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Thomas the Tank Engine Toy Trains

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Thomas the Tank Engine, the little blue 0-6-0 steam engine with the (usually) smiling face, and his train-people friends delight children everywhere. Thomas electric trains can be a wonderful introduction to model railroading for children around the age of five. Here are Thomas the Tank Engine toy trains in various model railroading scales that are real electric trains.

A Note About Scale

If you're a parent thinking of buying electric trains for your child, please read the Parents' Guide to Toy Trains and Electric Trains. As you're about to discover, Thomas the Tank Engine electric trains are mostly HO and O scale trains in North America. If you've read my article on scales and gauges for children's trains you know that I have reservations about buying electric trains this large for children. If you haven't read it, I recommend that you do so. I'm not trying to talk you out of a Lionel or Bachmann Thomas set, I just want you to know what you're getting into.

N Scale

Image courtesy of Plaza Japan.
N scale may look small to you, but remember, children have smaller hands. To find N scale Thomas the Tank Engine electric trains you have to go to Japan. Not literally, but you do have to find a model train supplier who imports Tomix trains from Japan. If you follow my blog, you know that I've bought the Thomas, Henry, James, and Percy toy trains from Tomix through Plaza Japan. I am not affiliated with Plaza Japan, and receive no consideration from them. I am simply reporting the only source I know of for these Thomas N scale electric trains. If you are a supplier who has these trains in stock, please post the information in our forum and I'll add your Thomas URL here.

HO Scale

Photo courtesy of Bachmann Industries.
Thomas the Tank Engine electric trains in HO scale are made by Bachmann Industries. Bachmann also offers the Henry, Spencer, Gordon and Emily characters in HO. The Deluxe Thomas the Tank Engine set includes Thomas with moving eyes, Annie and Clarabel coaches, Bertie the Bus, Harold the Helicopter, a Sir Topham Hatt figure, a 56" x 38" oval of E-Z Track integrated roadbed track, and a powerpack. But Bachmann also offers smaller Thomas sets with fewer accessories. On their Thomas trains Bachmann uses hook & loop-style couplers, which should be easier for children to couple and uncouple than the style of couplers normally used on HO scale model trains.
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O Scale

Photo courtesy of Lionel, LLC.
In three-rail O scale, Thomas the Tank Engine trains are made by Lionel, LLC. The Thomas toy train set from Lionel includes Thomas with the Annie and Clarabel coach cars. Thomas has swiveling eyes and three interchangeable faces. Also included in the Lionel set are Sir Topham Hatt and two other play figures, a 40" x 60" oval of FasTrack integrated roadbed track and a transformer.
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OO Gauge

Thomas the Tank Engine comes from England. In the UK, "railway modellers" use the term "gauge" the way we model railroaders here in the U.S. use the term "scale". The most popular gauge in the UK is OO gauge. OO gauge and HO scale are close to each other in size, and they actually use the same 16.5mm gauge track. The largest manufacturer of OO gauge trains in the world is Hornby Hobbies. Hornby offers what is probably the most complete line of Thomas the Tank Engine products available. The Hornby Discussion board even has a Thomas Forum. At the time of this writing I don't know of a North American source for these Thomas toy trains from Hornby.

DCC Decoder Installations

Digital Command Control (DCC) is a hi-tech way to control model railroad trains. Some people have modified Thomas trains for DCC operations. Please see my article on DCC decoder installations for Thomas locomotives.
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