Time to Grab That Model Train To Go Around Your Christmas Tree

(STL.News) Are you looking to have a traditional looking setup this Christmas?  Perhaps you have seen on TV or in the movies, families who have model trains and railway sets running around the Christmas tree?  This is a great look and can be fun for all ages. Particularly the young ones, but if you admit it, we are sure some of your older ones reading this will enjoy a model train set.  It’s a very calm and peaceful thing to sit and observe and it provides a bit of animated action around a fairly pedestrian tree setup.

If you don’t already own a model trainset, though, and are new to the world of model train sets, it can all feel a little intimidating.  You want to spend wisely and get a cool set, but one that actually works and will not ruin Christmas.  In the following post, we look at some of the things you need to consider when investing in a model train set.

Power Supply Packs

Until very recently, the majority of model train sets were paired with fairly simple power supply packs.  These particular transformers provided enough juice to run one train with a few additional accessories.  They also give you control over the speed and direction of the train, though it should be noted that in the past speed was not especially precise.

Modern power packs, though, are far more sophisticated and features such as multiple sound controls, radio control capabilities and you can run a wide variety of different trains and accessories, with better control over the speed and everything else.

Choosing the Right Type of Track

For a long time, model train sets were built to the same standards that had been devised by the National Railroad Association.  These regulations were laid out to ensure all tracks would work with one another.  Modern sets though rely on what are known as integrated roadbed tracks, which are raised molded plastic bases that represent the ballast and ties.  These newer styles of tracks are ideal for beginners, particularly if it will be the younger members of your household and they work well for temporary setups and laying them on carpeted floors.


Like anything, price should never be your main concern when buying model train sets, but it should be taken into consideration.  There is a wide range of prices out there, and you can pay as little as $25 to as much as $500 and even more.  While it’s true that you don’t need to spend a huge fortune to get a good train set, what you pay can greatly impact the quality.  Obviously, aspects such as the set size, the prototypes, and different scales are factored into the price.

A set that has a figure-8 design of track with a steam locomotive that pulls along 6 cars behind it will always cost more than a simpler circular track with a diesel train and only 3 cars.

Other Important Things to Look For

Aside from the above, there are other important things you need to look for when choosing the right train set.  Especially if you are new to this world. You need to look at the outer shell of the trains and what it is made of, as this is usually a good indication of the quality of it on the inside.  Also, consider things like the finish – has it been painted well; does it have sharp and crisp lettering, and does it feel like a substantial item?  These are all the hallmarks of a good quality train set that will last you a long time.