I received my first model train set when I was just 11 years old.
It came at Christmas and was set up around the tree like a silver train track wreath. There were two engines (although if I remember correctly one was just for show), five boxcars, two flatbeds and a caboose.
The engines were old black CN locomotives with that bold red CN logo on the sides, while the boxcars were nondescript brown and black.
The Caboose, now that was a deep rich red, as they should, be and was my favourite car of them all. To me, that Christmas will always be remembered for that red caboose.
Of course youd think that at that moment I began to love trains and became a model train enthusiast. Well not exactly.
I played with that oval track and those model trains for a good while, but as all thing in childhood, I moved on to, to me, bigger and better thing: my new bike, the pogo stick, girls, and of course cars.
It wasnt until I had my own kids that the memories of that HO train set came flooding back to me.
How I would sit there and watch it go round that oval click track! How my father seemed to always be there, sitting and watching my fun! How I felt as I pretended to be the engineer lugging a load to the next town on the route!
I even imagined how my father must have felt as he picked out what he hoped was the perfect model train set to go around the tree that year.
It was these memories that prompted me to get my own kids their first HO model train kit for Christmas this year.
To see their faces light up as they see that train going round the tree will be priceless and to watch them pretend to be engineers is going to lighten my heart.
Of course, this is the moment that made me a true model train enthusiast. So as I buy my children their first model train set, I will be looking for my second.
The basement corner is looking to me more and more like that train yard near my old home out west. I really cant wait to get to work on my new HO model train layout and conscript the boys into helping.
Maybe they will become model train enthusiasts like me. I certainly hope so.
If you are reading this article and thinking that you and your children might want a model train set for Christmas, then I recommend you follow my lead. The HO model trains are the most popular scale with model railroad enthusiasts.
This 1:87 scale allows you to fit a good sized track into an average size space. There is also lots of accessories and scenery available for this model. If you have limited space you may want to consider an N scale layout.
This 1:160 scale is small enough that you put a fairly complex layout in a small space. Of course your focus will be more on the layout and not the locomotive and cars themselves.
However if you have lots of space, you may want to use the larger O scale. At a 1:48 scale your focus will definitely be on the engine and rolling stock and not the layout.
However you really need a large space for these train sets. Whatever you decide, I hope you and your family soon discover the joys of model railroading!