Best Train Set Reviews 2018

Train sets are very entertaining, for kids and adults alike. Some companies have built entire businesses around manufacturing and marketing them. Due to the many options available, it has become difficult to select a train set to buy. We have researched extensively and have come up with five of the best train set brands. They come in different variants, but they’re all very entertaining. In the rare event you were not intrigued by any of the products we featured, these brands make other variants of train sets you can check out.
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Age
Design
Pieces
Material
Size
Our Top Choice
KidKraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set
KidKraft has been a leading global manufacturer of toys and furniture, allowing children to explore and expand their imaginations.
It is easy to assemble, and provides hours of fun and activities. It is well constructed and colorfully designed.
There are isolated complaints that the paints chip easily.
36 months - 3 years
Tabletop
120-piece set
T-molding and melamine
48.8 x 34.2 x 16 in; 57.3 lbs.
Best Value
Lionel Polar Express Train Set
Since the 1900s, Lionel has been making toy trains and original locomotive train models for children to play with, and as prototypes for real carrier trains.
It is detailed, well-made, not easy to derail and very easy to set up.
It is not compatible with other Lionel track systems.
4 - 15 years
Track
32-piece set
Plastic
24 x 6 x 18 in; 6 lbs.
Bachmann Rail Chief Train Set
Bachmann Trains has a commitment to quality and, for many years, has been creating award-winning lines of model railroad products.
Its headlight and taillights grow brighter with increasing speed. It has a high-quality power pack and wiring, and a realistically detailed finish.
The engine does not have a horn or whistle.
14 years and up
Track
130-piece set
Plastic
47 x 38 x 3 in; 6.9 lbs.
Melissa & Doug Wooden Railway Set
For several years, Melissa & Doug has been making collections of toys of different types that stimulate a child’s creativity and imagination.
It is compatible with other wooden railway systems. It's made with hardwood, making it extra durable. It is easy to assemble and provides creative fun.
It derails easily if the train is pushed down the tracks too hard.
3 years and up
Table top
130-piece set
Wood; plastic
29.5 x 18.5 x 6 in; 22 lbs.
Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends TrackMaster
Fisher-Price is a world-renowned manufacturer of toys that appeal to children’s imaginations, as well as baby gear that always puts smiles on kids' faces.
It is easy to assemble and even easier to use. It works smoothly and is entertaining, even for adults. It comes with well-detailed instructions.
The bridge needs quite an effort to snap back in place.
36 months - 6 years
Track
22-piece set
Plastic
18 x 4 x 13 in; 3.5 lbs.

(Updated )
Related Reviews
Best Train Table
Best Kids Ball Pit
Best Toy Organizer
Best Doll House
Watch Our Train Set Review

How Do I Choose the Best Train Set?

Childhood is the period when kids become more aware of their senses and the various modes of interacting with the environment. This is when they need to be more active, mentally and physically. One of the best ways to engage your child in both ways simultaneously is with toys, such as bikes, a kid’s pool, or tablets. A train set is a great option, because of how much development it gives your child. Putting it together stimulates mental coordination. Monitoring the movement of the train enhances focus and concentration, and a sense of responsibility comes with ownership and control of a miniature version of a real-life system.

The best train sets are the ones that best combine "fun factor" and mental engagement. When you notice your child creating scenarios while playing with the train sets, then the set is adequately serving its purpose. It is simply stimulating your child’s imagination (where the best ideas come from).

A child’s primary job is to play. A parent’s job is to allow them to and make sure they do it safely. As a parent, we know you look for the safest toys to get your child. We also did part of that for you by considering only the safest train sets to play with in our review.
Price
You don’t need to break the bank for this one. But we also know you want to buy a very good train set for your child. The prices of train sets vary. This is largely due to the materials they are made from, the effects and technology the sets come with, and whether they are hand-made. For instance, a fully electric hand-made train set with remote control and sophisticated detailing will command premium price. We know every parent wants the best toys, with all the great options attached, for their children. But we also know an unfortunate fact of life: not every parent has bottomless pockets. So we considered train sets that are great buys and are reasonably priced.

You can find decent train sets for around $120, while some premium ones cost as much as $350. There are also some cheap train sets we came across while researching. But don’t get tempted by their price - there’s a good reason we categorized them as "cheap." Our review guides you towards only the best of train sets on the market, which will give you peace of mind.
Features
Train sets are a fun way to tickle your child’s imagination and help them develop. We help you make a choice that is guaranteed to give your child hours of engaging fun. These train sets are also certified for use by various safety boards. The following are features that make train sets great and distinctly fun to use:
  • Construction material
  • Durability
  • Scale
  • Ease of assembly and installation
  • Ease of use
  • Fun factor
  • Detailing and aesthetics
  • Overall quality
  • Compatibility and expansion
  • Rate of engagement and interaction
  • Safety standards
Construction and Design
The quality of a train set is a really important factor. They are made with tough materials, since they are designed to always move. There are sets made of plastic and there are some made of metal. Some train sets are made with bio-degradable or recyclable materials to ensure environmental responsibility, while some are made with wood. They are often packaged in individual parts, so that the end users will have to assemble the parts to form the train set.

The scale of a train set is its proportion in relation to the prototype or the real train it was modeled after. One importance of scale in train sets is compatibility. Train sets are designed to be compatible with pieces from another brand if they belong to the same scale. This is especially useful when you want to expand your train set, or just to add more variety to it. A Type N scale train has smaller layouts, making it more manageable, and it covers only a small area. O scale train sets are larger and are easier to handle. Enthusiasts might prefer the G scale for its outdoor potential. If you are buying for someone, it will be helpful to know which scale will be applicable for them.
Performance and Ease of Use
Most train sets are designed to be easily installed with minimal or no tool requirements. There are even some that can be assembled by the little one you bought them for. Some are themed after popular kids' movies, and others after legendary real-life trains, such as the Delaware and Hudson diesel and the Santa Fe Steam Engines. These train sets are made ready-to-run. Once the track is laid and the coaches are linked, the train is good to go. The track type also makes train sets easier to set up and use. The integrated roadbed track, which has a raised molded plastic base, is great for beginners. It provides a stable, realistic base and can be used on any type of floor.

These sets are also designed to mimic reality as much as possible. Some train sets have many pieces your child can place wherever they want, according to the scenario they are imagining. There are other sets that replicate life sounds. Some even simulate the smoke coming out the exhaust!

What is the Best Train Set?

With the level of creativity and technology today, train sets are no longer the simple toys they used to be. They’re now packed with many options and features, which in turn affect prices. Since you now know what you are looking for in train sets after reading our guide, let’s take a look at our individual product reviews for a choice that will be a balance between your requirements and budget.
Our Top Choice
The KidKraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set has over a hundred train set pieces, to give your children exciting fun creating different train track combinations with bridges and buildings. If you would like a train set without the table, get the KidKraft Bucket Top Mountain Train Set, which has the same quality and many engaging pieces.
KidKraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set and Table

KidKraft Train Set 17850


Features
KidKraft believes every child needs a good chance to explore and imagine, so it creates quality products that help kids discover their environment through engaging play. KidKraft acquired two companies that were already big in making children's backyard toys, ensuring a wider range of fun products on offer. KidKraft adopts a policy of merging the best quality with innovative designs, and is committed to inspiring and entertaining children all over the world.

The Waterfall Mountain Train Set (Suggested Retail Price: $159.99) has over one hundred train set pieces to give your children hours of exciting fun creating different train track combinations with trains, bridges, and buildings. The table is of adequate height for your child and is made of durable wood, with a sunken play area and a three-bin storage system to keep the pieces organized. Other features of this exciting train set include:
  • Detailed city artwork painted across the table
  • T-molded edges to prevent chipping
  • Screen-printed reversible play board
  • 1.5-inch lip on the table to keep toys from falling off
  • Sturdy and well-finished table
  • 120 quality pieces including a bridge, tunnel, gas station, helicopter, coaches, and buildings
Best Value
The Lionel Polar Express Train Set comes with a track system that allows your child to create the track layout as they want, giving them the freedom to express their creativity. If you would like a different design that costs a bit more but has the same great quality, check out the Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer Train Set - O-Gauge.
Lionel Polar Express Ready to Play Train Set

Lionel Train Set 711803


Features
Lionel is well-known as one of the oldest and trusted makers of die-cast prototypes of both vehicles and trains. Its unparalleled reputation is what made it the official die cast of NASCAR. It uses only the best resources for manufacturing its products. The detailing it infuses into its prototypes and toy trains is one of a kind, making them as close to the real thing as possible. Its figurines are also made and painted to perfection, allowing children to enjoy their make-believe imaginative plays.

The Lionel Polar Express Train Set (Suggested Retail Price: $89.95) comes with an exclusive track system that allows your child to arrange the track layout as they want, whether circular, oval or rectangular. The train uses 6 C-cell batteries (batteries not included), and 3 AAA batteries for the remote which lets the train go forward, sound whistle and make announcements. Some other features of this wonderful train set include:
  • 24 curved and eight straight plastic track pieces
  • The set includes observation car, passenger coach and remote control
  • Berkshire style locomotive design with working headlight
  • Authentic train sounds
  • Detailed passenger coach with fixed knuckle couplers
  • Ready-to-play design and easy to use
  • Comes with three train cars and a locomotive
The Bachmann Rail Chief Train Set is an electric train set that gives your child the reins to command and oversee a detailed railroad empire, providing hours of fun. A very good alternative that conforms to NMRA standards is the Bachmann Durango and Silverton Train Set, which is also HO scale and electric.
Bachmann Rail Chief Ready To Run Electric Train Set

Bachmann Train Set 706


Features
Bachmann was founded in 1833 by Henry Carlisle, to make handcrafted ivory accessories for the southern aristocracy. It later diversified into hair ornaments and umbrella handles before merging with a company owned by Henry G. Bachmann. Over time, the company has become one of the largest distributors of innovative designs of ready-to-run locomotive trains, tracks and accessories.

The Bachmann Rail Chief Train Set (Suggested Retail Price: $209) lets your child command and oversee a detailed railroad empire, complete with miniature people and a signal bridge. This gives kids hours of fully engaging fun while practicing to be the active entrepreneurs they can become. The following are some other features of this electric train set:
  • Comes with 12-piece curved track, one straight track, and one plug-in terminal rerailer
  • Body-mounted E-Z mate coupler
  • Power pack and speed controller
  • Powered by EMD GP40 diesel locomotive with working headlight
  • 36 miniature figures
  • HO scale train set with four coaches
  • Comes with detailed instructions
The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Set is a complete railway set that includes everything your budding railway enthusiast need to replicate the rail transport system. If you would prefer a more compact set with fewer pieces, you should consider the Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Figure Eight Train Set.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set with 100 Track Sections & Supports

Melissa & Doug Train Set 701


Features
Melissa & Doug was founded when the named individuals decided to go into business together, creating toys and playthings for children. The brand decided to focus on using wood to create its toys in numerous ways that provide fun and interactive activities for children. Its large collection of toys, which don’t just look good but are also creatively engaging, is designed for children of all ages, so no one is left out of the fun.

The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Set (Suggested Retail Price: $129.99) includes everything your budding railway enthusiast needs. It comes with easy-to-follow instructions for four different track configurations, providing your child with variety and lots of fun.

This amazing 130-piece train set includes a six-piece freight train with cargo, four-piece passenger train, and three-piece flat-bed truck with cargo. Both trains and truck have durable plastic wheels attached to the body with steel rivets. The truck lets your child replicate the logistics of moving cargo from train to truck, and then to neighborhood stores, with human figurines directing traffic in and out of the station.

This set also features two magnetized crane assemblies, a tower frame and an A-frame, with levers for loading cargo on and off the trains. It also comes with a suspension bridge, trestle bridge, a five-way switch, a roundhouse engine shed where the engines can park when not in use, several trees and road signs.

The tracks and trains are designed to be compatible with other wooden tracks, so you can easily match and mix them with other models you may already have for more intriguing fun. There are no electric or battery operated parts on this set, so kids can use pure creativity and imagination to run this rail system however they want to.
The Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends TrackMaster has a track layout that is over six feet lon,g with two separate tracks for head-to-head racing for fun and fast motorized racing action. If you would prefer a wooden train set with the same great quality, try out the Fisher-Price Thomas the Train Wooden Railway Set.
Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends TrackMaster - Thomas & Percy's Railway Race Set

Fisher-Price Train Set DFM53


Features
Fisher-Price's products are innovatively designed and carefully crafted to give both parents and their children comfort, safety, and fun. Its wide range of toys and baby products has dutifully served parents and kids alike for generations. This is a reason this brand is well trusted all over the world.

The Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends TrackMaster (Suggested Retail Price: $40) was inspired by the popular Thomas and Friends series children already love. It has a track layout that is over six feet long, with two separate tracks for racing. This set provides fun and fast-paced motorized racing action your children will definitely be excited about. The colorful design and movement of the pieces also help to enhance your child’s cognitive development. Following are some other great features of this wonderful train set:
  • Two brake tracks that allow you to start the trains at the same time
  • Connectable and expandable pieces, allowing your children to customize the layout
  • The bridge automatically moves apart, making way for speeding trains
  • Checkered flag appears to signal the first train to cross the finish line
  • Plastic fireworks pop up from the gantry to celebrate the winning train

Get the Best Train Set of 2018!

Now that you have the information you need to make an awesome choice, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and buy your kids their next best entertainment.

Our Top Choice
KidKraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set
Best Value
Lionel Polar Express Train Set
Bachmann Rail Chief Train Set
Melissa & Doug Wooden Railway Set
Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends TrackMaster