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on December 14, 2011
This is a very good starter step that will get you going. There are two things to beware of though - 1) the instruction booklet describes features that are not on this train, but are on others. This can be frustrating as you try to figure out why it isn't working. Just note that it isn't working because this engine doesn't have the feature and it is not dysfunctional. 2) The smoke from the engine takes a bit of time to get going about 20 times around the track, but once it does it is pretty cool.

Great set up and would recommend!
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on January 20, 2012
We purchased this Santa Fe Ready to Run set for our 9 year old for the Holidays. The set is made by Lionel. It came with 80 watt transformer, a fasttrack oval, steam engine, tender, lighted caboose and rolling stock. Everything worked great right out of the box and the track is easy to assemble.

The engine makes a steam engine whistle sound that is realistic and easy to use....just push a button on the transformer! It also came with smoke fluid and is supposed to puff smoke but we have not been successful creating what should look like realistic smoke. If you look really hard, you can sometimes catch a small thin vapor of smoke rising as it passes by. The engine also has a headlight that works well and is fun to watch as it enters our homemade tunnel.

The engine and tender are sturdy and heavy and seem up to the task of a 9 year old's energy and imagination. We already have seen dinosaurs, monster trucks, and a military helicopter invade the train layout. The train stays on the track even at high speeds.

The only downside I see is that the fast track and many of the accessories can be quite expensive. But our son really enjoys it and we are looking forward to building a fun layout and memories together. For a starter set, it was reasonably priced and seems to be pretty good quality.
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on January 9, 2012
I scrapped together enough money at the last minute to get this for my 3 year old son for Christmas. I know, he's a bit young but he played with a friend's at a Christmas Party and did very well with it. He's only allowed to play with it when "Mommy or Daddy" are around. Aside from that, we put it together very easily and quickly on Christmas Eve night, and ran it with success to test it out. On Christmas morning, my son and I went to play with it and it wouldn't even budge. The engine and lights all worked, but nothing happened. After fidgeting with it, then placing it in reverse it broke free and would go in both directions. Throughout Christmas day my son and nephew played with it but had difficulty getting the smoke to come out. The directions are not very clear. It also bound up several other times throughout the day. Cleaning up that night, I found a screw on the floor obviously from the train. Upon closer inspection I found it held an "arm" onto one of the wheels. In coming out, it would get lodged against other "arms" and jammed the engine up. In doing so, it caused damage to two other "arms" and bent them. Kind of hard to explain why you have to send a toy back to the North Pole to a three year old. To Lionel's credit, they did fix it at no expense, and so "courteously" shipped it back to me at their expense (insert sarcasm). Their letter and associate on the phone made me feel like they were doing me a favor to pay for the shipping to send it back, because their warranty didn't state they had to. Anyway, we've had it back for a couple of days now and the smoker is working the way it should, it appears they replaced the "arm" and the screw, they may have replaced the entire engine for all I know, but it's working much better now. We did have to replace a "tire" on one of the drive wheels as it was somehow off and stretched too much to work properly when the train arrived back. All in all, I'm a big fan of nostalgia and quality made products. While I feel that this is a quality product, Lionel's quality control process needs to be refined to catch this stuff before it goes out the door. After my experience, I've read of several other issues on websites and been told of their slide from a local hobbyist club with a Christmas display in the mall. Middle of the road C from me.
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on December 27, 2012
We are not train buffs, but I purchased this for the kids for Christmas Morning. It was a HUGE hit. Not in a "Use every day", "Hey we love trains" kind of way, "Best Present" sort of way -- but in a delightful subime way. The Kids did not even open the box -- they walked around it and ran to their Nintendo DS XL, Barbie, iPad, etc. However, later when we all set it up, and they got to play with it, they were really fascinated.

It's really a blast from the past in a way that these cool mechanical toys are "new" to this generation. So we will probably leave it out for a week, and put it up with all the Christmas gear -- And bring it down for the Holiday. With all the Christmas Clutter, this is something that they will definitely remember.

Also, technically:
1. Very easy to assemble - 15 minutes or so, but you need an adult to put together the track and connect the transformer.
2. Size is PERFECT. Highly recommend the 'O' size - not a smaller train. It takes up the same amount of track space, and is infinitely cooler, as the kids can see the actual moving linkage on the locomotive.
3. Pretty solidly made. The locomotive was very substantial. The cars are a little cheap, but good enough considering it's all made in China now.

This is WAY better than the smaller sets. It actually goes
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on December 17, 2014
Oy, where to start? Got the train locally, we were supper excited, got it all set up which was easy to do. Made the oval shape under our Christmas tree. Transformer on, powering up....the thing dies on the track halfway across. Double checked all tracks, check for level. Nope still odd speeds. Can't make it go around one corner without putting the power at 75 percent which makes it about 75 db which is as loud as a fully loaded washing machine. Fun. Call the store. They think its a dirty track. Great. So they recommend using lighter fluid to cut the grease..which leads me to about 40 minutes of rubbing down the track with a rag which after I was done, looked like it had char-broil marks. It was that dirty. Ah, now to clean each wheel. I used 13 q-tips, and they were all solid black, that 26 cotton nibs, all black, what fun. Oh wait, time to clean the grounding wheels. I get it all on the track again, I'm buzzing from the lighter fluid. Turn on the train and yes I notice a slight improvement, maybe 3-5 percent smoother operation. But its still dying on the track in several places when the power is turned below 70. Call the shop again...they say to bring it down. The guy looks at it and applies oil, pretends to loosen a nut, chews the fat over his 20 years of train repair. This is all just starting to sound like a bunch of bs to me however. He says that the brushings aren't broken in and to just run it for a couple hours. I notice a pattern, the train runs hot where the power leads go to the bottom of the track and dies on the opposite side. The technician said to take needle nose pliers and pinch the metal ever so slightly on the connecting "female" part of the track. NOPE. Not going to start tinkering. The allure of this set is that it will work, out of the box. It does not say that you will need to clean every wheel with lighter fluid, wipe down the tracks, bring it into the shop, make numerous phone calls, have it running for 4 hours to break it in. It says it runs, out of the box. It does not, it works very poorly and only has 2 speeds...fast and really fast. I couldn't stand it when it would stop randomly. When running, I used a decibel reader and it gave me 75 decibels, like having a washing machine in your room. Very loud. I know kids like this but adults like trains too and you would think the quality of the metal would be such that it could draw enough power to mosey nice gentle down the track. Nope, just fast and way fast. Overall not happy and am returning. I sure wish the thing was as quiet as the trains the shop was displaying. You get what you pay for. Once again, Chinese made goods ruined a purchase again.
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on November 18, 2013
Overall the train set is great. The wiring on the spotlight car is poor and has already failed. I would recommend getting the Pennsylvania Flyer Lionel train set instead
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on January 24, 2014
The engine on the train set did not run right right out of the box, so much for quality control a real haste in calling Lionel to get it fixed.
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on September 1, 2015
We got this set to get into model RR with my grandson. He and I absolutely love it. It is easy to set up and run. We have had no issues with anything about the set. The engine smokes and the lights light up on it, the spotlight car, and the caboose. There are lots of extra pieces for making layouts - signs and street lights etc. We have continued to add to the collection with more track, more cars, and more accessories. This set is a great start at a value price. It is recommended for 8 yrs and up, but my grandson was only 4 when we got it. You have to gauge the kids that are going to be involved with it and make your own decision. There are small pieces and parts that could break or break off if mishandled or if your kid is that kind of kid. I would recommend it for a starter set for sure.
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on December 31, 2011
I bought this as a gift for Christmas and paid for 2-day shipping. Took it out and set it up for a test run. It ran for about half and hour before it died on the track. I isolated the problem to one particular car (searchlight). It was actually sparking at one point, until it completely died. With this one car on the track the train will not run at all. Kudos to Amazon for attempting to correct the situation. Regardless, Lionel trains are currently made in China and needless to say lack some type of quality control.
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on December 17, 2011
Bought this set for my grandson. Nice set, great detailing. Looks like heavy duty power pack. Just disappointed such a venerable American brand's product is now made in China. Also disappointed that price paid two weeks ago has now dropped 38 bucks. why the price fluctuations. Would be nice to know you are getting the best price when you purchase. Does amazon make good on lower prices in a certain amount of time like some of the box stores do?
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