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Showing 1-10 of 341 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 404 reviews
on December 28, 2012
I felt inclined to write a 5 star review considering the numerous conflicting ratings for this set. I've been *watching* this set (along with the G-guage) for over a year before making the ultimate purchase. I was conflicted based on the reviews. When I saw the price dip the lowest I had seen I went ahead and took the risk (glad I did because I have yet to see it go that low again!). .. knowing if it was a failure, Amazon would hold up its end of the bargain & provide a refund.

We have not had a single problem with this set. It was very well packaged and everything worked as it is supposed to (granted we've only been running it for 4 days ... I'll update my review as needed). We are not serious model-train buyers, so we don't have much to compare, but for the average family looking for a decent, seemingly sturdy set that will continue to inspire the Christmas spirit in their little ones, as the Polar Express does, for years to come, I think this is the right purchase.

It runs much faster than expected! I was shocked at how fast it would go on full speed.
We love the smoke feature (which has also worked fine).
The characters are a wonderful addition. They are small as others have pointed out, but they seem to be "to scale" with the train. It's nice that they can "stick" to various places on/around the cars. My son was thrilled to see that they can stand in front of the engine, just as they did in the movie!
The whistle is fantastic and sounds so real!
Yes, the passenger cars are plastic, but they aren't wimpy by any means. They are solid pieces. I was impressed with the size of all the cars ... much bigger than I anticipated.
The lights inside the Pass cars are a very nice feature.

The only cons that I can think of :
- it is a little noisy, but I suppose that is expected considering the weight of the engine (it IS quite heavy!)
- there really isn't enough track. We bought an additional pack of 4 straights and it still seems barely "enough". The additional 4 would need to be bought for sure if you want the set to go around a 6+ft Christmas tree. It's really too bad they don't include more (this temps me to reduce my rating to 4 stars ... a true fail in my opinion. For such a powerful machine, it seems almost crazy how little track there is).
- the bottle of liquid smoke is quite small and I can see us going through it rather quick.
- the control box indicates a train "bell". This model does not have that feature so the button simply doesn't work. I imagine these controls are made for various Lionel sets, but it's deceiving and a little disappointing to have it listed when it's really not an option.

Time will truly tell if this set holds up to Lione'ls historically positive reputation (too bad the sets aren't still Made In USA!) and I hope it does. So far I am very happy with the decision despite many of the neg. reviews I've read.

One final thought to consider. Although children can, and certainly should, play with this set, it is not a childrens "toy". It needs to be respected and adults need to supervise kids around it and set boundaries and limitations (based on age and development), otherwise pieces will get lost or even break. Families with children who have a hard time following rules or that receive less parental supervision/involvement might be more pleased with a less expensive set; one that is made to take a fall or two or where replacement pieces aren't costly or even necessary.
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on April 21, 2017
Only cool but some parts are not working well they need to revise its instructions to a simple one
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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 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 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.


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 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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