This American Flyer train set caught my attention, it was announced by Lionel around the time of this famous S-gauge (1:64) line’s 75th anniversary in 2021. You may view catalogs from current to several years back on Lionel’s website; I recommend locating the 2021 American Flyer catalog to check out the provided timeline that shares important events from 1946 to 2021 in this product’s history. For example, I knew Lionel acquired American Flyer many years ago and guessed it was mid-1960s (the timeline shows 1967). What surprised me was the gap from adding the tooling to reissuing it (Lionel-made product for American Flyer begins in 1979).
I have scale examples of S model trains in my collection from American Models, but I’d never dipped my collector toe into this category of this size model train. This Texas & Pacific livery is one I like and didn’t own in any scale, so it seemed like a fun opportunity to sample this contemporary American Flyer product. This set you see in this review came from New York’s TrainWorld (trainworld.com). This delivered recently and I was excited to get a look these S-gauge models. This is truly a “freight set” and not a “train set” as no track and no power source come in this release. The die-cast metal GP7 is powered, includes sound output, and comes packaged with a user guide for the included FlyerChief remote. Two other noteworthy inclusions in this set: a “FreightSounds” boxcar (decorated in the eye-catching Missouri Pacific Eagle livery) and operating log dump car. The rest of the consist includes a gray two-bay covered hopper lettered for Texas & Pacific, an orange three-dome tank car decorated for Hooker Chemicals, and a red offset cupola Texas & Pacific caboose (which is lighted). All equipment is assembled and this set is ready for track (supplied separately, along with a power source).
The handheld remote, branded FlyerChief, appears to be the same solid system Lionel calls LionChief and supplies with its larger scale offerings. The remote includes the red, white, and blue American Flyer Lines shield and is lettered to match the GP7 with “Texas & Pacific” and road number “1110” on the unit’s face. You can control direction and speed with this battery-powered remote. In addition, air horn and bell are buttons easily accessed, as are two buttons controlling “Electrocouplers” on each end of the Swamp Holly Orange and black GP7. This locomotive will also work with Lionel’s Bluetooth app.
All equipment (plastic and metal) was uniformly well-painted and lettered. Everything arrived without damage, though this is “toy train” territory and there are some fine details and parts to be careful of when handling. This set carries the typical recommendation for use by those 14 years and older. The set’s equipment is suggested for operation with R20 curves (the starting radius shown in Lionel’s American Flyer FasTrack series). These R20 curves build a 40-inch diameter circle, which gives you an understanding, if you are not a regular S-gauge participant, of what would be required with respect to space. Lionel’s FasTrack is similar to other roadbed/rail designs, with a molded plastic ballast base with brown tie detail and rails attached with joiners included. The base sections attach together (along with the railheads) to provide a sturdy right of way. Gilbert’s American Flyer is an all-time classic and many readers may lay claim to this brand and this size train as their starting point in the hobby some years back. Relive those memories by gifting yourself some contemporary American Flyer S-gauge equipment. If you’re like me and only knew this type of train from seeing it at swap meets, here’s a new experience for you in the hobby… and this set is great sampler of what American Flyer S-gauge has to offer.
American Flyer by Lionel
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