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I wonder if Menards made these diesel a while ago and they been sitting on them? Its time for them to make Brunswick green and tuscan red Pennsy's. A set of Baltimore and Ohio would be great. Southern Pacifics, Western Pacifics and Northern Pacifics would be great. Lets not forget the New York Centrals and the New Havens.                                     

Last edited by jim sutter

What’s different this time around is that there is no “beta” test label in the marketing of the locomotives sold individually. (That was also true of the recent locomotive and caboose set, which I thought was a signal for more paint schemes to come). So these are now regular production — I’m guessing with no extreme production limits and as an A-A set.

But I’m with RSBJ18. Please, enough with the Santa Fe scheme after this release. I’d be interested in Milwaukee Road (most intensely), Burlington Northern, Great Northern, Soo Line, Chicago & Northwestern, New York Central, and Baltimore & Ohio — and that’s not a complete list.

I bought the first Santa Fe beta model. I have no interest in the U.P. scheme. So …

My whole kid life with trains was an existence with railroads that were only visible in books.  Nobody made trains with names that were in my neighborhood, other than the biggies out west or up north and maybe if you were lucky, Southern.   C of G, an ACL, or FEC  might have been RR's in another galaxy as far as the model companies were concerned, so I agree with the fellows who said there should be other road names now.  Not sure what the expense of other masks and colors would be, but the other 95% of the product just needs a different theme.  But, thanks to Menards for their offerings in the O gauge hobby, I have bought a couple of their car sets, and except for a tank car set where every single wheel arrived  out of the trucks laying in the box, all have been fine. (They did pop back in)

Last edited by CALNNC

Those of you who keep talking about the ..."same price" are off by a little.  The Menards set for a AA (not just a Lionel Chief A) is $249.99 not $299 so its $40 cheaper.  It seems that Menards business model is to keep prices DOWN and to do that you need larger production runs and the Santa Fe warbonnet is perhaps the most popular livery and hence has the highest sales probability.

Candidly I think Menards is doing the hobby a great service by bringing both locomotives and rolling stock to the market for rational prices that can be afforded by a large customer base.  My view anyway.  OBTW since during the "experimental" stage they also sold a UP set, I would expect the next offering to be UP.


You can buy a Lionchief with the same functionality for the same price.  You can run Lionchief via the remote, universal remote, or the app.  Menards only has the one way to operate them.  Why would you pigeon hole yourself without there being a justifiable reason such as cost?

This is the second time I have seen someone incorrectly post a claim of this nature. So post what powered A and dummy A LionChief set that Lionel currently sells for $250. A link to the Lionel site for that product will do. And, no, used locomotives don’t qualify. We’re talking apples to apples here.

@Darrell posted:

Looked over at Lionel, a Lionchief FT list for $299.99. There are no LionChief AA sets listed. So, no , you can not get a LionChief for the same price, sorry.

In addition, the fit and finish of the Menard's model is superior to the more toy-like LionChief model, IMHO.

Menard's Bluebonnet with custom painted Lionel passenger cars and Merad's caboose below, but where is my Bluebonnet dummy engine ?



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Good value, presuming they fixed the few issues the beta runs had.  Lionel issued a LionChief Plus version back in 2016 which had a MSRP of about $500, available for about $400 on pre-order from some places I recall.  If you need conventional capability (I don't) that would be a rationale for looking for that product, but otherwise, the Menards seems a better deal potentially.

While I generally like the Menards stuff for novelty and price, I'm hesitant to consider a locomotive.  Unless a problem is found immediately and the item is returned under warranty, there's no after-sale support for parts or repairs.  Especially troubling is the inability to purchase a replacement for the remote control - it's prone to loss or damage, and since the engine won't run conventionally it's a paperweight without it.

As for reliability. Our club purchased a UP Menards engine (and repainted it) and have had it on our garden railway with the Menards remote mounted on the fence for the kids to run the train. It ran on a lot of hot days 7 hours a day for 2 days a weekend + holidays. For I think it was 2.5 months during our last years running season.

The engine performed very well, reliable other then the batteries in the remote need to be replaced every 2nd weekend.

As for Lion Chief have had some very reliable units others only lasted a few minutes or a few hours on light use on the home layout. We have run a lot on our garden railway. An old Percy ran every weekend for 4 years before I had to rebuild it. Some Thomas engines have worked for only a few minutes others ran a couple of years. we have also run the LionChief FT and Steam engines that have varied in quality. In general the Lionel engines that have worm gears tend to fail easier then other styles.

Another Menards engine set the blue santa fe has run very well at home like it a lot. One feature I like is the sound volume button on the remote.

Perhaps the Harbor Freight equation should be applied.  When my ancient US made Craftsman circular saw finally gave up the ghost, I went looking for US made replacement.  Every single one with American old school names in any store, are all made in China.  I thought I would plunk down the extra money to get a Porter Cable, has to be US made, nope, China.  So, a circular saw made in China that has the Skil or Craftsman name on it, but made in China, and costs upwards of $100 more than an identical unit, except maybe for the color, in HF, makes me ask the question, who is getting that extra 100 bucks?  It sure isn't a man or woman in the US making saws.  So, Menards, Lionel, or MTH, while there may be some differences, brand loyalty is out the window and affordability for an equivalent quality, says it all to me.

@CALNNC posted:

Every one with American old school names in any store, are all made in China.  I thought I would plunk down the extra money to get a Porter Cable, has to be US made, nope, China.  So, a circular saw with the Skil or Craftsman name on it, but made in China, costing upwards of $100 more than an identical unit, except maybe for the color, in HF, makes me ask: who is getting that extra 100 bucks? 

Most of the famed American brand names for anything, from televisions to kitchen appliances, have been bought by investor groups.  They are the ones who make the money on what used to be a brand name's "public goodwill" by contracting with Chinese firms to make the products & slap the famed brand names on them.  I assume that the general buying public is not savvy enough to recognize this distinction.  This is how millions of Hamilton Beach blenders and RCA or Magnivox tvs, etc., etc., are regularly sold at stores like WalMart & Target, etc.

I'm pleased with Menard's production of New Haven and NY Central rolling stock at very reasonable prices. Not prototypical in the least, but very attractive.  Ordered two New Haven hoppers, two New Haven tank cars, a NY Central tank car and a New Haven caboose for less than $180 including shipping.  Even if I never run these and possibly find out their couplers and trucks are unreliable, for display purposes I'm entirely content and feel I received good value for money.  Would be happy to purchase New Haven and NY Central (or BN or GN) versions of the locos if they become available.

Last edited by Landsteiner

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