Lionel Area 51 Alien Recovery Set #6-31926

Has anyone had any experience with this set? I know it's just a cheap O27 starter set. But is it at least the minimal Lionel quality (e.g. die-cast
loco, half-way decent engine, and such?)
I want, and can more than afford to buy, premium trains for a bigger layout (which I don't have yet, but I'm still house hunting.) I'm holding off because I can't decide, as well as not having O72 curves to run them properly. (At least I'll probably hold off... I can have them just on display before I have the track, right?) But this Area 51 set has a certain silly campiness that is appealing - like an old episode of Batman.
Lionel still produces alien themed rolling stock also. Before I even knew that set existed, I ordered a few cars for the hell of it. Alien Suspension car, Alien Radar Tracking car, Alien Sounds boxcar. U.S. Army security car, and a U.S. Army Transport 0-4-0 loco (which power-wise may be more of a switcher than a loco) with the same idea in mind. Something silly and unrealistic (or is it? Oooooo weeeeee Ooooooo.)
I can get the Lionel UFO Cafe accessory to complement it. Maybe have the Alien-laden loco hide in a tunnel until everyone in town is asleep. Or maybe use a smoke generator to simulate the CIA putting the entire town to sleep while they transport the aliens.
The N&W Space Freight set (which *is* a premium set according to the catalog) with the #175 Rocket Launcher accessory would compliment this theme also.
I know, it's just playing... I'll have to get in touch with the Milwaukee chapter of the Lionel Train Club and make some friends with real modelers who could help me out with scenery.
My layout will be anything but realistic. But if I want reality, I turn on the news. Frankly, I have had enough of reality lately. My mother died last October, my father is sick and won't eat, my nephew is currently patrolling the streets of Baghdad with the Marines (he'll be on leave in June to come home and get married, then go back. God I hope he comes back in one piece), etc.
I certainly don't want reality on a train layout. All the trains I get stuck at the light watching in Milwaukee are rust-buckets hauling dirty, rusty, graffiti-laden cars.
No offense to anyone who models that very thing - and I know some of you do, right down to the graffiti. I've seen pics and video of some amazing examples on the web. I'm sticking with being unrealistic by choice.
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I would expect that set to have a plastic body. Maybe even a DC motor. Very low end.
Spender wrote:

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wrote:

Here is the description from the Lionel catalog: "Durable trucks and body, metal frame" does seem to suggest a plastic shell.
Area 51 Alien Recovery
Gliding quietly through the dry Nevada desert, a shadowy locomotive hauls its mysterious cargo into the Groom Lake military installation, home of the nations most deeply guarded secrets. High-level government officials and a select group of scientists await the arrival of the train while the guards carefully examine each car as it rolls by. Pulled by a sleek Alco FA diesel locomotive, a UFO mysteriously hovers above the following car. Another car is equipped with sophisticated radar equipment, carefully scanning the horizon for extra-terrestrial activity in the distance. A tank car glows as it transports some otherworldly substance. At the end of the train, the caboose aims an intense beacon into the sky to signal alien spacecraft entering the earths atmosphere. This is a close encounter of a Lionel kind. Set includes: Alco FA locomotive, hovering UFO car, operating radar car, glowing tank car, searchlight caboose, 8 pieces of straight and 8 pieces of curved O-27 track, 40 watt transformer/controller
Locomotive features:
Transformer controlled forward, neutral and reverse operation Operating diesel horn Operating headlight 2 Operating couplers Maintenance-free powerful motor 2 traction tires Durable trucks and body Metal frame Lighted number boards Lighted cab interior
Rolling stock features:
Die-cast metal trucks and operating couplers Metal frames Painted bodies UFO hovers over fan-blower on car Antenna rotates and radar screen is illuminated Rotating searchlight with alien lens on caboose Metal brake wheels
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Spender wrote:

Yes If it was di-cast it would say so.

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Here's one:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Lionel-6-31926-Area-51-Alien-Recovery-Train-Set-MIB_W0QQitemZ250081187687QQihZ015QQcategoryZ4148QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem#ebayphotohosting
It appears to have an Alco FA locomotive (plastic). The motor is possibly a DC motor "rectified" to run with AC current. The 40w AC transformer was included in most of the lower priced sets and had a wall transformer and controller. Track was probably standard 027. My copies of the Lionel 2002 catalog are missing in action so I cannot locate more of the actual details.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Books, Toys, and Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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I'm no electrician. Does a DC motor rectified to run with AC current mean it's inherently bad? Just less powerful? Won't last long enough to hand down to my son someday?
I've always heard that most everything Lionel makes will, if cared for, be fully operational antiques someday.
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Spender wrote:

No it is not inherently bad, but on Lionel low end sets they use a very poor motor, one per engine, low end. If it is properly maintained and not run too much your son bay enjoy looking at it someday.

This is a false assumption. I repair old Lionel equipment and I see quite a bit that just wore out.
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wrote:

Poor choice of words on my part. I should have said they will either be fully operational, or fully reparable antiques someday - thanks to guys like you who know how to fix them.
For $200 I think I get the set. I can enjoy the silliness of it for a while, and then use it as a test bed to see how my boy treats a train before letting him touch something expensive.
It'll be a while anyway. He's only 14 months old. But I've taught him how to press the whistle button already. Now I'm working on getting him to stop pressing it...
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I don't understand the question you are asking here Steve? I have this set what do you want to know about it?
On Feb 9, 4:37 pm, Steve snipped-for-privacy@Mars.org> wrote:

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