Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Disappointed given the cost
on December 27, 2011
My son is 8, and a fan of trains, and the Polar Express. Over the past few years we purchased cheap plastic trainsets and they have always managed to disappoint with how hard they were to keep on track, and general construction. The engine on this train is indeed big, heavy, and impressive. But it also has enough delicate parts around it that you have to feel nervous when a child or careless adult picks it up. What's included is reasonable for a 'round the tree' train, which is what we expected. The light-up passenger cars are a nice touch, though the railing that fits the last car will no longer snap on to car as someone else mentioned in a review (this was noticed by the time we were putting it back into its box when we first inspected the package).
As my son pointed out as an obvious mistake, the coal car needs to be attached to make the whistle sounds. You simply wouldn't run the train without the coal hopper, but still. There's a bell button on the transformer, but our instructions clearly state that we don't have a bell feature. Disappointing on a trainset that cost this much.
The operation, seems rather hit-or-miss. Sometimes we have to try several times to get the train to reverse direction. We were attaching the passenger cars like in 'real life' and would move the train forward, put the car on the track, then back it up to the couplers. It took a fair effort to get it to reverse directions that many times. Also, sometimes we would try to start up and it simply wouldn't move, then after a couple more flips of the lever it would start though we adjusted nothing on track.
We also had the train running from wood floor up onto a carpet. A very slight incline, but it seemed like the train had some difficulty with it (something you would notice at slower speeds).
I never found instructions on loading the smoke fluid, though I knew where from previous experience. The smoke produced was minimal, and not very impressive. But to be fair, I've never really seen a stock smoker put out a decent amount of smoke. This just seemed to be a bit puny, again, for the price.
I know that Lionel now is not the same company as Lionel when I was a kid, but still, I was expecting something more for the price. We paid about $270 more than we would for a typical cheapo train set, but in the end we still had our share of frustration and annoyances.
I couldn't really recommend this product to a friend.