Customer Reviews: Lionel Polar Express Train Set - G-Gauge
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on October 13, 2009
I was surprised to see the negative reviews on this product, but after reading them I think most of them were from people that did not read or understand the product description. This is a 'G' scale toy plastic train with plastic track that is battery powered and is controlled by an R/C unit.

I have not seen another 'G' scale set with better quality equipment and features for the price. The engine has built-in sound that makes a steam 'chuff' noise synchronized to the speed of the engine. It also makes a steam brake release noise when it stops. It has a bell sound and whistle that you can control from the R/C unit. It has 3 speeds in both forward and reverse directions. The speeds seems very prototypical. The speed is also momentum controlled - the train speeds up and slows down at a measured pace just like a real train. The detail on the engine is quite good for a 'toy' train.

I had the same experience with the included batteries as others - they barely moved the train for a few minutes and then conked out. I replaced the standard batteries with alkaline ones and it ran for about 10 hours before needing replacement. I have switched to a compatible 9.6v rechargeable battery that works great, is cheaper to run, and environmentally better.

The packaging states the set is for kids 4 years or older. Both my 4-1/2 year old and 2 year old can run the train with the R/C controller (and did not stop playing with it for almost a week). However they do not have the dexterity to couple the cars or snap the track together. I would guess that a 5 or 6 year old would be able to assemble and operate everything without adult help. They have banged the engine, thrown the controller, and knocked the coaches around quite a bit without any damage.

For model railroaders or anyone who wants to tinker, you could add lighting to the coaches fairly easily. I think the train would work well outdoors if you want to try creating a garden railway. I do wish Lionel would make more track options - an 'X' crossing and R/L hand switches would allow expansion to a true train layout instead of just an oval or circle.

I don't think you could find a better quality radio controlled toy 'G' scale train with so many features for such a low price.
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on November 11, 2011
After my bad experience with the O Gauge I was very hesitant to order another Lionel. But this is something else. With my experience with the O gauge;and since this doesn't need to be on a track to run,I decided to battery up the tender and connect it to the Locomotive and place it on the hard wood floor,figuring that if this works,THEN I'll assemble the tracks and put on the other two cars. I grabbed the remote control pushed the on-off switch to ON and turned the Directional switch to half way forward....nothing happened...then I remembered I'd forgotten to put batteries in the RC. Turned it over and as you could probably guess,when I put in that second battery the train and tender shot forward (The switch was STILL on and the direction STILL to half way forward)LOL. I continued with the assembly of the tracks and the addition of the other two cars. I could see that if you don't have the tracks setup on a hard level surface you're gonna have problems with train disconnects and possibly track disconnects too,so watch out for these possible problems. I decided after a few hours of having fun that I should investigate the idea of 9.6 VDC rechargeable batteries. Id heard others,here, mention a few batteries that wouldn't fit so I decided to find out what would fit. Called Lionel customer service; open 9-5 EST @ 586-949-4100 Amy there said they have listed two such batteries,BOTH Radio Shack,one is 23-342 a 1000 mAh Ni-Cad and the other is 23-432 a 1600 mAh NMH. I did two searches on the Radio Shack website. The 23-342 came up with nothing;the 23-432 resulted in a 23-1171 which turned out to be the 1600 mAh battery and the charger. When I manage to get over to a Radio Shack I'll pick up the pair and report back as to: if and how well they work.

Battery update: I bought the 23-1171 @ Radio Shack since I can't add a picture of what it looks like,here's a link [...] WHOA does this thing FLY NOW! After charging the 10 hrs.the package recommended I checked the DC voltage on the battery pack it was 11.03.
So if you want one that fits and comes with a charger get yourself to a Radio Shack.
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on November 29, 2014
This is my first train - and I love it! it was just what I wanted for under the tree! It is the perfect size. I love the sound effects, the whistle, bell and espeically the "All Aboard!"
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on January 27, 2013
My kids love it!! They got it as a Christmas present from Santa. The design and build quality could have been better. As mentioned by other reviewers, it derails very easily and the couplers come off with a slight bump. Our unit broke less than a month. It wouldn't move or make noise. When I opened up the train (by removing 6 screws), I found out that power was not getting to the train's main circuit board due to a loose soldering at the power jack for + connection. In fact, the metal part that was supposedly etched to the jack's small circuit board detached completely from the board itself. Very poor quality circuit board. I had to re-solder it and make a jumper cable to reconnect the + (positive) terminal to the + leg of the power jack. (I will upload a picture to show what I did.) It has been working fine since my repair, and hope it will stay that way.
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on December 21, 2008
My grandson is kookoo for any trains, Thomas, Polar Express, toys, movies, YouTube videos... any trains in any form.

I thought I'd get him a junky train for fun for Christmas. I figured it would last the season. Unfortunately, I picked up a cheapie at ToysRUs for $[...]. Not only did it break after one week, it was pretty cheesy. Cars didn't really hook together, battery hookup from the coal tender to the engine was junky, etc. I don't even know if I'll be able to get credit for the dumb thing since my daughter-in-law inadvertently threw the receipt away. But my grandson was nutty about the thing.

So I started a desparate search last night Dec. 19th, and everyone was out of the junkier trains. I did an extreme internet search and found nothing. By today, just about everyone was out of the better trains too. I finally had success at Target and got the Polar Express Battery Powered train G Scale. My grandson absolutely loves it and it is made so much better than the cheap ones. The cars securely hook together, it has 3 speeds forward and 3 reverse. My daughter-in-law is thrilled that it doesn't really make a big racket; just enough noise to please my grandson without irritating everyone else in the household. I am planning to get him two 9.5 v. battery packs and chargers so he won't run out of batteries. This train is definitely the hit of Christmas 2008.
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on November 19, 2010
What a cute train! I've had the train up for four days. Until yesterday, it has never made it around the track once without shutting down. It says it automatically turns off in ten minutes when not in use. Not so! I had to unplug the engine from the Coal Car and after four days had to change all batteries again.

In all fairness, last night, we changed the batteries and it made it around the track four times without stopping. Also, the train cars do not stay hooked. I had to scotch tape the cars together.

It's a cute train set and my 5,6 and 7 year old grandsons will love it around the Christmas tree this year, but it's not the Lionel that I remember as a kid. Hope this helps someone.
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on December 2, 2012
We go this train set for our 2 year old to enjoy around our Christmas tree, and it was perfect.

This is not a model or collector train quality item, it's definitely a toy, but that's just what we needed at this age.

Our track fit together well and the train ran perfectly. I would recommend this item to others with young children.
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on March 15, 2010
Hard to assemble track so that it remains intact. Slightest touch by kids, ages 3-6, derailed train. Trains kept coming off, battery powered is very weak. Sent back.
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on December 25, 2013
My wife was setting up this train Christmas eve '13 for our 3 yr old son. After getting it all together and placing the batteries in it [correctly, I checked] the light blinked once and never came on again. After researching online we found a helpful forum, here


There are capacitors on the motor of the engine that were touching the metal base and shorting out causing the batteries to get really hot and the train not to turn on. After moving the capacitors away from the engine base the train worked flawlessly just in time for Christmas morning and our son to be overjoyed with his new train! (Exactly the one he asked Santa for ;) Gave it 5 stars b/c despite the little "surgery" we had to do to get it working we and our son love the train and it's gorgeous!

Reduced to a 1 star. Returning the train as soon as possible. The train worked for about 15 mins while my son was interested. After having sat for a while, his Grandparents came to see him we tried to show them and the train wouldn't turn on (AGAIN). Upon checking the batteries they had become too hot to touch (AGAIN) and melted the battery compartment. We'll avoid the risk of a house fire with this toy and get our money back.
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on December 5, 2011
Ok I don't at all understand any of the negative reviews. I'm not sure what people expected. This is an entry level, "toy" train set. Yes, it's fairly plastic-y. That said, the detail is excellent and true to the movie. The size is a bit larger, and perfect for younger kids who will better appreciate the larger size. It is also perfect for under the Christmas tree. I set it up in less than 30 minutes, and it worked perfectly from the very start. On to my responses to some of the negative reviews...

To those who say the track is difficult to connect/install/set up. You must have failed Lego's 101. The track very easily snaps together. In fact, I can't think of how they would possibly make this easier. No screwing. No hardware. Just a simple click and snap. If you have trouble with this, you'll have trouble opening a Kraft single cheese slice.

To those who complain about the quality of the set...I'm not sure what you'd expect for the price. You're not going to get a metal, electric steel track, or a metal train for this price. If you want that, you'll spend at least 3X as much. Be realistic.

To those who claim the train runs down batteries in a number of minutes, or a few times around the track...Non-sense. My daughter and I ran the train for 10 straight minutes, at the fastest speed, blowing the whistle and ringing the bell often. Still plenty of juice left in regular old alkaline batteries.

This is a great set. I'll be the first to admit that it takes a little patience to get the train on the track correctly. Once it is on however, it stays on, (unless a grabby toddler) messes with the train. Like all train sets, they aren't meant to be handled. That is what wooden sets are for. If you want the train to stay on the track, keep hands off the train. Simple as that!

You'll enjoy it. My 2.5 year old daughter loves it. She's more than capable of handling the remote. Yes, I have to supervise to make sure she doesn't put her hands on the train, but that isn't too difficult.
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