote control can be a little flakey - but now I'm nit-picking.

I have about 200 feet of outdoor G-scale track & now I don't worry that the track is providing a clean circuit. These trains roll regardless of conditions & frankly, they roll more often than the models. I don't need to worry about the grandkids crashing my "good ones". These aren't "great", but they are "good" & just plain fun.

A "coupon"... I opened the remote controller to fix a loose antenae. I found a 3rd button not availed. To my delight, when I pushed it, the "Harry Potter" loco played a songbook of Christmas caroles & the Penn freight welcomed me to the Polar Express.
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VINE VOICEon December 8, 2009
This is my first train set as well as my daughter's first, and I'm not sure who is enjoying it more.This is a perfect set for a child's first train. My three year old loves it. The track is easy to assemble, and the train itself simply requires you to place it on the track and link the cars (super easy to do!). I do recommend an extra track pack. The train is large, so you want to give it some distance in which to travel.

The remote control is easy to use. My daughter can easily understand the forward and backwards motion and gets a kick out of stopping the train and sending it in the reverse direction. The bell and whistle are authentic sounding but not at all loud. The train has an auto shutoff--if you leave the train idling for 10 minutes, it shuts off. I love this because my daughter doesn't want to ever turn it off, but this way, if she quits playing with it, it will shut off on its own.

The one drawback is the battery power. The 6 C batteries it came with died in less than two days. I will definitely be purchasing a couple of rechargeable 9.6 volts to deal with that issue (one to keep in the train, one to keep in the charger so that the train is always ready to go).
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on December 3, 2010
I ordered this train for my two year old, who lives, eats, and breathes "choo-choo trains" right now. Of course his father and I appreciate that it's the Hogwarts Express. First strong point is the easy to unpack and repack box, designed repeat storage. Secondly, the track snaps together easily and firmly, and can be configured in three different shapes. I made a circle, which is 4+ feet in diameter, and fits perfectly around our tree. I ordered extra track, but will return it because i really don't need it. The train cars are sturdy, hook together easily, and have swivel wheels so they stay on the track. The RC remote works well, and is simple enough for my son to operate on his own; he loves the bell and whistle buttons! The train has a "power up" button, which initiates realistic train sounds. It will power down automatically after 10 minutes. At full speed, this train really moves! The only complaint I have is that, like other reviewers have mentioned, the included batteries for the train are a waste. Our's literally lasted less than 5 minutes. I should mention that in lieu of C batteries, you can also use a rechargeable 9.7V battery (not included). Bottom line, get the train, have extra batteries on hand, have fun!
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on January 5, 2012
To celebrate my granddaughter's first Christmas at my house, I purchased this train for my son (an avid Harry Potter fan) to share with her during the holidays. It was to replace the Christmas tree trains he had as a child, now very old and unsafe. His face just lit up when he saw the box and he began setting it up within 20 minutes of his arrival from the airport. It's a great looking train and fits nicely around the tree. Unfortunately, the second car which holds the batteries had deformed wheels unlike wheels on the other cars and it would not stay on the track - of course, without that car, the train can't run. You can imagine our disappointment and I was particularly upset that my special surprise was ruined as there was no time to order another before Christmas. I have no idea if the bad wheels were a fluke or a basic design flaw. If I could get another with proper wheels, I would.
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on December 5, 2012
This is a GREAT starter train. We've had so much fun with it. It's easy to assemble and fun to operate. We haven't had any problems with the remote transmitting. We use it with a rechargeable battery as so many other reviewers have suggested and that works very well. Just wish it was easier to find extension for the track so we could expand its route!
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on December 17, 2010
We knew the batteries that came with the set would be dead from reading reviews. But the remote does connect well with the train. It says it works up to 10' away, but we've had to hold it about a foot from the train. We'll probably return it. (following the train around the tree with the remote isn't very fun)
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on January 7, 2015
This is very cool tho bigger than I expected. I knew it wasn't the smaller model but I didn't expect it to be as large as our old Xmas tree Santa express type train >_>; so was a bit disappointed in that it's for an 8 yr old and not a younger child. He seemed very pleased with it, tho it did eat up the battery quickly (even tho we bought the rechargeable battery pack, tho that may not have been fully charged when we tried it out). The track is a good size. Oval so a bit more than just a little round run. It makes sounds but no steam and NO lights! was disappointed since I thought it at least had a working headlamp. Does run backwards as well and has a handheld remote control, rather than the type attached to the track.

I will likely save up for the smaller model some day. I think he'd enjoy playing with that more as this seems a bit more for little kids, say 4-6? (with supervision of course)

overall ..Great for Harry Potter fans though (who don't have the $300- $400 to get the smaller, more detailed/light up train set.
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on December 8, 2014
I really wish I could give this train a 5-star review. I'm new to trains, so maybe all trains have these issues.

1. The tracks come apart very easily, without even touching them.

2. The cars separate very easily without even touching them. I'd say, 4 out of 5 times that we run the train, the cars come apart.

3. We bought this to put under our Christmas tree. The tracks are seemingly much wider when compared to our tree and tree skirt, so it kind of looks silly. Maybe it's just our tree skirt. I don't know.

It's a good looking train. And it's a Hogwarts Express, which makes it 100x cooler. But, be prepared for some frustrations. My husband is a very patient, relaxed person who can figure out how to make almost anything work, but even he has been frustrated with this train, and he can't figure out how to get the cars and tracks to stay put.
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on March 15, 2011
I was surprized at the quality concidering the price, I did exspect it to have smoke that came out of the stack but the little boy that recieved it was happy with it and it put a hugh smile on his face. The first one had a factory defect, but I was so pleasantly surprized at how easy it was to return it. I had just had neck surgery and couldnt drive or lift the train set as the box was so large and heavy, but when I went on line to find out how to return it I was so so very happy that they sent out a replacement even before I sent the other back and to top it off they came to my home and brought the replacement train set and took the one that was for return and I didnt have to do a thing or put out money for return shipping or handling. I'm so happy that I will be shopping here more often. If I would have used Amazon for the past 4 years I would have saved alot of time and money and return postage for items that where over priced and not up to par. The quality and price where so great I never thought I would be able to get this child his Train set but it made his Christmas and mine. Thank You so Much for the "EXCELLENT" service and product, I cant thank you enought. Sincerely Tee
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