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Author Topic: Good train for 6-year-old (with sound)?  (Read 5891 times)

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« on: December 02, 2012, 11:03:08 PM »

My son is 6 and very into trains. He's had a wooden Thomas train set for years and has recently shown an interest in electric trains after visiting some electric train exhibits. At one place the guys let him vary the speed of the train and blow its horn/whistle, and those two features seemed key to him.

We'd like to buy him an electric train for Christmas but it seems the only trains with those features are incredibly expensive? I think he could do without the varying speed if he could just blow the whistle/horn, but the trains with sound seem to be the more expensive ones, just from the brief shopping I've been doing.

Does this sound accurate? What train would you recommend that might give him one or both of these features and that isn't too expensive? He is only 6. :-)  Thanks!

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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 01:57:34 AM »


There are also some little devices, smaller than a garage door remote, which will make bell, horn and whistle sounds. The sounds aren't
in the loco, which may be a problem, but these are inexpensive.

One thing to remember is that, at six, your son probably likes the idea of trains but doesn't have strong feelings about which railroad he
prefers or what historical era interests him most. This presents you with an excellent opportunity to shop for price more than train set
contents. That is, he'll likely be happy with whatever you get him. So ... check on line, check your local hobby shops, even check toy stores
to find something on close out. Also, buy a copy of Model Railroader, unless your local library carries it, to see what some of the large mail
order stores are clearing out. Believe me, you'll find some very attractive offers and it won't matter if an appealing set is of a railroad which
your son has never seen because it has already merged into a different one.

With a six-year-old, I would probably go for an O-scale or large scale train but many people on this board will recommend HO, too. In my
experience, HO is a little too fragile and too difficult to manipulate (like getting all of the wheels on the track) for young children's fingers.
They can feel bad and lose interest due to the frustration of trying to handle such small, easily damaged equipment. But other kids do just
fine with the smaller trains. You're obviously a better judge of your boy's manual dexterity and temperament than I am so you're in a better
position than am I to decide if he is a candidate for HO or not. HO does have the broadest merchandise selection of any scale.

If you think large scale is what he might like (much of it has sound even if it doesn't have sophisticated DCC controls) get Garden
magazine and check the ads there.

Whatever you do, plan to use trains as a vehicle to spend time with your son. He'll need your guidance, at least at first, and you will both
find that time spent workin' on the railroad is a great way to spend his childhood. Take it from someone who knows!

                                                                                                                            -- D
CNE Runner

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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 10:38:56 AM »

I think what is important here is to purchase something that is age appropriate. Six-year old hands will have trouble railing an N-scale locomotive...HO may be a stretch as well (eye-hand coordination development). I think I would be looking for something in the O-scale range ('S' is a possibility - although pricey).

Kids love Thomas the Tank Engine - so why not stick with something he loves? The Thomas locomotives are robust (and have no leading and trailing trucks to worry about) and the European styled 4-wheel wagons are simple to rail. Hmmm, given that fact, you may want to consider an HO version of Thomas & friends.

The important thing is to make this a collaborative venture. You child may forget his first layout...but he'll always remember working with his dad. There is plenty of time to have a more prototypical layout...before he discovers cars and girls. In all likelihood, model railroading will be a passing thing - to be revisited when he wears an older man's clothes.

Best of luck to you and your son (BTW: who gets to blow the whistle?),

"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"

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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 10:43:34 AM »

You may want to check out some of the internet prices on trains sets.
Two of the larger sellers that have great prices are and

Lee F.

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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 11:12:15 AM »

Definitely look at the stand alone sound 'boxes'.   You can put the speakers under the table and the sound will be fine for a 6 year old.

Dave Mason

D&G RR (Dunstead & Granford) in On30
 “In matters of style, swim with the current;
 in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”   Thos. Jefferson

The 2nd Amendment, America’s 1st Homeland Security
the Bach-man

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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 01:01:48 AM »

Dear AFT,
Our new Li'l Big Haulers will appeal to any six year old, although they don't have sound as yet.
Take a look!
Have fun!
the Bach-man

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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2012, 03:21:46 PM »

My recommendation would be to start with a BIG gauge like O or G.

I have a G-Gauge for around the Christmas tree that goes up at Thanksgiving and

comes down in February long after the tree has been disassembled and put back into

storage. G gauge is big and impressive and the kids will run them for hours!!!

O-Gauge would work too and you can always set up a permanent layout.

My son who is 9 now, played with the Thomas stuff since he was 3 and by 5 wanted

to get into electric trains. Now we have a basic layout set up. We used Menard's

wooden horses and 4 big hollow doors, covered it with some indoor-outdoor carpet

and we have 3 operating lines of O-Gauge. We are now going to take down the lay-out over the Christmas break and put it back up with more surface area and we

better "covering".

Anyway start out with a set, bite the bullet spend some money on something of

quality that will hold up to a "little one" playing with it too. In time you can incorporate it into your permanent layout.

As for HO. Too delicate!!!!!  Comes uncoupled too often, derails easily. Breaks easy too!!!!!

Go Big!!!!!!!
Burlington Route

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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2012, 02:42:10 PM »

AFT, I'll toss my 2 cents in FWIW...when looking for a starter set, consider cost and size. I started with G scale long ago, and while the bang for the buck engine/car cost is more impressive for G pay for that in shear size! Any future G scale layout will be big. I'd suggest either HO scale or O scale...remember that "HO" stands for "half O scale" and G scale is nearly double O scale though G has a few different scales per manufacturers{Aristocraft/Bachmann/LGB/Delton/USAtrains....}- O and HO are at least set in scale sizes. On30 scale is a narrow gauge scale with the use of O scale equipment on HO scale track...scale 30" rail width.
My 7yr old son loves sounds and action, which lends O scale to his needs/wants...ok, I like those too! There's alot of action and sound pieces in O scale that will make you both happy...there's some but not nearly as much of that in HO scale to be had.
"Costs"- that seems to be the hot question...where on earth do I/we find reasonably cheap sound engines/cars and the controllers to get all those sounds out of the engines. Pick a scale and search under the web or even ebay. I/we just got the On30 bachmann 2-6-6-2 w/sound and the railbus and trailer{no sound-darn}...and love the steam engine sounds- were using the EZ command right now but I recently purchased the bachmann Dynamis system to fully control those sounds where the EZ can't do that as well or I should say in depth as the dynamis can. Sounds cost money, no way around it...if you can live w/o that your costs will be cheaper.
Set your budget and go hunting for bargins and get them as they come to you...don't be in a rush. Tiss the season for deals, but that can carry on thru out the rest of the year too!

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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2012, 03:19:49 PM »

Burlington and others have some great ideas.

"The Little Ones" love sound !!!!!!!! We picked up a berkshire locomotive from the

horseshoe curve set and the sounds are really impressive> My 9 year old runs that engine quite a bit, along with my Dad's 1951 Hudson ans the WBB F-3's we've

been adding on.

As Burlington suggested "go Slow" take your time and look for deals!!!!!!!

I love the "Hunt"  I have found deals all over as well as making new acquaintances and friends along the way!!!!!!!!!

Good luck and I have found this forum to be a great help with lots of knowledgeable

and helpful folks. Bachmann is providing a great service!!!!!!!!!!!

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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2012, 09:50:09 PM »

It's safe to say that we can save about half to two-thirds the cost of model trains if we just wait for the bargains as compared to buying
everything the moment the idea comes up. That's the way most things are, I suppose. When Feit first started selling the vibrating power tools they
were $600; now that there is competition among manufacturers and between stores, you can find a decent quality substitute for less than $100.
Buy the latest Precision Craft brass loco with sound and DCC and you'll pay a mint. Wait a couple of years and buy a close out in a banged up box and the price is a fraction. I'm not advocating that we buy spoiled fruit and moldy cheese but there is something to be said for patience and day-old bread!
                          -- D

« Last Edit: December 16, 2012, 05:23:20 PM by Doneldon » Logged
Burlington Route

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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2012, 01:22:14 PM » Dad's 1951 Hudson

Why do I have a feeling your talking trains and not actual cars there...coming from a 40 plymouth sedan owner. Wink
Burlington Route

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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2012, 01:24:08 PM »

...moldy cheese...

Uhm, isn't cheese made by the process of....nevermind! Wink Grin
Burlington Route

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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2012, 01:43:15 PM »

AFT, here's some of my recent bargins for my and my son's train layout.
Ebay -
- Bachmann Dynamis controller= $87 plus $16 s/h{seller- thefavoritespot}
-slightly ran On30 Bachmann 2-6-6-6 w/sound= $150 plus $10.80 s/h{seller- desotoair1k}
-new On30 Bachmann railbus and trailer= $53 plus $14 s/h{seller- thefavoritespot}
-new On30 Bachmann 2 bay steel hoppers= 1pr @ $38 and the other pair @$41
-new On30 Bachmann brown oxide caboose= $32...combines s/h on this and the above{seller- thefavoritespot}
-new MTH O scale rotary snowplow= $29 plus $9 s/h{seller- bggameboy}
-new MTH O scale 0-8-0 switcher= $86 plus $18 s/h{seller-rtsam}
Mind you this has been slowly adding up for the last 6-8 weeks, but as you can see, ebay is not a bad option for aquisitions...I really like "thefavoritespot" guy.
...of course, I have a far larger "didn't win" list...but that's nothing new to me since I'm such a cheapskate. Grin 
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