Lionel did show the Big Boy at this October’s York!
When I first visited the booth on Thursday, I was dismayed to find the engine not sitting with the other Flyer on the display wall. The fellow next to me was grumbling about Lionel not bringing it to York again, and I just walked on to look at the rest of the show. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the S-List messages that night in my motel room, to see reports of the Big Boy running at York!!
Running the Big Boy was, on the top of a three level display pulling four cars. Lionel used a circle of standard radius Flyer track that contained no straights at all. The engine chugged through a pretty narrow tunnel, without rubbing anywhere. I was struck by how nice it looked running on those curves, having thought that the boiler might have so much overhang as to look grotesque. It didn’t, it looked great! I can’t really compare it to the K-line O gauge version, but I thought it looked breathtaking. I stood there a long time watching it, and came back several times to watch it some more, and so did others, many of them as I overheard their comments, were not S gaugers.
The engine has plenty of detail including two green marker lights on the front, and red leds on the rear; two large red ones at the tender corners, and a smaller red one somewhere near the center if memory serves. (I wish I could have photographed it, but photos are forbidden at York!) Though the Leds were on solid, the engine’s headlight which appeared to be a standard lamp, was dim and flickered some. This was my only negative feeling about the Big Boy as I saw it, and if the production units have this problem I could see someone coming up with a modification to make it brighter and more solid. But this certainly is not a deal breaker for me! A report of the S-list mentioned the unit has electro-couplers, the ability to uncouple the engine by TMCC control. The coupler at the rear of the tender did have a very fat area right behind the knuckle that looked to me like it might be the coil of wire necessary for remote operation! If it is an electro-coupler, I sure hope Lionel has made a lot of spares to be purchased as replacement parts.
Though the engine displayed was not without it’s critics, I think most Flyer fans will think that Lionel has produced for us a fantastic toy that even though very large will run on most of our layouts. The sign on the Big Boy display said shipping December 2009 with a List price of $799.99, though the November ship time rumor is out there. I am eager to see my pre-ordered engine delivered and running on my layout.