Hornby Santa Express Train Set Review
Say the name Hornby to me and it conjures up memories of my childhood sitting amazed at my ‘once beloved’ Intercity 125 train set, the smell of WD40 and watching it “woosh” around my circular track again and again and again. I say once beloved as like many other of my childhood favourite toys I had, my parents for some unknown reason never believed in keeping things so as I got older gave them away never to be seen again… I’m sure they’d have been on eBay at one point fetching hundreds of pounds as the reached “retro / collectable status”.
I’ve always been fascinated in trains (and aeroplanes for that matter but thats for another day) and dreamed of having my own model rail station in a man cave somewhere in the back of the garden… as it is our adorable children came along and instead we have a 10ft trampoline and our shed is full of chalkboards, kitchens and such like.
When I was asked if I’d be interested to work with Hornby and review one of their sets it all came flooding back and the hope that like me, H would be just as fascinated with Hornby model train collections. We were asked to (rather topically) review the Hornby Santa Express Train set (or R1179 for the collectors out there) which comes complete with three piece train, an oval like track, a midimat (which for non train collectors is a large poster like aerial view of a couple of train tracks used to begin your own model setting) and the obviously a power controller to control the train.
The three piece train is made up of a Santa’s Express locomotive in its rich red colour, an open wagon containing a removable insert full of presents and finally a reindeer box van. The detail as you’d expect with Hornby is fantastic with every piece a fascinating replica of the models they portray. You are even provided with a couple of men to place into the locomotive to show them shovelling coal into the train’s engine as well as the other who is steering the train. The present insert has been beautifully decorated with such detail and every individual present styled perfectly. Finally the reindeer box with labelling on the side to ensure all the see it will know what its for.
Set up was fairly easy as I was dealing with a standard oval track containing two small straight pieces (one containing the power connectors) as well as 8 round pieces each slotting into each other, just like they did in my childhood days to form the track. I would say that unlike when I was much younger, the connecting of the track felt a lot more tough to do and certainly something an adult would do given the complexity of ensuring both sides of the track slot into each other correctly. The build was as strong as ever though and although at first I was worried I would bend or worst still snap the pieces when trying to connect them, once I understood the quality of the pieces, confidence regained that this wouldn’t be easily done. The fact that the pieces are so tight when connecting together did stand it in good stead though as unlike many toy train sets, this was able to be set up and used with ease on carpet as the track didn’t break up on an uneven surface.
Connecting the power has been made a lot easier too since my younger days as I remember having to slide two metal connectors under the track in a certain way in order to provide it with power however nowadays the set comes with a power piece which two connectors easily connect to in order to achieve the same effect. Finally the power control is extremely easy to use with a simple turn dial to regulate the speed of the train and a switch to change the direction to forwards or backwards. H was able to pick this up and use it no problems and after a couple of laps he was soon stopping and reversing on my command (no fat controller jokes please).
We played having fun for ages with this simple track design, uncoupling the carts, changing the order, re-coupling, forwards, backwards, fast and slow and we both really did enjoying having fun discussing all about santa and when he would use a train during his present delivering… Obviously for those wondering, the reindeers needed a break as they were tired so Santa jumped on board his train to deliver a couple of presents to some good boys and girls 😉
The set packs away just as easy and into its moulded polystyrene compartments meaning just like Hornby sets of old, treat this well and it will last you a lifetime… just so long as your mum and dad don’t decide to give it away when you get older 😉 This will definitely be one we get out every Christmas to help start the magical feeling our the little ones.
Until next time
NB: The Hornby Santa Express Train Set is available direct from Hornby for £54.99 and although I was provided with a set for the purposes of the review, all thoughts and opinions are that of my own.