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on December 5, 2014
Made about 10 laps and died and engine died lights and sounds still worked though.
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on January 17, 2014
Didn't have all the train sounds I expected or thought it had. The engine derail easily. Cars are so light in weight had to add weight so it doesn't jump the tracks and derail. Without the train sounds the train was boring!
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on December 21, 2013
There are two Polar Express train versions. One is the "Freight" train version and the other is the "Passenger". What I didn't realize when I purchased the Freight version (Last December 12-3-12) was that this engine is not the same as the "Passenger" version. The Passenger version has the Berkshire Engine which has a much better track record (according to our local train expert here in Northern VA.)

Due to our extenuating circumstances we were only able to set up and run the train for a month during last holiday season. We carefully packaged and packed it away. We unpacked it this week. The engine took about 4 spins around the track and died. We did as much trouble shooting as we could and took it to a local Lionel repair station - then to another expert - a more advanced Lionel Repair station. Our transformer is fine - tracks are good but the engine is defective. The suspected culprit is a defective circuit board. I've since read (including here) that there may be a problem with these "Freight" engines. So my recommendation is not to buy this set. The Polar Express Passenger set may be a viable alternative - as it comes with the Berkshire Engine.

We contacted Lionel through their website and will continue to pursue this but I suspect even though it was run only a month last holiday - they will not stand behind this product. Lionel is definitely not the same Lionel of days gone by. We plan to keep adding to my daughter's trains but are probably going to start collection the post-war O gauge. The Polar Express set is beautiful but a train is only as good as its engine - and I would highly recommend you stay away from this version!

One other piece of advice - I saw a comment about the transformer. If the train doesn't run, be sure it's not the engine (seems like the more likely culprit). When we went to our local Lionel Repair Station - we took our transformer and that worked just fine - the internal circuit board is the problem. Lionel has some interesting repair requirements for dealers that may be very capable of repair but Lionel makes it very impractical to get this engine fixed because the parts are impossible for the dealer to get.

We spent some time with our local Train gurus (KMA Hobby in Manassas, VA) and received some excellent advice - and bought our daughter the Southern Belle (Kansas City) train and engine - This engine will have no problem pulling her Polar Express passenger and freight cars. We really appreciate KMA Hobby for saving our holiday with their expertise!
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on December 17, 2012
I can't speak for every item they make, nor whatever they've made in the past, because I'm 40, and this is a gift I bought for my son for Christmas…and I personally haven't played with trains since I was about 4 or 5 years old.


So far, over the past two weeks I've ordered two of these, both because the engine (which runs the entire train) was defective in one way or another. The first one didn't puff smoke, which is a major draw of this set (for us, anyway). Called Lionel, and they tell me to return it and order another one as fixing it won't get done until well after the holidays. The second set arrives from Amazon at $40 less (because the price was dropped twice in the week and a half since I ordered the first one…kinda wonder if the quality reasons are behind the dropping price), and this engine works about 40% less than the previous one! Only goes in reverse, because when trying to go forward, it simply emits a grinding noise.

Now, I don't care where it was made, country-wise. The engine, which is pretty heavily made of mostly metal, is junk.

This causes numerous problems, not the least of which is what toy train company's products can I trust? Everyone mentions Lionel, but they're 0 for 2, and on the third strike, the entire industry will be out.

Any thoughts on what other brand to buy would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!
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on December 15, 2013
My four year old son caught me looking at this and got all excited asking what it was. I told him it was the polar express train to which he responded "No it isn't, the light is in the wrong place". I dusted the movie off to find out my son was correct. This train does not correctly represent the movie version... I can't buy it for him now because he refuses to accept it as being the polar express train.
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on December 9, 2014
Even though this was not prime, I received my order in 3 days. I was very excited to receive my order and carefully assemble my set as per instructions. Assembly was pretty much self explanatory. Unfortunately, when I called my husband to "do the honors" of turning it on the first time and my 2 kids eagerly waiting, it didn't work. There were sparks coming from the tender car. Locomotive was working fine on its own. Also i noticed that my smoke fluid was missing. We were so disappointed.

I called Lionel directly to find out if I was doing anything incorrectly and was told that there shouldn't be any sparks at all. The Lioner customer service was very helpful and was kind enough to offer to repair the problem which means I would have to send both the locomotive and tender. That was not acceptable since we will be traveling. Besides it's a brand new train and I am already sending it for repair.

I called amazon to find out my other options. As usual, amazon customer service was very helpful and forwarded my issue to the seller, Trainz. Trainz was so quick and helpful as well and sent me a brand new set and received it within 2 days even before i had the chance to send the defective one. We were so pleased and the new set worked like how it should. I would definitely order from Trainz again as they sound like they know trains and their great customer service.

As far as this set goes, it's perfect!! The locomotive and the rest of the cars - even the tracks have weight to them - all have great quality and workmanship. This was a perfect addition to our Christmas tradition. Perfect size to go under the Christmas tree. Our kids LOVE the whistle and smoke!! FYI, this set comes with the smoke fluid.
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on March 12, 2013
I live in a small town and they dont have a real hobby shop here. I always wanted a nice lionel train and this one def fits the bill. The engine is all metal and the cars scale are very accurate. The build quality is good and I think that this train will be around the tree for many years to come. I will add some more christmas theme cars in the future though. The track is enough to fit around the tree and the fast track is nice to work with, better than the old way I used to do things as a kid. After you get this, you will be reminded of christmas as a kid again and want to add more tracks, bridges, accessories, ect...a good thing. The transformer is good and I didnt have any problems with it during 3 weeks of use. The only thing to note is though use the metal pickups will get some black carbon build up that you will have to clean off, otherwise I sometimes got intermittent stalls. I used some goo be gone and a q-tip to clean the wheels and goo-be gone on a paper towel to clean the tracks off. I read not to use sandpaper on tracks or wheels to remove black gunk as it gouges the track/ect. Overall I enjoyed this and would like to do a layout with it someday.
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on February 14, 2014
I love this train. This is my first train set ever. I always wanted to have a train set under my Christmas tree and I am very happy with my purchase. I did have to take away a star though because the steam that is supposed to come of out the engine does not work consistently. Since this is for decoration and the steam cannot be engaged unless you hit the control, this was not a good enough reason for me to return it. After all I am not going to sit under my tree to hit the buttons for the train whistle and steam :-)
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on January 13, 2014
I received it and the coupler for the coal car was broken. Lionel was no help at all. They said I could take it to a Lionel service station, (which I did) only to find out that I would still have to pay for it as Lionel will not reimburse them for fixing it even though it was brand new. Amazon was no help either as they said I could return it for a refund but they could not ship me another one as they were out of stock. But I went to their order page and it said hurry only 17 left. I did get the coupler fixed after driving nearly 30 miles and now it runs fine, but never could get the smoke function to work.....
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on December 2, 2012
My family looked around quite a bit to pick out a train set to circle our tree. We were between two sets, this one and Lionel Trains Polar Express Train Set - O Gauge that. This set had no reviews which made me a bit uneasy, but we were lucky enough to see both sets in person recently and opted for this. The other set just doesn't say "Christmas" to me like this one. It's very dark, nice, but not festive. This set, on the other-hand is very festive and screams "Christmas". The set is gorgeous, lights up, makes sounds, goes both forward and reverse, and blows rings of smoke. No batteries are required and it's very easy to assemble. If you're looking for a train set to run all year, maybe look around a bit more. But if a Christmas train is what you're after, this is the set you want.

I have no problems or complaints at all, the only thing I would recommend to prospective buyers is to purchase an extra bottle of the liquid smoke if you plan to run the train frequently. And save the box! it stores away easily in the original box.
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