LionChief Remote Control System

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September 24, 2013 11:35 AM

I am one of the people that was not thrilled about the LionChief System when it was announced but after watching this video I have changed my opinion. If you have not seen the video take a look. 

 

I think this is a big improvement over the traditional Polar Express set.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXQScIMl3z4

 

 

 
 
 
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September 24, 2013 11:59 AM

I also have a change in opinion. Well worth viewing. Appreciate you posting it.

 

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September 24, 2013 1:03 PM

I had the opportunity to run a prototype of the the LionChief Polar Express set.  I also got to observe several 5 to 8 year olds playing with it.  The children figured out how to use the LionChief remote in just a few seconds, and better yet, operating the set with the LionChief remote held their interest.

 

My personal experience with the prototype motivated me to order a set. A LionChief Polar Express set is definitely fun to run and I am looking forward to letting young folk play with it during the Fall/Winter display season (along with myself , of course)

 

 

Ed Boyle

 
 
 
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September 24, 2013 3:49 PM

I see two problems with the LionChief system.

 

1.  If the remote stops working you cannot run the set until/unless Lionel repairs the remote.  LionChief locomotives will not run conventional.

 

2.  If a person who owns a LionChief set wants to add non-LionChief locomotive he would also have to buy a conventional transformer to operate it.  I do know that with the MTH DCS Remote Commander sets that this is also a requirement of those sets as well (adding a non-DCS locomotive to them).

Stuart

 

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September 24, 2013 4:15 PM

Has anyone on the forum had a chance to open up an engine to see what electronics are inside?  Ditto for the remote.  I'm wondering if the board and remote might be a separate sale item some day so that older engines could be retro-fitted.  If it would be similar to putting an electronic e-unit in an engine, it would be an easy conversion.

 
 
 
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September 24, 2013 4:19 PM

I can see the market where these would be good for, but I don't fall in that market.  When I first learned of it, I didn't like it, and after seeing the video, I still don't like it.  It's a good thing I noticed it before I placed an order for a RTR set, I could of up screwing myself over with a locomotive I couldn't use.  It's good that Lionel is offering the locomotives in either LionChief or conventional, but they should really make the locomotive work under both.  TMCC and Legacy can, so why not this?  The only reason I can think of is that they were too lazy to design a PCB that'd allow both.  A switch could even make it so both boards are installed.  And boy did he talk a lot about the non train sounds, like the announcements and music.  To me those are not features, but reasons to avoid them.  They should of also made these things TMCC or Legacy controllable.  What are these little engineers going to do when they grow up and go to a "big boy's" command system and find their favorite childhood engine won't work with it?  Who hands to use two remotes at once?

 
 
 
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September 24, 2013 6:02 PM

If I'm not mistaken, these are probably the least expensive O gauge sets on the market by a factor of about 1.5-2x.  The price point is likely designed to appeal to largest number of people possible.  $150-200 street price is a lot more attractive to many families than 1.5-2x that price, obviously.  I'm guessing that cost was a major factor in the design specifications:  provide improved technology at prices no higher than and sometimes lower than where Lionel toy train sets have been heading.

 
 
 
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September 24, 2013 7:53 PM

Originally Posted by John Korling:
The LionChief system is the same in principle as the astronomy/birdwatching/RC/musician analogy.  It's designed and marketed as starting point; not marketed for pre-existing O gauge hobbyists.  If the LionChief set is as far as the consumer it's marketed towards wants to go with it, nothing more is needed and has done its job.  If the person's interest in the hobby evolves and expands, then he/she invests in the more advanced equipment and he can still either hold on to and play with, sell, or pass down the LionCheif set, just like the aforementioned analogies.

I guess we should ask who doesn't still have their 1st train set, because those I know well that are into trains still have them and enjoy running them.  Not anyone I personally know would get rid of them, and that includes some people that aren't into trains, but still have their 1st train set.  Mine was an old Marx, and I still have what's left of the set.  I've even paid money to keep the locomotive running so that I can pull it out and run it with my more modern stock.  So, unless someone buys one to give us, there'll never be any LionCheif equipped trains in my house.

 
 
 
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September 24, 2013 8:03 PM

 Stuart, regarding your second point, even if you did not buy into the Lion Chief system, you'd still need a transformer to run a conventional locomotive.

     While I tend to have a favorable view of this new system, I have a few concerns and questions after watching the video.
     First, I noticed that when the engine was in neutral and either the horn, bell or announcement was activated that the idling engine sounds would stop and then abruptly come back on after the bell, whistle or announcement ended but while running the chuffing sounds continued under the sounds of the bell, whistle or announcements. Wonder why that happens. I'd assume sound board has dual channel capability so why use it only for forward mode and not neutral?
     Second, I'm wondering whether the electronics of a Lion Chief locomotive could be removed and retrofitted into my current Polar Express loco that has the steam whistle effect. I'm assuming likely not but am optimistically hopeful that it could be.
     Looking forward to Lionel reps at York having answers for these two concerns.
Kenn
 
Originally Posted by Stuart:

I see two problems with the LionChief system.

 

1.  If the remote stops working you cannot run the set until/unless Lionel repairs the remote.  LionChief locomotives will not run conventional.

 

2.  If a person who owns a LionChief set wants to add non-LionChief locomotive he would also have to buy a conventional transformer to operate it.  I do know that with the MTH DCS Remote Commander sets that this is also a requirement of those sets as well (adding a non-DCS locomotive to them).

Stuart

 

 

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September 24, 2013 8:38 PM

Originally Posted by sinclair:
I guess we should ask who doesn't still have their 1st train set, because those I know well that are into trains still have them and enjoy running them. 

I don't have my original set anymore.

 
 
 
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September 25, 2013 10:35 AM

I would be interested in a Lion Chief upgrade to both my PE and Thomas sets. Jr Engineero expressed interest at four and a half years old...that she would love to be able to roam the Christmas  layout to control her passenger and freight sets. She'll be six in a few weeks time.

If Lion Chief upgrades aren't possible, ever,  then I may go the TMCC upgrade route.

She is looking to be able to control her trains while standing in front of many elf delivery/drop off zones to load/unload various boxes in her hopper and gondola cars.

If anyone can find out about upgrades while at York or via OGR contacts I would be thankful to know either way.

Thanks,
CH
 
 
 
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September 25, 2013 11:00 AM

CH:

As far as I know, LionChief is only available pre-installed in some starter sets. The only thing that is available seperately are the additional remotes.

 

ogaugeguy:

Transplanting a LionChief board from one loco to another should be only a little more involved than installing an electronic reverse board. It's basically just a radio receiver+speed controller, probably two wires in from the pickup rollers/wheels, two wires out to the motor, and perhaps two to a speaker and/or smoke unit.

 

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September 25, 2013 11:32 AM

i must admit i didn't watch the video all the way through, but i still stand where i did when it was introduced. i don't care for it but then again i'm a conventional only type of guy. if there was a switch for conventional with a transformer i would've jumped on last years scout set. but the remote only operation was a turn off to me. on the other hand i do understand why lionel is doing this, and also understand why other folks like it. i just wish there were a switch so i could run it with a transformer instead. i've always liked starter sets but it looks like those days are coming to an end for me. i'm also thankful i got the polar express last year, sice there doesn't seem to be a transformer controlled entry level version this year. as for the sounds i don't need them.

 
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September 25, 2013 11:54 AM

Originally Posted by CH:
I would be interested in a Lion Chief upgrade to both my PE and Thomas sets. Jr Engineero expressed interest at four and a half years old...that she would love to be able to roam the Christmas  layout to control her passenger and freight sets. She'll be six in a few weeks time.

If Lion Chief upgrades aren't possible, ever,  then I may go the TMCC upgrade route.

She is looking to be able to control her trains while standing in front of many elf delivery/drop off zones to load/unload various boxes in her hopper and gondola cars.

If anyone can find out about upgrades while at York or via OGR contacts I would be thankful to know either way.

Thanks,
CH

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September 25, 2013 12:21 PM

I also am hoping Lionel will release the Lion Chief as separate upgrades.   I think Jon talked about 10 separate frequencies available, so I could equip my Williams and RMT and low-end Lionel with some duplication.   But I would probably only install in 4 locos or so just to try it for fun.  -Ken

 

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September 25, 2013 1:52 PM

You can run any Lionchief set in conventional.  Just set the Lionchief remote at full power, put it aside,  and then control the voltage as usual employing the transformer (not included) lever.

 
 
 
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September 25, 2013 3:30 PM

Originally Posted by Landsteiner:

You can run any Lionchief set in conventional.  Just set the Lionchief remote at full power, put it aside,  and then control the voltage as usual employing the transformer (not included) lever.

Of course, you can't use the whistle or bell...

 

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September 25, 2013 3:39 PM

I have none of my original stuff anymore.  What little I did retain, I finally parted with.  It just doesn't fit how I run nowadays.

 

 

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Nothing is so easy as the job you imagine someone else doing.

 
 
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September 25, 2013 5:06 PM

MTH 50-1033 Remote Commander

 

Except for the limitation of "line of sight" operation the MTH system offers much the same capability as the Lionel system. Plus the MTH system can be used with any PS-2 capable engine.

 

Has anyone done a cost comparison (feature for feature) between the two systems?

 
 
 
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September 25, 2013 5:20 PM

"Except for the limitation of "line of sight" operation the MTH system offers much the same capability as the Lionel system. Plus the MTH system can be used with any PS-2 capable engine."

 

The MTH system requires you buy a PS2 or PS3 set, which usually costs about 1.5-2 times as much as a low end Lionel Lionchief set, so that's one difference.  The second difference is the Lionchief system allows you to control as many different trains as you have space for, each independently without using DCS or Legacy.  The Remote Commander is limited to one train at a time, in terms of independent control.  So I'd have to say that for conventional mode, the Lionchief is the less expensive, more flexible and capable system at this point in time, albeit only in conventional mode.

 
 
 
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September 25, 2013 5:36 PM

No one seems to be mentioning that Lionel is holding a gun to the head of those who are not happy with the Lionchief and forcing them to buy it anyway

 

Recent Lionel offerings show that Lionel is going to make what they want how they want. The "well adding the whistle steam feature made no difference in sales so we omitted it" is the best example.

 

Jumping on Mr. Korling isn't going to make Lionel change a design. Johns comments seem pretty logical to me. Why is a "counterpoint" always so threatening to some folks on this forum?

 

Wait till its delivered to see what it does as far as any new Lionel product is concerned. Then if you don't like it, don't buy it. It just may end up being discounted down the road so much its worth it anyway.

 

I learned my lesson, preorder shmeeorder

 

 

 

 

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September 25, 2013 6:15 PM

I think this is the best product that Lionel has come up with in a while!

 

Gets the little kids running trains;

 

I took a few trains for an employees Family days events with our museum ride on train for the Montana Rail Link SRY group ran the trains in the company parking lot;

 

I was able to hand the remote to lots of little kids with no worries about them dropping it like a $200 Cab 1

And no instructions just handed it to them and said here run Thomas!

They figured it out even the littlest kids.

 

I cannot wait for the other friends of Thomas to come out for the kids!

 

And for this display I had one Lionel CW 80 transformer running set up so Circus train was running at a good speed and power went also to the Thomas track and with it not at  full volts Thomas could be run fast by the kids and not come off the track.

 

Pushed the bell and whistle button on transformer did not affect Thomas.

 

So if you get a fleet of these big deal if a remote breaks no different then having your main transformer or TMCC system fail. You get a replacement from Lionel!

 

You only need one transformer if you get a fleet of these engines with seperate remotes. Can power the whole layout and if one engine dies big deal.

 

And if you really wanted to run this engine on convetional without a remote it would not be to hard to remove a few screws and splice the power feed into the motor (with a bridge rectifier or reverse board)

 

This is a simple cheaper way to sell trains that works great and even the littlest kids can figure out!

 

 

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September 26, 2013 8:15 AM

MTH 50-1033 Remote Commander

 

Except for the limitation of "line of sight" operation the MTH system offers much the same capability as the Lionel system with the limitation of one engine at a time.

 

I would expect that MTH would be able to offer a similar upgraded control system based upon their Remote Commander. They could also make a "custom controller" like the Lionel product so that multiple engines could be controlled on the same track at the same time.

 

For the "entry level" toy market probably MTH would not be competitive on price.

 
 
 
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September 26, 2013 7:43 PM

One of the things that is such an upgrade IMO is the Sound.

 

You get Railsounds, not Trainsounds and you don't have to buy a separate Tender.

You get Tom Hanks and you don't have to buy another car.

 

Finally a Lionel starter set that really smokes! What an upgrade that is.

 

I just think for the price it is a winner. We will have to see how it sells but as far as the Polar Express set I think it is better than the original.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
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January 8, 2014 11:22 AM

I purchased a new Polar Express for my son. I am pleased with the new features of Lioncheif. Although I have a lot of compatibility questions. I wish you could control it via My legacy remote. Is this possible? Could it be upgraded with the Electric RR mini commander? And still be able to use its designated remote too?. What if the designated remote breaks?  Will Lionel offer replacements for all these different engines? 


Daniel Marlowe TCA LRRC MTHRRC

 

 
Last edited by PreWarTCA-SD January 8, 2014 12:04 PM
 
 
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January 8, 2014 12:27 PM

I bought the new Polar Express set with remote and it is fantastic. A lot of play value due to the remote control features, and the engine has awesome sounds with more movie excerpts than the scale PE Berk.

 
 
 
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January 8, 2014 12:52 PM

I agree it is a outstanding set with tons of features. I should have not purchased the 125$ announcement car because the new train has it But it looks really cool. I just need to upgrade all my sons Thomas sets to lionchief as well. I will just buy new ones and sell his old ones They have a very reasonable price. Lioncheif has a lot going for it. I just have some concerns and questions about legacy compatibility to run it on my layout. I wish it could be controlled by my legacy controller. 

 
 
 
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January 8, 2014 1:03 PM

Originally Posted by PreWarTCA-SD:

I just have some concerns and questions about legacy compatibility to run it on my layout. I wish it could be controlled by my legacy controller. 

LionChief locomotives can only be controlled with the LionChief remotes, not the CAB-1 or Legacy Remotes.  You'd have to upgrade them to TMCC to accomplish that.

 
 
 
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January 8, 2014 1:33 PM

Then your kids could not use the remote they come with. unless there was a way to rig both somehow..? New cab 1L is kind of kid friendly it does not have an antenna like the old cab 1 And seems like it could take a drop. Would certainly not want to hand my 4 year old my cab2. 

 

 
 
 
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January 8, 2014 1:43 PM

Originally Posted by PreWarTCA-SD:

Then your kids could not use the remote they come with. unless there was a way to rig both somehow..? New cab 1L is kind of kid friendly it does not have an antenna like the old cab 1 And seems like it could take a drop. Would certainly not want to hand my 4 year old my cab2. 

 

Yes they can use the remote that comes with the LionChief set.  Why couldn't they?

 

You can run LionChief locomotives on the same track at the same time as you can with TMCC/Legacy engines since LionChief was designed to work on fixed voltages like TMCC/Legacy is.  You just have to use the LionChief remote for the LionChief engine and the CAB-1 or Legacy handheld for everything else.

 
Last edited by John Korling January 8, 2014 1:45 PM
 
 
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January 9, 2014 10:33 AM

I bought the Transformer controlled Polar Express for my son back in 2007. A nice set... he enjoyed it almost as much as I did? 

 

I've been running a Christmas display at a local museum for about a month now. I bought a broke-up Lionchief Polar express Loco & Tender did a little sprucing up on the Loco and cars by adding the snow, figures, icicles. It is a big hit at the museum. People (little & big) really love to watch it. They enjoy it more than the high-end Legacy steamer (9004) I'm running on another track. The Loco puts out a bunch of smoke and is always tossing out smoke rings which always pleases the crowd.   

 

When I get a chance I'll try to post some pictures. If people or the crowd really enjoy watching the Lionchief in action well, that's good enough for me. It's nice that Lionel offers both for people to make their own decision on what to purchase.

 

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January 9, 2014 10:54 AM

I'm a big fan of the Lionchief too. In fact I just got my second set yesterday, the Penn Flyer set, to go along with my Santa Fe Scout set.

 

I hope they make more.

 

I hope they make a conversion kit. I have 5 conventional "starter set" style locomotives and I'd like to convert some or all of them.

 

Of course my tastes go more towards the "toy" style trains that kinda look scale, but aren't scale. I'm probably closer to the market that Lionel was aiming for with this technology.

 
 
 
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January 9, 2014 11:04 AM

I think these Lionchief controlled trains are going to grow the model rr industry and bring in many new kids at a younger age. Before Lioncheif came out the minimum age for a Thomas set was 8 years old recommended by Lionel. Probably due to the fact that the child had to use the AC transformer. The minimum age for Lioncheif engines is 5. My son got his Thomas set when he was 3, a transformer controlled set he broke a few cw 80s because he would slam the speed up and down real hard on the transformer, Eventually the transformer would give out. He is four now and he can control the Polar Express a lot better with the Lioncheif remote. I wonder if they plan on using the Lioncheif control on the American Flyer Polar Express set they have coming out this year?. That would really help kids get into S gauge too. The features of these new Locos are awesome a lot like there legacy big brothers and I think that Lionel has a real hit with them!


Daniel Marlowe, TCA LRRC MTHRRC 

 
Last edited by PreWarTCA-SD January 9, 2014 11:42 AM
 
 
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January 9, 2014 11:53 AM

Originally Posted by PreWarTCA-SD:

I think these Lionchief controlled trains are going to grow the model rr industry and bring in many new kids at a younger age. Before Lioncheif came out the minimum age for a Thomas set was 8 years old recommended by Lionel. Probably due to the fact that the child had to use the AC transformer. The minimum age for Lioncheif engines is 5. My son got his Thomas set when he was 3, a transformer controlled set he broke a few cw 80s because he would slam the speed up and down real hard on the transformer, Eventually the transformer would give out. He is four now and he can control the Polar Express a lot better with the Lioncheif remote. I wonder if they plan on using the Lioncheif control on the American Flyer Polar Express set they have coming out this year?. That would really help kids get into S gauge too. The features of these new Locos are awesome a lot like there legacy big brothers and I think that Lionel has a real hit with them!


Daniel Marlowe, TCA LRRC MTHRRC 

The AMERICAN FLYER Catalog does say that the 'S GAUGE' Polar Express will come with Remote Control, must be the LIONCHIEF System, I would think...

 
Last edited by GARDNER January 9, 2014 11:53 AM
 
 
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January 9, 2014 11:59 AM

Originally Posted by GARDNER:
Originally Posted by PreWarTCA-SD:

I think these Lionchief controlled trains are going to grow the model rr industry and bring in many new kids at a younger age. Before Lioncheif came out the minimum age for a Thomas set was 8 years old recommended by Lionel. Probably due to the fact that the child had to use the AC transformer. The minimum age for Lioncheif engines is 5. My son got his Thomas set when he was 3, a transformer controlled set he broke a few cw 80s because he would slam the speed up and down real hard on the transformer, Eventually the transformer would give out. He is four now and he can control the Polar Express a lot better with the Lioncheif remote. I wonder if they plan on using the Lioncheif control on the American Flyer Polar Express set they have coming out this year?. That would really help kids get into S gauge too. The features of these new Locos are awesome a lot like there legacy big brothers and I think that Lionel has a real hit with them!


Daniel Marlowe, TCA LRRC MTHRRC 

The AMERICAN FLYER Catalog does say that the 'S GAUGE' Polar Express will come with Remote Control, must be the LIONCHIEF System, I would think...

The Remote Control for S Gauge is actually mentioned in the 2013 LIONEL CHRISTMAS Catalog..  

 
 
 
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January 9, 2014 1:30 PM

I'm listening to the video while I type.

 

Anyone know if this is 2.4GHz technology?  It kind of sounds like it, as if they've got a "Bind" button in the circuit that "binds" the frequency of the remote to the frequency of the engine.

 

Also, with 18VDC on the track, I wonder if it's possible that this could be adapted to battery operation?

 

Tom Hanks voice is a plus for those wanting this set, pretty cool.

 

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January 9, 2014 2:07 PM

Gentlemen,

    I think some you have mistaken what this Lionchief beginner set is all about.

It was engineered as a little boys toy, a stand alone RTR set that was not engineered to interface with TMCC or DCS.  It does however run conventionally in the manner one of the other members outlined, with some sound loss.  For a young child the set is exactly what it was engineered to be, and worth the purchase as that.  An addition to TMCC or DCS it will never be.

PCRR/Dave

 

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