New Product Spotlight – Western Union Telegraph Freight Set

2 06 2014

In a world where instant communication has become a center point to daily life, it is easy to understand the impact the railroads and telegraph had on  the world 150 years earlier. For the first time in recorded history, news could travel faster than the speed of a horse.

Western Unon Set

The Western Union Telegraph set combines the best of new technologies from two different eras!

The fact that both railroads and the telegraph emerged and matured as technologies nearly simultaneously was fortunate. The telegraph companies enjoyed the shared rights of way for their communications lines and stations as convenient hubs. The railroads, quickly adopting the telegraph for their own needs, had the critical tool necessary for allowing the rails to operate efficiently, safely and at greater capacity. The public stood the most to gain as a trip to the station could yield everything from overnight packages to the latest news and gossip off the wire.

Western Union had completed their first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861. By the 1870s the company had emerged as a leader in communications, absorbing many smaller companies as it expanded. In 1884, Western Union was one of the eleven companies used by Dow Jones for their first market average listing. (Nine of the others were railroads.)

western union

The station became the center of a much faster-paced life in town as the hub for both train and telegraph.

Building and maintaining thousands of miles of telegraph wire was not an easy task. Locating along rail lines offered advantages here for the telegraph companies as well. Like the railroads, Western Union maintained work trains which were dispatched to inspect and repair the lines. Although they sometimes used equipment from the railroads, Western Union also owned locomotives of their own.

Lionel’s latest train set captures the enduring style of the trains from this historic era and the excitement of both of these “new” technologies. Ironically, a set which pays tribute to communications by wire is operated with wireless remote control! With the LionChief™ remote, you simply plug the power pack into the wall and the track and you’re ready to go.

This is our first LionChief™ set featuring the “General” 4-4-0 locomotive. The set also includes two flatcars with removable loads and a baggage car, a 40″x60″ oval of FasTrack™, a wall-pack power supply and the hand-held LionChief™ remote control.

The locomotive features:

  • Remote control operation
  • Puffing smoke
  • Operating headlight
  • RailSounds RC™ with steam background sounds and steam chuffing in sync with locomotive speed, and remote-activated whistle, bell and announcements
  • On/Off switch for steam sounds
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor
  • Traction tires
  • Separately applied details
  • Operating coupler on tender
  • Die-cast archbar tender trucks

Rolling stock features:

  • Die-cast archbar trucks with operating couplers
  • Removable vats and tarped load on flatcars
  • Interior illumination in baggage car

The remote control has a speed control and direction knob and separate push buttons for the whistle, bell and announcements. It requires three AAA batteries, not included.

This new set is scheduled for delivery this Fall and has a suggested retail price of $369.99. So “dash” on over to your favorite dealer to place your order!

New Product Spotlight – Albert Hall Train Set

5 05 2014

Fans of our Hogwarts Express train have been asking us to deliver the locomotive in a more prototypical scheme. With the sleek lines and brilliant colors of this British steam locomotive, it’s no wonder.

Albert Hall

Bring the class and elegance of British rails home with the Albert Hall set.

The Great Western’s Hall Class enjoyed a long production and career. In total, 259 of the 4-6-0s were built between 1924 and 1943. Additional locomotives of a modified design to cope with diminished coal quality were built up until 1950. The Ten Wheelers found service in both passenger and freight assignments.

All but one of the locomotives (destroyed during World War II) passed from the Great Western to the unified British Railways in 1948. All were retired from active service by 1965. Eleven have been preserved, including No. 4983, the Albert Hall.  Well, at least partially!


The chocolate and cream colors of the coaches are the perfect complement to the locomotive.

During major overhauls, it was not uncommon for parts from multiple locomotives to be combined to speed repairs and cut costs. Rebuilt in 1962, Albert Hall contained many parts, including the tender, from No. 4965 Rood Ashton Hall. In subsequent restorations, the switch was uncovered and the locomotive now carries the Rood Ashton Hall name and number (although one side has since been given the Albert Hall plate as well.) The locomotive is a regular on the Shakespeare Express between Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham.

This new Lionel set captures the grace of the original train and should bring a touch of class to any railroad. Controlled by the LionChief Remote, the new train is easy to control and comes with many great features:

  • Electric locomotive controlled by remote


    The LionChief Remote puts all of the controls in the palm of your hand.

  • Operating headlight
  • Puffing smoke with ON/OFF switch
  • RailSounds RC with steam chuffing and background sounds, whistle, bell and user-activated announcements
  • ON/OFF switch for steam chuff and background sounds (all other sounds are only activated by pressing the buttons)
  • Operating coupler on rear of tender
  • Maintenance-free motor
  • Cab window “glass”
  • Die-cast metal locomotive body and tender frame
  • Two traction tires
  • Separately applied details including buffers, coupler air lines, brake stands, marker lamps and valve gear

The user-friendly LionChief remote features a single forward/reverse/speed control knob and three separate buttons for the whistle, bell and announcements. The sounds for this set will have a distinctly British flair, from the shrill whistle to the crew dialog.  The remote requires three AAA batteries, not included.


An additional 2-car set is available to extend your train.

Trailing behind the Albert Hall are three passenger cars in the sublime chocolate and cream livery of the Great Western. The combination and two coaches feature interior illumination, window silhouettes, die-cast metal trucks and operating couplers and soft diaphragms on the ends. An additional combination / coach 2-car add-on set is also available separately.

The set also includes a 40″ x 60″ oval of FasTrack and a wall-pack power supply – everything you need to get started. Retail for the set is $399.99. The add-on passenger cars are $129.99. See you local Lionel dealer to order one today!

New Product Spotlight – Lionel Junction Starter Sets

31 03 2014

Looking for an affordable way to get a child started with electric trains? Look no further than Lionel’s four new Lionel Junction starter sets! Featuring the LionChief Remote control and sounds, we’ve designed these fun sets to stir the imagination and invite interactive play.

Little Steam

6-81286 Lionel Junction “Little Steam” Set

From dinosaur adventures to pet rescues, kids will love developing their own worlds and stories around these trains. These sets are designed for easy assembly and operation so your young engineers can get right to the fun. And while you get everything you need to get started, these sets are designed to grow as your children look for new adventures.

LionChief Remote


The LionChief Remote is easy to use and filled with fun features.

All four of these sets feature the LionChief Remote control system. There is no complicated wiring – just plug the wall pack into the track and your home outlet. The hand-held remote control includes speed and direction in one knob with three buttons for the whistle, bell and fun sounds customized to each train.

Each set, like all of our other LionChief Remote sets, has its own radio frequency. This means you can run multiple trains on the same track without any extra wiring! You can also run your set engines on other layouts that use conventional or command control – making these the perfect starter set for families with existing layouts as well. All these engines need is 18 volts of AC or DC power and their remote control.

Easy Assembly


6-81031 Lionel Junction Dinosaur Diesel Set

A circle of FasTrack is provided to get you started. This track snaps together quickly and easily and will stay locked together. Safe for operation on a platform or on the floor – even carpet – you don’t need a large dedicated space for the train. When you’re finished, simply pull the sections apart until next time. FasTrack can be put together and taken apart hundreds of times without failure.

Additional straights, curves, switches, crossings and accessory tracks are all available separately to expand your set.

With the track together, just plug in the power supply and you’re ready to go! The cars of these sets are equipped with two-wheel trucks and fixed couplers so they’ll be easy for small hands to put on the rails and couple yet sturdy enough for trouble-free play.

Designed to Grow

tank car

An add-on tank car is available for each set.

Sets can be combined with each other and with add-on track sections to create larger and more elaborate track plans.

You can also expand the trains with additional cars. An add-on tank car is available to match each of these sets. These will work with all other O Gauge trains as well.

Diesel Sets

Our two diesel-powered sets, 6-81031 Dinosaur Diesel and 6-81288 Pet Shop Express, include all of the following:

pet shop

6-81288 Pet Shop Express

  • Vulcan diesel switcher with
    • LionChief Remote control
    • Powerful maintenance-free motor
    • Diesel engine sounds and user-activated horn, bell and special dinosaur / animal sounds
    • Separately applied bell and ladder details
    • Working headlight
    • Fixed couplers
    • Traction tire
    • Sturdy plastic construction
  • Boxcar
  • Gondola with removable loads (dinosaur eggs and figures / animal figures)
  • Bobber Caboose
    • All cars feature metal wheels and fixed couplers
  • Circle (approx. 40″ outside diameter) of FasTrack
  • Wall Pack plug-in power supply
  • Remote Control (requires three AAA batteries – not included)

Steam Sets

Our two steam-powered sets, 6-81286 Lionel Junction and 6-81287 Union Pacific, include all of the following:


6-81287 Lionel Junction Union Pacific Set

  • “Kickapoo” steam locomotive with
    • LionChief Remote control
    • Powerful maintenance-free motor
    • Steam engine sounds and user-activated whistle, bell and special announcements
    • Separately applied bell and whistle details
    • Fixed couplers
    • Traction Tire
    • Stamped metal frame
    • Sturdy plastic construction
  • Boxcar
  • Gondola
  • Bobber Caboose
    • All cars feature metal wheels and fixed couplers
  • Circle (approx. 40″ outside diameter) of FasTrack
  • Wall Pack plug-in power supply
  • Remote Control (requires three AAA batteries – not included)

Each set has a retail price of $174.95. There has never been a better time to get started with Lionel Trains! See your favorite dealer to place orders today.

New Product Spotlight – Introducing LionChief Plus

3 02 2014

Our soon-to-be-released 2014 Signature Catalog will bring the next evolution of our LionChief™ Remote Control system with five new locomotives equipped with this versatile control. What is LionChief™ Plus and how is it different from LionChief™, Conventional or Command Control? We’ve already had lots of questions on the subject so before we look at the new locomotives themselves, let’s take a few minutes to talk about the different systems and what they have to offer.

Conventional Control


The CW-80 is the most common transformer in our Conventional starter sets today.

Conventional control is the way we’ve powered our trains since the very beginning. A transformer supplies variable AC power to the track. By adjusting the voltage using the lever on the transformer, you control the train’s speed.

Over the years we’ve added many features to our conventional locomotives including working whistles, bells and other effects. But the control of the trains remains at the transformer. And while you can wire your railroad with “blocks” to run more than one train at once, you still need one transformer per train.

Command Control

Lionel broke new ground when we launched our first Command Control system, TMCC™, in 1995. With TMCC you could finally control multiple trains from one controller, or cab. And that cab was wireless so you could go anywhere in the room and follow your trains. Command control uses a constant AC power on the rails and sends specific coded electrical commands to the locomotives to control their movement and many other functions.


LEGACY offers the most complete control systems possible for your model trains.

To enable operators to control more than one train at once without the need for blocks and multiple transformers, each Command locomotive must be programmed with an address. The commands to speed up, stop, reverse, etc. are all preceded by that address so that only the locomotive you want to operate will respond.

TMCC™ evolved into LEGACY™ bringing even more extra features and finer control to the trains. For a locomotive to respond to the commands it must be equipped with a special receiver which can interpret the signals from the cab. A LEGACY™ equipped locomotive can run on conventional layouts as well, and the LEGACY™ system is designed to allow the option to control a conventional locomotive. For more on Command Control see our Wiring Your Layout pages.

LEGACY™ remains our finest control system for our premier line of products.


In 2013 we introduced the LionChief™ Remote Control system in new Ready-to-Run sets. LionChief™ isn’t Conventional control or Command Control – it’s radio control.

preproduction sample

Our radio control options began with our Thomas the Tank Engine set. Like LionChief, easy and reliable operation is at the heart of this design.

Like Command Control, LionChief™ uses a constant 18 Volts on the rails – only this time the wall-pack produces DC. But unlike TMCC™ or LEGACY™, the commands which tell the locomotive to go, stop, whistle, etc. don’t come through the rails; with LionChief™ they are sent via radio signals from the hand-held remote. And unlike command control, there are no locomotive addresses to program. Each locomotive has its own pre-programmed remote controller.

Because it only needs to see 18V of DC or AC power to operate, a LionChief™ locomotive can be run on any LionChief™, Conventional or Command Control powered layout. Just put 18V on the rails and use the remote control to run the train.

And you can run more than one LionChief™ train on the same track at the same time without blocks. On Command layouts, you can run multiple LionChief™ locomotives and command equipped locomotives together on the same track without any extra wiring. When running with a Conventional transformer, a conventional train won’t run with the LionChief™ locomotive(s) without wiring blocks – the same limitations you would face for controlling multiple conventional locomotives still apply. You can run more than one LionChief™ locomotive at once with a conventional power supply.

LionChief™ Plus

The new LionChief™ Plus system is designed to give you all of the control options of LionChief™ PLUS the ability to run the locomotive via your conventional transformer as well. Now you can run the locomotive on any layout (Conventional, LionChief™, TMCC™, LEGACY™ – even competitors’ control systems) with your LionChief™ Remote, or flip a switch on the locomotive and run it as a conventional model.


LionChief Plus locomotives will use the LionChief remote or a conventional transformer.

Our new LionChief™ Plus locomotives have more than just this added control option however. The LionChief™ system was designed to make operating model trains as easy as possible – no wires, no programming, self-explanatory controls, lots of fun in the palm of your hand. With LionChief™ Plus we’ve added many of the features found in higher end locomotives. These are a transition between an entry-level set and a high-end LEGACY™ model.

In addition to more detail on the locomotives, you’ll see features like working electro-couplers, improved sound and smoke, and Odyssey speed control. LionChief™ Plus is designed to give you complete control, exciting operation, an introduction into the many options available in model railroading and all a price point a lot more manageable than our premier products.

We think once you see what LionChief™ Plus can do you’ll be as excited as we are about these new trains. After testing preproduction samples of the Hudson and Pacific, we shot a little video to show the sound and power of these locomotives. Our Pacific handled a train of 25 scale freight cars plus the caboose up a FasTrack grade without any hesitation. If you like smoke, you’ll love LionChief Plus! Unfortunately it doesn’t show up well against the light gray walls of our test layout room, but take our word for it, these locomotives can put out quite the cloud.

See the videos here:  LionChief Plus Sounds  LionChief Plus Power!

Next week we’ll spotlight the new Hudsons here on the blog and go into greater detail on all of their special features. Stay tuned!