Looking at page 134/135 of the new Lionel 2020 catalog I note that the LionChief GP 38 engines are priced at $219 .99 the 2015 catalog lists a somewhat similar LionChief GP 20 engines at $339.99. Looking at the steam engines on page 134 the 0-8-0 engines are $219.99 the 2015 catalog of LionChief engines most of the steam engines of different styles were listed at $429.99.

I am thrilled by the drop in price and will order a couple but was just curious how they are able to offer the engines at such lower prices? 

I love the LionChief system and have around 30 engines of many styles. I think this has been one of the best systems to hit the market. The system is so easy to use the hand held remote and has great range on a large home layout or at the large garden railway club track. When having an operating session with grand kids or skilled adults the LionChief system works great.  I set up the remotes on the fence around my large 40x24 foot layout area at shows with a cover over the remote to keep the kids from breaking the remotes, and keep the power lower enough from transformers so the kids can not run the trains to fast. I have had shows with 16 LionChief engines running with the kids controlling them.  A few of my early LionChief engines have run for years reliably at many shows over the years thousands of hours of use. 

However I have had several LionChief engines that have failed me of the last few years of releases most that have been run seldom with light loads on the home layout (not for hours at the train shows) ! From trains like the Hallmark Santa train having the gears slip run seldom with a light load at home very little hours on it, small switchers with gears slipping near new. LionChief control boards in the Thomas engines failing. Hogwarts train gears slipping. Etc. I have had more problems with the reliability of the more recent releases of the LionChief trains then the many other trains of different makes in my collection.

Do you like the LionChief system and how reliable have your engines been, any problems?

Original Post

I think you're confusing LionChief PLUS with regular LionChief. The engines on the catalog pages you referenced are regular LionChief, and I think this is the first year LionChief locomotives have been cataloged for separate sale. The LionChief locomotives have previously only been included in train sets, and don't have all the added features of the LionChief PLUS engines. Although they do now have Bluetooth.

The LionChief PLUS locomotives are much more expensive as they have greater digital functionality, larger vertical motors, more metal and die-cast components in their construction, in addition to being able to run in conventional mode via a transformer without the remote, or with the remote.

I think the LionChief system is terrific. It allows families or anyone who wants to try the hobby to buy a set for not much more than half the equivalent price of Lionel's competitors, or even less in some cases. 

It's actually more reliable as a communications protocol than Legacy/TMCC, and, in my experience, much less quirky than DCS and less complex than DCC. 

However, this relatively affordable price means that the detail isn't up to current scale standards and the components are not meant to survive long years of intense use (motors, drive trains in particular). That said, failing in the first few hours of operation is probably due to you having a lemon.  That's disappointing but not totally unexpected. 

I've bought a couple of LionChief locos as separate sale for under $200, which is comparable to a Scout engine back in the 1950s, but higher quality thankfully.  LionChief Plus and, presumably LionChief + 2.0 are entirely different animals, and higher quality and more detailed, as well as having the capability to operate in conventional mode.  So the typical price differential of at least $100-200 is largely due to the more expensive electronics (both command and sound), drive train and detailing as compared with LionChief, which is designed as the budget, beginner line.

This is a first for me, someone complaining about lower prices from Lionel!

I'll reserve judgment on how they did it until after I get my LC+ 0-6-0 Dockside Switchers I'm waiting for.  I was curious enough as to how they managed to price them that way that I'm buying a couple to take one apart.

The LionChief PLUS locomotives are much more expensive as they have greater digital functionality, larger vertical motors, more metal and die-cast components in their construction, in addition to being able to run in conventional mode via a transformer without the remote, or with the remote.

AND, one of the most notable features of LionChief Plus -- they have cruise control.

I bought a dockside LC+ to run under my crane...it’s been awhile since I ordered.

I have two, a LC GP38 and a LC+ Mike. They work great however it seems that the Mike is much more apt to lose it's signal than the Geep. 

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