The UPS guy brought me something interesting today. It’s a very inexpensive G scale model train set.
One of my YouTube viewers told me about it. Now, if you were to buy a G scale starter
set from a company like LGB… That would typically set you back three or four
hundred dollars, but this set was under a hundred. That’s so cheap, I figured what the heck!
Let’s just order one I’ll make
a video about it for YouTube. But there is, of course, a catch.
In fact, there’s several catches! So, let’s just unbox it. We’ll take a look at it
and see what kind of compromises that they had
to make to get the price under $100. This is a Polar Express train set.
You know, the classic Christmas story…
started as a book in 1985… And then became an animated
movie with Tom Hanks in 2004. Now I’m pretty sure that Lionel didn’t design
this for a 60 year old guy like me to add to
his collection of G scale model trains. I think the idea was more that a 60 year old guy like me
would buy it for his four-year-old grandchild as a way
to introduce them into model trains. I didn’t even know that Lionel made G-scale stuff at all.
I thought they were just in to O and HO. But since they say that this is G scale,
I’m hoping that I can get it to run on my big layout… That’s made up of LGB-brand metal track.
Let’s see if it works! So, what comes in the box is the locomotive and
a tender, and then two of these passenger cars… A remote control to operate it,
and a whole bunch of this plastic track. Now this is one of the big compromises
that they’ve made.
It’s plastic. It doesn’t conduct electricity. This kind of locomotive doesn’t get
electricity through the rails like a
normal G scale train would get. This has a bunch of batteries inside of it.
Six C cell batteries to run it… And then two more AA batteries in the
remote control to operate that. So, it’s not getting power through the track
like a regular G-scale locomotive would. Now, speaking of regular G-scale locomotives, OK… This may look good here by itself,
but when you put it up against a
real LGB-brand G-scale locomotive… You can see that we’re talking
about a big difference in size. And I don’t know if it comes across on camera,
but a huge difference in quality. As you would expect…
This being a hundred dollar set,
and this being about a $900 locomotive on its own. But this is like toy quality,
and this is the genuine article right here. But the question that’s killing me…
and especially more so now that I see
the size difference between these two locomotives… They say that this is a G-scale set.
I’m really wondering…
Is this going to run on my LGB track?
Let’s find out! Here’s the locomotive.
Let me line it up with the track. Oh no!
Oh, it looked good on this side
when I lined this side up. But it is totally hanging off the side over here. This is not standard G scale width.
This is wider than regular G-scale. It doesn’t fit on that track.
So, I’m not going to be able to lay my…
I’ve got hundreds of feet of LGB track… I’m not going to be able to
run this on that.
It’s… it’s just a different size. That is a big problem, because I was really hoping
to be able to run this under battery power
on all my existing track. So, now I’m going to have to
put this plastic track together
and run it as a whole separate thing… Independent from the rest of my G-scale stuff.
That’s too bad, and that’s a disappointment. OK, I’ve got it all set up.
We’re going to make it work. The true test for me of whether
something is designed well… Is whether you can make it work without reading
the owner’s manual and without any tools. And unfortunately, this failed on both counts.
I needed a Phillips screwdriver… To be able to open the battery compartment on
the locomotive and also to be able to open the
battery compartment on the remote control. And the other thing was
I couldn’t figure out how the batteries
went into the locomotive. So, I did have to read the owner’s manual
to figure that out. So, that was a fail there. But now it should be all set to go.
So, we’re going to power it on. There’s a power switch on the locomotive itself,
and also on the remote control. If you turn on the power switch on the locomotive,
it beeps like that until you turn on
the power switch on the remote control. Now, the fun part! OK, on the remote you’ve got some controls. (bell clangs) A bell. Nice sound effects! (steam whistle blows) A steam whistle.
Another good sound effect! And check this out! (Conductor announcement)
THIS IS THE POLAR EXPRESS! OK, I like that!
That’s fun. Now we can either turn it to forward or to reverse. And there’s not enough room on my kitchen table here
to make a full loop… So, I hope it’s very responsive after I start it and
then try to stop it before it runs off the end of the table. (Sound of steam train chugging) OH! (laughing)
For a minute there, I thought it was going
to go right off the end! When I turned it to off,
it didn’t immediately stop.
But it stopped in time. All right, here’s reverse. (sound of steam train chugging) Nice steam train sounds there.
All right, so I like that. So, I guess the next step is we’ll set it up on the floor.
I’ll use all the track that came with the set. It’s enough track to go around
a Christmas tree at Christmas time.
I’m pretty sure that’s what the whole point is. (Conductor announcement)
THIS IS THE POLAR EXPRESS! (sound of steam train chugging and whistle blowing) Even though I’m disappointed that I can’t run
this supposed G-scale train on my
existing G-scale tracks… I have to admit that once I put the Lionel tracks
down on my living room floor and started
running the train, I had fun. For less than $100, it’s certainly a tremendous value. The working headlight on the front of
the locomotive is a nice touch. The best part is the sound.
The “all aboard” announcement is fun and
the bell and whistle sound effects are even better. (Sound of a steam train whistle) Also, the chugging sound of the train in motion. Now you certainly get much better sound effects
on a real G-scale setup,
but at this price what you get really is impressive. One other feature I haven’t mentioned yet
is that the locomotive can operate at
your choice of three speeds. I’ve been running it at the low speed, so far. Here’s the medium speed. (Chugging sound is faster than before) And now here is the highest
speed setting for the locomotive. (Chugging sound is even faster than before) Of course, you use the remote control to set the speed.
Once you’ve picked the speed you want… You can set the remote control down and
the train will just keep operating at that speed. I have no idea how long it would go
on one set of batteries. I would definitely look into
buying some rechargeables if I was you. One negative thing that jumps out at me
is the way the train lurches to a start
when you first start it moving. (Sound of a steam train whistle) That’s a very unrealistic start up.
Too bad they couldn’t figure out a way to get it to
gradually start moving from the stopped position. That’s a problem you wouldn’t have
if you had spent three or four times the cost
of this set to get a real G scale starter set. Now, because running this train around and around
this oval over and over again
gets a little boring after a while… Be aware that you can buy
more of this plastic track and even switches. And it’s all pretty affordable
since it’s all made from plastic.
It seems pretty durable, too. (Sound of the train’s bell) You know that it’s just a matter of time
before any kid you give this set to
will stage a train crash on purpose! So, for my big finale…
let’s do a train crash! I know…
that wasn’t a very good train crash. Seemed like a funny idea.
Maybe it would be funnier with music… (Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” plays and repeated
train crashes are synchronized with the cannon sounds) 20 years of experience editing videos
and I think I finally nailed one! Well, in the end, this inexpensive little
toy train set did win me over . If you’ve got a budget of $100
and want to give a really great gift
to some four to ten year old kid… I think you’d be hard-pressed to do better than this. Now, I think it goes without saying…
but I’ll say it anyway… Don’t buy this for an adult
and don’t buy this for anyone that
already owns some real G scale track. But if you’ve got a kid, or a grandkid,
or a niece or a nephew in that
four to ten year old age group… Or even if you don’t,
but you like the idea of running
a train around the Christmas tree… …without investing three to four hundred dollars
or more in a real G scale setup… I think I really can recommend
Lionel’s Polar Express train set to you. I just refuse to say that it’s G scale,
because it really isn’t. Now if you want to buy
one of these Polar Express train sets,
just click on the link that should
be on screen right now Or if you don’t see a link on the screen,
look below in the description or the comments. Also, if you know someone that you think might be
interested in one of these bargain-priced train sets… Click on the “share” button
and share this video with them. The “share” button is the one that looks
like an arrow with a goofy hook to it. Of course, I’ve got many more videos planned
for the coming months, so subscribe to my channel
if you want to make sure that you don’t miss any. I’ll continue to make videos about model trains… But I’ve also got some really interesting vacations coming up on cruise ships.
So, there’ll be some new cruise videos coming this Fall. For now, I’ll leave you with
four suggested videos to take a look at… Three about model trains, and one about an amazing vacation we took on a cruise ship earlier this year. I’m Jim Zim.
Leave a comment in the video, if you’d like.
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