Lionel H0 Sets

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).

A typical basic set was 1960’s 5735, which contained a small locomotive, three cars, a circle of track and the small 0103 power pack:

Going back to the 5747 outfit, like most sets, it was offered only one year (in 1960), but was one of Lionel’s better H0 train sets. In addition to both a powered and dummy locomotive, this set included two different operating cars and three more cars, more track, the 0470 rocket launcher, two bridges and the more powerful 0101 power pack. There was another set at the same price point, and one more expensive set.

Inside the set box, the individual components were packed in individual boxes:

Since most of the individuals receiving such starter sets were beginners, many simply threw the individual boxes away, making the discovery of a complete set in its original boxes quite a find.

Here, year by year, are Lionel’s H0 starter outfits.

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