There are so many HobbyTown Texas train sets available for purchase today, how do you know which one is the top of the line? Although you aren’t required to purchase a set to begin with model railroading, most people prefer to. While some sets are better than others, the best set is the one that meets all of your needs.

Before you start shopping, here are a few tips to help you narrow your search.

1. Size Does Matter – What Size Is The Best?

®2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to, Inc.

All model trains are made to one of several common scales. This is the proportion to the prototype, or real trains. In general, hobby standards mean that trains of the same scale will work together without problems. So if you buy an HO scale set from Athearn, you can buy an extra freight car from Atlas and add it to your train with no problems.

Some manufacturers do have proprietary track systems which will not interchange with others’ and control systems like DCC can also make a difference. More on those later…

Determining which scale is best for you is really a matter of taste. Some people are drawn to smaller scales like “N” for its potential in smaller layouts. Others like the easier handling that comes with larger “O” scale trains, or the outdoor potential of “G.”

If you are buying a set as a gift for somebody else, it is helpful to know which scale they use. If you’re just getting started, you’ll want to read a little more about all of the scales before you head to the store.

2. What’s in a Name?

®2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to, Inc.

Model trains have been decorated for just about every railroad imaginable. From Santa Fe steam engines to Delaware and Hudson diesels – there is sure to be something out there that catches your eye. Obviously, there is no single “best” railroad to model, and just because your first set is decorated for the Union Pacific doesn’t mean you are stuck with that railroad for life.

Many modelers choose trains that they remember from their youth, or trains they see nearby. Others just go with what catches their eye. There’s nothing wrong with buying on looks and doing a little more research about the prototype later.

You’ll also find train sets decorated for other popular collectibles, including patriotic and holiday themes. These sets often have great appeal to collectors and modelers whose real interest lies in something beyond the train itself. If you’re looking for a train as a gift for someone who likes trains, you are probably better off avoiding the “Winterland Express.”