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LGB was the first to market the scale back in the late 70s. They always were a quality product from the start and never let that lapse. They've been in a money pickle of late, I hope they make it through.

I own one of their earliest starter sets...



...after all those years it still purrs like a kitten around the Christmas tree now with nary a squeak.
 

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They all make good products. However, LGB has been around the longest and caters to a wide variety of interests, including North American and European outlines. Aristocraft and USA Trains cater mainly to the North American prototypes and they do make very high quality, detailed trains, modeled very closely after the prototypes you see on railroads today.

So for someone like myself, who is interested in European prototypes, LGB is the only game in town. While LGB has now moved most of their production to Hungary (via Marklin) or China, the majority of their products were manufactured and assembled in Germany since 1968. That coupled with LGB's high quality standards have ensured that their products are robust and stand up to all kinds of abuse.

They design their products to be operated in rain and snow, and actually encourage this, since one of their mandates was to allow everyone to enjoy their products no matter their locale or space situation. I have run the trains in snow and rain and they are not any worse for wear since the mechanical parts are well sealed from dirt and moisture. You can leave their trains in the sun for years and the plastics will never fade or crack. The use of advanced plastics means that the detail parts are flexible and don't snap off from even rough handling.

The track they manufacturer, while not exactly prototypical, fares fare better in the elements than any other manufacturer, whose plastic ties tend to deteriorate from the UV rays in sunlight. Not good if you have spent thousands on a garden railway, only to find you need to replace the track a couple seasons later.

LGB is also known as a 'toy' train manufacturer - their starter set like the one Shaygetz posted above has been manufactured in the hundreds of thousands, and many of those early trains are still in use today. While certain trains they have do look 'toy' like it's partly to appeal to youngsters as well - the trains are robust enough to be played with by younger kids, whereas you wouldn't really give a Dash-8 locomotive to a 5 year old. That locomotive above, the Stainz, is actually modeled from a prototype that was used in Austria many years ago. Since it does look funny, it may not appeal to those who are interested in exact scale replicas.

As Shaygetz mentioned, his starter set was one of the first manufactured and still runs like it was brand new. Some of my LGB models are 20, almost 30 years old and they still run well and look the part.

LGB, like many model train companies as of late, did file for bankruptcy a couple years ago and have eventually been bailed out by Marklin who has resumed LGB production this year and there is a product line for 2009. Unfortunately, this does not include any North American models, only Euro at this time.

So, I may be biased a bit in my presentation of LGB, but I am a strong believer in quality products that last.
 

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I do actually have one USATrains model, a DRG&W boxcar that someone went to great lengths to install a steam engine sound system on and did a pretty good job at that with synchronized wheel chuffing. Since it came from a lot I purchased that was mainly LGB I don't have a use for it. Anyone reading this is welcome to make me an offer on it ;)
 

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Like tworail, I favor the European equipment (looks like you're stuck with that boxcar, TR:D) That the Stainz set is modeled after a real loco and cars made that purchase all the sweeter. I hope one day to retire it from Christmas tree duty to a loop in the ceiling of a future layout room.
 

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While scanning over the G Scale threads I've noticed that more people use LGB than any other G scale train. Is there a reason for this? Does USA Trains or Aristocraft not make good products or is it price related?

- Will
Lots of the old timers will have LGB since they have been around the longest. Mainly, its brand loyalty like owning Fords or Toyotas. As the market has evolved and become more sophisticated, there has been a split to the 3 foot narrow gauge, 1:20.3 (Bachmann, Accucraft) and the 1:29/32 mainliners (Aristo, USAT, AML, MTH, LGB Amtrak). In my experience, most folks are running Bachmann, Aristo and USAT on their garden railroads.

-Brian
 
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