Richard Hanger

Best Electric Train Set Brands


Ahoy, fellow train enthusiasts! 🚂 If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent countless hours daydreaming about the perfect electric train set.

Well, dream no more! After extensive research, hands-on testing, and a few cups of strong coffee, I’ve compiled a list of the crème de la crème of electric train set brands.

Buckle up, and let’s embark on this electrifying journey together.

Top Electric Train Set Brands

Before we dive into the brands, let’s address the elephant in the room. Electric train sets are not just a child’s plaything. They’re a gateway to the fascinating world of model railroading.

As our friends at ModelTrainStuff aptly put it, electric train sets are often the best way to initiate this hobby and sometimes the only way to obtain specific models or brands.

So, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned collector, there’s a train set out there with your name on it. Let’s explore the faves:

1. Lionel: The Granddaddy of Electric Trains

  • Why We Love It: Lionel is like that vintage wine – it only gets better with age. Their Polar Express set? Pure magic! It’s like Christmas morning every time you set it up.
  • Fun Fact: Did you know Lionel has been chugging along since the early 1900s? Talk about standing the test of time!

2. Bachmann: Quality on a Budget

  • Why We Love It: Bachmann proves that you don’t need to break the bank for quality. Their classic steam engines are a hit at every family gathering.
  • Pro Tip: If you’re just starting out, Bachmann is your best bet. Affordable, durable, and oh-so-classy!

3. Hornby: The British Invasion

  • Why We Love It: Ah, Hornby, the pride of Britain! Their Flying Scotsman set is a work of art. It’s like having a piece of British history right in your living room.
  • Did You Know?: Hornby has been in the game for over a century. Talk about longevity!

4. Märklin: German Engineering at Its Finest

  • Why We Love It: Märklin’s ICE 3 high-speed train set is a marvel. The attention to detail? Chef’s kiss.
  • Fun Fact: Märklin has been around since the 1800s. They’re basically the OGs of electric train sets.

5. Kato USA: The Japanese Jewel

  • Why We Love It: Kato USA is like the sushi of the train world – meticulously crafted, smooth, and an absolute delight. Their N scale Amtrak Superliner set? It’s like Tokyo’s bullet train shrunk down to fit in your living room!
  • Deep Dive: Established in 1986, Kato USA has been churning out precision railroad models that are a hit with both beginners and seasoned collectors. Their first U.S. locomotive model, the GP38-2 in N-Scale, was released in 1987, and they’ve been on a roll ever since. And if you’re looking to start your own N scale model railroad, Kato’s got you covered with their comprehensive starter sets.

6. WalthersProto: The American Dream

  • Why We Love It: WalthersProto is like that classic American diner – it’s all about detail, realism, and a touch of nostalgia. Their Milwaukee Road Hiawatha set? It’s like a time machine taking you back to the golden age of rail travel.

7. Atlas Model Railroad Company: Crafting Dreams

  • Why We Love It: Atlas is the unsung hero of the electric train world. Their HO scale Master Line Trainman GP38-2 set? It’s a masterpiece that showcases their commitment to detail and realism.

8. LGB: The German Giant

  • Why We Love It: LGB is all about grandeur. Their G-scale electric train sets are robust, durable, and oh-so-realistic. And their Christmas train set? It’s like Santa’s personal express delivering joy to every home!

9. Rivarossi: The Italian Maestro

  • Why We Love It: Ah, Rivarossi, where Italian craftsmanship meets the world of trains. Their HO scale 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotive set is a testament to their attention to detail and passion for perfection.

10. Athearn: The American All-Star

  • Why We Love It: Athearn is like that all-American athlete – strong, durable, and always on top of their game. Their HO scale Union Pacific Challenger set? It’s a beast that’s both powerful and beautiful.

A Global Perspective on Train Brands

While we’ve covered some fantastic brands, it’s worth noting that the love for trains is universal. According to Worldwide Rails, some of the best model train brands globally include Bachmann, Williams, Lionel, Athearn, Walthers, and Kato. So, if you’re looking to expand your collection with some international flair, these brands are worth checking out.

Bob Vila’s Two Cents

When the home improvement guru, Bob Vila, recommends something, you know it’s worth noting. The Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer Electric O Gauge Train Set has caught his eye for its combination of accessibility and ease of use. And if it’s good enough for Bob, it’s good enough for us.

Choosing Your Electric Train Set: A Quick Guide

Alright, folks, here’s the deal. Picking the perfect electric train set is like choosing the right kind of chocolate – it’s a deeply personal decision. But fear not! Here are some pro tips to guide you:

  • Budget: Let’s be real. We’d all love the Rolls Royce of train sets, but sometimes we’re on a Toyota budget. And that’s okay! Brands like Bachmann offer top-notch quality without the hefty price tag.
  • Interests: Are you a classic steam engine aficionado or a modern diesel train junkie? Choose a brand that aligns with your soul… or at least your interests.
  • Features: Some of us live for the sound and smoke effects (guilty as charged!). If that’s your jam, Lionel’s got your back.

Conclusion: The End of the Line

Phew! What a ride, right? Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned train collector, there’s a brand out there with your name on it. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. So, pick your brand, set up that track, and let the adventures begin!


  1. What scale should I choose for my electric train set?
  • The most common scales for electric train sets are HO and N scale. HO scale is 1:87 and N scale is 1:160. Consider your available space and desired level of detail when choosing a scale.
  1. What is the difference between a steam engine and a diesel train?
  • Steam engines are powered by steam generated by burning coal or oil, while diesel trains are powered by diesel fuel. Steam engines were commonly used in the past, while diesel trains are now the more common type of locomotive.
  1. Can electric train sets be used outdoors?
  • While some electric train sets are designed for outdoor use, most are not. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications before using your train set outdoors.
  1. How do I maintain my electric train set?
  • Regular cleaning and lubrication of the train’s components is essential for maintaining its performance. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for specific maintenance procedures.
  1. Can I customize my electric train set?
  • Yes, many brands offer a range of accessories and parts that allow you to customize your train set. Consider adding scenery, buildings, and other details to create a unique and personalized layout.