The Best Model Train Sets For 2017

So you’ve decided to get a train set, but what is the best one for you? Here’s the wisdom of the Model Railway Engineer’s community of model railway gurus on the best model train set you can buy in 2017.

 


 

Best Train Set For Children and Price

Hornby Starter Kit For Beginners

This massively popular Hornby train set is an ideal starter set to buy for children and adults alike with a price for all budgets and had to beat for price and as such is a great set to try out the hobby.

The set includes a delightful Caledonian 0-4-0 steam locomotive, a four wheel coach, an open wagon, enough track for an oval circuit and the transformer and train controller.

Being analogue (DC) technology – as opposed to digital, see below – means there’s also a huge number of low-cost trains, track and accessories available to expand it with if you or your son or daughter find they like and want to do more.

What the Model Railway Engineer community liked:

  • Features both passenger carriage and wagon appealing to all tastes,
  • Price
  • Easy to set-up and operate and,
  • being Hornby, it’s cheap to expand.

Disadvantages:

It’s available now from Amazon, buyers have rated it 4.5 out of 5, here.

Best Train Set For Small Spaces / Young Adults

N gauge train set, the Graham Farish 370-130 The Night Mail

If you want to  buy a model train but are limited for space, N gauge —as opposed to traditional Hornby style OO gauge — is for you. N gauge track and trains are much smaller than OO scale but give just as much fun and this delightful modern-themed set by N gauge leaders Graham Farish is a great introduction.

The small size of N gauge makes them great for teenage bedrooms or small box rooms where the smaller scale will allow a good size railway to be created. The small size does, however, mean they’re not suitable for small children (those under 11 will probably get frustrated with them) or those with poor vision.

Like other model train sets here, it comes with an oval of track, controller, locomotive and rolling stock and there are plenty of other trains, accessories, and track that can be added later.

What the Model Railway Engineer community liked:

  • Nice detailing on locos.
  • Loco runs smoothly and well.
  • Easy to operate.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s analogue, not digital but okay to start with.
  • The small scale is great for small spaces but can be a challenge for young and older modellers who might struggle with the small detail.

Stocks are often limited on this train set so order promptly if buying for a birthday etc. At the time of writing, it was available here.

The Best Model Train For Adults : Restarting A Past HobbyHornby Flying Scotsman train set

This is the set many followers of Model Railway Engineer choose to get back into the hobby after a few years away.

Typically, they have some bits and pieces from their original layout in the loft but it’s all a bit tired and they’re looking for something that works out the box (so to speak) to get them going quickly yet with which they can use still their existing locos once they’ve been cleaned up.

It has the lovely, glorious, Hornby version of the Flying Scotsman and new controller so you can relive those memories but uses the same tried and tested electrics you’ll be familiar with and will work with your existing locos once you’ve cleaned them up.

And better yet… The Flying Scotsman loco included is DCC ready. Which means that if, at some point, you decide to move up into the world of digital (DCC) trains and get yourself a DCC controller the loco can be easily upgraded to work with that.

What the Model Railway Engineer community liked:

  • “It’s the Flying Scotsman. What more do you need?!?”
  • “All my the old stuff still works on it”
  • DCC ready loco. Can be upgraded if you ever move to digital.

Disadvantages:

  • None.

It’s available from across the web but the best deal I’ve found on it so far is here. This is a brand new product, fully guaranteed.

The Best Train Set For All-Round Fun & Future Expansion

Hornby DCC starter model railway train set

This is a set up from the above sets in terms of capability and future expansion and is the set to go for if you’re building a railway after some time away from the hobby and want to explore what’s new or are looking for a first set on which to build a proper railway in the future.

The big difference between this and the other Hornby sets above, and the reason it costs more is that employs digital controls and trains. Compared to the analogue set above this allows far greater control over the trains – up to 60 locos and with smooth acceleration and deceleration – and also allows expansion of the locomotives with the included Select controller able to control many features (not all) of the latest DCC equipped trains such as onboard lights and sounds.

The downside to this is that the extra complexity of controlling the trains means it’s no-go for young children (I’d suggest a minimum age of 13 or 14). However, if you’re an adult or teenager and want a train set to build on and expand this is highly recommended to get you restarted into the world of model trains or as an introduction to the world of DCC.

What the Model Railway Engineer community liked:

  • Value for money: You get a lot for the money, a DCC controller; two locos, track etc.
  • Two locos included, put the digital control to test and run them both on the same track at te same time.

Negatives:

  • It would have been nice to have onboard sound or lights in the locos but you can always upgrade or buy other locos later.
  • The locos are a bit basic but it is an entry level set and a great starter into the world of DCC.

At the time of writing it’s available at around 30 to 40 per cent. I don’t know how long this offer will last so it now here.


If any of this was confusing, the following guides might help:

And if you get one of these model railway sets and want to keep it in good running order, be sure to read this guide: how to look after your train sets.

Finally, if you’d like regular tips on building, maintaining and operating a model railway subscribe to my free newsletter. Click here to start.