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  • Jim Bessman

Model train manufacturers expand their wireless offerings


Lionel

Lionel's Polar Express Ready-to-Run Set

Model trains continue to expand into wireless technology, as was evidenced by exchibition hall displays at last month's Toy Fair.

Bachmann Trains showed its first E-Z App-controlled steam locomotive, the Alco 2-6-0, and the new Boy Scouts of America Scout Special train set. Both use the company's free E-Z App download to control the trains via Android or Apple smart device touchscreen.

New, too, is the E-Z Track White Pass & Yukon On30 set--a model version of the 19th century train that continues operation now as a heritage railway.

Lionel likewise demonstrated its new LionChief app, also a free download allowing full operation of its Ready-to-Run trains via BlueTooth-enabled smart phones. As with Bachmann's E-Z App, it enables other wireless features, including operation of multiple locomotives from the same device, backwards and forward motion, speed, and sound effects.

Lionel's new Read-to-Run trains include Mickey & Friends Express, featuring the famous Disney cartoon characters; The Polar Express train set, which includes sound clips from the movie; and Harry Potter's Hogwarts Express.

Bachmann also showed the new Paxton locomotive (with moving eyes) for its HO Thomas & Friends line, along with Rusty in Narrow Gauge, and Diesel (also with moving eyes) in Large Scale. New entries to the Norman Rockwell line, meanwhile, include an On30 Norman Rockwell's American Christmas set and the battery-operated, auto-reversing Norman Rockwell's Main Street Christmas Streetcar Set.

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