All aboard: what to look for in model train set

The holiday season is just around the corner.

While many kids will have video games and tablets on their wish lists, if you want to find a gift your little ones will cherish for years to come then a model train set is a great idea.

Model trains are a classic gift and one of the most exciting hobbies that both children and parents can enjoy together. However, if you are looking to get your child started with model train building or you are looking for unique model train parts for your child’s existing set, then knowing what to buy can get a little confusing.

Below we take a look at some of the considerations to keep in mind when either buying a new set or buying parts and accessories for an existing set.

Buying the Right Scale

The most important thing to remember about model trains is the different scales they are available in. Choosing the right scale will determine such things as how big your set will be, how easy it is to find parts, the ease of putting it together, and whether or not it can be used outdoors.

G Scale is the largest scale and is usually the easiest for young children to put together. In some cases, G Scale sets can even be used outside.

Next is O Scale, which is a bit smaller than G, but still good for little ones. There are also a lot of available parts and accessories for O Scale sets, including animated pieces.

N and HO Scale sets are much smaller than G and O, which makes them ideal if you have limited space. HO Scale trains also have the largest selection of parts to choose from, although their small size means children may have trouble putting them together by themselves.

Command Controls

In the past, your model railroader was pretty limited in terms of command controls. Most controls could only operate one locomotive at a time and perhaps control a few other accessories.

However, digital command control (DCC) has changed all that. While still not available from all manufacturers, DCC allows your little ones to control multiple locomotives, sounds, and parts all at once. If model railroading has the potential to become a long-term hobby for your child, then investing in DCC may be worthwhile.

Track Compatibility

Finally, track compatibility is one issue that can get rather confusing. While the different scales that were described above are industry standard and ensure that parts from one manufacturer can be used with parts from another one (so long as they are both to the same scale), the same cannot be said for the track pieces themselves.

That’s because many, although not all, manufacturers have their own proprietary track systems. So if you’re looking to help your child expand their model train layouts, keep in mind that whatever new pieces of track you buy will have to be compatible with the pieces they already have.

Model train sets are a timeless hobby that you and your children can enjoy together. Not only is building a model train set downright fun, it is also a great way to teach your child about history, geography, mathematics, and much more!