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The joy of train sets

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The thread on starter sets got me reminiscing and thinking about how youngsters got started in the hobby. It usually started with a basic train set that in some cases grew over time with extra track packs, accessories and scenic buildings and structures, signals, stations, bridges, level crossings, etc. Once started this triggers the 'collection gene', saving pocket money to buy an additional point or an additional coach coach, subsequent birthdays and/or Christmas's usually had train sets or train set accessories on the wish list, uncles and aunts encouraged to always give little jimmy something for his train set. Aside from youngsters imagination replaying either train movements they have witnessed themselves in real life, or reenacting what they have seen on TV or films (eg period TV dramas or old war movies depicting steam passenger trains in UK). Detached nostalgia, or whatever, but it seems to work. Youngsters acquire a whole range of skills, constructor, track geometry, assembling and disassembling track plans, experimenting with possible track layouts using limited resources they have in terms of set track, basic electrical skills, loco maintenance, lubrication, removing carpet hairs, etc, the list of skills they are being exposed to is amazing, engineering, geometry, electrics, electric motors, basic wiring, and imagination let loose. They very first thing every kid wanted was to buy a point for their starter oval or track so that their imaginary railway could actually do something purposeful and be controlled, then the desire for a second loco, so their magic train world could switch trains. Making up cardboard add on scenery, using hardback beano annuals as station platforms, shoe boxes as tunnels or raised track sections. Learning about structural engineering through trial and error. Is there anything better to stir a youngsters development and imagination? . . . and keep them stimulated and occupied for hours on end without being glued to an LCD screen? :) 

Things like Lego, Mecanno are well up there on the list, but nothing beats toy train sets for stimulating such a diverse future hobby.

Edited by Noel
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