I've waffled over this loco for years, hoping for a legacy offering. The Legacy offering left me a bit disappointed for reasons that have been covered, adding to that issues with prior legacy items I had already purchased. As well as points raised by rivet counters and toy train "mechanics" and I finally tracked one down thanks to the WTB forum.....luckily as these are harder to find minus the cars.
I've always loved the whistle on the 50th anniversary j3a, love it even more in person ,finding it far superior to most other NYC whistles from Lionel, including the latest J3a. Overall I'm very satisfied with the soundset and may upgrade to four chuffs and fan smoke in the future. Sound on this loco is louder and fuller than my more recent legacy steamers.
A few drops of conductive oil on the rollers and ground wipers as well as finding the "sweet spot" on the momentum setting on the Legacy remote and it runs fabulous for an 18 year old loco.
Its heading some K line 15" pacemaker passenger cars that have been sitting idle for years waiting for this day LOL!
Best part, the smoke box is indeed graphite and there are no marker lights,no parting lines, and no patches over holes for the marker lights.