Lionel Polar Express Train Set - O or G Gauge which to choose

by lobobrandon

Lionel Polar Express Train Sets are either the O-gauge or G-Gauge type. What’s the difference between them? And how do you decide which one is the best? Read on to know

Lionel Trains are by far one of the best manufacturers of toy trains for people of all ages and not just kids. Toy trains are a hobby to some whereas it’s just a game to kids. Lionel was always popular among train lovers.

But It was these very trains that have exposed the brilliance of this amazing manufacturer to the world - Lionel Polar Express Trains were a real jackpot.

The release of their O Gauge Electric Polar Express Train and the later release of a cheaper version known as the G Gauge Electric Polar Express train were quick to catch on – kids as well as grownups just loved it!

These trains make perfect gifts for kids and grownups; not just during the Christmas season but all thought the year – including Birthdays. But, if you’re not train-savvy, you would definitely want to know the difference between the O-Gauge and G-Gauge Lionel Polar Express Train sets. Let’s take a look at them in detail.

Lionel Polar Express Train Set – O Gauge

This was the first in the series to be released into the market, it was a bit on the higher side and not everyone would be willing to spend that much for a toy train. But, this isn’t a toy – it’s much more!

It’s a genuine electric train set and is capable of running along with your other O-Gauge train sets. It also puffs up smoke as it chugs along the track – isn’t that cool? I’m sure everyone who sees it run is going to just love it.

It runs like a perfect steam train and the whistle too is up to the mark – a perfect 10! This train consists of three passenger cars initially, each of them boasting of interior lighting and the passengers are silhouetted in the windows. These lights give the train a dazzling look in the dark – switch off your lights and check it out.

Lionel Trains Polar Express Train Set - O Gauge

Lionel Trains Polar Express Train Set - O Gauge
Lionel LLC
Only $291.47

What’s the age group that the O-Gauge model is built for?

If your child is capable of handling electric toys, then s/he would be able to use this train as well. Usually the age group is specified to be 7 and above for the O-Gauge model.

The good thing about model train sets is the fact that there’s no upper age limit, you can enjoy them for life.

If your child loves trains, there’s no better gift than the O-Gauge Lionel Polar Express Train Set. But, since it’s an expensive gift; before you buy it, make sure to ask your child if s/he’d want it or prefer something else.

Buy Tracks for the Lionel Polar Express O-Gauge Train Set

Lionel FasTrack 10 Straight Track 4-pack
$19.99  $19.19
Lionel FasTrack O36 Curve Track 4-Pack
$18.74  $17.13

Functioning on the O-Gauge Train

As already mentioned, the O-Gauge train is an electric train and the locomotive parts are made up of die-cast metal. The tracks are standard Lionel tracks made up of metal as well – hence the train is strong and has a long life.

When you buy the train set, the track includes pieces that form a 60”X40” oval. You could always buy extra tracks if you want to increase the length and modify the shape of the track.

The set comes along with a control pack consisting of the buttons used to operate the whistle and bell. There’s a strong throttle on the right of this control pack so that you can easily control the train. 

Add life to the tracks with additional figures

Lionel Polar Express Add On Figures
$29.88  $26.99
O Polar Express Figures #1 (4)
$29.47  $49.99

Merchandise on Zazzle

Great for gifts and they're cheap

Lionel Polar Express Train Set – G Gauge

Unlike the O-Gauge polar express train set, the G-Gauge set is made up of plastic as it would then be lighter for younger kids to play safely. The locomotive body as well as tracks is completely plastic. Another major difference between the two is the fact that the G- Gauge Lionel Polar Express Train Set is run on a battery, not electricity. That’s the reason this model is a lot cheaper as well.

Lionel Polar Express Train Set - G-Gauge

Lionel Polar Express Train Set - G-Gauge
Only $149.95

What’s the age group that the G-Gauge model is built for?

As per the pack, it says that children below three years aren’t supposed to play with it; I guess it’s because of the batteries and other parts that they may put into their mouth. However, any age above 3 would love this train as it makes a great toy – it’s nearly as good as the electric model.

Buy Tracks for the Lionel Polar Express G-Gauge Train Set

Lionel Add On Track Pack Curved
Only $35.99
Lionel G Gauge Track Packs

Functioning on the G-Gauge Train

You don’t need to buy anything separately, as everything you’d need is included in the box itself. You’d find 6 C size batteries for the locomotive and 2 AA’s for the functioning of the RC Controller. If you want to use a rechargeable you could always buy a 9.6v rechargeable to replace the C’s.

The train makes amazing steam train sounds, kids love it! The Bell and whistle is pretty amazing as well. In addition to these amazing features, the train also possesses opening doors and a disappearing hobo – a cool surprise for kids.

In this case the track assembles to make up an oval of around 72”X55”. Just like the other model, you could always buy G-gauge track parts to increase the length of the track. 

Rechargeable Battery along with Charger

Combo: 2 pcs Tenergy 9.6V 2000mAh NiMH High Capacity Battery Packs ...
Only $35.99

A Cheaper Alternative - Lionel Little Lines Polar Express Train Set

It is a Lionel Polar Express Train Set with a difference

Unlike the O-Gauge and G-Gauge Lionel Polar Express Train Sets, the Little lines polar express is a lot cheaper and affordable as well. However, you should note that this train set doesn't come along with batteries and you'd have to buy them separately.

It's a Play-set for children above 3 years and not of high enough class for the Pro Collectors. Nonetheless it's one of the most popular Lionel train sets among the Polar Series. 

You'll find a complete layout of all the track pieces as well as switches, a cool suspension bridge as well as stone arches - this is something you won't find in the other models. The train too is built to detail and it's a steam engine. 

The train can move both forward as well as in the reverse direction, your child can control this movement using a remote controller. The train sounds are amazing and the detail put into them is unbelievable, almost as good as the expensive sets. 

An Alternative - From Fisher-Price - The North Pole Express

Fisher Price is popular the world around for its amazing games and toys, here's another one

If you find the Lionel trains either too expensive or classy for your kids to handle; then, the North Pole Express would be a perfect alternative. The price range for this amazing set is around 2-7 years.

You may wonder - "Why is this the perfect choice for kids?There's a reason behind it though: This train set is really easy to assemble, just let the kids unwrap it and they'll get busy - the tiny engineers that they are

The train has both forward and reverse controls; and, as it chugs along, rather than the usual Choo! Choo! it would be playing a jingling holiday tone. It's a steam engine and it moves like one, up the hill and to the mountain. 

There's a crane as well for the operator (your child) to pick up cargo and place on the train. The set comes along with everything you need in order to get started. There are a total of  6 'AAA' batteries - 3 each for the train and controller. 

This train would keep your kids busy not for a few days but for a long time - no worries as you'd be free to complete your own work rather than keep an eye on them all the time. Use a rechargeable battery as using them is a lot cheaper. 

You may also want to check out the article I wrote about Lionel - Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Train Sets

No matter which train you choose, be it the Fisher Price Train Set, the Lionel Polar Express Train Set, or any other model; your child is surely going to love it. So, choose what you think would be the best.

Updated: 11/20/2012, lobobrandon
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lobobrandon on 06/23/2012

Yup, especially the electric O-Gauge model

AgingandDisability on 06/23/2012

Any kid or adult into trains will love this.

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