Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New to 3 Rail!!!

I've been into model railroads as long as I can remember. In fact, one of the first actual conversations I remember having with my Dad was what locomotive to buy. See, my parents had bought me a toy train set (don't remember what brand) that had plastic track and multi-colored plastic locomotives and cars. At the grand age of 5 or 6 I'd decided that the green and red locomotives weren't "realistic enough" so we were discussing the all black locomotive with the white smoke box front - much more "realistic" to my kid eyes:)

Fast forward to 11 years old... my parents had agreed to get me an electric train set for Christmas. My friends across the street had a Lionel set, but I wanted an HO Scale set. After all, I was 11 years old - much too old for toy trains. Nope, I was going to be a Model Railroader. So I got my Tyco set (a Shifter Action Freight Set iirc) and I was off and running. My Dad helped me build a 4x8 table to put the layout on, we built some buildings together, and I never got around to building a layout because I couldn't decide on a track plan. Eventually I got into model airplanes and cars, and the trains sat in the garage until... 2000, my 10-year old step son moved in with us. I wanted something we could do together and thought about my old model trains. That would be fun. By now my tastes had progressed enough that I didn't even consider the Tyco trains "realistic enough" any more, so I started looking for something even more realistic - and I found it in a P-B-L model of Southern Pacific's "Slim Princess" in Sn3. A few years later, I got a couple River Raisin standard gauge SP steamers (also brass) and started putting together a fleet of freight cars. Yes sir, now I'd really arrived... highly detailed models of a prototype that I love in a scale that was big enough to work with easily. Except... I didn't have room for a layout, so my beautiful brass models sat in boxes in my closet. I also bought a little American Flyer, but it was hard to find stuff that was in decent condition and reasonably priced. Meanwhile, I started working on a small HO Scale switching layout.

Then last Christmas (2012), our younger (7 years old) son said he might like a train under the Christmas tree. My HO trains looked too small under the tree, and I wasn't about to let him play with my expensive S Scale brass. I thought about buying an American Flyer set (actually American Models) but they didn't have anything that really caught my fancy. The only choice left was O Gauge... so I bought a Lionel Polar Express set. What the heck? I know it's just a toy, but after all it's just for running under the Christmas Tree, right? RIGHT??? Little did I know...

The train set arrived in the mail and I didn't really know what to expect, but for less than $200 I wasn't expecting much, especially after some of the tales of broken transformers, non-working locomotives, etc. I'd read about in the reviews. I opened the box and it actually looked pretty good - better than I expected, and the locomotive especially looked a lot nicer than some of the American Flyer locomotives I'd managed to acquire. I set it up under the tree and turned it on. Hmmm, this is pretty neat:) Maybe I'll get a couple extra cars and some more track and build a permanent layout. Maybe I'll see what's available on eBay and...

Oh. My. God. Short story is I quickly spent WAY too much money on... TOY TRAINS. What have I been waiting for, for the last 35+ years??? These things are FUN!!! So that's my story... after 35+ years of being a Scale Snob (in spite of never even having a layout), I'm in love with Toy Trains. For having fun with trains, NOTHING beats them. I still like my scale stuff, but for now playing with toy trains is IT. I'll be 49 years old next month, and I've finally arrived:)

Related Links:
Lionel Christmas Layout
S Scale Trains
A bit about Tyco Trains

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