While adult model train enthusiasts tend to focus on railways from Hornby and the like and younger fans attention is drawn to Thomas and Brio there’s another make of tiny train set that often gets overlooked but has lots of potential and interest for both. Lego and the Lego 60051 is one of the most popular.
I was given this Lego High Speed train set as a Christmas present by Mrs MRE.
We went back to her native Germany for a few days over the break so it seemed only natural to take the Lego train — which is modelled on the German Intercity Express (ICE) trains — for a trial while there.
The box contains everything needed to build to build an oval of track and run a train around it. Included are:
- 20 pieces of track,
- A high-speed train consisting of motorised front engine unit, passenger car and a rear unpowered unit,
- Trackside accessories including level crossing, lights and a halt (mini station),
- The control unit to remote operate the train.
Also included is a sheet of decals for the train, railway signs, and three Lego mini figures — a train driver, traveller and cyclist and four step-by-step assembly guides.
In contrast to Hornby style model train sets — where the pieces are presented in foam polystyrene packaging — Lego put everything in clear numbered plastic bags. While this certainly aids finding pieces during construction it lacks, I feel, some of the excitement when first opening the box.
Assembly is easy and straightforward as you’d expect from Lego.
The various Lego pieces — just over 600 in total — are supplied in seven clear plastic bags and it’s just a case of following the step-by-step instructions in the 4 booklets to make the trains.
It took me about 2.5 hours to put everything together and I had no difficulty following the pictorial guides. It did, however, take me slightly longer than necessary as I wasted a bit of time searching through the bags for particular pieces, I only realised later that a diagram detailing which bags should be used each when is shown on the outside read of the box.
My stupidity aside, everything, including the electrics, just snapped together in Lego’s standard fashion and worked first time.
The battery unit, on-off switch and infrared sensor fit snuggly inside the train with a sealed motor sitting under the train to drive the wheels.
Along with the traditional Lego bricks there are also some unique shapes, made from single moulded piece, necessary to achieve the distinctive smooth aerodynamic nose of the intercity express on which this train is modelled. While the other pieces can be used in other Lego constructions I’m not sure these nose sections will be much use other than for ICE trains.
Having unique moulded shapes is a big point of contention amongst Lego purists who insist everything should be done using standard bricks. Personally, I feel Lego made the right call here as it makes it easier to get the smooth sloping front that makes these trains so elegant and distinctive.
The decals are the usual Lego sticker format. They don’t slide once positioned so precise alignment is a case of placing, peeling off and replacing until you are happy.
The Lego High Speed 600051 train is based on a non-specific German Intercity Express (ICE) train and I have to say I was impressed with the finished look.
And all my wife’s German relatives instantly recognised it when they saw it. The colours, distinctive nose cone, sleek lines and windows create a very credible looking ICE Lego look.
There is, however, one significant issue.
While I wasn’t expecting it to have the fine detail of a model train I have to say I was surprised that it’s missing one fundamental detail, namely doors.
Neither the engine units or passenger cars have any means for people to get in. This really is a shocking omission and I’m surprised Lego missed it.
Less serious but somewhat disappointing is that the driver’s cab is sparse on detail. There’s a single sticker to represent a panel but that’s it.
Admittedly, you can’t see this from the outside but for kids wanting to put a driver the cab, it would have been nice to have some controls that they can imagine him operating.
Operating the train is simplicity itself.
An infrared controller allows the train to be operated remotely and I had no problem operating the train from up to about 5 feet away and the combined speed and direction dial allows easy and reasonably fine control.
It’s easy to set the engine unit off slowly from one side of the oval, reverse around the track to meet the passenger car; where the magnetic couplings attach, and then switch direction on the dial to pull away forwards, increasing the speed as she moves.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the train to its maximum speed with the amount the track provided. The track supplied creates a small oval shape of approximately 2 by 3 feet but there aren’t enough straight track sections included to allow the engine to get up to full speed before flying off as it enters the curves.
In my tests and during operation by my 10 year old son, it regularly flew off the rails at level 4 of the 7 speeds available.
I’m waiting on more track from Amazon (LEGO City 7499 Flexible Tracks) to build longer track runs to see how fast she will go.
Aside from direction and speed, the controller also has a second dial and 4 channels allowing other trains to be operated.
This functionality is wasted with just one train and the amount of track provided in this pack but when used with expansion packs and other sets it would allow up to 8 trains — each going at different speeds and directions — to be controlled.
Cosmetic omission of doors and cab controls aside, there’s only one real negative with this set and that’s the amount of track included. It’s enough for a small oval but —as noted — not enough to even get the train up to its fastest speed. You will want more track — particularly straights to really get the most out of the train.
Ignoring these niggles however, the Lego High Speed train set 60051 is easy to make, good looking and a lot of fun to operate. For train-loving children, it’s a fantastic replacement for when they grow out of wooden trains but are still too young for more complex model trains. Alternatively, it’s a lotta of fun for Lego fans who want a train set or train fans who also enjoy Lego — especially when they’re on holiday in Germany 😉
Update: Since this original review my son has returned to the 60051 multiple times and it’s proved a firm favourite and very resilient.
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Full disclosure: No money or gifts were exchanged for this review. I bought the product at the advertised price via eBay or Amazon without the supplier knowing it would be reviewed on Model Railway Engineer. The links on this page take you to Amazon or eBay allowing you to purchase the product under their affiliate programmes by which I get a commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change.