10 Tips for Giving Model Train Gifts

Dec. 4th 2016

Have you ever wondered what to give a train enthusiast for a gift? Worried if your model train gift was the right one? Ever asked "what on earth do I give a model railroader for Christmas?" If so, you might find the following tips useful. 

It's difficult to keep up with your favorite railroader, and that makes gift giving almost impossible. Outsiders have trouble with all the different variables that go into a model train collection, and that means gifts are often misguided for one reason or another. In order to avoid the pitfalls of a misplaced gift, take the following tips into account the next time a birthday or Christmas season rolls around. 

10. Know the Era

Whether or not you know your railroader's preferred road name or specific rolling stock needs, you can still get something right. By knowing which era their layout is built around, you can buy appropriate pieces to fit inside it. Find out if it's a classic 19th century rail scene, an industrial '60s railyard, a modern day layout, or from any other period throughout history. Then use that era to guide your entire gift-giving process. 

9. Go With Accessories

Lots of buyers fall into the trap of getting a big locomotive for a special gift. But buying accessories and tools for your railroader can be even more rewarding. It's unlikely you're going to get a prized piece or key car by accident. It's much easier to get a bundle of important accessories or tools. When presented in a "gift basket" of railroading goodies, this kind of gift can unforgettable!

8. Think Outside the Layout

Railroaders love being surrounded by their hobby. This means not all gifts have to fit inside the layout's foundation. You can buy things like real train antique memorabilia, advertising posters, artwork, books, t-shirts, and loads of other ideas. If the gift is thoughtful and train related, it's going to be well received regardless of its direct relevance to a layout.   

7. Know the Right Name

Although there is a little leeway here thanks to the naturally disorganized nature of names on the rails, it's always helpful to know a railroader's preferred road name. A Union Pacific man might not want a Baltimore and Ohio locomotive, so you can avoid an embarrassing mixup by getting this information right.   


6. Consider Clubs and Memberships

Model Trains aren't all about the physical models. There's also a rich community. You can help your railroader find fellow collectors and friends in the hobby by signing them up for regional or national memberships. You can also look into online memberships like a DASH Premium membership to get access to cool features and additional resources. 

5. Don't Worry About Duplicates

Many people worry about buying something that their railroader already owns. Don't worry! That's not usually a big deal on the rails, because duplicates often show up in real life too. I can't imagine many railroaders complaining that they already have an item, and most would readily welcome an additional car into their collection. 

4. Get Real

A vast majority of railroaders got into modeling because of their love for the real deal. Make your gift a special trip to a rail museum or a ride on your closest train. A weekend getaway or rail tour is another great idea that will be remembered forever and bring their models to life.  

3. Size Does Matter

One of the most common mistakes gift-givers make is getting the scale wrong. Model trains exist across a variety of scales, and most collectors stick to their favorite like glue. You can get absolutely everything else right, but if the scale is wrong, your railroader won't be satisfied. Be sure to know the scale by heart and always double-check your purchases to avoid any problems. 

2. Know Your Railroader

Sometimes all the preparation you can muster won't mean much. Occasionally you just have to know the railroader and you have to trust your instincts. You know better than anyone what will be most special to your railroader, and you should let that guide all your purchases. 

1. Just Ask

If you're totally lost and out of your element, just ask. You'll be sure to get it absolutely right and give them exactly what they want. There's no shame in asking, and most railroaders would love to get the piece they've always wanted. 

Following those tips will ensure that your next big event will go perfectly for the railroader in your life. You can always start your search on the DASH Marketplace or with a DASH Premium membership, and you're sure to find something perfect. 

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