Are you a Lionel fan or an MTH fan? Each has their pros and cons. I own locomotives, rolling stock, and accessories from both and enjoy them all but I have to say I like the huge selections offered by MTH Electric Trains. In order to find out how I arrived at this decision we have to go back to my first command equipped locomotives.
My first command equipped O-Gauge steam locomotive was made by MTH Electric Trains. It was a faithful day 10 years ago when my parents and I walked into Clearview Train & Hobby in Lorain. We walked near the back to look at the display cabinets of locomotives. A blue steam locomotive bearing the name Baltimore & Ohio was of particular interest to us as its price tag stated that it came with six matching passenger cars for a very reasonable price. Next to it was a Lionel NYC Hudson with the same deal and a slightly higher price.
The worker in charge of the train department brought it out of the cabinet and explained that the B&O locomotive was made by MTH Electric Trains and featured Proto-Sound 2.0. He placed it on the test track and showed us how it worked and we were blown away by the amazing sounds and smoke. Suffice it to say that 20 minutes later the 30-1191-1 Baltimore & Ohio 4-6-2 Pacific and its matching six B&O streamlined passenger cars were inside of our car and heading home to my first on the floor layout to join its conventional Lionel cousins. Suffice it to say it instantly became my favorite and most used locomotive at the time.
At 14 years old the locomotive is still going strong today and remains one of my favorites.
My second command equipped locomotive was from Lionel Electric Trains and came in the form of the 6-38045 LionMaster New York Center J3a Hudson. The engine was a Christmas gift and was purchased from Train-O-Rama in Marblehead. I should mention that at this point I had acquired a Lionel TMCC Command Base and Cab-1 Remote along with a TPC 400 powered by a 180 Watt PowerHouse. With this configuration I was able to run the B&O Pacific and the Hudson at the same time. I was initially very excited to finally have NYC Hudson of my own heightened by the fact that 5418 is pictured five times in Alvin F. Staufer’s Thoroughbreds.
Having a little more detail than the B&O Pacific such as builders plates, NYC shield below the headlight, and more separately applied parts the Hudson seamed like a higher quality model. By price alone it was nearly $100 more than what we paid for the Pacific and 6 coaches. However once it was running I found MTH’s sounds and controls to be superior to RailSounds 5.0. While the Pacific had the Passenger Freight Announcements the CrewTalk on the Hudson said only three different things which were not all that impressive and garbled. However I still enjoyed the locomotive as I now had two command engines to play with.
Of the two the B&O Pacific became the go-to locomotive to show off when guests came to see the layout. I received the MTH DCS System in short succession and began looking more at the MTH catalogs for locomotives than the Lionel catalogs. In terms of features, details, controls and price the MTH engines are superior in many was to TMCC locomotives. Lionel Legacy brought Lionel to an almost equal operational level with Proto-Sound 2/3 but still lacks some of the fun operating features like Proto-Cast.
My current roster now consists of more MTH locomotives than Lionel engines but those new Lionel Legacy Whistle Steam locomotives sure were tempting in the 2014 catalog…
That’s a story for another time though.