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on February 11, 2012
This is a great train set. The engine is heavy and the cars are pretty durable. The engine smokes as it runs. My toddlers love operating the train. My two yr old learned to operate the controller though he only understands the fastest setting (sigh). The tracks stay together and are very durable. This train is great for "under the Christmas tree" and everyday use. The set is described as with an "air whistle" and the controller has a button for the whistle, however, either the whistle does not work or the train does not have one. Still a great set!

Update Dec 8, 2012:
Brought this set out of the attic and setup under my Christmas tree for this year. NO glitches, NO hassles, and this time, the whistle worked... I really like this set! I mean, my toddlers really love the set. Ordered more tracks, again. This time because this train is going around a 12' Christmas tree...
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on November 22, 2012
I bought this as an early Christmas gift for the kids. Amazon (as always) delivered it very quickly and in great, although slightly excessive, packaging. This "Pennsylvania" Lionel set has some good qualities, and some bad:

The Good:
1. The locomotive is solidly built and heavy. It feels like it is well-made. It also runs smoothly and the headlight is bright.
2. The FasTrack system is really nice. I'm sure some Lionel groupies hate the system for its excessive use of plastic, but...it's easy to snap together, it stays together, and it makes it very easy to setup a track quickly.
3. The caboose is pretty nice. It has a nice bright light and it doesn't feel cheap.

The Bad:
1. The whistle did not work at all. At first, I couldn't hear anything over the noise of the train going around the track (see #2 below), but then I took the engine off and just heard a slight electrical hum when I pressed and held the whistle button on the controller. The whistle is in the tender car, and the one I got is defective. Rather than deal with the hassle of returning the whole set, I took the tender apart and found the problem - poor design and poor assembly. There is a small motor that spins a 4-blade encapsulated fan that then throws air out of a small slot and makes the characteristic train whistle sound. In my case, the motor couldn't spin because the fan was attached too far down the motor shaft, so it was rubbing the square plastic piece that separated the motor from the fan. I tried to pull off the fan, but it was on there nice and tight. I noticed that that square plastic piece was actually slightly bent - there are two screws and nuts that hold it tight against the whistle chamber, and one of the screws, when tightened down, bows the plastic a bit making the rubbing against the fan blade that much worse. The other screen doesn't have that problem as it applies pressure to another plastic surface. So, I re-assembled it and just didn't tighten that first screw all the way. It had enough pressure to keep the nut from spinning. After putting it all back together, I can still hear the fan rubbing the plastic for the first few seconds as it spins up, but then the noise stops and the whistle sound emerges.
1b. The whistle is really quiet (don't know if it's because mine was "fixed" or if that's another issue with this flawed design).
2. The train and cars are really loud. I haven't isolated which ones make the most noise, but it is a lot louder than I expected.
3. This is a small thing, but the box and listing clearly says "2-sided Billboard", but the billboard included is only 1-sided. The other side is blank. This doesn't matter to me, but I'm not sure why they had to change that.
4. The cord from the track to the controller is really short - maybe about 2 feet. I guess I was expecting it to be about 6 feet long.

Also, as others have noted, the box car in this set is black and not green as the listing shows.
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on December 20, 2012
I love this set, and as I hoped, so does my infant son. He'll sit and watch it go around the Christmas tree for an hour at a time. The locomotive and cars seem sturdy and well-made overall (see caveats), comparing favorably to older Lionel products, and with a nice amount of detail (for me, at least). The whistle is great and my son loves it; the headlight is bright and also attracts his interest. The track is sturdy, not too hard to set up, and a huge improvement over the tracks I had as a kid. I would generally recommend it to anyone. But here are the caveats: The first one I ordered had a defective locomotive. Just wouldn't run...and I know it was the locomotive because the whistle (which is in the tender car, not the locomotive) and the caboose lights both turned on. So I made arrangements to send it back to Amazon, and ordered another one. The next one came with a defective transformer...nothing electrical worked. Fortunately I hadn't shipped the first one back yet, so I swapped transformers. Now the train works fine. The 40-watt transformer is ok at best, but I find that it quickly reaches its power limit. At one point blowing the whistle was enough to overload it and stop the train. You know it's overloaded when the green light blinks. It'll do (if it works at all) but I recommend a better, higher-wattage transformer, and have since ordered one. Some other sets come with Lionel's 80-watt version which is reportedly much better [update: the 80-watt version is fantastic]. As other reviewers have pointed out, the box car is 'Pennsylvania RR green', a very dark green, almost black, not bright green like in the photos, but it's an authentic color and I think it looks very nice. I wish the quality control was better--otherwise I'd give it 5 stars.
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on April 4, 2013
My 9 year old son got this train set for Christmas and loves it. I like it too.

My brother and I played with our Lionel train sets a lot when we were kids. My set is from the early 80's and I have held on to it and take it out now and then to play with my kids. I wish it were easier and safer to put together so my kids could be more involved. The track has become more difficult to set up and keep the train running with the touchy connections.

Enter the new train set.

The new track design Lionel has come out with makes it easier to set up, so my son can create on his own without my help and the connections are solid. Once its set up you don't have to mess with poorly connected track. I still like to build with my son, but its not a requirement like my old set. And he can keep playing if I have to leave the room.

And even though they changed track design my old engine can run on the new track.

I also really like the box it comes in for storage. The old models came in a very long box which made it more difficult to store but the new box is square and has a great handle to make it easy to transport.

Lionel continues to impress with the designs of their trains which add to the experience for kids and adults alike.

Overall we are very satisfied and look forward to adding to our Lionel collection. My 7 year old son is asking when he can get his.
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on January 7, 2014
As other reviewers have noted, the "smoke" part does not work and the horn and bell are very quiet especially with the train running. It stays on the tracks great and is very nice looking, but it is very loud. Even when it is running on a slow speed it is still loud. The train slows down significantly when it goes around the curves, so when it's on a low speed it will eventually stop running. But the headlight and the train cars all work perfectly and I can see this train lasting for many years.
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on September 11, 2013
I bought this for my son's birthday. For the most part I'm happy. My son loves it. The detail and aesthetic beauty of the train are wonderful. The track was easy to put together, I had it up and running in no time. The train runs great, but the only issue that I have is the sound of the whistle and the smoke unit. The smoke unit barely puffs out and smoke, you really have to look for it to see it. I have tried every amount of the smoke liquid trying to find a way to get the unit to smoke more, but nothing works. Still, it's not a deal breaker. The other issue that I have is that the whistle is very quite. The train is loud going around the track, it drowns out the whistle. Again, not a deal breaker. For a product that was made in China, it's not too bad. I plan on buying more engines, track, and cars for my son down the road.
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on February 15, 2015
For my (then) 4 year old grand son for Christmas last year. This boy lives for trains. He knows more about them than most adult train enthusiasts do!! The quality is great, still running like new and he has played with it every day for over a year. He takes excellent care of it, even cleans it with the kit. The quality is so great that he got the Polar Express from Santa this year. Hoping it holds up just as well. He is one happy boy and that makes me ecstatic!
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on January 18, 2013
Bought this as a Christmas gift for my son, a new father with a son of his own! Fast delivery. Secure packaging. Wonderful train. The tracks have improved since our first Lionel. They have a raised platform and easily and securely lock together which make it wonderful on thick carpet around the Christmas tree. Train was heavy with great detail - not some cheap plastic thing. Doors slide on the one car. Headlights and smoke work. He was very happy with the quality and looks forward to years of enjoyment. Wonderful train - not a cheap toy. Well worth the cost.
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on January 22, 2015
It's a Lionel, what can you say? Good quality even though there are a lot of cheaper plastic parts where the OLD ones were metal or more substantial. More expensive than the competition, but well worth it. Purchased for grandchildren and it was the center of their Christmas fun. Easy to set up. A perfect starter set. Note that this one is the "conventional" design without the remote control complication. Just the basic transformer.
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on December 16, 2015
Bought this train for our son and we only put it out at Christmas. Our son loves it. It has two way direction, whistle and the front of the train lights up as well as the caboose. It even blows steam out of the stack. It works better if on ply board instead of carpet. The controls are easy to use. The train is really durable.
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