I want to send a Polar Express set to my son's family out of state. They set up a Christmas village with Dept 56 buildings.

I don't have any of those buildings to compare to.

So my question is which set to send. S or O (traditional size) ??

Thanks for the advice.

Last edited by GVDobler
Original Post

As an S-Scaler, I have to be honest: Go with Traditional sized O.  If they're not fully entrenched in the model railroad world, they will have an easier time expanding traditional O than S if they so desire.


Rusty is right on the money......send them the traditional sized O outfit. It’ll look just fine, and anything they want to add will be readily available for them to grow on.....I’m not knockin’ the Flyer guys, it’s just as Rusty pointed out, it’ll be a whole lot easier to obtain add ons.....and that set will be a little more forgiving with younger hands......not bulletproof, but it will have a fighting chance.....😁.......Pat

I have been AF all my life but I also agree with Rusty. Another reason is tradition sized Lionel will operate on a smaller curve radius than AF meaning a Lionel layout can actually be smaller than an American Flyer layout.

D56 Dickens village buildings are slightly smaller so S maybe better.  Otherwise use O.  I have Christmas in the City with O and they look great.

On30 also works well with D56 & Lemax style Buildings.

Locomotives and Cars are on the smaller size than O or Most S.

The D56 people figures are grossly over-size like the Lionel Gateman, so I try to not use them, but some are "nailed" to buildings I like.

D56 uses selective compression.  For example the Empire State building is maybe 3X the height of a traditional D56 two story building.   Looks good but not close to scale.

It depends which village you collect.  Snow Village is very close to traditional  O and  O-27 postwar trains. To my eye it looks a little small for O scale.   New England village is a bit smaller than Snow Village and looks good with O,  O-27 as well as  Flyer and S scale.  The problem with all of the Dept56 buildings is the doors are more often than not out of proportion to the rest of the building.  Dickens village is very nearly the same scale as New England village and I have a  mixture of both.  Many of the multi story buildings in both these collections look to be a smaller scale than the single story houses and shops. My daughter has a massive Snow Village collection I started buying it for her in 1985 when she was six.  My favorite D56 village is Seasons Bay which represents a New England seaside resort. Some of these buildings are what I think  somewhere between O gauge postwar and O scale. They are some of the rarest of the D56 buildings.  However some are always on eBay.   By the way I have a massive collection of D56 and am seriously thinking about selling all of it.  Perhaps I will list it all here on the forum.                           j

I would go with anything 0 or 0-27. I usually set mine up with my Marx trains as it helps keep the "toylike" theme under the tree. 


I agree with the comments above, O will be easier to add on to. I am in S myself and have some of these ceramic buildings on my layout, they will look fine with both.


O Gauge looks good with the Snow Village buildings although as mentioned, the Snow Village people are out of scale.  I always wanted to run a Tinplate train for Christmas through my parents snow village as the bright shiny enamel engines and cars would fit very well with shiny buildings etc. of the snow village.  

Yes, I vote for traditional O as well!  I agree some of the people are way out of scale, but the buildings work well with my traditional O.  That is about the only time I run traditional O, Christmas trains with Dept 56.  Otherwise, I run scale O; but that is for another topic.

An alternate line of thought ...

If the intent is to use the Polar Express set only with a Christmas snow village holiday display every year, then I suggest choosing the better looking train, which the Flyer set most definitely is. The Flyer set, particularly the loco, is much closer to the appearance of the Polar Express in the movie. If, on the other hand, this is an opening purchase for what is likely to become a larger and more extended railroading layout beyond the annual holiday snow village, then the O gauge route might be the more logical choice.

Have fun, regardless!


O is best. However, the figures that come with Dept 56 or Lemax buildings are more on scale with G size trains...so you're best not to worry too much about "correct" size. As far as "non-train" people goes...everything looks fine.

I am a "Five Footer," that is, my view of trains is the overall impression I see five feet away. I use Dept 56 and other similar size ceramic buildings on my O-gauge railroad. The trains are mostly MTH Rail King with some Lionel 6464 Series freight cars. The vehicles are 1:32.Floral Park 580kbFloral Park 184kb


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Last edited by Bobby Ogage

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