Hey all, it’s been a long time since I’ve purchased or even thought about starter sets. I’m looking to purchase one as a birthday present but I have no idea where to start. I’m leaning towards MTH but I’m not set on that idea. It looks like a lot of these new sets are underpowered in my opinion with small power packs rather than a traditional transformer. Anyway, I’m looking for recommendations as to which way to look. Any help you all would be able to provide is appreciated. 

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I've become a big fan of MTH. The only hands on experience with there starter sets are in standard gauge and I've enjoyed them.

I've had over40 boxed train sets, with and without track & transformer dating from 1990's versions through 2020, all makes, Lionel,  MTH, ATLAS, WILLIAMS.

On today's new market I  favor Lionel's Lionchief  sets with fastrack. Great value and fun to run. I have 3 now and 3 more coming later this year.  The power pack is plenty,  I'm powering  a Lionel double pretzel layout with their standard plug in 74 watt power pack, running HOGWARTS EXPRESS with 4 illuminated cars, on at least 60' of track with 2 crossovers, 036 curves. You can also adapt the layout to run transformer controlled engines (standard Lionel  MTH, Atlas, Williams)

I use to by MTH their trains and transformers are great, track is not as good as fastrack. 

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MTH produced great starter sets in std.gauge using the #10 engine and three cars with track, transformer, the whole works for approx $500-600. Let me know if you are interested.

This is a tough one...

Personally, the MTH ProtoSound 3 system has a better sound/control system in comparison to LC and LC+. Looking at the detail and appearance of the sets, I'm partial to MTH. That being said, Lionel's LC and LC+ system have a very "fun" remote and it is very easy for all ages to use. I think MTH would be the better option since I have been running R-T-R engines that I have had for 17+ years and the only work I needed to do was replace the batteries (or install a BCR). Are you thinking of a freight or passenger train set?

 

Got back into the hobby with the Lionel Polar Express set.  Easy to set up, LC Bluetooth app is nice. As things have expanded, power everything including 2 LC engines, numerous lighted cars, 4 plug and play items and about 25’ track effortlessly all off of a single Powerhouse 180.

Oscale_Trains_Lover_ posted:

Personally, the MTH ProtoSound 3 system has a better sound/control system in comparison to LC and LC+. Looking at the detail and appearance of the sets, I'm partial to MTH. That being said, Lionel's LC and LC+ system have a very "fun" remote and it is very easy for all ages to use.

That's the real issue as far as I'm concerned.  Especially if you're opting for a diesel set, flat handrails are a deal breaker for me so no LC+ diesel for me.  However,  I really dislike the DCS Explorer and using my phone as a remote.  It's a tough call.

Oscale_Trains_Lover_ posted:

This is a tough one...

Personally, the MTH ProtoSound 3 system has a better sound/control system in comparison to LC and LC+. Looking at the detail and appearance of the sets, I'm partial to MTH. That being said, Lionel's LC and LC+ system have a very "fun" remote and it is very easy for all ages to use. I think MTH would be the better option since I have been running R-T-R engines that I have had for 17+ years and the only work I needed to do was replace the batteries (or install a BCR). Are you thinking of a freight or passenger train set?

 

I would prefer a steam powered freight set as opposed to a passenger set. 

Your preference for control mechanisms might have some impact on your decision.  LionChief sets cannot be operated by transformer, only via the included remote or by the free app on your smart device.  If you can get a set with a Lionchief + loco that will also operate in conventional (transformer controlled) as well as LionChief command function. 

The current MTH PS3 locos will operate with a conventional transformer or with a free smart device app in DCS command mode using the included Explorer.  There is no remote included in the MTH set if you prefer a physical remote, nor is a remote available for command operation unless you buy the entire TIU/remote bundle separately (about $300-350 at most dealers). 

The LionChief locos will not operate via your TMCC or Legacy remote unless it is LionChief + 2.0 (not yet available I believe), but the set includes a dedicated remote, as mentioned above.  MTH PS3 locos will operate via your DCS system if you have or buy one (see above).

Landsteiner posted:

The current MTH PS3 locos will operate with a conventional transformer or with a free smart device app in DCS command mode using the included Explorer.  There is no remote included in the MTH set if you prefer a physical remote, nor is a remote available for command operation unless you buy the entire TIU/remote bundle separately (about $300-350 at most dealers). 

Not fully true. You can get the DCS Remote Commander as a separate item to run the train with a remote. Its a "dumbed-down" DCS system for about $60 (you can probably get a better price depending upon where you get it).

https://mthtrains.com/50-1033 

 

J 611 posted:
I would prefer a steam powered freight set as opposed to a passenger set. 

I would then say go with a MTH set. Their steam engines put out a lot more smoke in comparison to Lionel. 

 

Bryce

Last edited by Oscale_Trains_Lover_

"You can get the DCS Remote Commander as a separate item to run the train with a remote. Its a "dumbed-down" DCS system for about $60"

It's not DCS in some key respects and, as you note,  it's not included. That's why I specifically mentioned command control.  With DCS, command control is only available with the TIU/handheld Remote or TIU/WIU/you provide the tablet or phone.

The Remote Commander does not provide command control operation as the LionChief remote and universal remote do. The Remote Commander provides handheld remote operation of one MTH locomotive at a time.  Essentially conventional control in that respect,  and requires additional expense beyond the set.  

On the other hand,  LionChief starter sets (at least the ones with track) have always come with everything you need to operate in command mode using the enclosed remote.  I think that's an accurate portrayal of the choices. 

It has always puzzled me why MTH doesn't provide everything in their sets needed to operate it out of the box, and assumes everyone has a (spare?) smart device they want to use for this purpose. 

"Their steam engines put out a lot more smoke in comparison to Lionel. "

Just what we need in a world-wide respiratory virus pandemic, volatilized mineral oil for your lungs.   Seriously, this is the wrong time in history to be smoking, vaping, using toy train smoke or anything else that you inhale other than oxygen and nitrogen.  Smoking history is strongly associated with mortality due to COVID-19.  That's products of combustion, but your lungs do not like foreign materials in general.  There's no scientific evidence to cite specifically about volatilized mineral oil, but anything that puts foreign materials in your respiratory tract should be avoided like the plague in general, but particularly right now.

Landsteiner posted:

Just what we need in a world-wide respiratory virus pandemic, volatilized mineral oil for your lungs.

I am not disagreeing with you Landsteiner. No one should use smoke at this time and I should have stated that previously. However, in the long-term, this pandemic will end. If you want to use the smoke feature at a later date, you might as well get the one that puts out more. But that's just my opinion.

Last edited by Oscale_Trains_Lover_
Landsteiner posted:
The Remote Commander does not provide command control operation as the LionChief remote and universal remote do. The Remote Commander provides handheld remote operation of one MTH locomotive at a time.  Essentially conventional control in that respect,  and requires additional expense beyond the set.

It has always puzzled me why MTH doesn't provide everything in their sets needed to operate it out of the box, and assumes everyone has a (spare?) smart device they want to use for this purpose. 

The DCS remote commander is every bit of command control as is the dedicated LC remote. Both devices perform the same functions. You can adjust the volume, turn on and off the bell, blow the whistle, command announcements and the DCS commander can also operate accent sounds. You can also fire the front and rear couplers as all DCS engines have that feature. Plus Control the speed (DCS engine all have cruise control) and change the direction.

Unlike conventional control the DCS remote commander doesn't do this by means of rectifying voltage for whistle & bell, power cycling to change the direction, or using bell & whistle sequences to operate the PFA & Couplers. There are only two ways to operate a DCS engine.  Obviously the DCS remote commander is not conventional control, so it must be command control.

Who says you can only run one engine at a time!  My nephew runs three MTH DCS engines with a single DCS commander remote. He does this two different ways.  He sets up each starter set track and puts a DCS Remote Commander receiver on each independent track. Then he points the remote at the receiver of the corresponding track with the engine he wants to command. With one remote he runs three engines independently. Every once in a while his sister joins in with another remote and the two of them can control three engines however they like... I don't particularly care for the "Horn battles" they have.

OR

He combines the track of all three sets, and puts each engine on the single larger track in a lash-up.  Now when he sends commands to the connected DCS Remote receiver, all three engine obey and perform the same functions at the same time. The the sounds can get annoying but he usually turns the sound off on two of the locomotives before doing this.

I think you could do lash-ups with LC stuff but you either have to purchase specific A-B-A sets that have that ability or run three identical engines from the same remote.

 

Landsteiner posted:

It has always puzzled me why MTH doesn't provide everything in their sets needed to operate it out of the box, and assumes everyone has a (spare?) smart device they want to use for this purpose. 

Neil, even you admitted many years ago that smartphone and tablets are plentiful and handy to all.
https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...83#20858376896554283

Landsteiner posted:

I'm older than 42,  but it's clear that even now almost everyone has a smart phone,

tablets are not far behind in number, and in the future, >90% of people will be carrying around some sort of wi-fi, bluetooth or whatever enabled smart device.  It would be foolish for Lionel or MTH to ignore that reality.  Even if we older geezers aren't interested.  We're short timers here.

I believe (just like you) that spare smart devices are readily accessible and you'll easily find at least one in every household that has children of every age.

Remote Commander controls the track, not the locomotive, and this is not command control. No independent control of the locomotive when more than one is on the track. MTH sets are incomplete. If your opinion differs so be it.

Last edited by Landsteiner

They are "incomplete" to offer variety to the new buyer, and a lower cost for the seasoned, without buying things they don't want or need.

Starter sets are often just that; I think you should look to the better locos you really want, enough power you won't cry "more" in a year, and let the stock and command roll in as you can afford it.   Your overall purchases will likely be more satisfying long  way term that..... auto-"vindictive text" insists that is proper English... I "love" "smart tech"   ()

Oscale_Trains_Lover_ posted:

I do wish that the DCS commander could allow someone to control 2-3 locos independently on one loop of track like the LC/LC+ system.

Bryce

Bryce, I agree.

However, remember that the DCS Remote commander came out in 2010, a good three to four years before any LC products even arrived in homes and seven years before the the LC universal remote arrived in 2017 and finally let users run three LC engines with one remote. The DCS Explorer also arrived in 2017 which  allowed the same simultaneous three engine operation.

Also, the DCS remote commander can operate a single locomotive (or lash-up) with other command systems running on the same track. The Remote commander can always be used passively to command any engine that has the factory DCS ID of 0. You can mix and match the Remote Commander with any system as long as you provide power to the track and an engine(s) that is factory defaulted to DCS ID 0.

My nephew sometimes will use the Remote Commander with a WiFi Explorer to operate his starter sets, technically he can run up to four trains independently with the two systems together on the same track. He has even used it on my layout in conjunction with other DCS, TMCC & LC engines all running together at the same time.

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