I'm new to the hobby. I'm trying to figure out if I'm just unlucky or if what I have experienced is a symptom of larger quality control issues at Lionel. I'm creating my first 4 1/2 x 8ft (more on the size later) layout using mostly Lionel and Dept. 56 products. I have to say that I am shocked by the utter lack of quality control with the Lionel products. Everything had an issue right out of the box. I don't think anything was tested. Everything arrived well packaged with no damage. The Polar Express set was missing two figures and instructions. The fireman figure didn't have a beard (how do you miss that in production given that is his most noticeable characteristic?). Also the plug and play expansion port didn't work. I purchased a power block and conductor gateman and he gets stuck on the door and doesn't come out. I purchased a train station and it didn't light up and had glue on the base. I called and emailed Lionel and have received no response (one week). The 4 1/2 x 8ft layout choice from Lionel actually doesn't fit in a 4 1/2 x 8ft space. The track runs over the edge of the board about 3 inches on each side. No one actually thought to measure the size I guess. All in all I feel like sending the $800 plus track, accessories, and set back and calling it quits. Not sure what Lionel is doing but this is not how you keep customers.