Best Lionel Train Set – The Best Electric Model Trains in 2024

If you’re in the market for the best electric train set from Lionel, you’ll want to take a closer look at some of their top options. Choosing a good Lionel train set might seem straightforward at first, but getting a true feel for different products without experiencing them firsthand can be difficult. That’s where our team of experts comes in. We’ve investigated, tested, and spoken to the pros at various train museums who have many years of experience with model railroad setups.

After all that research, we’ve found the perfect Lionel train sets that include everything you need for your model railway. The mixture of Lionel train sets includes locomotives, caboose, and multiple cars that run smoothly on the tracks, with some having the added luxury of powerful Bluetooth commands and sounds. The detail put into every aspect of this train set is breathtaking and will look great on any model railroad. It will provide hours of entertainment and is the best Lionel train set for any hobbyist or enthusiast looking to enhance their collection.

#1. Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief Train Set

For those who are interested in the best Lionel train set, we highly recommend that you try out the Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief Train Set. It looks absolutely amazing with a high level of detail and it sounds incredibly realistic with a nice diesel engine sound. Also, we find it very easy to put together and it definitely does a good job of staying on track.

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Lionel Best Electric Train Set Reviews

#1. Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief Train Set

When it comes to the best lionel train set, the Santa Fe Super Chief Train Set is definitely one that comes to our attention as it is certainly one of the more popular models out there. This is an electric train that comes with two coach cars, an observation car, two 10-inch straight FasTrack, and 8 curved O36 FasTrack track sections.

Many people really like this model because it has this great diesel locomotive sound with a nice horn and bell system. And it comes with nice audible messages when the train stops or runs. Overall, the train is also really easy to assemble and it actually functions quite well without de-railing, which can be a problem with other brands.

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#2. Lionel Mickey Celebration Train Set

Next up, we have the Lionel Mickey Celebration Train Set, which is the best lionel train set for those seeking a cute electric o gauge model train set for kids. Keep in mind that this is a limited edition model as only 1928 models were made so definitely try to get it while you still can.

Of course, it comes with all sorts of goodies like cute mickey mouse themed trains with mickey mouse ears that can be removed. And we think it is great for kids and adults as well as collectors. And of course, the star of the show is Mickey Mouse making an assortment of announcements while the train is running. You can also control the speed and direction of the train.

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#3. Lionel Construction Railroad Train Set

Another really nice option when it comes to the best Lionel train set is the Lionel Construction Railroad Train Set. This train set features this amazing yellow construction train theme that sets it apart. We definitely like the looks and style of this Lionel branded train set and think that it just looks unique and different from most of the train sets that we have seen on the market.

With this set, you get a construction RR U36B diesel locomotive, a depressed center flatcar with load, a freakin crane, and a CRR work caboose. What more do you need? Additionally, it is nice to know that it is pretty easy to put together and take apart. If you or your kids like construction, this should be one of the better sets out there.

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#4. Lionel Hogwarts Express Train Set

The Lionel Hogwarts Express Train Set is yet another really nice option for those who like Harry Potter and want something that looks pretty close to the real one in the movies. This model train set comes with all of the nice rail sounds with steam chuffing, background sounds, and horns and whistles. It also has some pretty high levels of detail on the trains if you look closely.

Also, please keep in mind that the Lionel Hogwarts Express is light and loud but luckily you can easily control the volume through the Bluetooth app. All in all, the train runs amazingly easily and is pretty easy to set up. The cars light up and the engine has some pretty nice details.

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#5. Lionel The Polar Express Electric Train Set

Lastly, there’s the Lionel The Polar Express Train Set, which is the best lionel train set for those who want more of a Christmas theme with nice detailing. The Polar Express has always been a popular model from the Lionel series and it gives you pretty smooth operation and pretty nice realistic sounds.

In general, the Polar Express is definitely sturdy and well-made and a true testament to Lionel’s quality engineering. Also, the engine is quite powerful and can pull around 6 cars. Also, it is nice to know that the Polar Express can go quite fast and at full speeds with a light load, there is definitely a chance that it can derail.

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What Features to Look for When Buying A Lionel Model Train Set – Buying Guide

There are many features that one can investigate before buying a Lionel train set such as the scale (1/25th, 1/60th), the name of the train, the power pack, etc. With so many features, it may be difficult to choose a Lionel train. However, we have narrowed it down to just 4 criteria that everyone should look into before purchasing a Lionel model train. These are:

  1. Power pack
  2. Look
  3. Track
  4. Price

1. Power pack of the best electric train set

Train sets have evolved over the years, from basic power packs to advanced systems that include Bluetooth and radio controls. Until recently, train sets came with a basic power pack that could provide power to one train and a couple of accessories. While it was possible to control the train, speed control was often not precise enough.

However, with the advent of more advanced technology, the power supply included in some of the higher-end sets is larger and more reliable. With Bluetooth and radio control, you can have more control over the train’s speed and direction. Additionally, many sets now include DCC (Digital Command Control) and DCS (Digital control systems), which enable users to control multiple trains on the same track. This is especially useful for train enthusiasts who have many trains running on the same layout. Furthermore, with battery-powered train sets,  you don’t have to worry about finding an electrical outlet or tripping over cords. For instance, some battery powered train sets will operate on three AAA batteries. Overall, modern Lionel ready-to-play train sets offer a more detailed and exciting experience for train enthusiasts of all ages.

2. Visual aspect of a model train and locomotive

Before buying a model train, you need to take into account the visual aspect of the train, its locomotive, and its accessories. The reason is simple. You need to like your train so that you’ll use it for years to come. Model trains have been decorated for just about every iconic railroad in the world. From Santa Fe steam engines to Delaware and Hudson diesel to the French HST (High-Speed Train called TGV)- there is sure to be something out there that catches your eye.

What we found out is that many modelers choose trains that they remember from their youth or trains they see nearby. Others just go with what tickles their fancy. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with buying on the outside visual aspect.

Note that train sets on the market come in a wide variety of styles, but all of them try to capture the essence of a real train (apart from wooden prototypes for infants, which capture the fun part of a child). From the intricate designs on the locomotive to the detailed scenery on the train tracks, every element is carefully crafted to give off a realistic vibe. However, it’s important to remember that a toy train is not the same as a professional passenger train. So, while the visual aspect is certainly important, it’s not the only thing to consider when choosing a model train.

3. Rail track of the best train sets

When it comes to the rail track of the best train sets, one of the most important factors to consider is whether there’s enough track to make a fun and engaging layout. Most train sets will provide enough track pieces to make at least a basic oval track, but the length and type of tracks can vary widely. Note that things are evolving these days. In the past, tracks have been built to standards developed by the National Model Railroad Association. This ensured that you could buy tracks from different manufacturers and they would work with each other.

Today, however, most N, HO, and O-train sets include an “integrated roadbed track” which is a track with a raised molded plastic base that represents the ties and ballast. Unfortunately, each manufacturer has developed its own line of tracks. This means that if you buy a track from one manufacturer, it may not work with a track from another manufacturer. In fact, some manufacturers will change the width of the tracks so that you cannot interconnect the tracks from other manufacturers.

Nevertheless, this newer type of track is well suited for beginners, as it makes the setup simple and easy. It also eliminates the need for separate track mats for electrical insulation.

It is important to check the number of pieces of track you’ll get when you purchase a train set. For instance, how many switch tracks or straight tracks you’ll get to allow for more creative layouts and endless possibilities for train adventures. Ultimately, it’s important to find a train set that offers enough track and track options to provide hours of fun and entertainment.

4. Price of a Lionel new train set

If you’re in the market for a new train set, you might be wondering about the price range for a good quality Lionel set. The price of a new Lionel train set can vary quite a bit depending on the complexity and realism of the set. But generally speaking, you can find starter train sets for children that cost around $50 to $100. These sets are usually ready-to-play and come with a simple remote control.

For a little more money, around $200 to $300, you can find simple train sets that may offer a few more features, like a wooden train set or a freight carriage. If you’re looking for something even more advanced, expect to pay upwards of $500 or more for a superior control-ready Lionel set. The build quality and level of detail can be quite impressive with these sets, making them a true collector’s item. But if you’re just starting out or looking for a gift for a child, a more basic Lionel set can still offer hours of fun and entertainment. Overall, Lionel train sets are a great investment for any train enthusiast, no matter what your budget may be.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Is Lionel a good train set?

If you are looking for a high-quality train set, you’ll be pleased to know that Lionel is considered one of the best manufacturers out there. Model railroaders worldwide praise Lionel for their best features, such as the authenticity of their engines and railroad cars and their solid construction. In fact, Lionel Trains were the first electric toy inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

A Lionel train set provides an immersive and realistic experience of train locomotion that can captivate both children and adults. This is because Lionel sets accurately represent actual trains, both in terms of looks and operation. If you are looking for other sets like Lionel, you might be hard-pressed to find one that matches Lionel’s quality and authenticity. Lionel train sets are an excellent investment for any train enthusiast, new or experienced, as it is easy to set up and come with almost everything you need to get started. With Lionel train sets, you can create your own railroad empire in the comfort of your own home.

What is the most popular Lionel train set?

The most popular Lionel train set is the Ready to Run sets, also known as O-gauge. Lionel is a brand of electric model train that is widely popular. The reason is that Lionel sells one of the best model locomotives in the world, with trains available in S-gauge and HO-gauge as well. Compared to other model trains available in the market, Lionel’s electric trains are known for their attention to detail and come with unique features such as detailed sounds, smoke, and lights.

These trains are extremely famous among hobbyists and collectors alike, owing to their high-quality construction, unmatched detail, and various customization options. Whether you’re an experienced collector looking for a new addition to your collection or a newcomer to the world of model trains, Lionel’s Ready to Run sets are an excellent choice. So, if you’re looking for a high-quality electric train set, Lionel’s products are undoubtedly the best in the market and a great way to satisfy your love for trains.

What is the most popular hobbyist Lionel train size?

When it comes to scale models, Lionel offers a wide variety of products in various sizes. However, the most popular Lionel train size among hobbyists is the HO-gauge. This is due to many reasons, one of which is that Lionel HO products work with all HO gauge systems.

With a track gauge of 16.5 mm and a scale of 1:87, HO is currently the most common model train size today. In addition to being widely available, HO trains offer a balance of detail and size that make them perfect for creating a realistic model train layout. HO-gauge trains are also easier to handle and require less space than larger-scale models, making them appealing to hobbyists with limited space to work with. Overall, Lionel’s HO products continue to be a popular choice among model train enthusiasts for their versatility, affordability, and accessibility.

Are Lionel trains still collectible?

Lionel trains are still considered highly collectible by experienced model train enthusiasts. Lionel trains hold a special place in the hearts of collectors, with many lifelong lovers of these trains beginning their collections as children and continuing the hobby throughout their lifetime. The value of Lionel trains varies depending on their design, materials, and era. Lionel train sets, individual pieces, and accessories can sell at auction for a hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars, depending mainly on the rarity and condition of the item.

Many collectors are particularly keen on Lionel’s prewar models, which are highly sought after due to their limited production runs and often-creative designs. While the popularity of Lionel trains has waxed and waned over the years, they remain a valuable and evocative symbol of the golden age of railroading, and collectors continue to cherish them as such. Thus, Lionel trains continue to be a significant part of the model train hobby, and their allure and collectivity show no signs of diminishing any time soon.

Why is Lionel model train sets so expensive?

Lionel model train sets have become a cherished hobby for many enthusiasts around the world, but they also come with a significant price tag. One of the primary reasons why the cost of model trains can be so high is due to the extensive research and development required to produce them. Model trains require intricate designs and engineering to ensure that they function seamlessly, which can take a considerable amount of time and resources.

Beyond development, specialized production methods and tools are also required to create high-quality model trains, which can also add to the overall expense. Factors such as small-scale production runs and the cost of materials further contribute to the high price point of these trains. The culture surrounding model trains is also one where collectors are willing to pay a premium for handmade or limited-edition models, which can drive up prices even further. While model trains may be considered a luxury item due to their expense, enthusiasts are willing to pay the cost to obtain a unique and intricate product that can provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment.

What is the difference between Lionel 027 and O?

When it comes to toy trains, Lionel is a well-known brand that has earned a great reputation among train enthusiasts. Two of the most popular Lionel train sizes are the 027 and O gauges. The primary difference between these two gauges is the size of the train itself. O gauge is larger and more detailed; it is 1 ¼ inches in height and 7/8 inches in width. On the other hand, the 027 gauge is slightly smaller, at 1 inch in height and 5/8 inches in width.

Essentially, the difference in size makes O gauge trains look more realistic than 027 gauge trains. However, interestingly enough, the track and accessories for both gauges are interchangeable. They are made in the same manner and work similarly, so there is very little difference between them at all, aside from how they look. The trains, tracks, and accessories are also suitable for mounting on train tables, which makes them very popular among collectors and hobbyists for their versatility. Whether you choose an 027 or O gauge train, your Lionel toy train experience is sure to be an enjoyable one.


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