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On30 Display Trains and Villages Return to Big Indoor Trains(tm) primer pageOn30 Display Trains
O Scale Accessories
O Gauge Christmas TrainsOn30 Christmas Trains

Written by Paul D. Race for and

Not long ago, display villages, such as those by Dept. 56®, Lemax, and Hawthorne Village® were used only during the holiday season. Then a prominent model train manufacturer made a train set to go with those villages, and it caught on. Soon after, Hawthorne Village started making display villages that didn't have snow on the roof, and people started leaving their display villages out all winter, and all summer as well. More kinds of trains came along, and a new kind of hobby was born.

The "O" in On30 means that the trains are in O scale, that is they are 1/48th the size of the "real thing." Most display villages are about the same scale, too, which is why they go so well together. The "30" means that the trains are models of real-world trains that ran on rails that were only 30" apart. There weren't very many, but they did exist. Also, all of the buildings and accessories on this page are chosen because they should look "right" with these trains.

One of the best parts about building a display village or On30 railroad is how many kinds of accessories are already available.
  • Hobby shops sell many products that were designed to go with O gauge trains (like those made by Lionel). These products go with O scale trains as well. They tend to be plastic and generic-looking, but they give you a wide variety of choices. (The O-Scale Accessories page shows several examples.)
  • Makers of collectible villages, such as Hawthorne Village® supply many products that were intended for seasonal displays. These tend to be hand-painted porcelain or resin. They usually have enough detail to establish a strong sense of place and time, such as a 1890s New England countryside, or a 1930s big-city street. On the other hand, they don't stay as close to "scale" as the plastic hobby shop accessories do. For example, a lighthouse or cathedral may be modeled a little smaller in scale than a department store - otherwise it would overwhelm the rest of the collectible village. Generally, the scale differences within a single series or brand will not cause anyone too much difficulty. To jump right to the villages on this page, click here.

The best part about this variety is that you can choose the best of both worlds. You can always start out with a "display" featuring mostly collectable pieces and pick up some modeling and railroading skills as your miniature world expands. Or if you have been a model railroader all your life and now you want your railroad to look like it belongs to a more specific place and time, you may take advantage of all that the "collectible" pieces manufacturers have to offer - in many cases they're more reasonable in price than you might think.

A Note about the Trains

Today, most On30 trains fall into one of two categories:
  • On30 Model Trains - These are O-scale model trains, such as those by Bachmann, that run on two rail (HO-gauge) track. Though they were originally designed to work with Christmas villages, a wide assortment of non-Christmas trains is now available. Each piece is an accurate, realistic model of a real train that ran somewhere in North America between 1870 and 1940. They are reliable and reasonably priced.
  • Collectible Trains - These include the "subscription" trains from Hawthorne Village®. These are generally based on the Bachmann kit, but they include more detailing and special artwork from artists such as Thomas Kinkade. You pay a certain amount for each "issue," starting with the locomotive. The next two issues usually include a car and some track, until you have enough to make an oval. Additional issues include other cars and accessories. You can cancel at any time at no obligation, though. These trains are physically interchangeable with the Bachmann On30 trains. So having an heirloom-quality collectable train to run for special occasions and a Bachmann On30 train for the kids or grandkids to run at other times is also a plan.
To jump right to the trains on this page, click here.

Note about Availability and Pricing: Although I try to keep an eye on things and to recommend products that are reasonably available, the model train market does fluctuate, and any product on this page may change price or become unavailable without prior notice. If you "click through" to see details on a product, and nothing happens at all, or you are routed to a supplier's home page, please let me know and I will remove the product from the online catalog until I can find a replacement or another supplier. For more detailed information about why products seem to come and go and why I have stopped listing prices for certain products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."

Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains or other purchases are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)

Update for November 29, 2006: The Bachmann On30 Streetcar set, which fits almost anywhere and was our biggest single seller in 2005, has virtually disappeared from the shelves (in fact we took it off this page a week ago). But TrainDiscounts has located a small supply of these fine products for us. Please see the bottom of the page for more information.


Display Villages and Accessories for Year-Round Use

Thomas Kinkade Hometown Village Subscription Plan

Thomas Kinkade Hometown Village Subscription Plan

This is the perfect display village series to go with the Spirit of America train above. In fact, some of the accessories allow you to make the town look like the people are waiting for a Fourth of July parade. This village is also my personal favorite among the all the collectible villages, period. It evokes the Heartland of America like no other. This village includes frame country houses with big front porches, just like those you see in almost every small town in America. Accessories include a gazebo and many figures.

The Hometown village is unique, limited, and only available from Hawthorne Village. For more information, click the "Buy" button - you are under no obligation to purchase until you make your final decision on the next page. In the meantime, if you'd feel more at home in New England or on the coast, you may find the Lamplight or Seaside villages below attractive.


Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Figurine Accessory

Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Figurine Accessory

These figurines are made to go with the Thomas Kinkade's Lamplight Village series below, but will also look great with any of the villages on this page. Like all of the Thomas Kinkade figures, these people are the right size for On30 trains and your display village buildings (most Christmas village figures are actually half again as large as they "should be"). For more information, click on the "Buy" button - there is no obligation to purchase until you make your decision on the next screen.


Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Subscription Plan

Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Subscription Plan

Many a village in New England still exudes Old World charm. This Thomas Kinkade village series captures the best of both worlds. It includes a bay-windowed flower shop that seems to be nearly awash in flowers, a stone salt-box home that would be at home in any northern clime, and a stone church with a beautifully lit steeple. All are lit inside and outside, with the help of the lamps that give this village its name.

For more information, click on the "Buy" button. You are under no obligation to purchase until you make your final decision on the next page.


Thomas Kinkade Seaside Village Subscription Plan

Thomas Kinkade Seaside Village Subscription Plan

If you feel more at home on the seashore than in some landlocked city or town, you may especially like this series. Like the other Thomas Kinkade villages on this page, this village and its accessories are scaled to look right with the Thomas Kinkade Christmas train and all On30 accessories. This series includes lamps, a lighthouse, and a stone mill with a working water-wheel, all handpainted in careful detail inspired by the art of Thomas Kinkade. This is a limited edition.

For more information, please click on the "Buy" Button--you don't have to purchase anything until you make your decision on the next page.


Thomas Kinkade Seaside Village Figurine Accessory

Thomas Kinkade Seaside Village Figurine Accessory

Whether your village is experiencing winter or summer, there's always room for a few sportsmen near the edge. These figurines are made to go with the Seaside Village series shown above, but they will look great with any village on this page.

For more details, click the "Buy" button. There is no obligation to buy until you make your decision on the next page.


Summer Crossing Gate Train Accessory Set

Summer Crossing Gate Train Accessory Set

Electric Train Crossing Gate and Block Signal Accessory Set Adds Realism to your Collectible Electric Train Set! Exclusive! - Just as a railroad crossing gate adds drama to a life-sized train, a miniature-scale crossing gate and block signals will really enhance your collectible electric train set. Meticulously handcrafted by master artisans, each detail is flawlessly re-created, from the red-and-white striped train crossing gate arms to the white crossing signs. The crossing gate's arms even lower automatically when the train passes over the track!Every magnificent detail adds a special note of realism to make this appealing electric train crossing gate and block signal accessory set a "must-have" for any prized train collection. Perfect for any Hawthorne Village train. You won't find a finer value anywhere than this Hawthorne exclusive! Order now!



In addition, the O-Scale Accessories page includes many relatively inexpensive details such as bridges, fencing, and stations, that will bring life to any O-Scale or O-Gauge railroad.


On30 Trains for Year-Round Use

The trains and cars shown in this section are designed to look right with any display village (such as those made by Dept. 56(R) or Hawthorne Village(R). Because they are not decorated specifically for Christmas, you can use them year-round. (If you want to look for trains that are decorated for Christmas, check out the Hawthorne Village Trains™ or On30 Christmas Trains pages.

Note: One of the collectible trains I posted here in early 2006 sold out by early November. This is just a reminder that trains do start selling out in the holidays, and that collectible trains really are limited editions. Please contact us if you have any questions at all; we want you to have any information you need to make informed decisions before circumstances decide for you.

Collectible Trains for Year-Round Use

The following trains are Subscription Trains. That means that after you order them, you pay for and receive the train in several installments. These are limited edition Hawthorne Village collectors items which become unavailable when the mint discontinues the "run." Below these trains are On30 model trains made by Bachmann; when you order these, you get them and pay for them all at once. The Bachmann On30 trains don't have the fancy paint jobs and detailing that turns them into limited edition collectibles, but they are mechanically compatible with the collectible trains.

Note: Deadlines approaching! Because Hawthorne Village trains are subscription trains, each piece is actually considered a separate purchase. (The price advertised on the Hawthorne Village web site is the cost of each collectible piece.) In the first shipment, you receive the locomotive, which is an exceptional value. Then about a month later, or when the next piece is available (whichever comes first), your order for the next piece is automatically processed. That means that you can still get the locomotive before Christmas if you order early enough, so you'll have something to wrap up and put under the tree. The locomotive is also a great value, so the recipient won't be disappointed, even when he or she learns that the rest of the train is still to come. On the other hand, there is a good possibility that some of these trains will sell out between now and Christmas. If there's one you really want, don't assume that it's "safe" to wait until later - I have not heard from one reader who was disappointed with his or her train, but I have heard from many readers who were disappointed because they put off ordering a subscription until it was too late. These are delightful trains and a great value, so order your favorite soon if you don't want to miss out! For details about how a subscription train works, please click here.

Thomas Kinkade End of a Perfect Day Express Train Subscription Plan

Thomas Kinkade End of a Perfect Day Express Train Subscription Plan

Thomas Kinkade Artwork Beckons You to the Fishing Trip of Your Dreams - Aboard an Exclusive Collectible Express Train Set! - Somewhere in the great outdoors is a special place, a retreat just for you - and you can only get there aboard this heirloom quality On30 scale collectible express train set! It's fully illuminated and richly finished in rustic hues, embellished with heartwarming fishing slogans and glowing Thomas Kinkade artwork of warmly lit cabins nestled in pristine wilderness settings!Available only from Hawthorne Village, this Thomas Kinkade collectible electric train set is crafted with extraordinary attention to detail, perfect for the true model train enthusiast. Plus, it comes with a nickel silver 16-piece track set and power pack, a $60 value, yours FREE! Go ahead, relax and watch the old-fashioned steam engine chug around the track, hauling your every care far, far away! Order now!

For more information, click on the "Buy" button. You are under no obligation to purchase until you make your final decision on the next page.


Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Express Train Subscription Plan

Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Express Train Subscription Plan

Collectible Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Express Train Glows with Radiant Artwork and Authentic Details! Exclusive! - Imagine being transported to a radiant place where enchanting lamplights glow like luminous pearls on flower-lined paths! Now, this romantic dream-like vision awaits you aboard the "Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village Express" train, a collectible treasure beautifully embellished with faithful reproductions created from original Thomas Kinkade Lamplight Village paintings! Available exclusively from Hawthorne Village, this heirloom-quality ON30 scale electric train set is loaded with authentic details, from the engine's cowcatcher, brass bell and working headlight, to the soft light that spills from the train car windows and sets each beautifully decorated car aglow. This electric train set also includes a 16-piece nickel-silver track set and power pack, a $60 value, yours FREE! Don't delay - this Thomas Kinkade electric train set is sure to be admired by Kinkade fans and train enthusiasts alike!

For more information, click on the "Buy" button. You are under no obligation to purchase until you make your final decision on the next page.


The Spirit Of America HO Scale Train Subscription Plan

The Spirit Of America HO Scale Train Subscription Plan

This patriotic subscription train is decorated with vignettes of national landmarks and other symbols of American freedom. It is perfectly suited to serve the Thomas Kinkade Hometown Village series below. The Hawthorne Village people tell me this is a big seller, so, if this train interests you, you might not want to wait too long to get started on your subscription.

For more information, please click on the "Buy" button--You aren't committed to purchase until you make your final decision on the next page.


Bachmann On30 Trains for Year-Round Use

The Bachmann On30 trains shown below are good around Christmas trees, but they are great on model railroads and holiday villages. These trains are all completely compatible with the Hawthorne Village trains shown above. In fact, Bachmann provides service for the Hawthorne Village trains as well as their own. Many people who are attracted to the collectible trains buy Bachmann On30 trains for the kids to run, or to leave around the Christmas tree. Others who started with On30 trains see a collectible train they like and add it to their railroad or holiday village, so deciding which kind of train to buy first isn't entirely an "either-or" decision.

On the other hand, if you want your train to "look like" a Christmas train, the On30 Christmas Train page has some Bachman On30 trains you may like very much.

To see a bigger photo of any train below, simply click on the photo you want to see "blown up." As always please contact us early in the season with any questions about any train, village, or accessory on this site.

Click for bigger photo.

Bachmann On30 Spectrum Ohio River & Western Passenger Train Set

Bachmann's On30 model of this Ohio River & Western Railway captures the spirit of hundreds of "short-line" railroads that served regions between 1850 and 1940. This set includes a 2-6-0 steam locomotive with operating headlight, coal tender, three lighted passenger cars, 56 inch x 38 inch oval of nickel silver E-Z Track with 12 pieces of curved track, 3 pieces of straight track, and 1 plug-in terminal rerailer, E-Z Mate couplers on all cars, Spectrum power pack, and helpful video with assembly instructions.

Click on a button for more details or to make a purchase.


Click for bigger photo.

Bachmann On30 Spectrum Colorado and Southern Passenger Train Set

Green and gold is the color scheme of this handsome Colorado & Southern train set. The Colorado & Southern comes complete with: a lighted 2-6-0 steam locomotive and tender, three lighted passenger cars, 56 inch x 38 inch oval of nickel-silver E-Z Track, magnetically-operated E-Z Mate knuckle couplers on all cars, under-track magnet, Spectrum power pack, and helpful video with assembly instructions.

Click on a button for more details or to make a purchase.


click for bigger photo

Bachmann On30 Spectrum Denver and Rio Grande Western Passenger Train Set

This set includes all the features of the two sets above, but it comes in one of the West's favorite color schemee - Bumblebee Yellow. I'm told that this color was actually adopted in the early 1900s, when the "Wild West" had tamed down a little, but the wilderness through which the D&RGW passed was still breathtaking. This color is retained today on tourist trains that travel where these historic colors once "ruled the west."

Click on a button for more details or to make a purchase.




The On30 Christmas Train page offers On30 passenger trains in holiday colors if you prefer.


Click for bigger photo.
Bachmann On30 Glennbrook Valley Freight

Bachmann's On30 model captures the spirit of thousands of "peddler freights" that served local industries all over North America between 1850 and 1960. This set includes a 2-6-0 steam locomotive with operating headlight, coal tender, three freight cars, caboose, 56 inch x 38 inch oval of nickel silver E-Z Track with 12 pieces of curved track, 3 pieces of straight track, and 1 plug-in terminal rerailer, E-Z Mate couplers on all cars, Spectrum power pack, and helpful DVD format video with assembly instructions. Click on the button below to check stock.

Click on a button for more details or to make a purchase.


About Extra Track - The train sets on this page come with an oval of track that is about 38" x 56", although if you order a subscription train, you don't receive all of the track and power supply right away. To get a jump start on your railroad, or to make your railroad a little larger, you may easily add additional track. The Bachmann EZ Track #44501 is an exact replacement for the curves that come with the train sets. #44411 matches the straight pieces.


Bachmann On30 Spectrum Village Street Car Set (United Traction) Automated On30Streetcar Set - Bachmann's On30 Street Car set is the perfect solution for display villages that aren't big enough for a loop of track. The weathered "car barn" hides a reversing mechanism, so your trolley can deliver passengers from one end of your village (or your fireplace mantle) to the other automatically. The Bachmann streetcars are models of real streetcars that graced US towns and villages a century ago.

For more information or to place your order, click on a "check stock" button."

The On30 Christmas Train page offers some versions in holiday colors if you prefer.

Note: To extend a "back-and-forth" railroad, you will need to use special track. (Regular HO track, even the EZ track that comes with the trains above, won't work, because of the extra wiring necessary to run the reversing mechanism.) For straight pieces, use Bachmann #44548 track. For curves, use Bachmann # 44549. If you have questions about this, please contact me and I'll try to help you out.


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On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads


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