|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm) and Garden Train Store(tm)
Garden Trains are big rugged trains that can be run outside. Families all over the world have begun outdoor railroads, and the hobby is growing rapidly. Since 1998 our "parent" site, Family Garden Trains(tm), has been helping people start their own outdoor railroads by providing the information that beginning and intermediate garden railroaders are most likely to need. We have also answered over a thousand reader questions.
Some of those questions related to the best product for particular situations. Eventually it made sense to start a "buyers guide" that would help readers make the best choices for their own projects.
When choosing from the many products and suppliers available, we try to choose products that:
We also provide you with more than just "a train in a box." Our sites, including the Family Garden Trains(tm) primer pages, have over a thousand free, professionally-written articles to help you save money, time, and headaches while planning, building, maintaining, and - above all - running your family's optimum garden railroad. To keep you from getting overwhelmed, our buyer's guide pages also link to specific articles that should help you make the best decisions at each stage of your involvement in the hobby.
If you're completely new to outdoor trains and you'd like a very quick summary of what it will take you to get started, our primer article "Go Outside and Run Your Trains" will give you some a pretty good idea in a very short time. For more details, we have many more introduction articles, as well as articles on planning, construction, plants, landscaping, wiring and lighting, model buildings, equipment maintenance, and many other topics. Plus we link to free articles by many other authors, to give you as many options as possible.
In other words, while we appreciate you using our buyer's guides, such as this one, our greatest reward is to keep building the hobby and hearing from readers we've helped.
Finally, if the storefront doesn't list something you would like to track down, or if our Primer articles don't provide information you need on a particular topic or product, please contact me and I'll help you if I can.
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, 2017 - You may remember that there was a recession a few years back. Unfortunately that sort of thing has a delayed effect on the toy manufacturing cycle. Some of the manufacturers who were going strong just after the recession went away are somewhat "limping along" today. The good news is that LGB starter sets are available again and Piko seems to be going strong, but some of the other manufacturers haven't yet refreshed their stock for this year's holiday season.
One delightful offering which is bound to sell out quickly is Bachmann's new "Eggliner." That's a reissue of AristoCraft's most beloved little locomotive. It's I have two of the old Aristo ones and they run like champs. Over the years, many garden railroaders collected one for each season; several clubs would have meets where all the members would bring their eggliners and run them together in one long train. Though very few locomotives that looked anything like these at all were ever built in the real world, they were extremely popular back during the peak of AristoCraft's popularity. I hope that this is a sign that some of the other Aristo molds and engineering have been saved, and that products based on them will become available again. However, Bachmann was clever to start with this one, and I don't think they'll be many sitting on the shelves for long.
That said, as we try to keep our catalog pages updated in advance of the holiday rush, we have discovered that several products that were widely available last year have all but disappeared this year. Knowing how many "garden railroads" actually start out as Christmas presents, I would recommend that you don't wait too long to pick up a product you think you would like to start with.
The catalog pages that you will probably find most helpful when you are first starting out are:
A Note about Pricing and Availability - Although I try to keep an eye on things and to recommend products that are reasonably available, the model train market fluctuates, especially in December, and any product in our buyer's guides may change price or become unavailable without prior notice. If you "click through" to see details on a product, and nothing happens at all, or you are routed to a supplier's home page, please let me know and I will remove the product from the online catalog until I can find a replacement or another supplier. For more detailed information about why products seem to come and go and why I have stopped listing prices for most products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."
Questions about Orders or Returns - Technically, we don't sell the trains in our buyers' guides. We review products we like and, when possible, provide links to vendors we trust. We can usually answer questions about the quality or size of the product, but we can't answer questions about orders or returns. If you have questions about an order you placed with one of our recommended suppliers, please check the links below:
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 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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