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Collectible Trains and Villages: On30 Trains and accessories designed by Thomas Kinkade and others

Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)



This page describes Large Scale train sets you buy in a box. Each starter set includes a loop of track and a power supply so you can it them up around the Christmas tree or whatever as soon as you open the box (although you generally need to buy larger track circles to use them effectively outside). You will almost certainly "outgrow" any of these sets as you get more into the hobby, but in the meantime, they give you something to experiment with and to let the kids or grandkids run when they come over. That said, each set on this page is chosen for its value and quality, and the fact that an investment in a reliable, attractive starter set will probably get you even more excited about the possibilities of a Large Scale or Garden Railroad

A Note about "Buyer's Guides" We post these descriptions to help you make informed decisions and to learn what is available, even if the suppliers we usually recommend have a short supply. If you need a particular product, but you don't see it on our pages, or the supplier's page says they are sold out, let us know, and we'll try to help you find one elsewhere. We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience or confusion.

For more detailed information about why model trains and related products seem to "come and go" and why I have stopped listing prices for products, please see our article "About Pricing and Availability."

Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains or other purchases are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)

Update for September, 2014! Last year at this time, we were still hoping that AristoCraft trains would become available again. Now we know that they are officially out of business and it will be some time before anyone starts making new trains from the AristoCraft molds, if that ever happens. In the meantime, Bachmann has not introduced any new Large Scale starter sets, though some of their earlier sets are still available in limited supply. I just removed one of the most popular, so don't wait too long to order anything you might want around or under the tree this Christmas or around the pond next spring.

The good news is that at the moment (I use the word "moment" on purpose), starter sets from Piko and LGB are available. I don't know how deep the stock is on the Piko. A few years ago, they glutted the market, so most vendors waited a while before they reordered. But my guess is that the stock on the LGB trains is very thin.

Longtime readers may notice that, where we used to have two or more vendor links for each product, most of the trains now just a link to Amazon. Sadly, one trusted vendor had to shut down completely, but several of the other vendors are now selling their trains through Amazon, so you still may have a choice of suppliers, and, in some cases, an opportunity to comparison shop.

On the other hand, if you click on a train and it only shows one supplier, don't assume you can wait until December to order and still get one.

We hope that's not TOO confusing. If you have a question about vendors, or availability, or the quality of any product listed on this page, please contact us.

Bachmann Narrow Gauge Trains

Bachmann's Large Scale trains are accurately detailed models of real narrow-gauge trains that used to run in North America. Most narrow-gauge trains in this country ran on tracks that had the rails 36" apart. Models of narrow-gauge trains tend to be charming and to look old-fashioned compared to models of standard-gauge trains. They also tend to be larger in scale, so the figurines and accessories that go with them are larger and less likely to get lost in the undergrowth. (If you want to know all there is to know about garden train scales, refer to the article Which Scale Should I Model on the Family Garden Train's Primer page.)

Bachmann Starter sets

Bachmann Starter Sets include a power pack, a speed controller, and an illustrated Bach Man instruction manual. Many include a "how-to" video as well. They also include an oval of track (14-20 pieces) useful for running indoors, but not solid enough for outside use. Frankly, you want bigger curves outside anyway, so this shouldn't be a problem.

Several of Bachmann's recent and most popular sets are shown below, including popular sets that were just reintroduced. For more information or to purchase from one of our suppliers, please click on a "Check Stock" button.


Bachmann Pennsylvania Passenger Set - The Pennsylvania Railroad was once the longest railroad in the world. To be fair, 99% of PRR's trains were "standard gauge," which would be a slightly different proportion than this train, but, because of acquisitions, PRR ran a number of narrow gauge routes in the "Western Division" right up until 1930.

Bachmann has reengineered this locomotive several times so it's more reliable than ever. It has operating headlight, smoke, speed-synchronized sound, and a coal tender. It pulls a coach and observation car with lighted interiors.


Bachmann Union Pacific Freight Set - The Union Pacific Railroad was actually started during the Civil War, running westward from Iowa, with the hope of connecting with another railroad coming East from California. Eventually it did, and and now the UP is the largest railroad in the United States.

This 4-6-0 locomotive has the funnel-shaped smokestack of mid-to-late 1800s locomotives which might have to burn wood - the big smokestack was designed to help catch cinders which might otherwise land on the coach roofs and cause a fire. The locomotive has an operating headlight, smoke, speed-synchronized sound, and a coal tender. It pulls a stock car and caboose.


ET&WNC Passenger Set - The East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad Company ("Tweetsie" for sort) ran from 1881 to about 1940, after which the line's assets changed hands many times. Today the "Tweetsie" is one of North Carolina's favorite travel attractions. This passenger set comes complete with a 4-6-0 steam locomotive (with operating headlight, smoke, and speed-synchronized sound), coal tender, coach with lighted interior, and observation car with lighted interior.

To check availability of this train, please click the "check stock" button.


Other Bachmann Trains - Bachmann makes many other Large Scale products. The Bachmann Starter Sets page was set up to link to other Bachmann Large Scale products you may find helpful.


LGB Starter Sets

Note for 2014: Lehmann, the company that made LGB, had serious financial troubles even before the recession started. They were bought out by Maerklin, who moved manufacturing from Germany to China, and then went bankrupt when the recession hit them. In the meantime, however, Maerklin was able to deliver several products. Another toy company has recently purchased Maerklin. They promised to move manufacturing back to Europe (probably Eastern Europe), but in the meantime, several of the Chinese products are available, so I'm posting the most popular ones here. Since European production is slow to get off the ground, these may be among the last LGB train sets available in 2014. In fact, I had to take one set down in September, 2014 that was still available just a few weeks ago. In other words, don't wait too long.




LGB Big Train - LGB's very first locomotive was a model of a small Austrian locomotive called the Stainz. This set combines a version of the famous Stainz with two "shorty" cars that will run and look great

Click this button to check stock on Amazon


Piko Starter Set

Note for 2014: Piko has been making model railroading products for all popular scales for decades. (We recommend their building kits on our other pages). However, when LGB became unavailable around 2007, one group of former LGB importers began importing Piko trains to have something to sell. To me, Piko seems to be less sturdy than LGB and less detailed than either LGB or Bachmann, but they're also reasonably priced. Unlike the Bachmann starter sets above, the track that comes with Piko starter sets can be used outside. However, some of the track links are a little bit different, so not every piece of Piko track is 100% compatible with, say, LB track. If you're setting up a very small railroad or just want to use this track around the Christmas tree, that won't be a problem.


Piko SF Freight Starter Set - This locomotive is based on real 0-6-0 "docksider" locomotives that were built by Porter and Baldwin to serve industries and small switchyards where a big, heavy switcher wasn't required. The two-bay hopper car is also based on a real car, although the caboose may be a little short compared to its real counterpart. As a starter set, it's a pretty good way to get into the hobby. Click this button to check stock on Amazon

Kids Trains from Bachmann

I've put this in a separate window since they are actually made a little differently from the Bachmann Big Haulers at the top of this page. The Bachmann Li'L Big Hauler Line is made specifically for kids - it even leaves off some moving parts you would ordinarily expect to see. That said, nobody is making a better Large Scale train for kids right now. The Bachmann Thomas line is a little bigger, and slightly more detailed, but the two trains "play nicely" together, so there's no reason not to get one now and the other later. Or one for each kid if you have multiple children. :-)


Bachmann's Thomas with Annie and Clarabel - Bachmann's Large Scale Thomas the Tank line is pretty solid and lots of fun. The four-wheeled Annie and Clarabel coaches are also easier for kids to put on the track than most trains.

Years ago, a similar Large Scale Thomas the Tank line was made by Lionel. They were nice solid little trains, too, so don't rule them out if you come across one. Click this button to check stock on Amazon Our article Thomas the Tank Shootout reviews both sets and describes the differences.

Li'l Big Hauler Short Line Train - Bachmann's Li'l Big Hauler line includes a kid-friendly locomotive and two "shortie" passenger cars. No, they don't have a lot of little pieces for kids to break off, but they look pretty charming circling a kids' bedroom floor, a Christmas tree, or a pond. If you are interested at all in garden railroading, and you want the kids to have a train they can run outside (or inside) without having to supervise too much, this is the line to consider. Click this button to check stock on Amazon



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Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads


Note: Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, and BIG Train Store™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.


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