The Hornby brand was born in 1920 in the United Kingdom. Its creator, Frank Hornby, initially focused solely on small mechanical trains. In 1925, the first model of small electric train appeared in the brand’s catalog. After several mergers and takeovers, Hornby is today an international group which offers a varied catalog, including the legendary small mechanical and electric trains, but also circuits of small cars, accessories for model railroads and cars, and other toys.
Hornby is also Rivarossi, Electronen and Lima
Through its different brands, the Hornby group is aimed at adults and children alike, collectors and children alike handling a train for the first time. Four brands are present within the group:
- Rivarossi specializes in high-end small trains, more intended for collectors.
- Electronen is one of the pioneering brands in the manufacture of small trains. Born in Spain, it has been around for over fifty years. It faithfully reproduces the models of SNCF trains and the Spanish, German and Italian rail networks.
- Arnold offers models more accessible to non-collectors. Its models are essentially inspired by American and European trains.
- Like Electronen, Lima has been around since the 1950s. Its ranges are varied: collectors but also children can find what they are looking for. This brand is recognized for the extreme precision of its models.
Whether your child is asking for a toy train or you want to pass on your own passion for model railroading to them, it’s best to avoid putting a vintage train in their hands. These models are not only expensive and fragile, but also very often consist of very small parts that your child would be tempted to put in their mouths.
How to introduce Hornby products to children?
For a child under eight, prefer small electric trains in the form of toys. For a very young child (between 3 and 5 years old), it is better to choose a small train to compose yourself, with large parts that do not represent any danger for him. This type of toy will stimulate his creativity. Older children (between 6 and 7 years old) will prefer a more complex, more elaborate train route than a simple circular rail. As for children from 8 years old, they will be more likely to appreciate a circuit more difficult to assemble, with many accessories and small details. If they like their first electric train, then why not turn to models for collectors?
If you have any doubts, know that the recommended age is always indicated on the box of the little train.
Besides the age of your child, another criterion to take into account when choosing a small electric train is its size. Think about the place the toy will take in your living room or your child’s bedroom. If you don’t have much space, opt for a smaller model. Also, some trains are made for outdoor use. If your child mostly plays outside, this may be a good solution.
Also remember to find out about the quality of the toy, and its resistance in the event of shocks. Also, a toy that derails too often may not appeal to your child if he is very young and does not yet have a lot of patience. To decide between several models on this criterion, do not hesitate to consult the opinions of other buyers on the Internet, or to seek advice from sellers in toy stores.
Finally, the little electric train should please your child. For example, you can opt for a themed train circuit or one with the effigy of his favorite cartoon characters.
Here are three models of Hornby electric trains perfectly suitable for children. These models work without battery, they must be plugged into an outlet.
- The West Coast Highlander little train (reference R1157) is made for children from 3 years old. It is sold by Hornby in the form of a very complete set, with four wagons, accessories (water pump, telegraph antenna…) and a carpet. This is a reproduction of an Old England freight train, which is sure to take your child on a journey.
- The little train Thomas and his friends (reference R9285) will be perfect for a little boy or a little girl fan of the cartoon. It is also recommended from 3 years old. The set includes all the main characters from the cartoon (Thomas and the two travel cars, Annie and Clarabel).
- The Flying Scotsman little train (reference R1167) reproduces, as its name suggests, one of the most famous trains in the world. The box containing the train, the locomotive, the rails and the accessories allows you to recreate the nostalgic atmosphere of the trains of the 1920s and 1930s. Your child will undoubtedly appreciate discovering this era that he did not know!