Introducing young ones to the hobby

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Introducing young ones to the hobby

  • I started my grandchildren by buying Bachmann's Thomas the Tank Engine in HO.  Later I added Hogwart's Express.  Now they prefer the REAL trains.


    Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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  • i had a wooden train when i was young. My father loved at last im getting back into it.i feel like a kid again.looking forward to learning from everyone.its been some 30 years.happy new year.

  • Hi all

    Well with the utmost respect you can take Thomas and BEEEP!!! I have never liked the cartoon like Bachmann product.

    Thomas is based on real trains and should look like them with the exception of having a face and colours

    That point aside, I received my first proper train set a Triang OO scale pick up goods set when I was four years old.

    I therefore question what age is best for the first proper electric train set but that really is a question best left to the child's family

    I also had dad's un intended influence as he worked for British Rail and later West Australian Government Railways as a signal engineer.

    So I guess I was fated to be a model railroader from day one 

    I am not sure on the "O" scale argument for train size.

    But I am convinced that parental support for the train set and other ways to encourage it in a meaningful way are important.

    Grand parents I know it is your sacred duty to spoil them but one car or accessory at a time is enoughBig Smile.

    I am now 53 and presents for the train set are a worry is it going to fit what I am doing?.

    Sometimes the innocence of childhood is a wonder to behold, Oh for the days when I did not care, it was for the train set and that's all that mattered.

    regards John

  • Great point and I agree, hopefully someday the 5 year olds will return to the bigger trains.
  • It's hard to get my son away from my trains. 

    Thomas the Tank was the beginning. However, when he saw me emptying a box after we moved into our house and there was some of my old HO cars, Thomas was done for. That was three years ago and he has gotten in trouble a couple of times for getting out the bodies of locomotives that I have tried to fix, not wanting to come to dinner when he is playing with them, and leaving out the Kato Unitrack that we have when he sets it up on the dinning room floor.

    My son even knows where all the real hobby shops are and all the owners know him by name.

    My son loves model trains. My daughter enjoys them when we have them out but not as much as we do. I think the only problem is having to put a limit on how much he can enjoy them... he has to go to school during the weekdays.

  • I can't believe how many miss the boat when starting out youngsters, O Gauge is so much a better choice, than HO. More durable, easier to handle, easier to place on the track, and the size of O Gauge is much more appealing to younger ones, who don't care about scale accuracy. O Gauge is much more carpet central friendly as well, letting youngsters get down on the same level as the trains themselves, and no 3 foot fall of doom to worry about.

    Which do you think is more likely to get the attention of a youngster? Both are Lionel.


    Some of my Nephews, who I have Spoiled Terribly on Birthdays and Christmases.

    Never under-estimate the Play Value of open cars.


    This is my youngest Nephew, with his Very Locomotive, He can claim to be a Life long Model Railroader, he recieved this locomotive, at the hospital the day He was born. All three Nephews now ages 9,8, and 6 are still very "Into" trains, but this one I don't think will ever OUTGROW the Hobby, I am also afraid my Sister, will never FORGIVE me either. 


    For those who do want Scale Accuracy and detail, O Gauge has a LOT to offer you as well.

    [This Wonderful work of Art, is on my "I'm Gonna get one of those someday" list

    , but unfortunately not my roster, YET.


    Always promoting the Hobby


    Lionel, they're NOT your Grand Pa's electric trains any more,

    (Okay that AM-2 Cab-Forward, is a 3rd Rail Brass, but the rest are Lionel)






    May your flanges always stay BETWEEN the rails

  • My 3 yr old loves trains both real and model. Last Christmas he got  three trains and the one he plays with the most is the Thomas track master. It is the easiest one for him to operate by himself  He has already told me to get a train like what goes by our house. So hope fully he will never out grow trains.

  • I bought my son his first loco for Christmas at age 5 and his sister was age 6 at that time.    She is now 17 and he is now 14.    She never really got the bug even after I tried building and decorating houses with her, adding a likeness of her inside her loco, etc.    My son is very involved and he's even got some of his friends involved.    He's a 3rd generation RR modeler now.

    I had to be willing to let each of them break something since they were so young to start.   But, they were very careful and  so we never had any real issues.     They also watched their friends carefully.


  •  Our hobby dearly needs young blood to succeed us older ones Smile Thomas the Tank Engine seems to be a good start for the 4 - 6 years old, but it wears out a little later, unless we do something about it. Change to "real" locos and cars the kids can see, when you take them to watch trains. Build a small layout with them and let them do a lot along the building process. Keep their interest awake - not an easy task nowadays, as trains are not that apparent in every day life and computers of all sorts seem to have taken the reign in the kidsĀ“ rooms.

  • ~TeenSteamQueen~

    By the way, a new cartoon debuted on Disney (channels 172 and 173 on DishNetwork, I believe)  this morning called "Chuggington".  It is okay for 3 year olds, but not nearly as good as Thomas was in my opinion.  It has some prototypical details (Blomberg trucks and a pretty nice F-unit), but there are also some major mistakes.  (Like a two-story roundhouse!  HAHA)  It is still pretty cool to hear terms like "rolling stock" on a cartoon though.  I guess we'll see if it lasts.



    We just started recording that on the DVR this week. Not too bad and it keeps my 2 1/2 y/o son's attention. He got really excited when i built a 18" radius circle platform for our Christmas tree this year, so that's what got me into building a layout and finding this place. Last weekend with went to the World's Greatest Hobby (or something like that) show in Chantilly, VA with some friends and he was really excited about everything there. We picked up a Bachmann Thomas the Train HO set with EZ-Track and he's played with it almost every day so far. Even though they recommend it for 8 y/o and up, a set like that is perfectly age-appropriate for 2 y/o and up with supervision -- as long as you know to watch them like a hawk, it can provide hours of fun. I let him run 'em round and we debuted the "Peanut Express" by adding some nuts to the cargo cars so he could bring the train around and stop it in front of me to deliver the peanuts.

    Now I just have to convince my wife we need to buy more sets (the darn passenger trains need 22" radius, but the "freight" set only comes with 18" radius.

  • By the way, a new cartoon debuted on Disney (channels 172 and 173 on DishNetwork, I believe)  this morning called "Chuggington".  It is okay for 3 year olds, but not nearly as good as Thomas was in my opinion.  It has some prototypical details (Blomberg trucks and a pretty nice F-unit), but there are also some major mistakes.  (Like a two-story roundhouse!  HAHA)  It is still pretty cool to hear terms like "rolling stock" on a cartoon though.  I guess we'll see if it lasts.

    Jenny ~ a train crazy, steam-loving, teen girl!  May God bless you and may GOD BLESS AMERICA!
  •   Well, my brother and I started out watching Thomas the Tank Engine on video (it was our favorite cartoon!) and reading Thomas books.  We were also exposed to full-size trains and train books over our childhood.  My parents bought my brother a nice Southern HO steam engine when he was very young, but he got lots of fun hours out of that thing.  (Before stripping the gears out by pushing it along the rails.  :p )  Now in our teens we are both diehard railfans and both do some modeling.  (I model UP in N scale and he is doing BNSF in HO scale.) 

      I know some railroad men who think that exposing kids to Thomas makes them think that big trains are toys, but I totally do NOT agree.  I know lots of younger railfans who got their start in Thomas the Tank Engine.  I think it's a good starter.  My recommendation: instead of letting the little ones watch Spongebob or something, plug in some old Thomas videos or even "Shining Time Station" (if you can find it - I don't remember that much about it.) 

    Jenny ~ a train crazy, steam-loving, teen girl!  May God bless you and may GOD BLESS AMERICA!
  • Trains and cars addiction for the soon to be 4yr old twins.  They got totally excited when my Dad brought out a train set he had that didn't run.  (see my post on the toy train section) and by the time they got to their polar express set they had filled the living room with cars, cars, and cars and what's the deal with all these car sets including helicopters?  They are learing very slowly, to treat their toys with some respect, especially the electric trains.  While they aren't up to assembling their train tracks, they know about not pulling long trains on the Thomas set, not to touch moving trains on the O scale tracks and not to touch anything from the HO layout unless I hand it to them.  Funny, they have hundreds of automibles, but they still often line them up as if they were a train. 

    The Dizzy-Pixar film, Cars, has been shown well in excess of a thousand times.  Trains videos, while we don't have the ILTT, are very popular as well.

    Proud to be DD-2itized! 1:1 scale is too unrealistic. Twins are twice as nice!
  • I have loved trains since I was about 2.  My older brothers had Marx O scale trains and we would spend hours in the basement, setting them up on tables and adding/building scenery to make them look more real.  I too would become very excited whenever a crossing gate came down on a drive or when we would pass a switch yard.  So for me, having access to a train I could play with and seeing the real thing on an occasional basis kept up my interest.  Putting the trains away around March was helpful too because by the time November came around, it was all new again.  The trains never sat around collecting dust or being taken for granted.  Lets not forget there are some excellent train videos for kids like the Thomas series.   I like the "I Love Toy Trains" videos that show O scale trains and accessories in operation along with kids sing-along songs.  Do you know how many times a kid can watch a movie they really like?

  • I don't think a person outgrows wooden Brio trains unless they choose to. I'm in college, and when I get the chance, I still play with my Brio trains (plus a small HO set and Lionel).  But I'm slowly moving on to quarter scale live steam!  Smile Smile

    If you haven't read the book "Playing with Trains: a Passion Beyond Scale" by  Sam Posey, I would definetely recommend it, since it does a great job of trying to explain what it is about trains, and especially having a model layout, that people love.

    sure, i'm going to college for engineering. but it all leads back to trains