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Hi everybody,

I'm new to O scale as of last year and am catching up on purchasing my dream locomotives. I came from Z scale btw.

I currently have an MTH Restoration Big Boy on preorder, but a Lionel Visionline UP Challenger came on the market for about the same price. I'm looking for opinions on which is the better purchase. Especially around how "special" each engine is in regards to detail, quality, resale value. I think they are both equally cool, but is there a clear choice? Here's my current thought process:

MTH Big Boy

  • It's new so potentially no issues or issues repaired under warranty
  • I run DCS so it will work out-of-the-box on my layout
  • Unique restoration PSA

Lionel VL Challenger

  • Amazing smoke and sound effects
  • It's 10 years old with lots of features that could lead to  a lot of problems
  • I would need to buy a Legacy system which I was planning on doing down the road at some point anyway since I have a few Legacy sound cars

Thanks for the help,


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Seems to me the price on the Challenger is quite high for a ten year old engine. Most of the problems reported here are about the smoke units not working but obviously due to many reasons. Some have no problems.

I have a MTH Big Boy put together using an older engine and tender shell along with a new sound file. It has whistle steam. Stack steam has been set to low to not obliterate the whistle steam. I suspect the next release will look and sound much like this one.



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Last edited by Norton

No matter which locomotive you purchase, they can be restored if there are problems down the road. I’ll lean toward Lionel’s Challenger do to the great sound system, I think 3 speakers, special smoking effects, detailed deck plate, great whistle, beautiful styling, great runner, I’ve owned several of them, few issues. With Gunrunner John, Alex M., Harmonyards repairs, either locomotive will be great. You could buy both and have a world of fun. Happy Railroading Everyone

I can tell you this, as someone who takes a bunch of these locomotive apart, the latest gearbox in Legacy steam is not as good as the MTH gearbox. The TMCC version of the locomotive uses the same bullet proof gearbox that MTH does. When Lionel went to Legacy they made the gearbox needlessly complex so it has more failure points. From a pure reliability/ruggedness standpoint the MTH Premier model or an early 2000s made in Korea TMCC model is better than any Legacy version.

I have a Lionel Legacy Big Boy 4014 First Run and a Lionel Vision Line Challenger 3985. I have a full Legacy 990 system for my bedroom floor layout. I did pre order the MTH Big Boy final run when it was first announced but then cancelled since i wanted all my UP engines to run on legacy control. Also, I dont know if MTH will ever have a remote operation again. Too many weirdos selling them at high prices on ebay.

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