James Mathis

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Posts posted by James Mathis

  1. I just don't know what business model for trains is best. The go to seems to be the all-in-one one-time purchase of everything in the box: Starter sets with a complete train, motor, controller, and track seem to be "the way" for the mass-market LEGO trains. Being part of the design process for the Santa Fe cars and Hobby Train showed me that LEGO was willing to explored other avenues, and I'm certainly glad they produced the Maersk, Emerald Night, and Horizon Express, and for these offerings a price point of US$100 to US$130 has been OK-- I hope. Maybe some concepts showcased with my Super Mega Steam Power Train Builder would fit the prior proven attempts or be different enough to try and see if it works. Regardless, it's fun to design, build, and explore the possibilities. I glad you like the design. Thank you very much.

    - James.

  2. 3797: fair enough. Thanks for your honest evaluation and perspective. If nothing else, a place to showcase a design, field public reaction, and let it gauge future endeavors. It's a motivator to continue designing and maybe discovering something new-- not just in terms of a LEGO train model, but something new about the hobby, my peers, the LEGO community the TLG company, and myself, within the brick and beyond.

    Thanks, again. I truly appreciate you taking the time to consider the model, design, prospective, and place in terms of the IDEAS program and the general offerings of trains in the LEGO portfolio. I'm glad LEGO still offers trains in CITY and CREATOR.

    Thanks to your comments. I can wonder splitting this super mega concept into two sets would be better: 1) the 4-6-4 steam locomotive kit as approx. 500 pieces with multiple alternate build instructions and 2) one dark green passenger car kit at about 500 pieces that let's you build only one car at a time. Or the set only to have parts enough for one locomotive and one car, just like Emerald Night. Still a pipe dream...

    Keep dreaming.

    Keep building.




  3. zephyr1934: I gotta say, thank you so much for a great response and excellent comments!

    1) large parts panels are great for taken up real estate, especially if it is kind of out of sight. Although the 1x2x2 wall panels make a nice frame-effect for a box car end-wall. I recall this design was used in a red boxcar (4563 Load and Haul Railroad) and a blue boxcar (4564 Freight Rail Runner) in the first and second of the 9v train freight sets.



    2) to prevent potential sagging, perhaps a plate across the seam on the base plate would help. The current design uses tiles just under the roof line to bridge the gap between modules. 6x28 black train baseplates are welcome-- to think how to incorporate them into the builds...

    3) no electrics; showcase how they are available via separate purchase. No problem with that.

    4) Yeah, easy enough, I think, to remove the gearing for a push-along by hand. Very good idea to showcase a car that allows for a train motor to "push" the locomotive. While the coal tender currently has the option for this train motor installation, an accommodating baggage car or other car would be a welcome variety.

    5) Hmmm, PF wire spools are a physical reality that I have not given enough thought. Thanks for pointing that out. Well taken.

    6) I can say that I've actually tested the push rod Technic axle through the Technic hole and it worked quite well. Setting the Technic hole at the same level as the large drive wheel axle height seemed to help. I actually have a video-- all be a very poorly lit video-- of the piston and drive rod set up. I'll see if I can get it uploaded to my Brickshelf account in a few days. But, it is, quite honestly, so poorly lit under a Christmas tree from a few years ago, that I may not be fond of letting it into public view. The test build has long been destroyed and acquired by my now 9 year old son... I should be more dedicated to rebuild and retest... I apologize for my ignorance the proven designs of seasoned Steam Builders such as Cale-- true pioneers and visionaries who have finely tuned the craft over dedicated years of study, trial, error, and success. I have much to learn. Oh, why not show that age old video of mine. It just might garner some chuckles, even at the risk of my own embarrassment.

    Thanks, again, to all who offer their insights and take the time to check out this project.



    Anything that includes train windows in green has my support.

    The concept of modular carriages is sort of odd to me but if it encourages multiple purchases it could be a good thing sales wise. I'm probably more interested in this as a parts pack than a model, though it could be a nice starting point for modifications.

    Parts pack to build your awesome trains. Love that!

  4. It was a really eye-opening experience to think of a model, any model as a loaf of bread. Then, next, to take that model and slice it into sandwich bread slices. The slices became modules. These modules then could be connected with Technic pins. Then you could build a Subway® train sandwich to your particular taste (sorry, bad pun regarding sandwich shop in USA).

    The simplicity of flipping the 1x2x2 wall panels between "flat" and "recessed" within a module felt like going along a guided Zen path between modern and old-fashion passions. A bit like the fantastic founding fundamental principles of LEGO element design fell into place for me-- and I was just along for the ride.

    I was particularly pleased with the gondola freight car, even though it is an extremely simple build. Basically, you just take two of the bogie assemblies, remove one axle from each bogie, and put them together to form a small two axle frame. Then, take two of the passenger car cabins and remove the row of windows and place the walls with the 1x2x2 panels in the two axle frame. Top the gondola off with tiles, and ready to roll!

    The builds are almost like cooking recipes.

    Other alternate builds will likely require complete deconstruction of the modules, but a two-axle box car is probably pretty straight-forward.

    I'm pretty sure that one might be able to conjure a small oil tanker and maybe a hopper car from this part collection.

    I'm curious: what other car or locomotive types can you imagine from this Super Mega parts assortment? Either using only parts from this set or how the parts in this set could enhance or bring to real brick life a model that has been a dream?


  5. I figure it better be <US$200.

    A red train motor would be nice, but to include an actual train motor and any of the Power Functions gear would be costly against ABS-only.

    Red parts train specific:

    Train motor decorative side elements, qty 2

    Magnetic buffer couplers: qty 4

    Bogie plate: qty 1 (hidden in coal car on unmotorized wheel assembly that can be directly swapped out and replaced by a train motor)

    Large train wheels: 4 flanged, 2 not

    regular train wheels with cross axle hole: qty 12

  6. Building on our collective history with LEGO trains and passion for creating our own MOCs, I present what I hope could become another entry into the future of LEGO trains by providing something historically relevant. Inspired by the classic 12v gray-era sets, the multi-build fan-community collaboration 10183 Hobby Train set, and the multi-build Santa Fe Superchief cars, this Super Mega set could deliver over 1,700 train parts in steam, as well as red and dark green, to build not only a variety of in-box creations, but stock your collection with desirable parts for your own MOCs.

    I hope you like the modular, snap-together, reconfigurable design. I'm sure there are a lot of MOCs to unlock in this assortment of 1,700 pieces. Thanks for your support if you like it, as well as any comments and suggestions for improvement.



    James Mathis

  7. "hot cocoa and excessive hints of xmas presents"-- :laugh: !! I should work to be better with the "atmosphere". I thought about putting a keg on tap of something warm and spicy. For non-train items, I probably took more inspiration from the standard 1) CITY train sets that offer simple waiting platform, luggage/cart, and truck/car and the 2) Lone Ranger train that offered the "action" fall-over water tank tower.

    As for the train station first or train first... I've seen several Winter Village themed train stations on LEGO IDEAS-- I hope one makes it through to review! Chicken and egg syndrome? I felt that if the train came first, then at least a simple waiting platform might suffice since the layout would already be populated by pre-existing Winter Village buildings. Last year's Winter Village Market already has a lot of the food vendors, so I wasn't that focused on the "hints of xmas" scenes; but, in retrospect, I should have poured a little sugar on top, or at least a little gingerbread, man.

    The locomotive is key to success. There's a lot to choose from, and I chose to go for Winter Village inspired colorful-- like a candy cane, but a little more over the top. That Brotli set is a full spectrum Christmas Tree. I had also thought that #19 from the Hobby Train set (see previous page in this thread) might work to be low piece-count and fit the part of the Winter Village style.

    Recent official LEGO train steam history: Toy Story, Ghost, Emerald Night, Lone Ranger Constitution. Next?

    I like your idea of making only one "pile" of snow that gets split into halves and moved from block the track to split 1/2 on one side and 1/2 on the other side. Lower piece count and still has the same effect.

    Thank you so much.

  8. I chose the Brotli, and the Swiss Adler locomotive in particular, as inspiration because it represents a train oh, so, different. And, for me, the Winter Village sets, particularly that first one that set the stage and design framework, the Toy Shop (designed by Jamie Berard), represented something oh, so, different, as for an official offering from TLG. I'm very open to pursue the goal of offering a train/locomotive design that appeals to the general populous, no problem their. It's easy to go with my personal passion, but, of course, that doesn't necessarily align with popular consensus :-)

    I want to mention some inspiration for revitalizing the Swiss Adler Brotli-Bahn set in this Winter Village format: The train man Bruce Chamberlain, he actually real-brick-built a version of the train. Sure, he had to change for some color substitutions, and I think he even painted the decorative 9v train motor side pieces, but, boy was that nice to see it in real-brick, on the table at a BrickFest on year... way back in July 2005!



    Full gallery and instructions to the old 2005 version here:



  9. brotli_bahn_swiss_adler_v10_nolines_p01_800px.png

    Here's the original as-shown piece-count break-out:

    total: 1846

    locomotive + tender + IR receiver + train motor + battery box: 504

    tank car: 124

    passenger car: 245

    flat bed car w/trees: 101

    gondola car (with parcels): 155

    station platform: 142

    luggage cart (without parcels): 33

    automobile (without trunk): 180

    snow piles: 172

    water tank/tower: 99

    straight train track: 11

    + misc. "snow" bits of white 1x1 tiles and cheese slopes

    I have been thinking of returning to the design to see if I could preserve the "look" while economizing the piece-count...

    Thanks for the suggestions on what to keep, remove, and economize! As well as, of course, the fact that this is a long way from any kind of official review process.

    I changed the colors (LDD naming conventions), and they look nice... and dark. These darker colors don't quite "pop" for the images.

    locomotive + tender: earth green

    passenger coach: earth blue

    gondola car: new dark red

    Truly appreciate the comments.



  10. AgentRuck57 and dartmar:

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments. I'm definitely considering them. I do like the car... I was thinking that there had not yet been a family car in the Winter Village offerings, and that another set(s) have offered trucks. I was thinking the snow banks would be a nice play or visual feature. Maybe make the snow banks on a pivot that can spin out of the way as the train ploughs through it? The water tower is a keep it or remove it, but I thought it might add a bit of "atmosphere" and a but of play value for filling the boiler; but, if it adds too much cost to the set, then it goes away. The focus and main character is the train. I hadn't really focused on the Minifigs; thanks to your comments, I'll see what I can "figure" out in the assortment within LDD.

    Again, thanks the the great comments!



  11. I'm pretty sure I included some parts in colors not available. I may be wrong, but some of the train specific parts in red: buffers, wheels, 9v train motor/wheel decorative piece. Perhaps I am mistaken, but they fit the build and maybe broaden the train palette for the good.

    Thanks for the comment.


  12. It's a train, for a village, in the winter, or other scenic season. In case you don't visit the Train Tech forum, I'd like to announce this complementary themed train set for which I'd greatly appreciate your support vote over at LEGO IDEAS.

    Direct link to the Winter Village Express Train LEGO IDEAS project:

    link removed

    Cross-forum discussion link in Train Tech:


    Looking forward to your likes and dislikes, suggestions, and opinions.

    Thanks for checking this out.

    James Mathis

  13. I would hope that this train project at least gest approved for open support voting. The business decision is indeed a process of its own. To even get a few votes would be nice. Comments-- even disparaging as they may be-- are welcome; sanity checks a good thing. 10,000 supporters.... Challenging for sure. In the absence of an official LEGO® Creator Winter Village train set, coupled with my interest in realizing one, paired with an existing Winter Village customer base; I figure, why not try. How does one reach out to all of the existing customers who have bought into the Winter Village sets. Seems a train would have potential, but as LEGO Group themselves has not offered a train set, then perhaps there really is not a market for a train?

    (iPhone interface doesn't seem to have the "insert image link" tool? Bummer.)

    Best regards,


    dr_spock: cool that you have your Christmas train and station on display at a store. Quite the honor. I hope you get nice feedback!


  14. It's here! Or, rather, over there, at LEGO® IDEAS.

    Thanks for checking this train project out.

    If you like it, I'd appreciate your support vote at the IDEAS project page.

    If you don't like it, or might like it, let me know in the comments what you would have modified or added.

    with gratitude,





    Custom Winter Village™ LEGO® train project, arriving soon on track LEGO IDEAS™. Can you smell the coal, oil, steam, and pine? Can you feel the crisp chill in the air against the warm aroma of spiced cider and nutmeg atop a mug of nog? This project awaits approval, after which your support would be greatly appreciated to enable potential production and begin revenue service. Check back in about one week for additional "Winter Village Express" train project details and get your ticket to travel back in time on a winter holiday as this project goes "live" on LEGO IDEAS.


    "Tickets, please." ;-)


    Thanks for checking it out.


    James Mathis