New Product Spotlight – LionChief Plus Diesels

12 05 2014

Lionel’s new LionChief Plus steam locomotives have quickly earned a reputation for their power, features and easy operation. Soon diesel fans will have comparable choices for their railroads as well! The new LionChief Plus GP-7 and RS-3 will offer amazing performance and value on two of the most common early road-switcher locomotives.

Prototype History


LionChief Plus RS-3 pre-production sample.

In the 1940s, a new type of diesel locomotive was coming to the rails. Alco was the first to introduce the “road switcher” with its RS-1 model in 1941. The locomotive was essentially a stretched switcher with a small hood added to the back of the cab and larger trucks. The short hood offered room for a steam generator or dynamic brakes.

The new road switcher was a true jack-of-all-trades, capable of handling freight or passenger trains on the mainline, branch lines or in the yard. The narrow hoods offered better visibility from the cab in either direction and easier access for maintenance. Although few could have predicted it in 1941, the basic standard for the future of the diesel locomotive had been born.


LionChief Plus GP7 pre-production sample

EMD countered the RS-1 with its “General Purpose” GP7 in 1949. The new “Geeps” were just what the railroads needed to replace their steam locomotives and orders were strong. In 1950 Alco unveiled their third version, the RS-3. EMD’s updated GP9 came in 1954. Together, the new road switchers made it possible for railroads to replace nearly all of their steam locomotives by the end of the decade. While EMD greatly outsold the competition, both models have maintained a good reputation and many examples of each can still be found at work today.


6-38779 New York Central RS-3

LionChief Plus Locomotives

Like the prototypes, the new LionChief Plus diesels should be the perfect fit on many railroads – though thankfully in our world there is no need to retire your steam!

With its LionChief™ Remote they can run on layouts powered by the LionChief™ wall pack, a conventional transformer (set to 18V) or a Command Control system. Flip a switch on the locomotive and you can run it conventionally with a transformer as well. (For more information on the LionChief™ Plus control system and how it relates to others, see this earlier blog.)


6-38827 Burlington GP7

It’s not just the control system that sets the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives apart. Like the LionChief Plus steam locomotives, these new diesels are excellent pullers. Our test samples had no trouble taking 35 scale freight cars on our layout, including up a FasTrack grade.

These new diesels are packed with features including:

  • User selected operation – Conventional AC transformer control or LionChief™ Wireless Remote (included)

    DRGW RS-3

    6-38819 Rio Grande RS-3

  • RailSounds RC™ with diesel revving and background sounds, horn, bell and user activated announcements
  • Fan-driven smoke operates low at idle and increases when the locomotive is in motion
  • Speed Control maintains a constant speed on curves and grades automatically
  • ElectroCouplers on each end controlled by the remote
  • Operating headlights

    UP GP7

    6-38825 Union Pacific GP7

  • Maintenance-free motors
  • Die-cast pilots and trucks
  • Stamped metal frame
  • Lighted cab interior
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • Traction Tires

The LionChief™ Plus RS-3 will be available in Chicago and Northwestern, Denver and Rio Grande, New York Central and Pennsylvania.


6-38824 Northern Pacific GP7

The GP7 will come decorated for the Burlington, Northern Pacific, Santa Fe and Union Pacific. The LionChief remote is preprogrammed specifically for each locomotive. You can have one of each on your layout – or any number of the other LionChief™ or LionChief™ Plus locomotives – without a signal conflict.

The new locomotives will retail for $329.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order today. The diesels should be available by mid Summer.


New Product Spotlight – BNSF Heritage Units

17 09 2012

Norfolk Southern’s Heritage Unit have certainly captured the spotlight this year! And our forthcoming models are no exception. And all of this buzz has prompted many to ask, “Will CSX and BNSF follow?” Well we don’t know either, but we sure can dream. Now you can share that vision with our renditions of what a BNSF Heritage fleet might look like on the SD70ACe.

Burlington Northern

6-38741 Burlington Northern

The six locomotives pay fitting tribute to some of the most famous of BNSF’s predecessors. Of course you have the Burlington Northern and the Santa Fe. We’ve also included the classic fallen flags of the Burlington, Frisco, Great Northern and Northern Pacific. All of the locomotives feature colors and styling that captures the classic look of the original lines with a splash of modern style to fit the angles of the SD70ACe. These will look good alongside your other BNSF equipment, or pooled with the many other Heritage units we’ve produced.


6-38750 EMD Demonstrator

Looking for color without the heritage? We’ve also got the SD70ACe Demonstrator included in this run. The new locomotive was EMD’s ambassador and sales representative to railroads all across the continent, now you can bring it to yours. Note that we are only offering the one road number in a powered model for the demonstrator.

Santa Fe

6-38735 Santa Fe

Each of the schemes is presented in three road numbers – two LEGACY-equipped powered units and one non-powered. You can build your fantasy consist as large as you’d like to power any train – whether it’s crossing the Montana Rockies or the Arizona deserts. Each of the powered locomotives features:

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional control layouts
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On / Off switch
  • Great Northern

    9-38744 Great Northern

    LEGACY RailSounds including

    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Official railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn
    • Bell (single hit and continuous)
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
    • Refueling sounds
  • Northern Pacifc

    6-38747 Northern Pacific

    Dual maintenance-free motors

  • Traction Control
  • Refined Conventional Control mode with lower starting speeds
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Fan-driven smoke with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting
  • Marker Lights
  • Illuminated Number Boards


    6-38738 Frisco

  • Oscillating Ditch Lights
  • Working Ground Lights
  • Lighted cab interior with crew
  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • MSRP: $529.99

Non-powered models feature:


6-38732 Burlington

  • Metal frame, trucks, pilot and couplers
  • Front and rear magnetic couplers
  • Select separately applied details
  • MSRP: $259.99

All of the locomotives will negotiate an O-31 curve and will be pulling into your dealers very soon. Who knows – maybe the prototype will follow suit soon too?

New Product Spotlight – LEGACY GP-9s

25 06 2012

Through the history of railroading, there are few locomotives that can stand up with the GP-9 for its longevity, versatility and impact on the industry. Perfect in their simplicity, these locomotives could be found just about everywhere.

Santa Fe

6-38579 Santa Fe

The GP-9, and its immediate predecessor the GP-7, were not the first of the “road-switcher” design locomotives, they didn’t introduce a new diesel engine or other ground-breaking technology, and their styling was such that even EMD didn’t expect these utilitarian locomotives to sell. In fact, the simple no-frills locomotive was exactly what the railroads were looking for.

While the move to replace steam began well before the “Geep” was designed, it was these locomotives more than any other that drove the final nail. The GP was everything a steam locomotive was not. It was a versatile locomotive, capable of handling just about any assignment given. Unlike steam locomotives that were specifically tailored to a specific operation or even a specific operating territory, the GPs performed equally well as freight, passenger and switch engines in mountains, across the plains or shuttling around urban yards.

Great Northern

6-34664 Great Northern

The new locomotives were also efficient. The simple design made maintenance much easier on a locomotive that was already miles ahead of its steam counterparts. Multiple units could be coupled together and operated as one, increasing both the versatility and efficiency. Operating cost fell quickly as railroads replaced remaining steam locomotives with new Geeps.


6-34666 Louisville and Nashville

Although style was not a prime consideration in its design, by their numbers and longevity, the GP-9 has become one of the most recognizable faces in railroading. And while to those who watched these ubiquitous diesels replace beloved steam, they “all looked the same,” there was a surprising amount of variety in the basic Geep. EMD and GMD built 4,095 GP-9s and many enjoyed exceptionally long careers, being rebuilt numerous times. You can still find these landmark locomotives in service today on shortlines, regional railroads and industrial sites.


Rock Island

6-34662 Rock Island

In our latest release of this popular model, we’ve tried to capture some of the many variations in details on these locomotives, and some paint schemes that haven’t been offered in the past. Details like exhaust stacks, bells, horns, dynamic brakes and winterization covers are all customized per road. Two powered and one non-powered models are available for each scheme. In addition to the roads shown here, Canadian National is also being offered, with one of the powered units as part of the Piggyback Set (6-11181).

LEGACY Powered GP-9s include:


6-34681 Union Pacific

  • LEGACY control – capable of running on TMCC and conventional as well
  • Odyssey II Speed Control for 2 Maintenance free motors with momentum flywheels
  • LEGACY Railsounds including
    • Crewtalk and TowerCom communications
    • Six official railroad speeds
    • Eight diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn along with appropriate warning sounds
    • Bell with single hit or continuous sounds
    • Sequence Control to narrate an entire trip
    • Fuel and speed announcements and refueling sounds


    6-34670 Chesapeake and Ohio

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Lighting Effects including
    • Directional LED headlight and back-up light
    • Marker lights front and rear
    • Number boards
    • Cab interior
  • Traction tires
  • Die cast metal pilot, trucks and fuel tank
  • Detailed cab interior with window glass and engineer and fireman figures
  • Loads of separately applied details
  • ElectroCouplers on front and rear
  • MSRP: $479.99

Non-Powered Locomotives Feature


6-34737 Northern Pacific

  • Die cast metal pilot, trucks and fuel tank
  • Select separately applied details
  • Magnetic couplers on front and rear
  • MSRP: $239.99

Available roadnames include: Rock Island, Louisville and Nashville, Great Northern, Chesapeake and Ohio, Northern Pacific, Union Pacific and Santa Fe. All locomotives will negotiate an O-31 curve. The GP-9s are at your dealers now! See more on our Customer Service Product Video.