For people starting out in the hobby of model trains, the most common way for getting started is with model train sets. While it is possible for a beginners to just purchase all of the components separately (train, track, etc.), many decide to start with model train sets, as they have all of the basic requirements that a beginner requires.
However before deciding on your first model train set, you will need to decide on which scale which you are going to want to be modelling with. The main consideration that you need to make is to have a good idea of how much space you have available for your layout (as well as any plans for expansion) so you can get the most enjoyment out of it.
Also because of the variations in size between the scales, you need to find a scale that you are comfortable working with, i.e. smaller scales may be quite fiddly and delicate for younger children and more “seasoned” modellers. Obviously, the larger the scale the easier it will be to handle and (if you are planning on doing it) weathering your locos and rolling stock.
Below is a quick rundown of the main scales:
N Scale is 1:160 scale, so allows for more complex layouts in a smaller space available. Due to the increase in popularity for N scale the amount of accessories available has also increased. However a downside of N scale is that because of its small size it can be quite fiddly to manipulate your layout.
HO Scale is 1:87.1 scale. It is considered to be the most popular of all the scales. It’s popularity is due to the combination of the wide range of accessories available, along with its easy to manipulate size combined with how much you can do with the space that you have.
O Scale is 1:48 scale. Because of its larger scale it is much easier to weather your model trains and rolling stock (if that is what you are intending to do). It is also easier to handle (particularly for children and older modellers). That said, because of its size it could be difficult to make a realistic looking layout, unless you have a lot of space.
G Scale varies from 1:22.5 to 1:29 (depending on the manufacturer). G scale is more commonly known as “Garden Scale”, as the majority of the trains and accessories are made suitable for use outside. Also because of the large scale, you need to have ALOT OF ROOM for G scale, which is why most layouts tend to be out in the garden, where there is more room.
It’s important that if you are buying model train sets as a gift for someone, then you will need to take these things into consideration for them. If they are already modelling then find out what scale they are using so you can get the right model train sets.
You can find some recommendations for model train sets for beginners here. If you have any recommendations, comments, or pros and cons about using particular scales then leave them in the comments below.
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