Starter Set for 5 year old

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Starter Set for 5 year old

  • My son is ready to graduate from wooden Thomas to an electric train set but I'm not sure which guage/scale would be best. I'm leaning toward G because this size would be easier for him to operate and keep on the track (at least for the next few years), but am also considering O. I like the Polar Express, but don't boys generally prefer freight trains? Any suggestions for reliable manufacturers/sets would be appreciated.
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  • At that age, G or O Scale would be a good place to go. HO or smaller would probably be a bit delicate unless he's an extremely careful-with-the-toys type (not common at that age). As far as passenger or freight, that preference will vary from one person to another at any age. If you live near a railroad that has both passenger and freight traffic, which is he most excited to see? Any other indication as to preference? Many of the early diesels, such as the EMD F-Series, were used on both passenger and freight, so that would give you versatility which ever way his intersts wander. Remember, at this age the attention span is very short, so subsiquent birthday, Christmas, and other gift giving events can be anything for his layout. After the initial setup, let him tell you what he's interested in receiving.
    Smile, it makes people wonder what you're up to. Chief of Sanitation; Clowntown
  • I would recommend Lionel 3 rail O gauge trains. If you visit a hobby shop that carries Lionel, you will see a wide variety of trains to chose from besides the Polar Express. They will most likely have other compatible brands such as KLine and MTH. Both passenger and freight trains are available. My experience with boys - I have three, all grown now, is that they love all trains. One good set is the Lionel NYC Flyer, which is freight and has smoke, whistle, and bell.

    Some differences to be aware of between 3 rail O and G. Return loops in G require special wiring and controls to avoid electrical shorts, 3 rail O does not. G requires more room than O - this may not matter if he's playing with it on the floor. O may actually be easier for a 5 year old to handle with his smaller hands - some of that G gets large and heavy. Lionel has a lot of action accessories such as log loading/dumping cars, bobbing giraffe cars, etc. that are not available in G.

    Good luck
    If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • I think your best bet is to go with O. G is nice and big, but O is a lot more common and easy to deal with. It offers far more play value, and fits into a reasonable space. There are a number of manufacturers making quality products for reasonable prices.

    Lionel offers a version of Thomas in O, MSRP$169.99 for the complete set. If you do a little shopping you might find it for a few bucks less. They also have Percy and an expansion pack of cars available seperately. Annie and Clarabel come with Thomas in the set.

    Lionel stock number 6-31956 for the set.

    Good luck.
  • Thanks so much to all who responded. I appreciate your taking the time to offer advice. It is very helpful. So "O" it is - I'm not sure who will be more excited to have an electric train set , me or my son! [:D]
  • So get one for yourself, too.
    Smile, it makes people wonder what you're up to. Chief of Sanitation; Clowntown
  • Get a scale that would be good for both of you. As long as money isn't a problem.
    I like NS but CSX has the B&O.