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Top Selling Model Trains on Amazon

Updated on February 3, 2012
Lionel's O-Scale Polar Express
Lionel's O-Scale Polar Express

Model trains remain popular gifts. Because what kid doesn’t enjoy the sight and sound of a model locomotive chugging its way down a track while pulling some colorful passenger and freight cars? Unless those kids are older, they’ll need the help of mom and mostly dad to assemble the track and run the electrical wires. Model trains are truly one of the few toys where children need their parents to play. Here are the top selling trains on Amazon.

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Common Elements of the Top Selling Model Trains

All these top selling sets of model trains have at least an oval of track that requires assembly but snaps together with no additional tools. They also have a power source and/or controller that moves the locomotive forward, backward or to a stop. Those with limited space can easily pack up their layouts when done and store them in the boxes the sets came in.

Polar Express

The venerable Lionel brand puts out two highly-rated, large scale tributes to the popular book and movie Polar Express. The number one seller is the G-gauge version with a working headlight, and bell and whistle sounds. The battery-operated radio-controlled remote is especially handy for layouts in the garden. The observation car even hides a disappearing hobo. Purists will prefer the lifelike detail of the smaller-scale O-gauge 2-8-4 Berkshire with its operating headlight, puffing smoke and operating coupler in the tender. Its controller is electrically operated and attaches to the track. This has three passenger cars, one more than the G-scaler.

Little Lines

Lionel’s Polar Express triumph continues with the Little Lines 44-piece play set. It is not prototypical because it features the proportions and durability designed for ages 30 months to five years. The track goes up and down a bridge and through a two-sided diorama. Kids can press the button on the remote controller to hear “All aboard! This is the Polar Express!” when the train is stopped. When the train is moving, the button makes the whistle blow.

HO Railroad Empire Train Set

The only HO (1/87) representative among the top selling model trains, this Santa Fe diesel set is an ideal first set for teens, who would rather set things up without dad’s help. The Lo-Nose GP38-2 locomotive has a working headlight and pulls five freight cars and a red caboose. The double-tracked 65” x 47” layout snaps together, and includes a bridge, pier and dual crossing gate. The rerailer makes it easy to put wayward consists back on track.

Hogwarts Express

Lionel takes another cue from the movies, this time with the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Set in O-gauge. The eye-catching red-and-black 4-6-0 steam engine and tender pulls 2 passenger coaches and a combination car. The set features interior lighting, puffing smoke, working headlight and air whistle. The train negotiates O-36 curves. However, this Amazon version lacks the figures described for the set in the Lionel catalog.

Pennsylvania Flyer

The final entry is another O-scale Lionel effort. But this time, it’s based on a prototype, the Pennsylvania Flyer, which used to ply routes along the eastern seaboard. The 0-8-0 black and silver steamer pulls a tender, boxcar, tank car and caboose. As is common with the brand, the set has puffing smoke, operating headlight and air whistle. It also includes a billboard with two images, 10 telephone poles, and engineer and fireman figures. It is designed for ages 14 and up.

Find your favorite among these top selling model trains.


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    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      I thought I'd check this out since it's your specialty. Trains do seem like a good idea since it encourages parents and kids to play together. I didn't realize there are trains from both Polar Express and Harry Potter available. Amazon has everything! Voted up across the board.

    • thost profile image

      thost 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Interesting Hub, I like model trains also. Hornby train sets were most popular when I was a child in Ireland. Have you seen the movie North West Frontier starring Kenneth More and Lauren Bacall, the train and train driver are the real stars. Check it out. Will vote up.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Came back for a visit. When I was a kid, my dad set up a model train & had the tracks covering the top of our ping pong table in the basement for a time each year. Not even sure what model of train it was and when we moved from Wisconsin to Texas where we no longer had a basement or enough room to display and play with it, it did not get moved. It was a fun childhood memory for me! Of course he was always there to supervise the operation of it.

    • Brandym2012 profile image

      Brandym2012 5 years ago from PA

      My children would love to view this info, considering they are boys and enjoy trains. Great job on this Hub.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Great hub for those wishing to compare some of the different types of model trains available for sale these days. Up and useful votes.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks for the heads-up. Video corrected.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a great hub for all us train enthusiasts. Well worth a watch.

      I like the two guys standing on the front of the Polar Express.

      The little lines video is not available.

      I like the low angle on the Hogwarts express video.

      The Pennsylvania Flyer looks fantastic too.

      Thanks for a real treat voted up, interesting,and SHARING

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      I have always loved model trains since I was a little girl. Unfortunately, the opportunity never presented itself to become a collector. Wish I had though. They are so fascinating, and I would love to design a track and layout for one. Great Hub. voted up.