11 Best Train Sets For Kids in 2020

train sets for kids

One of my fondest memories as a kid was opening up a train set on Christmas morning, putting it together with my dad, and playing with trains all day until it was time to slice the Christmas roast later that evening. And in 2020, train sets for kids are even cooler than they were when I was a kid.

Below, you’ll find the ultimate buyer’s guide containing the best train sets for kids in 2020 from top brands like Lionel, Bachmann, and more.

Let’s get to it!

See Also: Christmas Train Sets

These Are the Best Train Sets for Kids

hogwarts train set Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Beautiful Harry Potter details
  • Free Bluetooth controls app
  • Plenty of sound effects and smoke
Price: $419.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
lionel pennsylvania flyer Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Well-built
  • Box Car Has Opening Doors
  • User-Activated Sounds and Smoke
Price: $271.97 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bachmann chattanooga Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Durable
  • Highly Detailed
  • Plenty of Accessories
Price: $159.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
lionel blue comet Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Gorgeous Design, Improved lighting over old model
  • Several sound effects and smoke add to realism
  • Bluetooth Capability
Price: $309.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
lionel sante fe Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Extremely durable and stylish
  • Fast speeds
  • Great sounds and lights
Price: $300.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bachmann trains Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Well-made speed controller
  • Comes with plenty of fun accessories
  • Realistic LED lights that grow brighter with speed
Price: $169.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
LEGO city passenger train Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Enticing to Lego lovers and train enthusiasts
  • Comes with hundreds of pieces
  • Build onto existing set with more Legos
Price: $179.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
kidkraft ride around table Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Detailed, colorful pieces
  • Storage bins for organization
  • Big enough for shared playtime
Price: $125.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bachmann trains thoroughbred Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Easy setup
  • Varied car sizes and colors
  • Strong enough to pull additional cars
Price: $129.06 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
lionel thomas train Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Fun, familiar design
  • Fast speeds
  • Funny voice recordings
Price: $145.08 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
kato amtrak Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lifelike Amtrak details
  • Easy setup and use
  • Complete starter set
Price: $209.98 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Lionel Hogwarts Express Electric O Gauge Model

    Pros:
    • Beautiful Harry Potter details
    • Free Bluetooth controls app
    • Plenty of sound effects and smoke
    Cons:
    • Pre-recording announcements are muddled
    • Doesn’t come with chocolate frogs
    • Can derails at top speed

    Whether you’re a true wizard or a mere muggle, this Harry Potter train set is sure to please the Potter fans in your family. Kids love all the books and movie references in the customized build, but beyond the fun licensing details, this is a solid and enjoyable train set in its own right. (We even included it on our list of the best Christmas train sets because it’s PERFECT for under the tree).

    This is a complete and ready-to-operate O-Gauge train set, beautifully-customized as a replica of the famed Hogwarts Express! Lionel really outdid themselves with the attention to detail here. The packaging that it arrives in is very attractive, and the set itself comes with entertaining features.

    This Harry Potter set includes a 4-6-0 locomotive; 2 passenger coaches, a combination car, 8 curved track sections with 1 lock-on section, the terminal section; 2 of the 10-inch straight sections and a power supply. Includes a remote control and free Bluetooth smartphone app, to control direction, speed and sound effects (this set literally has all the “bells and whistles!”). It has puffing smoke and a bright, operational headlight to add to the magic and realism of this set.

    Kids will also enjoy that the passenger cars have interior illumination, along with the other rail and background sounds like chuffing and user-activated conductor announcements. The remote has a simple on/off switches for smoke and sound effects. Get ready to hop aboard the Lionel Hogwarts Express, boarding at Platform 9 ¾ at promptly 11:00 AM!

  2. 2. Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer Electric O-Gauge Model Train Set

    Pros:
    • Sturdy, attractive and well-built cast metal engine
    • Box Car Has Opening Doors
    • User-Activated Sounds and Smoke
    Cons:
    • Moderately expensive
    • Batteries Not Included
    • Faily Noisy

    The Lionel Flyer Electric O Gauge is a sturdy and attractive freight train set. It features a detailed, cast-metal engine and opening doors on the boxcar. It comes with a remote control and even Bluetooth capability. Kids will enjoy the bright headlight and the fun on-and-off switch for the smoke and authentic sounds (including train whistle, bells and conductor announcements).

    This 45-inch Lionel train set has some great highlights, including a 0-8-0 locomotive and tender, a three-dome tank car, a boxcar, a caboose, eight curved O36 FasTrack sections, one 10-inch straight FasTrack Plug-Expand-Play power lock-on section, one FasTrack terminal section, and two 10-inch straight FasTrack sections, 54W Wall-Pack power supply. The LionelChief Bluetooth App offers another way to control features beyond the remote, like pitch, smoke and momentum.

    While well-built and durable, it is a bit of an investment, so you’ll want to gift to an older child capable of taking care of it. Keep in mind, this train is best for teen train enthusiasts and old, as some of the parts are too small for younger conductors.

    Another downside is that it runs a bit noisy, even before turning on user-activated custom sound effects. It requires 3 AAA batteries, which are not included.

  3. 3. Bachmann Chattanooga

    Pros:
    • Durable
    • Highly Detailed
    • Plenty of Accessories
    Cons:
    • Some track segments require glue to stay in place
    • The track will spark if train isn’t aligned
    • No audio or sound effects

    For the railroad lover in your life, try this train set by Bachmann.
    The Chattanooga gets high praise for its aesthetics and functionality. It’s as fun to look at as it is to play with.

    Here’s what comes in the box: 155 pieces, which includes a station, 48 figurines, 36 telephone poles and 48 railroad/street signs.

    The track comes with 14 pieces of track, in an easy-to-assemble snap-together format.
    On top of that, you also get five train cars (not counting the engine, which is beautifully detailed). The 0-6-0 steam locomotive has a bright headlight, and the open quad hopper, single-dome tank car, and caboose are all visually pleasing with good craftsmanship. The boxcar features a sliding door, for extra interaction. This is a well-built train, especially for this price range. You and your kids will not be disappointed (even if your kids tend to play rough, it’s a resilient toy model).

    The train station signs say “Plasticville,” which is a cute detail for a fantasy town.

  4. 4. Lionel Blue Comet Electric O-Gauge

    Pros:
    • Gorgeous Design, Improved lighting over old model
    • Several sound effects and smoke add to realism
    • Bluetooth Capability
    Cons:
    • Smoke stack can be tricky to operate
    • Pricier than others
    • Mostly plastic

    Fans agree this is a big improvement over the original model, which itself was a hit toy for a year. This is a stunning, 52-inch electric-blue train set that any diehard railfan will love to add to their collection and share with their kids. The Blue Comet comes with the 4-4-2 Steam Locomotive and tender, The “Halley” Comet combination car, the “Tuttle” Coach car, The “Biela” Observation car, Eight pieces of O36 curved FasTrack, Two FasTrack 10-inch straight track sections, One LionChief FasTrack Terminal section, One Plug-Expand-Play Power Lock-on section, wall-pack power supply, and a remote control. You can also control it by downloading the Bluetooth LionChief app for your phone.
    There’s a handy on/off switch for sound, (it has a nice sound system) with steam-chuffing and other realistic background sounds, a whistle, bell, and conductor announcements. There’s a working headlight, powerful motor, operating couplers, and the icing on the cake: genuine, puffing smoke. The coach showcases fun interior illumination, passenger silhouettes in windows, conductor figure in the doorway, LED lighted conductor’s lantern, User-activated sound clip, On/Off switch, AC and DC compatible on any LionChief system layout. You can use the remote for standard functions of forward and reverse, along with a nice speed control knob, three buttons to get a whistling sound, bell, and special announcements. Requires three AAA alkaline batteries (not included). Recommended Age: 10 years or older, but any hobbyist would enjoy this classic throwback train.

  5. 5. Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief Electric O Gauge

    Pros:
    • Extremely durable and stylish
    • Fast speeds
    • Great sounds and lights
    Cons:
    • AAA batteries not included
    • Pricey
    • No figurines or smoke

    The Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief has one of the coolest engine faces you’ll see in your collection. It is a deep burgundy with the words “Santa Fe” emblazoned over its gold striping, this is a fun and stylish 52-inch long train set to gift to your train-loving kiddos.

    Built with all the detail and durability you’ve come to expect from Lionel, the Santa Fe is one gorgeous diesel locomotive!

    What you get in the box: The Santa Fe-branded FT diesel locomotive, two coach cars, an observation car, eight curved O36 FasTrack track sections, one 10″ straight track, a power lock-on section, one FasTrack terminal section, and two 10-inch straight ones. It also includes the Wallpack power supply and the signature LionChief remote. Controls include direction, speed, and sound effects buttons. (As with other Lionel toys, you can supplement the remote with the free phone app).

    Best features include: On/Off switch for sound, RailSounds RC sound system with diesel revving and lots of cool background sounds like the horn, bell, and user-activated conductor announcements. Dual, fully-functional directional headlight, two powerful motors, operating couplers, and an attractively-illuminated cab interior for increased visibility (and fun to play with the lights off!).

    The passenger car is a sturdy, die-cast metal with flexible diaphragms between cars. It also features opening doors for more interactive playtime.

    Lionel recommends users of age 10 and older, but if your youngsters are under 10, they should still enjoy with supervision around any small parts.

  6. 6. Bachmann Chief Ready to Run Electric Train Set

    Pros:
    • Well-made speed controller
    • Comes with plenty of fun accessories
    • Realistic LED lights that grow brighter with speed
    Cons:
    • Lacks sound effects and smoke features
    • Runs a bit slower than other models
    • Not for younger kids

    This HO-scale set is a great starter train set with plenty of features at an affordable, mid-level price. The unit is made of a combination of plastics and metals, and is a pretty durable and realistic replica, considering it’s a toy. Bachmann’s patented snap-together “E-Z Track System” makes track setup extra quick and easy. Setup should take you less than 20 minutes. This set comes with an MD GP40 diesel locomotive (with operational headlight), and an open quad hopper, a gondola a steel Reefer, off-center caboose body-mounted E-Z Mate couplers 47″ X 38” oval track. A nice bonus is that it includes a signal bridge, 36 people figures, 24 telephone poles and 48 railroad and street signs. You’ll get the power pack, speed controller and plug-in terminal re-railer. It uses an AC outlet, so batteries are not required. The recommended age is 14 and up.

    As Bachmann is a well-established brand that’s sold widely, it’s easy to buy replacement parts if your kids lose them (or if pets chew them up!). This set packs a lot of value for the price point, and the extras will keep the kids planning adventures for hours!

  7. 7. LEGO City Passenger Train Building Kit (#60197)

    Pros:
    • Enticing to Lego lovers and train enthusiasts
    • Comes with hundreds of pieces
    • Build onto existing set with more Legos
    Cons:
    • Top speed can lead to train derailment
    • Doesn’t include the AAA batteries
    • Track shape is boring

    If you want a unique take on model trains, look no further than the Lego City Passenger Train. It has all the signature charms of Lego toys, paired with the functionality and fun of other toy train sets. It comes with a whopping 677 pieces, which is impressive by most standards, and unheard-of at this price point.

    The set features a motorized engine with 10-speed Bluetooth remote control, an opening nose cone, a fun train driver’s cabin with opening window, a full circular track with 16 curved and 4 straight rails, plus traffic signals, a buildable train platform with 2 seats and train service map and train signal. It also has a café car with a removable room and tables, so you can play inside, outside and all around this train. You can even pick up passengers at the platform with a cute station sign that reads “Lego City.”

    The train itself is rather large, with nice detail for a simple Lego toy. Of course, to get the full range of fun and possibilities with this toy, you’ll want to buy additional track pieces so you can make a more exciting course that lasts longer, allowing you to gather more speed without derailing.

    As you would expect, this train set comes with those trademark Lego characters, full of fun and cartoonish whimsy that make playing with this set a real blast for all ages, although the target customer is age 6-12.

  8. 8. Kidcraft Ride Around Train Set & Table

    Pros:
    • Detailed, colorful pieces
    • Storage bins for organization
    • Big enough for shared playtime
    Cons:
    • Might be too big for some homes
    • Some parts are particle board
    • Initial setup takes a while

    Younger kids will love this entry-level train set that’s a toy and play-space all in one! Less intimidating than some of the more sophisticated train models out there, and that’s why it’s one of the best train sets for kids 6 years and under. This set focuses on big, fun toys, a spacious surface that brings playtime off the floor and makes it easier to share the fun with friends and parents.

    The Kidcraft Ride Around Train Set comes with a train engine and two train cars, an ambulance, a fire truck, an plane and helicopter for the airport, a bulldozer, a truck with trailer (and cargo for the truck), a boat, multiple people figurines (like a doctor, construction worker, farmer, and assorted animals). You’ll also get some buildings (airport terminal and then some drawn 2-D buildings as background artwork). Parents will appreciate the storage bins for all the toys because it comes with over 100 pieces! The tracks are big and chunk which makes snapping them together easily, even for kids.

    Of course, since a large part of this train set is the table, you can always use it with multiple train sets you may own. It’s a versatile toy that elevates interactivity off the floor. There’s a lot to look at and keep your kids busy with this set. Kids will not get bored easily, and most parents find this toy set gets kids interested in more elaborate train sets later on. It’s a great starter toy for a good value.

  9. 9. Bachmann Trains Thoroughbred RTR Electric Train Set

    Pros:
    • Easy setup
    • Varied car sizes and colors
    • Strong enough to pull additional cars
    Cons:
    • No smoker for puffing steam
    • Power connection sometimes gets bumped
    • Fragile

    Any time you can get a train as stylish and well-designed as a Bachmann for under $100, you’re getting away with a terrific deal. The Bachmann Thoroughbred ready-to-run train set is no exception. This is a beautiful train set with an attention to detail that railfans of all ages can appreciate, at a price that won’t break the bank. This is a mostly-plastic, intermediate-level train set, with plenty of fun features.

    The Thoroughbred comes with an HO Scale train. As the manufacturer describes it: “Wheels rumble like the pounding of hooves as this iron horse rounds the bend.” The Thoroughbred is a fun adventure to play with your children and add to your collection. This simple, 20-piece set includes: an F7 diesel locomotive with an operating headlight, an open quad hopper, gondola, wide-vision caboose, body-mounted E-Z Mate couplers, 47″ x 38″ oval of snap-together track (this includes 12 pieces of curved track, 1 piece of straight track and 1 plug-in terminal rerailer). You’ll also get the power pack and speed controller, and a very handy illustrated instruction manual.

    This 1/87 train is closer to a model than a feature-heavy toy. While uncomplicated and less sophisticated than more expensive models, it’s easy to assemble and lots of fun. It lacks the chuffing smoke and horn sound effects that younger train enthusiasts prefer in toys, but this is an attractive train to watch and interact with. It makes a great addition to any collection and comes from a reliable manufacturer. It comes with a 110-volt transformer, so you don’t need to burn through any batteries with this set.

  10. 10. Lionel Thomas & Friends James LionChief Set

    Pros:
    • Fun, familiar design
    • Fast speeds
    • Funny voice recordings
    Cons:
    • Couplings appear flimsier than other Lionel trains
    • Not many train cars included
    • Not for older kids

    No list of top train sets for kids would be complete without the iconic Thomas and Friend train sets. Full of whimsy and cartoonish fun, this set will bring smiles to your children’s’ faces while offering hours of fun playtime.

    This set is on the smaller side at a length of 21 inches, but it’s super easy to assemble and seems to run almost as well on carpeting as on hard floors. Sturdy and uncomplicated, this train will keep kids entertained and serves as a fun counterpart to the Thomas and Friends television programs.

    The train cars have single axles and are made of plastic, but are still durable enough to be rough-housed a bit by your kids. The freight cars have coal in them, which is a nice visual detail. It would have been nice if they had added side-to-side googly eyes like Thomas has in the show, but at this price, it’s a pretty good likeness that should keep the kids excited.

    The Thomas and Friends set includes the smiling locomotive, 2 pieces of rolling stock, 8 pieces of O36 curved FasTrack, 1 LionChief Terminal section, a Wall-pack power supply, LionChief remote control so you can go forward, backward and activate the fun sounds and voiceovers. The special announcement quote includes “Hello, I’m JAKE. The number 5 RED engine!”

    The sounds are nice and clear with the RailSounds RC sound system for steam chuffing, whistle, bell and more. Simple On/Off sound switch, motor, and traction tire with operating couplers.

    Lionel recommends ages 10 and up, but the simplicity of this set may be better suited for slightly younger children – especially since I don’t know many 10 year olds who watch Thomas & Friends.

  11. 11. Kato N Amtrak P42 Superliner Starter Set

    Pros:
    • Lifelike Amtrak details
    • Easy setup and use
    • Complete starter set
    Cons:
    • Delicate design
    • Engine lights not operational
    • No sounds or smoke

    Kato USA, the company known for its well-built rolling stock, is here to help you relive the rich and adventurous history of American passenger rail with this authentic Amtrak replica train set. Sure to spark memories and nostalgia for parents while sharing the magic of railway travel with younger train enthusiasts. If you already have freight trains in your collection, this fun passenger train makes a great addition to your collection. Unique design and customization make this train a joy to watch and play with.

    This is an N-scale starter set, so it comes with everything you need and has impressive visual details. What you get in the box: the 1 x P42 “Genesis” locomotive and 3 x Amtrak Superliner Phase IVb Passenger Cars. The set also includes a 4’x3′ (1337mm x 677mm) loop of Kato UNITRACK (a simple snaptrack design) with a re-railing crossing. It also comes with a Kato 12V Power Pack that connects to the Kato UNITRACK loop with easy-to-use plugs for operating your trains. The power pack means you don’t have to buy any batteries. Runs for hours with no derailment. Easily modified from a loop to more adventurous arrangements.
    While this set doesn’t come with many frills or extras (no sounds or smoke), it’s a solid entry point into train set collecting.

    When you’re done playing with this Amtrak model set, you can take your kids on a real-life Amtrak adventure!

What About Wooden Train Sets?

Like the electric train sets you'll find above, wooden train sets are absolutely great, too. However, we wanted to focus on trains for older kids and the higher-end electric hobby train sets that had a bit more oomph to them. 

Wooden train sets are especially great for the younger crowd (6 years and under).

We did, however, include the Kidcraft train set table, which is a great wooden train set option.

What Are G Gauge Trains?

G Gauge trains use g gauge tracks which have 45mm space between the railheads. They're typically used for bigger scale trains around 1:22.5.

What Are O Gauge Trains?

O Gauge trains use o gauge tracks which have 31.75mm space between the railheads. O gauge tracks are typically used for smaller scale O gauge trains that are typically 1:48.

See Also

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