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.