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Showing 1-10 of 339 reviews(verified purchases). Show all reviews
on January 16, 2007
We purchased this train as a Christmas gift for our grand children and they were delighted. Very well made. Tracks work on carpet or hardwood without difficulty.
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on September 28, 2011
After seeing this train set at our local train store, I knew that this would be a great addition for our Xmas season. I was apprehensive about buying this though after reading many bad reviews. Like most of you, I cringe at the thought of anything made in China. What may have been, or still can be, against my better judgement, I went ahead and bought this set. As noted in previous posts, it is low priced. I'm not a train hobbyist and really didn't want to drop a lot of coin on something I'd use a month or two of the year. Just wanted something for my boys to enjoy. I just received it this week and so far so good!

No problems yet with the transformer. Train changes direction without fault. The whistle works fine. The locomotive also steams as it should. Of note, I ran it at 60% throttle and after 5 minutes of running, I had plenty of steam. Make sure that you have the steam switch set to the "on" position on the locomotive. It is in the manual but easy to overlook when you are excited to get the set together.

I'll add another post to this review after Xmas updating on its long term reliability. Also of note, this set was manufactured in April 2011. I suspect Lionel has worked out the faults over the years.
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on December 25, 2011
Purchased this train for my 6 year old son and was fairly disappointed. Here's why:

1. The whistle is barely audible.
2. The bell sound does not work at all.
3. The train struggles to stay on the track and often derails. The real challenge is to keep the train on the tracks and this diminishes the purpose of the train; to have a working Polar Express.
4. An annoying issue and one common to alot of toys. The seemingly unecessary need to assemble minor pieces to larger parts. Here, the handrail on the last car needs to be inserted into place. The question I always have to ask is why should such a small piece NOT already be inserted at the toy factory?! And the kicker here is that this specific piece won't stay in place, so I am off to the store tomorrow to buy super glue.
5. The power supply often "locks up" with the green light flashing on the controller unit. The instructions say the flashing light indicates some issue with the current being drawn from the wall outlet. And while the green light is flashing, the train will not run.
6. The train car couplers don't securely hold the cars together and this coupled with issue 3, makes for a frustrating experience!
7. The smoke feature barely works. A minor puff here or there.

One has to question the QUALITY CONTROL of Lionel, a company that proudly boasts its longevity in model trains, yet delivers products with such issues descirbed here. Do they care? After forking out over $200 for this product, I would have to seriously reconsidering purchasing another Lionel porduct.

Day 2 Update: Train in completely unusable. Green light on transformer blinking and train will not run. Smoke not working. Also one of the passenger cars will not couple to the other cars and is unusable in the set.

Day 3: So I emailed Lionel with my concerns. In all fairness, the bell sound is not equipped on the Polar Express. In reply to my question about the nearly in audible whistle sound, a PDF file was attached with instructions to fix it. The fix requires a SOLDERING IRON and seems pretty involved. The biggest problem encountered to date with this train set is that the transformer constantly locks up with the blinking green light indicating the power limit on the transformer was exceeded. And out of 1 hour of time, the set is only usable maybe 5 minutes.

MY OPEN QUESTIONS TO LIONEL IS THIS:

1. WHY is the transformer designed in such a way that it can not handle the power being exceeded. As a person with a computer engineering background, it makes absolutely no sense that Lionel can not provide a working transformer. And what power is the manual talking about that is being exceeded? If it is the wall current, them the home's circuit breakers should handle it. This is a serious issue as it makes the train set UNUSABLE.

2. To LIONEL: The quality of this train set is ABYSMAL. Where is your quality control? How can train sets where the cars will not couple together and a flaky transformer that doesn't allow the train to be used be allowed by your company make it to store shelves?!

3. I think it is absolutely ludicrous that as a consumer spending over $200 on a train set, I am expected to repair my train's whistle with a soldering iron. An issue requiring such a fix should be handled by the company sending a working replacement, not reliance on the consumer to Gerry-rig a fix.

To Lionel: You claim to be the historically premier model train company, but with train sets that perform as described here, you are
destroying your reputation. At least with me. And the real sad thing is that you are disappointing children who do not understand train cars not couple or transformers with blinking green lights that make the train unusable.
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on December 26, 2012
This, my headliner, I cannot wait for my son to open it on Christmas day,gift disappointed on so may levels. First of all, it did arrive quickly and as promised in a factory sealed box from Lionel, assembled in China. The engine had a short or something, and it would not work. I called Lionel and they offered for me to ship it to them at my charge and they would repair it. I really thought since this was a brand new toy out of the box, and such an expensive item that I should have been offered a new one. And to charge me shipping for their lack of quality control really got my goat. I returned it to amazon, with whom is easier to deal. But shame on Lionel, perhaps if they moved their manufacturing back to America their product could live up to its reputation. This does not even get into the heartbreak of both my son and I for the big surprise to become the big dud. He wants a new one, but I am a little afraid.
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on December 6, 2012
So this is the second Lionel train we are on. Ordered the G gauge for the kids and the locomotive was INOP, decided to move "Up" to the O gauge, as it looked like it was made a LITTLE better. Anyway, it arrived and the engine and locomotive are nice, but the cars are plastic and pretty cheap. Went to connect the cars and one would not connect. Looking closely at it, it appears there is a small PLASTIC pin that holds the couplers together, and it was broken. When I say small, I mean like the size of a sewing needle, and only a 1/4' long. Contacted Amazon customer service about a replacement car, but their policy dictates sending the whole smash in and them sending me a replacement. I would have been happy with a car, but they have their policies.

Let me be clear and say that Amazon has been great about both issues, but the cheaply made Chinese junk that Lionel is putting out is costing someone some time and money. Like someone else posted, not the Lionel I remember as a kid.

If it weren't for Amazon's perfect customer service I would look elsewhere for something that lasts, as this appears to be headed for the garbage in a few years if not sooner. Pay for the made in the USA if you can afford it (and find it).

Also, buy some extra track if your tree is larger than a shrub, otherwise you wont make it around with whats supplied.

Your mileage might vary, but I wont buy from this manufacturer again.
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on December 25, 2011
The only thing my son asked for was the Polar Express. Santa delivered excietment at first and then the Polar Express delivered tears. The train ran a few laps around the track and then quit working all together. When I flipped the engine upside down I saw one of the Center Rollers had busted off. Last year we replaced our Thomas the Train that was Lionel 2 times before getting one that works. This year we can't even replace it because Amazon is out of stock. Totally bumbed I have to go through this again.
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on December 7, 2012
The description of this train has videos that suggest that the train has the sounds of the conductor saying "This is the Polar Express!" This is NOT TRUE. It DOES have the sound of a whistle and has puffing smoke. It also has figures similar but not identical to the ones shown in the video. The transformer has buttons for "direction", "whistle", and "bell". The bell does not work. My kids like the train anyway (It was a surprise to them), but I am disappointed that it is not the same train I expected from watching the video associated with this page.
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on December 10, 2010
Unfortunately we had no luck with this train. Transformer starting blinking( indicating overload) immediately. Couple of false starts then nothing. Called the Lionel company for advice and tried a few things... got only a few sparks under the first engine then nothing :( Had to send back.
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on December 28, 2012
After reading all of the reviews on this train, I decided to purchase it for my boys for Christmas. I thought I was making a wise investment considering the price and quality of the brand name, Lionel. In fact, the delivery by Amazon was great -- packaging and timeliness of delivery. The box was even sealed inside a "Factory Seal" plastic that gave me every bit of confidence that the quality of the product I was buying was very good. Little did I know that after spending several hours on Christmas Eve assembling it, that it was going to be a train wreck of a Christmas.

Unpacking everything and putting everything together was quite easy and laid out. BUT, after connecting the power, much to my surprise, I could not, for the life of me, get this to work. The light on the transformer just kept blinking. I did everything to troubleshoot: looked for a short on the track, examined the engine, took the tracks apart and back together again, replaced the wires, tested the wires -- nothing worked. After several hours I decided to head to the internet and typed in, "polar express o gauge transformer blinking green".

Wow.

I didn't realize how many issues these transformers had. I knew there were a few bad reviews here on Amazon regarding issues with the transformers, but had no idea there were many more outside the company. I thought what were the chances I was going to get a bad one? Well, chances were good.

Alas, Amazon was great -- I immediately got on my Amazon orders and quickly processed an exchange and they sent me out a new one with no questions asked. It arrived two days later (today). Although it was a heartbreak to see my kids disappointed on Christmas Day, Amazon (i.e., Santa's elves) fixed it up a few days later.

I would recommend to anyone buying this, if you are buying it for a special occasion, assemble and test prior to the occasion. This Dad learned his lesson the hard way. I'd say 5 stars to Amazon for getting it back to me so quickly and making the process of exchanging seamless and smooth. 1 star for Lionel on the issues with their quality. I'll be holding on to the receipt the next few days to see if it goes out again and plan to return it for a refund if the same issue arises.
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on January 25, 2011
The Lionel Polar Express train was a gift for my husband and two toddlers. When we opened it we were so thrilled to see that it was a nice heavy weight engine and the cars were also nicely made. The part we loved is that it has a whistle button on the control box, but when you push the button the whistle sound came from the train itself! The puffs of smoke and the speed of the train were also great aspects that made us fall in love with this train! This train is super fast and it doesn't even look like it might tip off the track even at top speed it stayed stable! The movie figures of the conductor, the boy, and the 2 engineers are small.Unfortunately they don't really have a place to go inside the train itself. They can sit on the back of the caboose, but they do not fit if you try to stand them up straight. The kids loved playing with them reguardless. They had the engineers on top of the engine pretending to fix the light just like in the movie. They had the conductor talking to the little boy and they watched the train go around with joy and magic in their eyes all Christmas season long! Since Christmas is over,we are looking into buying more accessories and making the track go around the ceiling of our living room as an all year set up. This Lionel train is going to be the first in a long line of trains we plan to purchase for our family! Overall we were happy with this train. Great preformance, great quality, kids loved to play along like the movie, the only down fall is that the characters do not fit on the train.
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