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Review: Cargo Railway 4559


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Poll: On a scale of 1 to 5 (34 member(s) have cast votes)

How do you rate this set?

  1. 5 - Train-Tacular! (7 votes [20.59%])

    Percentage of vote: 20.59%

  2. 4 - Above Average (3 votes [8.82%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.82%

  3. 3 - Average (11 votes [32.35%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.35%

  4. 2 - Below Average (11 votes [32.35%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.35%

  5. 1 - Poor (2 votes [5.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.88%

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#1 Anticyclone

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 04:50 PM

Out of all the Lego sets that came out during my childhood, none was more sought after by me than this set. It was around that time (1996) that I started getting into Lego in general but I’ve always been obsessed with trains and railroading so naturally I wanted to get my hands on any starter set… or any Lego set involving trains for that matter.  Every time I visited Toys’R’Us I would dash for the Lego isle and admire the sets they had but it was this set that caught my eye and made it onto my wish list... for a long time. Due to the price however I could not afford the set or get my parents to buy it for me.  It wouldn’t be for another 16 years before I could get a hold of a copy. Does it still hold up now that I’m older? Well let’s find out.

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Name: Cargo Railway
Set Number:  4559
Pieces: 835
Price: $130 (I paid $90)
Year Released: 1996
Ages: 8-12
Minifigs: 7
Theme: Trains/ 9v


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We’ll start with the box. Here the train and everything included is displayed nicely. We see the traditional 9 volt era blue tunnel with the mysterious orange light and blue fish tank gravel.  I like the contrast of the black and yellow against the dark blue background it’s attention grabbing. Also if you couldn’t tell by the large warning label this is an electric toy so use caution.

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The back shows some of the alternate models you can build. There’s more alternate models shown in the instruction manual but we’ll get to that later. I particularly like the station canopy there.

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The front flap lifts up to show you all the contents and features as well as a few pieces of interest in the clear plastic tray. Right there it shows you everything you’ve got. Train, track, minifigs, speed regulator, etc. I miss these boxes a lot but I’m sure they were getting too expensive to produce and I’m sure there was a theft problem with having some of the bricks right there on display just waiting to be nicked. Okay enough of the box; let’s get to what’s IN the box.

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Well this is it after an un-ceremonial dumping of all the pieces into one huge pile. The yellow box contains the power adaptor for the speed regulator. There are 16 curved and 2 straight track sections for a small oval and the smaller light blue manual is the safety information and instructions for the electrical components. I found the sticker sheet inside the manual which includes 2 of the red and blue arrow design for the engine cab and 2 of the Lego railway symbols.

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Here are some pieces of interest mainly the printed parts. Included are 16 trans-light blue hinge panels and 4 train windows. There’s also a total of 18 hinge bars with the stud on top!

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One thing I noticed about the color scheme of this set is it makes it very difficult to find pieces that are either yellow or black… like black minifig legs. See how long it takes you find them in the picture. It’s in plain sight.

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The manual is 47 pages long, 39 of which are the actual building instructions. It’s kind of weird opening an older manual when you’re so used now to seeing the new “Don’t dumps the bricks into a pile and don’t build on a rug!” You do however have to assemble the minifigs first though… that’s what it says.

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Here’s a nice two page spread of the whole set after the instructions followed by some alternate models.

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My favorite is the steam engine. It reminds me of the old 12v trains from the 80’s.

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There’s seven minifigs in this set. Five men and two women.  We have the standard station master with yellow suit and red hat, a railway worker with the same head as the station master, an Octan mechanic, a police officer with large mustache, the truck driver with sunglasses and bomber jacket, and two identical girls. Twins maybe? One has a Paradisa torso with the horse and palm tree pattern and the other just has a white shirt. Overall a good amount of classic minifigs.

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Starting with the locomotive you can see it’s not like any of the previous ones Lego has made in the past. First of all the design is really unusual but futuristic. The front hangs really close to the tops of the rails too. Second; it’s really small. I mean there are only 15 steps to build it. I should say engine “pod” though since it’s designed to hitch up with the first carriage like a trailer truck technically making the first car and locomotive one unit.  I think the only other engine that could be smaller is the one from 4561 Railway Express.  

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One thing I noticed is the gap between the roof and the back of the cab the height of a standard brick. Shown here by the red circle. It just looks unfinished and I wish they could have filled in in. It’s a minor detail considering the back is un-noticeable when the engine is hitched up to the rest of the train.  I wish too it came with a light brick.

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Moving on to the train cars themselves. Both of these cars share a similar design.  This is the first car that hitches up to the engine. You’ll notice that the front has no wheels for this purpose and has hinge bars that fold down as trailer stands. They’re not very stable and tend to fold inward.  

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Here’s an underside view of the hitch.

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Completed train cars.

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Here are the passenger pods. There are two dining and two sleeper pods each one very claustrophobic. The window panels fold down to access the inside.

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The sleeper pods are very cramped and the poor minifigs have to travel the whole trip lying down with no headroom. It’s also hard to reach inside and remove the minifig on the bottom bunk. The dining pod has seats for two passengers with a table in the center. I suppose they have it better because they’re at least sitting up!

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Each end of the car has storage compartments for the cargo itself. There’s one for Octan fuel, money, mail, and parcels. The accessories include some letters, Lego money (bills and coins), two suitcases, and two clear goblets. The Octan container has a hose and nozzle for refueling.  Each one has little arms that fold down as stands I guess.

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They slide in and to keep them in place during transit you simply push the yellow handle on top of the train over. It just makes enough contact with the tops of the cargo to keep it secure.

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Now onto the truck. Keeping in style with the train we see the same black and yellow two-tone with the strange antennae on top of the cab. The roof is on hinges so you can put the driver inside easily.

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Lastly we have the platform.  My favorite thing about this is the gate. You’ll see why.

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Instead of a simple raise and lower arm this gate has two arms that swing in both directions. Each arm pushes against a shock absorber brick as it turns providing the tension to keep the arms open as long as a vehicle is pushing against it after which it closes automatically. It can also be kept open if you push them all the way. Very ingenious design I must say.

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And here we have it, the completed set! The whole thing is so big that I couldn’t fit it inside photo area.

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A shot of the whole train connected. It’s a nice design and color scheme. The blue windows against the yellow and black really stand out! There is no coupler on the end car however this is meant to be a 2 car train apparently.

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The detail is great as well with all those grille tiles and bricks.

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I’ll show you how the pods are loaded onto the truck. There’s a technic pin on the back of the trick which connects with the hole on the sides of each passenger pod.  



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I must say it’s a very weird design and is one of my issues with this set. Why are the passengers loaded into pods like freight? Or better yet why are there passengers at all? I think this should have been just a freight train especially with a name like “Cargo Railway” and have each of the pods instead be for things like bicycles, small cars, or just larger crates. I suppose that because the Freight and Crane Railway 4565 was released the same year Lego wanted to include a set with some passengers.

Now I know that this is really a small issue since this is Lego after all. They’re meant for kids so I can look past this detail easily. When I saw this I actually thought it was kinda cool and the look of the set overall is what made me want this set.

Now for the hard part in reviewing this set.

Rating this set.
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Design - 8/10: The train has an awesome color scheme going on and futuristic tone. It just looks so good going fast on long straight track. I like that the locomotive at least resembles a train compared to Railway Express 4561 which follows the basic layout of this train. It’s got a classic style to it. The only little thing is cramped passenger pods which are okay but I think it could have been executed better.

Playability – 7/10: There’s some amount of playability here. You have a lot of loading and unloading of cargo and passengers and a small oval of track. But that’s pretty much it. When you consider other sets like the Freight Rail Runner where you have a three different train cars each with its own function this set seems a bit lacking. That’s just me though.

Parts – 8/10: Nothing too fancy. Loads of yellow and black bricks! There’s also a good assortment of transparent blue windows.  Plus you have all the necessary train parts to start making your own trains.

Price – 9/10: Pretty good price for a starter set with the amount of pieces it has. Most other sets cost somewhere is the $140 range.

Minigfigs – 8/10: Like I mentioned before you get seven minifigs, some civilian and some workers to mix things up. That’s pretty good.

Overall – 8/10: A nice set with classic style, design, and charm. I certainly enjoy it a lot.
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  So in conclusion if you’re looking for a train set that offers more realistic trains and operation then consider maybe the Freight Rail Runner or the Metroliner if you can find them. Or if you’re just looking for any train set regardless of the latter, want lots of black, yellow, and other interesting parts then you might enjoy this set. I certainly did despite some small issues. I really wanted this set when I was little and now that it’s a part of my train collection I don’t regret buying it at all.  It brings back to me a wonderful nostalgic feel of Lego during the 90’s.

#2 Axis600

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 05:32 PM

Oh, wow. I haven't seen this baby in ages.  :wub:  I was pretty young back when it came out, so I never ended up getting it. Thank you for the review and the nostalgia, good sir.
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#3 The Brick is Epic

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 02:39 AM

Great review Anticyclone!  And I agree that it is sort of strange with the passenger compartments on a freight train, but it still looks like a great train nevertheless.

I think this set in particular gives kids the chance to think outside of the box.  Since this train doesn't really resemble any real life train (at least that I know of) I think it allows kids to use their imaginations to build their own creations that can be whatever they want them to be.  This creativity, I feel, isn't in a lot of the newer train sets because they look so much like real trains it puts children in the mind set that their creations have to look spot on too, which I believe limits their creativity.


#4 funkdis

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 03:14 AM

This is around the time i started to lose interest in lego. I owned the metroliner, and really wanted a new passenger train and this didn't do any justice with the whole futuristic shape, yellow/black, it seemed more in place with a space set than city set. Even to this day I wouldn't consider buying it except if it was for the same $90 you got it for I would consider buying it for the motor and parts.

#5 harnbak

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 12:02 PM

First of all thanks for the review.

 funkdis, on 01 August 2012 - 03:14 AM, said:

This is around the time i started to lose interest in lego. I owned the metroliner, and really wanted a new passenger train and this didn't do any justice with the whole futuristic shape, yellow/black, it seemed more in place with a space set than city set. Even to this day I wouldn't consider buying it except if it was for the same $90 you got it for I would consider buying it for the motor and parts.
I can second that: this set with its strange shape and colour looks
more like a space thing. The same goes for 4565 and 4560.

Edited by harnbak, 01 August 2012 - 12:03 PM.


#6 Ferrik

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 12:31 PM

This set must be really special to you since you waited so long to get it. :wink: Excellent review, this set looks great apart from what you pointed out, the passengers really are cramped in there..
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#7 JopieK

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 08:32 PM

Very nice review! Also a very moving story about your youth dream ;) I personally don't like that train, but since you have a childhood graving for it I can imagine that it means something special to you. I had the same thing with the 12V decoupler that I never got. When I finally got it after my dark ages it disappointed me because of the fact that it doesn't work that well!

The 4559 has nice parts though, especially those hinged windows. I think the reason I didn't like it is that it has that container system. My cousin got it so I had the opportunity to fiddle around with it a bit. Playability is very high because of that system of course, so I can imagine that children like it.

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#8 Anticyclone

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 09:44 PM

 JopieK, on 01 August 2012 - 08:32 PM, said:

Very nice review! Also a very moving story about your youth dream ;) I personally don't like that train, but since you have a childhood graving for it I can imagine that it means something special to you. I had the same thing with the 12V decoupler that I never got. When I finally got it after my dark ages it disappointed me because of the fact that it doesn't work that well!

The 4559 has nice parts though, especially those hinged windows. I think the reason I didn't like it is that it has that container system. My cousin got it so I had the opportunity to fiddle around with it a bit. Playability is very high because of that system of course, so I can imagine that children like it.
Oh man that's stinks!  :sad:  I think the hardest part with reviewing old sets is trying not to be blinded solely by nostalgia but giving it an honest review.

#9 Crazydance

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:23 AM

 Ferrik, on 01 August 2012 - 12:31 PM, said:

This set must be really special to you since you waited so long to get it. :wink: Excellent review, this set looks great apart from what you pointed out, the passengers really are cramped in there..

I have this one as well and I think it's a great addition to any lego city. The colors are a bit strange but once you see this baby on the track it's one of the nicest looking 9V passenger trains out there. (It's NOT a cargo train!) Only surpassed by the metroliner. And it fits nicely with other city sets from that time.
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#10 JopieK

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 10:32 PM

 Anticyclone, on 01 August 2012 - 09:44 PM, said:

Oh man that's stinks!  :sad:  I think the hardest part with reviewing old sets is trying not to be blinded solely by nostalgia but giving it an honest review.

Well, but you did a great job there! And of course every review is personally biased, but then again, look at movie reviews, aren't they biased?

@Crazydance, I personally like the Santa Fe much better, but they have other issues like being quite heavy. For children less playable and too expensive.

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#11 TheBrickster

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 02:36 AM

I've always wanted to have a closer look at this 9V train since looking at images in old LEGO catalogues/magazines.  I remember seeing it pictured next to the black & red freight train (if my memory serves me correctly).  Thanks for sharing a nicely detailed review of the Cargo Railway, Anticyclone.

For doing so and contributing in a positive manner since joining EB (not to mention having built some nice steam locomotives), I'd like to provide you with a shiny new red Train Tech tag below your avatar.

Well done! :thumbup:

PS. I've also added a link in our Review Index in addition to the poll.

#12 Anticyclone

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 01:38 PM

 TheBrickster, on 04 August 2012 - 02:36 AM, said:

I've always wanted to have a closer look at this 9V train since looking at images in old LEGO catalogues/magazines.  I remember seeing it pictured next to the black & red freight train (if my memory serves me correctly).  Thanks for sharing a nicely detailed review of the Cargo Railway, Anticyclone.

For doing so and contributing in a positive manner since joining EB (not to mention having built some nice steam locomotives), I'd like to provide you with a shiny new red Train Tech tag below your avatar.

Well done! :thumbup:

PS. I've also added a link in our Review Index in addition to the poll.
Wow thank you very much, Brickster!  :classic: I remember the catalog too the other train was the Freight and Crane Railway. And also thanks for adding a poll.  :wink:

#13 Wedge09

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 07:07 PM

Nice review, I have this train and I haven't any idea to sell it  :classic:

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#14 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 07:12 PM

Always wanted this as I was into Space back then and it seemed to fit the space theme so well. Never could afford it though. I imagined it as some futuristic train whizzing people to a space port somewhere or even on an alien planet, similar to the monorail which I could also not afford. Nice to see it again though,thanks for the review.

#15 Crazydance

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 08:54 PM

 Hrw-Amen, on 04 August 2012 - 07:12 PM, said:

Always wanted this as I was into Space back then and it seemed to fit the space theme so well. Never could afford it though. I imagined it as some futuristic train whizzing people to a space port somewhere or even on an alien planet, similar to the monorail which I could also not afford. Nice to see it again though,thanks for the review.

The ONLY public transport fitted for space themed LEGO is a monorail, nuff said!
This one is like a 2012 train in a kinda older city. It just works for the city theme.

I've looked at the santa fe train for the person who commented on me but that is a nice train too, HOWEVER it fit's better in a western-type city.
Which is good if you own some legoredo sets and all! But I'll have to agree that that train also looks nice on the 9V track.
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#16 ZueriHB

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 07:05 PM

Finally a review about my most favorite Lego Train!

And this Picture here, just shows how beautiful it is!

 Anticyclone, on 31 July 2012 - 04:50 PM, said:

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It has a striking colour scheme, is versatile, and I really like it's 'pod' system.

Sadly, some modularity of it is lost after converting it to PF.
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#17 Carrera124

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 11:12 PM

 funkdis, on 01 August 2012 - 03:14 AM, said:

This is around the time i started to lose interest in lego. ... and this didn't do any justice with the whole futuristic shape, yellow/black, it seemed more in place with a space set than city set.
Same for me. 4559 seems to offer good features (I like the modular cargo concept) and therefore good playability, too.
But it doesn't look like a realistic passenger train, still today it looks somewhat futuristic.

#18 Larrynautik

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 01:54 PM

Thanks for this review, I relally appreciate this set I had when I was 12. I don't get it anymore, but maybe one day I will afford it again  :classic:

#19 KMO

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:15 PM

Just thought I'd add this link, as it's hard to find with Google.

Instructions for the 4559 steam locomotive alternate model.


#20 PsyKater

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:35 PM

I hate it. :D

I grew up with the first Train wave after 5 years with the two amazing sets 4563 Load and Haul Railroad and 4558 Metroliner. As you mentioned in your review this set seems to be a mixture of Cargo and passenger train, it has futuristic design and weird functions. Town sets were never unrealistic and futuristic.  :thumbdown:  :hmpf_bad:

I voted for "2 - Below average" as it is at least a moving train and it has funtions at all. But this is definitely a set I will never want to have.

Very nice review though! Thanks a lot!
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#21 hoeij

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:27 PM

 PsyKater, on 23 August 2012 - 12:35 PM, said:

I hate it. :D

I grew up with the first Train wave after 5 years with the two amazing sets 4563 Load and Haul Railroad and 4558 Metroliner. As you mentioned in your review this set seems to be a mixture of Cargo and passenger train, it has futuristic design and weird functions. Town sets were never unrealistic and futuristic.  :thumbdown:  :hmpf_bad:

I voted for "2 - Below average" as it is at least a moving train and it has funtions at all. But this is definitely a set I will never want to have.

Very nice review though! Thanks a lot!

I also voted a 2.   I think this train looks pretty good in the pictures, but on the track, most of my
other trains look nicer.

#22 Richie

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 06:48 PM

As a kid I always liked the streamlined, futuristic designs of this set, but of other sets as well. But I understand the comments about it unrealistic, I feel the same. It's not a worthy successor of 4558. It looks like they sacrificed realism for playability. With some fantasy, it might be possible to convert it into a rescue train from Res-Q though! The looks fit perfectly in the theme.  :laugh:

Anyway, thanks for the review!  :thumbup:

It's multifunctionomical.

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#23 Anticyclone

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 12:43 AM

Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback.  :classic:

 Richie, on 24 August 2012 - 06:48 PM, said:

As a kid I always liked the streamlined, futuristic designs of this set, but of other sets as well. But I understand the comments about it unrealistic, I feel the same. It's not a worthy successor of 4558. It looks like they sacrificed realism for playability. With some fantasy, it might be possible to convert it into a rescue train from Res-Q though! The looks fit perfectly in the theme.  :laugh:

Anyway, thanks for the review!  :thumbup:

I actually just added the Metroliner to my collection. I can now understand why many are disappointed with 4559 after a such a classic passenger set. My only other passenger train I have is the Railway Express (Don't get me started on that). I wonder if LEGO will someday release a passenger set that will be just as good as 4558 and 7740. So far nothing has really wowed me.  :sceptic:

#24 hoeij

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 12:23 PM

 Anticyclone, on 25 August 2012 - 12:43 AM, said:

Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback.  :classic:

I actually just added the Metroliner to my collection. I can now understand why many are disappointed with 4559 after a such a classic passenger set. My only other passenger train I have is the Railway Express (Don't get me started on that). I wonder if LEGO will someday release a passenger set that will be just as good as 4558 and 7740. So far nothing has really wowed me.  :sceptic:

I like my passenger trains to be around 5-6 cars long, between 4 and 5 feet long.

My favorite is 4511.  They sold separate cars (10157 and 10158)
so you could make the train any length you want. The cars from 4511 are
quite light weight, my train is 6-car (5 feet long) and still only
needs one 9V motor.

Two sets of 7897 (at the time, 7897 costed $89) combine also to make
a nice 5-car train (I replaced the motor that came with that set by
a newer motor 88002, that motor is stronger).  I bought one set new,
and another set used (when 7897 was still for sale at lego, a used set
on eBay costed only $60).

You can do the same with 7938 but that set has a substantially higher
price tag than 7897, its not cheap to get two of them.

The metroliner is also very nice. If you spend some time looking for
deals on eBay, you can buy it for less than 7938, and it is certainly
nicer.

But when it comes to cost, nothing trumps the 7740. To get a 7740 train
of the desired length, I had to buy two copies. That was a lot of money.

#25 td8981

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 06:19 AM

Oh man, this one brings back memories. I got the Metroliner when I was a kid, but never a speed regulator (PARENTS, right?), so I always had my eye on the trains section in the catalog, and I just thought this one looked SO cool. I forgot how it was designed to come apart with that strange pod system, it really does look almost like something out of space.

Congrats on picking up one of the sets from when you were a kid, btw! I know how great of a feeling that is, I've filled out my collection with almost all of the ones I used to beg for over the last few years.



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