Train Sets… Kids love them and they make perfect gifts for birthdays and holidays.
One of the best gifts for kids aged 6 to 16 is a train set. However, there are lots of trains for kids on the market today. While there are some sets that are better than the others, the best kids train set is something that suits your children. Below are some tips that can help you decide on what to buy for your kids. Train sets for kids are also great vehicles (lol, see what i did there?) for developing imagination, fine motor skills, mechanical understanding, sharing and problem solving. With all of that going on, seems like train sets for kids make a perfect go to gift.
But just like anything else, there are about a million different train sets for kids out there.
- What are the best train sets for kids?
- Should I just do a kids electric train toy or is a high quality model train the way to go?
- Should I just get any old train set or is there a reason I should get one of the better sets?
Well, Good News!
On this page are my recommendations on starting right with train sets for kids along with some reasoning behind why I picked that set or item specifically. As a former kid, I am an expert on the topic of playing with trains. I now share that vast experience with you parents so that your kids get a train set they can grow with.
Growing up, my brothers and I lucked out as our parents and grandparents knew a little about train sets for kids and what separates models from toys.
From a young age we always had some trains to play with. To this day I can remember playing with BRIO kids wooden train set long before I was old enough for a full electric train set. Even these little wooden trains were high quality sets that were able to easily withstand the abuse of three crazy brothers. That’s one of the first things to note in this adventure.
One of the biggest differences in kids train sets is the quality.
The quality of electric train sets for kids run from supper cheap plastic things that might last through Christmas day to full model grade units that allow for doing full layouts and let the creative vision of the builder come through. If this is the first train set you are buying for your kids, or you are unsure how “in to” trains they will be in the long run, then starting with a kids train set is perfect. Just beware…..
Don’t waste money on train sets that wont grow with your kids interest.
Things like an interest in trains are capable of following your kids for years. Starting your little engineers off with top quality collectibles sets these apart from mere toys and means that they can continue to add on to their collections year after year. The key, is quality and compatibility. There are many train sets for kids that are economical and durable but how can you be sure the train cars, figurines, buildings and other things are going to be compatible with stuff later if the interest blossoms into a full hobby.
The secret is in the track.
Well, really it’s not so much the track as it is the scale and type of drive mechanism. Without getting to technical, there are basically two types of trains.
- Train sets that power themselves with internal batteries
- These are the beginner sets and much simpler to use.
- Great for younger children just starting
- Hard on batteries. Limited play time.
- Train sets that draw power directly from the track.
- No more batteries
- Locomotives have more power and can haul more cars
- Hobby grade kits and sets
In the past, train sets are usually powered by a basic power pack. The power pack provides the power for a single train and some accessories. It allows you to control the direction and the speed, although the speed control was not accurate.
Over time, power supplies have become more reliable. They are no longer limited to high-end trains for kids. However, it should be noted that most controllers today can only power a single train at a time.
For older kids, you might want to consider buying them a Christmas train set with a digital command control or DCC. It allows users to control several trains at a time with minimum layout wiring. It also provides better speed control, operations, and sounds.
Keep it all the same scale so you can ad on over time.
Train sets come in different scales. The good news is that different manufacturer offers different train scales. This allows you to mix and match trains from different sets as long as they have the same scale.
When it comes to trains for kids, choose sets with the G Scale. They are 1:22.5, which is four times bigger than the HO scale trains. They have the right size that your kids will enjoy. G scale trains are also designed or both indoor and outdoor use. Your kids can set up the train tracks in the yard, garden or in the living room.
The best thing about G scale trains for kids is that they are simple and easy to assemble. You can connect tracks without any tools. The electrical parts are color-coded so that you will not make any mistakes in connecting them.
Choosing and sticking with a scale from the start means most everything will work as you add to it year after year. I recommend G-Scale train sets. This is the type of size you usually see around a Christmas tree or even outside in the garden. That’s the other reason I love G-Scale. Its kind indoor or outdoor. I go into more detail on the different ways to “play” with g-scale train sets Here. Check it out!
Great starter train sets for kids!
To start out, im going to recommend a couple full train sets for kids. These include track and train and are the appropriate scale to still be used later on. If your kids are already engineers in training, you might want to skip to the next part where the recommendations are more oriented to the budding hobbyist.
This set checks off a few of the must have features I look for in a train set. Mainly i like the metal track and separate power supply. This is how the “big boy train sets” work. (It also means you wont run through batteries). It also has a great look to it. This looks like a real train so later on, when other cars are added these wont look out of place.
Other highlights of this Train Set include:
- Complete Ready To Run Train Set
- 4-6-0 steam locomotive, with operating headlight, smoke, and speed-
- synchronized sound
- Includes: stock car, and bobber caboose <– Gotta have a caboose!
- 5’4″ x 4’3″ oval of track
- Complete ready to run train set
You can learn more about this set and purchase it here:
If you don’t mind a themed train set and want to save a couple bucks, this set might be just the ticket. This Christmas themed Ready to Run train set still comes with the all important metal track and power supply configuration and even comes with a little Santa looking for a ride.
- 4-6-0 steam locomotive
- Operating headlight smoke and speed-synchronized sound
- Gondola and bobber caboose with Santa figure
- 5’4″ x 4’3″ oval of track
- Power pack and speed controller
You can learn more about this set and purchase it here:
There are a ton of little extras you can look into to up the fun factor but nothing is easier than adding track. Most startup kits come with a basic oval track layout. This is enough to start with, but pretty soon your kids are going to want to stretch out their runs a little bit. Maybe loop behind the couch and back!
It is important that you do invest in additional track pieces after you give your kid a train set.
However, it is not recommended to buy switches yet, especially when you have little kids. You should stick with curves, straights and simple crossovers. Curves of different radii will provide them basic concepts of geometry. It will also give help improve their problem-solving skills while laying out the tracks of the kids train set
For the trains listed above, you need Bachmann track. You can get more track here!
The Best Train Sets for Kids!
Now, lets talk about some serious train sets for kids! These sets are made by LGB. They can be a little pricey however the quality is well worth it. Our LGB train sets growing up lasted through everything we could throw at them including being run all day long in an outdoor for a Railroad Garden. Long story short… These are the best of the best.
LGB train sets are perfect starting train sets for kids with a pretty high level of interest. If your little engineers look to be making a a long term hobby out of this, then consider the LGB collection. These trains will last for years. Ours are still running! In fact, this is the exact locomotive we grew up with, except ours was all black and red! One of the great things about LGB trains is the detail they put into them.
This set includes all the main things and even a few extras.
- Stainz Engine w/Lights, Sound and Smoke
- Ballast Car, Flat Car w/Removable Vehicle (may be different than shown) and
- Train Crew Figures
- 12 pieces of LGB curved track (makes a 51 inch circle)
- Transformer, Track Power Cable, Everything You Need to Run Out of the Box!
- Quality G Scale Train Set MADE IN HUNGARY!
This is the only “Set” I recommend at this point. There are a couple other sets from LGB with the same locomotive and other cars, but I think this one is the best. Once you have the basics covered, you can add on to the set as much as you want!
These are a few recommendations to consider for initial upgrades.
- 12 Pieces of LGB “2 Foot” Straight Track (23.6″ each)
- Quality Brass Rail and Plastic Ties, Made for Indoor and Outdoor Use
- Compatible with other G Scale Manufactures Track (Piko, Aristo Craft, USA
- Trains, etc)
- Each piece equal to 2 of LGB’s 10000 Straight Track
- Made in Hungary
- LGB’s basic, R1 curve, which is the same curved track found in LGB Starter Sets.
- 12 Pieces of this R1 curve forms a 1290 mm (50.8 in) diameter circle
- Suitable for use indoors and out.
- Made in Hungary
Station Track Set
This little train track kit comes with a selection of pieces to add a switching side track to your main line.
- For indoor and outdoor use
- German-quality craftsmanship
- G-Scale Model
- Allows to trains to pass each other on your layout
- Allows locomotive to be switched from end of the train to the other
And the Sky is the limit from there!!
LGB offers one of the coolest collections of locomotives and cars. While some can be dauntingly expensive, like this $1000 diesel locomotive, there are many options available to add to the collection over time.
- The model is painted and lettered prototypically in the colors of the famous red cars of the Pacific Electric in Los Angeles
- All of the wheel sets are driven by two powerful Buhler motors
- The car has interior lights and headlights that change over with the direction of travel
- The doors can be opened and the steps fold out.
- Length 21-5/8″
- The doors on the caboose can be opened.
- The model has metal wheel sets, 2 of them with ball bearings for electrical pickup for the interior lighting and the lighted marker lights
- A sheet of stickers with names and car numbers for the railroads Union Pacific, Santa Fa, Southern Pacific, Pennsylvania Railroad, and New York Central is included
- Length 49 cm / 19-5/16
That pretty much sums up the basics for a great starter kids train set. By choosing the right kids train set, your kids will have plenty of fun assembling and playing with it. Just follow the tips above, and you will surely find the perfect train for kids and the entire family.
I have other information on this site about train sets and i encourage you to browse. You might get some new ideas!
Thanks for stopping by, i hope this was helpful!