The most common entry for beginners to model railroading is via the train set. Lionel chose to call their sets “outfits”, but the principles remained the same. The train set had everything necessary to get you started in the hobby. One common question from potential buyers was “Is it cheaper to buy the items individually?” and the answer is almost always “No”. Train set pricing is subsidized, which is to say that the train set manufacturer hopes to entice you to buy their brand of train and then later come back to the hobby shop to buy more. Occasionally, there would be exceptions to this rule, and on occasion there would be the value-oriented customer who could not bear to buy a set that contained what they deemed to be superfluous items. But, on the whole, buying the starter train set was the way to go.
That said, Lionel’s train outfit boxes varied over the years. Some were plain brown cardboard boxes, while others, such as the 5747 set (above), were modestly colorful. Others were downright interesting, such as the 5739 box (below).