Is there anything better as a kid than waking up on Christmas morning, full of wonder and excitement for what Santa may have brought?
It’s hard to think of anything else that brings so much joy but even before the jubilation of Christmas morning, there is something that captures the imagination of countless children worldwide.
This is, of course, the Christmas model train set. This majestic set sits under the Christmas tree, going round and round, adding an element of fun to the festive atmosphere.
Where the idea of a train set being placed under a Christmas came from is a mystery to most. Thankfully, many loved the idea and it has become a very popular addition to Christmas decorations.
There are so many Christmas train sets out there for you to choose from. Many are detailed recreations from films such as The Polar Express or child-friendly toy trains your kids can actually play with.
If you haven’t jumped on this train set bandwagon just yet, you should start this year! With so many to choose from, it can be hard to narrow it down to just 5. Luckily, that is where we step in. We have delved through hundreds of options and chosen our top 5 picks of the best Christmas train sets so you don’t have to.
Our pros and cons lists, helpful buyer’s guide, and FAQs section to send you in the direction of the best train set for you.
All aboard! Time to check out our top picks!
As you can see above, Christmas train sets come in all shapes and sizes. There are numerous features that are unique to every model train set with some offering Bluetooth technologies while others are more traditional with the use of remote controls.
There are various factors you need to consider before buying a Christmas train set, as these can determine the quality and durability of the set over time. Below are a few of the important features to look out for in Christmas train sets.
The size of the train
There are various scales of train sets and each is based on the size relative to a real railroad. These scales are N, HO, O, and G. Christmas train sets typically use the O scale as these are made primarily for running trains without a layout around the tracks. Measuring around 4-inches in height, you will need a larger layout for these sets but they often include much greater detail.
G scale train sets are another option. These are the tallest and largest-sized trains measuring around 6-inches to 8-inches tall. You need to ensure you have enough clearance so the train doesn’t come in contact with your tree.
Most Christmas train sets come with batteries that may need to be purchased separately. While these batteries are typically powerful, they can run out of juice quite quickly if the train is on the go constantly every day. It’s always a good idea to have a backup supply of batteries just in case.
If your train set comes with a transformer, this is usually only strong enough to power the locomotive alone and maybe a few attached cars. There are more powerful transformers available such as the DC power, DCC, and AC power models. These are typically only needed for larger train sets, however.
Many train sets use different devices to control the train. One may have a controller that connects directly to the power supply and needs to be fixed to the set while another may use a remote for you to control it anywhere.
The controller usually just switches the train on and off as well as controls the speed. Remotes tend to offer more features such as different sounds, steam, and certain directions the train can go depending on the track’s set up.
As we have mentioned, train sets vary in size depending on their scale. This is why you need to make sure you have enough space under your tree for your desired train set.
The last thing you want is to unwrap your set only to find you have nowhere to put it. It is recommended you read the dimensions of the railway set as well as the floor around your tree.
If you want to go full out and make your train set as realistic as possible, you can opt for additional accessories. These can help make your railway more realistic and come magically to life.
There are numerous accessories on the market such as different characters (train conductors, police officers, and passengers) and different cars (locomotives, boxcars, and passenger cars). You could even opt for some wintry scenery behind the train set to add that extra holiday atmosphere.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are trains associated with the Christmas season?
There isn’t a definitive answer to this question but one reason could be the sense that the train represents families returning home to see their loved ones at Christmas.
Trains were the most common type of transport when toy trains began to become popular so many understood how long train journeys felt.
This feeling eventually translated into toy trains and train sets. Also, Thomas and Friends, the Hogwarts Express, and the Polar Express have romanticized the ideas of trains and helped them become ever more popular amongst children and adults.
Why are trains set up to go around a Christmas tree?
Yet again, there is no definitive answer here. It is believed that it began at the dawn of the 20th century when Lionel first manufactured toy trains.
These soon became a very popular gift amongst children and families. Children understood trains more than automobiles at this point so assembling a simple circular track around the tree on Christmas morning became a popular activity and has become ever more popular over the years.