Any questions or feedback recieved through the ILTCO web site ends up in my mailbox. When I receive them I either answer them if I can or forward them on the appropriate person. Yesterday I found the following question in my Inbox:
Which Lego sets are better to buy for a Lego loving kid who currently has no Lego train set.
RC or 9 volt?
The Lego.com people say to get the RC since 9 volt is going away.
The following is a paraphrased version of my response to this question.
What the LEGO.com people is sort of true, sort of not. LEGO is indeed focusing their internal design and marketing on the new RC trains. They have also stated that 9v trains components will be available through LEGO Factory. How long the 9v trains components continue to be available is unknown. There will be a new 9v train set available in the spring but it will be sold via the LEGO Factory as opposed to a traditional set. I would expect the LEGO Train items you will find in the catalog to be mostly RC train sets as the existing 9v sets come to the end of their production life. The 10173 Holiday Train which LEGO has just released is a 9v train although it doesn’t come with a motor, track, or speed regulartor. It can be purchased along with a motor and rail kit for about $175.
There is some information in this LUGNET thread regarding the future of 9v trains from BrickFest this past August.
This question is hard for me to answer as I personally am a fan of the 9v system but I am also highly invested in it. I have 4 children myself all of whom play with LEGO quite a bit. We have also had our share of battery operated toys. There are pros and cons to the 9v and RC systems but for me, the biggest question is around power. The 9v electric system requires a child to plug the unit in the wall. I would have no problem allowing my 11, 9, or 7 year old to do that but every parent is different as are children. One 9 year old is not the same as another.
- Do you expect your child to build a train collection? If so, the 9v may be a better choice as pulling a long train is reportedly difficult with the RC motor.
- Do you expect your child to have a layout set up for an extended period of time? If not, the ease of snapping together the RC track and getting a train running may appeal to you.
- Do you want to run more than one train at a time? This is easy to do with RC (assuming you have 2 RC trains), harder with 9v.
- Battery powered toys require batteries. Do you expect to run the train for long periods of time? If not, the RC train is probably just fine. If you want it to run for hours around the Christmas tree during the holiday season, replacing the batteries (even rechargables) every few hours will get old quickly. On the flip side, the RC train definitely provides the child (or adult) much more feeling of control. The LEGO 9v speed controller is pretty simple – you plug it in and you have a speed dial. The direction it points and how far dictates how fast the train moves and in what direction.
I hope this information is helpful.