The model railway - or train set to give it an alternative name - first came about in the 19th century, but it was not until the early 20th century when electric models came to the market. This revolutionized the toy industry, and there can be very few young boys - and girls - who have not had a model train set of some form.
Many are simple and quite crude, but the latest models can be superbly created and represent actual historic or current locomotives and rolling stock. The popular theme is to create a 'layout' on a sheet of wood, with buildings and other features often built from scratch.
Many famous brands have been established in the world of model train sets for a long time: Hornby, founded by Meccano inventor Frank Hornby at the very start of the 20th century, was an early innovator in the field and the brand is synonymous with the hobby to this day. The collector's favourite is German manufacturer Marklin.
Indeed, many famous people love model railways and the likes of singers Rod Stewart and Roger Daltrey as well as Bruce Springsteen and others are all fans. Ex Formula 1 driver, the Italian Riccardo Patrese, is a leading collector of Marklin models too. So, how about a train set as a Christmas present?
Train Sets as Christmas Presents
The model train set is a traditional Christmas present for a young boy, and there's no reason why girls cannot enjoy them too! In the romantic days of steam locomotives, many a young boy dreamt of being on the footplate of famous locomotives such as The Flying Scotsman or Mallard, but in most cases a train set was the next best thing.
If you want to give a train set as a gift then the first step is to decide which 'gauge' you want, this being the scale the locomotives and other items are built to.
There are several to choose from with the most popular being 'OO' gauge. This is a model size of 1:76, which is great for a hobbyist. If you have limited space, you may want to go even smaller and look at 'N' gauge.
Top model and track maker LGB train sets offers its own range of gauges and has some impressively detailed models in its stock list, and is a brand favoured by serious collectors and beginners alike.
You can buy a model train set that the child can simply set up and play with when they want, but the best option is to create a layout. In fact, many train sets are not for children at all as this is very much an adult hobby so you may be looking at a model train set and accessories as a Christmas gift for an adult.
How to Choose the Right Set
When you start looking for your model train set you will find there is plenty of choice in terms of brands. You may want to build an LGB set as they are quite exclusive and have a wide variety of original and licensed models that are of a high quality. Many start with a Hornby set, and you can choose from ready to go sets representing famous locomotives of the past.
Whatever you choose, you'll find that a model train set is a very welcome Christmas gift, and one that can be enjoyed not just by the recipient but all the family. Choose a theme and add to it as you go along, and soon you'll have your own model railway city - just like those famous people who love the hobby too!