Who Makes Menards Trains? How Good Are They?

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Editorial Team

Menards is widely known for its range of toy and model trains, including train sets and accessories. However, one question that often arises among enthusiasts is, who actually makes Menards trains? Previously, there were speculations that Menards had a partnership with Lionel, as they sold items with the “Built by Lionel” branding.

However, recent information suggests that Menards may have transitioned to manufacturing their own locomotives, rolling stock, and accessories. This change is reflected in the quality and affordability of their products.

Key Takeaways:

  • Menards offers a wide selection of toy and model trains, making them a popular choice for train enthusiasts.
  • While the exact manufacturer of Menards trains remains unclear, their products are praised for their affordability and high quality.
  • Menards’ unique business model, where they act as both the manufacturer and reseller, allows them to offer competitive prices to consumers.
  • Menards trains are often compared to Railking cars in terms of size and quality, with the main difference being the type of trucks used.
  • These trains are considered value for money, making them a great option for individuals looking to enter the hobby without a significant financial investment.

Overall, Menards trains have gained popularity within the hobby industry for their affordability, quality, and wide selection. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting out, Menards offers a range of train options to suit every enthusiast’s needs.

The Quality of Menards Trains

When it comes to the quality of Menards trains, they offer a compelling option for budget-conscious train hobbyists. While Menards trains may not have all the intricate details and advanced features seen in higher-priced brands, they still provide good quality and value considering their affordable price point.

Menards offers a variety of products, including well-detailed buildings, military die-cast items on flat cars, and cars and trucks with lit headlights and taillights. These products have been positively reviewed by hobbyists and are seen as a great addition to any model train setup.

However, it’s important to note that the quality of Menards trains can vary across products. Buildings, die-cast items, and lit cars are often perceived as having good quality, while some hobbyists may find the rolling stock detail, paint, and lettering to be more primitive. Nonetheless, Menards has made progress in improving their product line and actively addresses any flaws in their offerings, standing behind their products.

In terms of pricing, Menards trains are significantly more affordable compared to major manufacturers like Lionel and MTH. Menards prices on items are approximately half of what these big brands charge, making them an attractive option for those unable to invest heavily in their train hobby. Menards offers fare pricing range, with individual items ranging from $7.99 to $39.99.

Overall, Menards trains are built to cater to a segment of the hobby market that includes retirees and individuals on fixed incomes. They fill an affordable range segment in the model train industry, providing accessible options for train enthusiasts. With their commitment to quality improvement and competitive pricing, it’s no wonder that Menards trains are gaining popularity among hobbyists.

Menards Train Selection and Variety

When it comes to Menards train selection, model train enthusiasts are in for a treat. With a wide range of trains, accessories, and rolling stock, Menards offers a diverse assortment that caters to different interests and preferences. Whether you’re a fan of holiday trains or specific railroad company designs, Menards has got you covered.

One of the standout features of Menards train assortment is their attention to detail and variety. They offer a range of rolling stock options, including boxcars, tankers, and reefers, that add authenticity and character to your layout. What sets Menards apart is their ability to introduce novelty cars that capture the imagination of collectors. For example, the Tide tanker car has gained popularity within the model train community.

Carl Swanson, a respected figure in the model train world, mentioned in a Classic Toy Trains article that Menards trains provide an almost infinite variety of locomotives, rolling stock, and accessories. This level of choice allows enthusiasts to create unique and personalized layouts that truly reflect their vision.

The Menards O gauge Valley Motors building is a prime example of the variety offered. Retailing at $129.99, this structure comes with five die-cast metal vehicles, customer figures, and interior decoration. It even features a rotating rooftop turntable, adding an interactive element to your layout. Its timeless design is suited for layouts set from the 1940s to the present day. To further enhance customization, the building includes 11 auto marquees signs. And to power all your Menards train items, you can rely on the Menards 4.5-volt power supply.

If you’re looking to explore Menards train variety further, their website, Menards.com/trains, provides a convenient platform to browse and purchase their products. With 350 stores across 15 states, primarily concentrated in the Midwest U.S., Menards offers accessibility and convenience to model train enthusiasts nationwide.

Menards Train Starter Sets for the Holiday Season

Train Set Price Includes
Iron Mountain Less than $100 F7A diesel locomotive, Bethlehem Steel gondola, Burlington Northern boxcar, caboose
Thunderhawk HO-scale Slightly less than $150 Locomotive, Pennsylvania Railroad gondola, Quaker State tank car, Union Pacific boxcar, caboose

Menards has gone the extra mile by partnering with Bachmann to offer two exclusive train starter sets for the holiday season. The Iron Mountain train set, priced at less than $100, includes an F7A diesel locomotive, Bethlehem Steel gondola, Burlington Northern boxcar, and a caboose. On the other hand, the Thunderhawk HO-scale set is available for slightly less than $150 and includes a locomotive, Pennsylvania Railroad gondola, Quaker State tank car, Union Pacific boxcar, and a caboose.

Both sets come with all-wheel drive locomotives and E-Z Mate knuckle couplers, ensuring smooth operation and easy coupling between cars. The Iron Mountain set offers a 36-inch circle track plan, while the Thunderhawk set allows for oval construction with 18-inch radius curves. In addition, the Thunderhawk set includes nearly 50 detail accessories, such as plastic figures, telephone poles, and railroad/street signs, to complement your layout.

Setting up Menards train starter sets is a breeze, with no need for tools or specialized skills. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced model train enthusiast, these sets provide an excellent entry point or a new addition to your collection.

With its impressive selection, variety, and exclusive offerings, it’s clear why Menards is a go-to destination for model train enthusiasts. The combination of high-quality products, competitive pricing, and consistent availability at Menards stores across the Midwest U.S. has earned them the trust and favor of the model train community.

Price Comparison with Other Brands

Menards trains have gained a strong reputation in the model train community for their affordability and value. When comparing the prices of Menards trains with other major O gauge train brands, it becomes evident that Menards offers an attractive price point for budget-conscious hobbyists.

While other brands may charge up to $90 for comparable rolling stock, Menards provides similar quality cars at a significantly lower price. For example, Lionel’s “Six Pack” traditional rolling stock is priced at $119.94, with each individual car priced at $19.99. Interestingly, Menards sells individually split cars at the same price point of $19.99 each, allowing hobbyists to purchase specific cars without having to buy an entire pack.

By offering rolling stock at such reasonable prices, Menards has positioned itself as a cost-effective option for model train enthusiasts. This affordability is not compromised by the quality of the trains. In fact, Lionel’s rolling stock, despite its higher price tag, is comparable in quality to Menards’ offerings. This raises the question of whether Lionel, and other brands, will be pressured to lower their prices to compete with Menards.

Menards’ pricing strategy may be rooted in accepting lower profit margins to build brand loyalty among model train enthusiasts. By attracting customers with reasonable prices, Menards establishes itself as a go-to brand for budget-friendly options. This brand loyalty can then extend to other products offered by Menards, attracting first-rank customers who appreciate their commitment to affordability and quality.

To achieve their competitive pricing, Menards focuses on cleverly designing products to be low cost to produce. While initial quality issues may have been present, Menards has taken steps to resolve these concerns and maintain an acceptable level of quality. By making strategic choices in design, Menards is able to keep production costs down without sacrificing appeal.

Price Comparison with Lionel’s “Six Pack” Traditional Rolling Stock

Brand Product Price
Menards Individual Car $19.99
Menards Pack of 6 Cars N/A
Lionel Individual Car $19.99
Lionel Pack of 6 Cars $119.94

Menards’ pricing strategy is supported by cost-effective packaging. Their packaging is noticeably cheaper than competitors like MTH or Lionel, while still ensuring effective product protection. By using lean packaging and efficient shipping methods, Menards saves on costs, which translates to lower prices for consumers.

Overall, Menards fills an affordable niche in the model train hobby market, catering to hobbyists who cannot afford the prices of other major brands. Their trains are built to a specific price point, making them attractive options for hobbyists on fixed incomes or those seeking an entry point into the hobby without breaking the bank.

Customers appreciate the affordability, good quality, and unique offerings of Menards trains, such as military die-cast on flat cars and well-lit buildings. While quality may vary across different product categories, Menards promptly addresses any flaws and demonstrates a commitment to product quality and customer satisfaction.

Menards trains are available for purchase both through retail stores and online. For customers opting for online orders, it is important to consider shipping costs. However, the overall value for the price of Menards products makes them a popular choice among model train enthusiasts.

Menards Train Sizing

When it comes to Menards trains, one important aspect that enthusiasts consider is the size of the train. While Menards trains may not be true to scale, they are very close in size to other O gauge trains. This makes them compatible and allows them to run smoothly with other O gauge locomotives and rolling stock.

Menards offers a variety of trains, including boxcars and short flatcars. The length of Menards boxcars is just over 10 inches, which represents 40 feet in O scale. On the other hand, Menards short flatcars measure less than 9½ inches, equivalent to 38 feet in O scale. Although these cars may be slightly shorter and narrower compared to scale-sized cars, they maintain the same overall length.

It’s worth noting that Menards trains come in a wide range of prices. The average individual price of Menards boxcars is approximately $20, while the average individual price of Menards short flatcars starts at $7.99 without packaging. This makes them affordable options for model train enthusiasts.

Here is a visual representation of the size comparison between Menards boxcars and short flatcars:

Train Type Length (inches) Length (O scale feet)
Menards Boxcars Just over 10 40
Menards Short Flatcars Less than 9½ 38

Why Size Matters

The size of Menards trains is an important factor for model train enthusiasts. While some collectors prefer true-to-scale models, many others appreciate the compatibility and smooth operation that comes with O gauge trains. Menards trains offer the convenience of fitting seamlessly into existing layouts and running alongside other O scale trains without any issues.

Additionally, the slightly smaller size of Menards trains does not impede their overall appeal. The Menards rolling stock features clear and crisp printing of railroad logos and reporting marks, with no bad paint detected. The colors of Menards boxcars are generally satisfactory, though they may have slight variations compared to real freight cars.

Overall, Menards trains provide enthusiasts with a cost-effective and visually appealing option that ensures compatibility and easy integration into model railroad layouts.

With Menards trains, model train enthusiasts can enjoy the perfect balance of size, affordability, and compatibility, creating captivating model railroad layouts that showcase the beauty of these trains.

Menards Train Availability

Menards offers train enthusiasts the opportunity to purchase their products both in-store and online. With Menards stores located throughout the United States, hobbyists have easy access to a selection of trains and accessories, including Menards-branded items. Additionally, Menards has an official website where customers can browse and order their favorite train models from the comfort of their homes.

However, it is important to note that the availability of Menards trains can vary. As mentioned by enthusiasts on discussion forums, Menards train items are known to sell out quickly, both in-store and online. This high demand is a testament to the growing popularity and reputation of Menards trains within the model train community.

During a test run of the O gauge Santa Fe F unit diesel locomotive, Menards experienced a significant demand as the product sold out within just three hours on their website. This rapid sell-out demonstrates the enthusiasm and interest that collectors have for Menards trains.

In terms of pricing, Menards offers wallet-friendly options for hobbyists. For example, the Menards Santa Fe EMD F unit diesel locomotive was priced at $146.06, making it an affordable choice for train enthusiasts.

When it comes to performance, Menards trains have received positive feedback. The Menards F3 locomotive, during its test sample, registered a drawbar pull of 1 pound, 7 ounces, surpassing the performance of the 1991 LTI F3 model, which recorded only 15 ounces. This indicates the robust performance and quality of Menards locomotives.

The Menards F3 locomotive also boasts realistic speeds, with a low-speed recording of 16.6 scale miles per hour and a high speed of 46.4 scale miles per hour. This allows for an authentic and immersive operating experience for train enthusiasts.

Controlling a Menards locomotive is made easy with a battery-powered handheld remote. This remote operates over an approximate 25 x 30-foot area, providing flexibility and convenience during operation.

While Menards train products have received positive feedback from customers, it is important to mention that some users have reported minor issues with the battery contact on the handheld remote. However, these issues can easily be rectified with household tools, ensuring a seamless experience for hobbyists.

Menards values customer feedback and actively seeks opinions to improve their locomotives and potentially introduce changes based on feedback analysis. This commitment to customer satisfaction sets Menards apart and positions them as a brand that is dedicated to continually enhancing their product line.

Discussion threads dedicated to Menards train availability have garnered significant attention within the model train community. For example, a Menards Train Availability thread on a popular forum has received over 3,000 views and generated 51 replies from 21 participants. This active engagement highlights the interest and passion that collectors have for Menards train products.

Bridges and Buildings at Menards

In addition to locomotives, Menards is known for its wide range of model train accessories, particularly bridges and buildings. The company offers a variety of options, including the mention of a 3-Piece O Scale Truss and Girder Bridge Set, which attracts hobbyists looking to create realistic and detailed layouts for their train displays.

Menards’ emphasis on quality and visually appealing accessories has solidified its position in the model train industry. Many collectors and enthusiasts appreciate the visibility of Menards products and recognize their commitment to providing high-quality structures that enhance the overall aesthetic of their train layouts.

When comparing Menards train products to other manufacturers, such as Lionel, customer preferences and criticism come into play. Discussions often focus on pricing competitiveness and market loyalty. While some enthusiasts express loyalty to specific brands, Menards has been able to gain a significant and growing customer base due to its attractive pricing, innovative designs, and commitment to customer satisfaction.

It is worth noting that concerns have been raised about the quality of Menards locomotives, especially during beta runs. However, Menards actively acknowledges and addresses these concerns by soliciting customer feedback to make necessary improvements for potential future production runs. This dedication to improvement demonstrates Menards’ willingness to adapt and evolve based on user experiences.

Menards’ Facebook page also serves as a platform for customer interaction and feedback. Positive comments about Menards train products are prevalent, further reinforcing their positive reputation within the model train community.

Discussion Thread Views Replies Participants
Menards Train Availability 3,000 51 21

Menards Train Popularity

Menards trains have become increasingly popular among train enthusiasts and collectors. Their affordable prices and value for money have made them a favorite choice among hobbyists in the O gauge model railroad community. With a strong presence in the market, Menards has captured the attention of train enthusiasts looking for quality products at competitive prices.

Compared to other well-known brands such as MTH, Lionel, or Atlas, Menards trains have gained recognition for their affordability. While other brands may offer similar products, Menards has positioned itself as a “DISCOUNT” company directly competing with retailers like Lowes, Home Depot, Harbor Freight, Walmart, and Costco. This strategy allows Menards to offer attractive prices without compromising on quality.

The popularity of Menards trains can also be attributed to the positive feedback from users. Many enthusiasts appreciate the quality of Menards buildings, highlighting their value for the price. Additionally, the rolling stock from Menards has been compared favorably to traditional Lionel rolling stock in terms of quality, with the added advantage of lower pricing.

Despite some anecdotal evidence pointing out defects in Menards rolling stock, such as issues with decals and build quality, the overall satisfaction with Menards trains remains high. Customers also appreciate the affordability of Menards products, with promotions for online orders and free gifts such as trees and model cars, further enhancing their appeal.

Menards trains have also gained popularity among modular show stock enthusiasts. Their durability and reasonable scale accuracy make them a practical choice for setting up modular layouts. Some users even prefer Menards trains for the track over paying premium prices for brand name products.

Although physical Menards stores may not be available in all areas, consumers have shown willingness to order online despite elevated shipping costs. The pricing offered by Menards is often seen as workable for hobbyists, leading to envy among those without convenient access to Menards stores.

The popularity of Menards trains is further reflected in the engagement of train enthusiasts and collectors on online platforms such as forums. Forum discussions related to Menards trains have garnered thousands of views and attracted active participation from numerous individuals.

Statistics Forum Discussion
Number of Views 3,000
Number of Participants 11

The engagement and positive feedback from train enthusiasts demonstrate the growing popularity of Menards trains among collectors and hobbyists. Menards’ commitment to providing affordable and quality products has allowed them to establish a dedicated following in the model train community.

Menards Train Charm and Appeal

Menards trains have captured the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts with their undeniable charm and unique appeal. These intricately designed model trains, available in a wide variety of styles and themes, offer a delightful addition to any train layout.

One of the standout features of Menards trains is their attention to detail. The rolling stock is carefully painted and decorated, showcasing vibrant colors and intricate designs. From classic box cars to novelty cars like the Tide tanker, these trains add character and interest to any collection.

Not only are Menards trains visually appealing, but they also come at an affordable price point, making them accessible to a wide range of train enthusiasts. The company offers a diverse selection of train options, allowing collectors to build and expand their collections without breaking the bank.

However, like any model train brand, Menards trains do have their quirks. Some collectors have reported issues with the gauges of the train cars, which can affect tracking through certain switches. Additionally, there have been instances of thin paint in less visible areas, like inside the hopper or on the underside of the cars. These issues, while not overly common, are important to consider when evaluating the overall quality of Menards trains.

Despite these minor flaws, Menards trains have gained a loyal following due to their unique charm and appeal. Their affordability, variety of options, and attention to detail make them a popular choice among collectors. Whether you’re just starting your train collection or looking to expand, Menards trains offer a delightful and accessible way to enjoy the world of model railroading.

Pros Cons
Affordable price point Some reports of gauges not meeting preferred standards
Unique and charming designs Occasional issues with thin paint in less visible areas
Wide variety of train options Minor design flaws, such as couplers not closing properly
Attention to customer feedback for product improvements Notable improvements in recent Menards purchases


After considering the feedback and discussions from enthusiasts, it is apparent that Menards trains offer a budget-friendly option for those interested in model railroading. With their wide selection and variety, Menards trains have gained popularity among O gauge enthusiasts, attracting around 15 participants to engage in discussions. Multiple YouTube reviews, especially of the New Menards Union Pacific Diesels, were shared, providing valuable insights into the performance and features of these trains.

While some users reported varying levels of satisfaction and mechanical issues with Menards trains, overall satisfaction was expressed by others. It is worth noting that Menards trains are primarily aimed at budget-minded buyers, offering an affordable entry point into the hobby. However, users did mention concerns about quality control, including overspray on the trains.

Discussions revolved around various aspects, such as the smoothness of engine operations, sound quality, and overall performance. Users also compared Menards trains to other brands like Lionel, highlighting differences in features and quality. Opinions were divided on the draw and appeal of Menards trains within the enthusiast community.

Looking beyond the trains themselves, Menards’ sustainable business practices were noted, including recycling paper materials at the store level and utilizing waste products for additional revenue generation. The company’s strategic approach to maximize revenue, such as purchasing surplus products at a discount, has contributed to its success. Furthermore, expansion plans, including the potential opening of a new regional distribution center, demonstrate Menards’ commitment to growing its operations and catering to a wider customer base.

In summary, Menards trains provide good value for money and have gained a significant following in the model railroading community. While there are some reported issues with quality control and mechanical aspects, the affordability and variety offered by Menards make them an attractive option for budget-conscious enthusiasts. Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned collector, Menards trains offer an accessible and enjoyable way to explore the world of model railroading.


Who makes Menards Trains?

The exact manufacturer of Menards trains is a topic of discussion. While some believe that Menards had a partnership with Lionel, recent information suggests that Menards may now manufacture their own locomotives, rolling stock, and accessories.

How good are Menards trains?

Menards trains are known for their affordability and providing good value for money. While they may not have all the high-end features and details found in more expensive brands, they offer good quality for the price.

What is the quality of Menards trains?

Menards rolling stock is well-painted and decorated, with attractive graphics. The cars are slightly larger than traditional Lionel rolling stock but are comparable to Railking cars. Menards trains are a popular choice for beginners and those looking to enter the hobby without a significant financial investment.

What is the selection and variety of Menards trains?

Menards offers a wide selection of trains and accessories, catering to different interests and preferences. Their train sets come in various themes, such as holiday trains and specific railroad company designs. Menards also produces a range of rolling stock, including boxcars, tankers, and reefers.

How does the price of Menards trains compare to other brands?

Menards trains are often praised for their affordability compared to other major O gauge train brands. They offer similar quality cars in the – price range, while other companies may charge up to for comparable rolling stock.

What is the size of Menards trains?

Menards trains are close in size to other O gauge trains. While they may not be true to scale, Menards rolling stock, such as boxcars, is slightly shorter and narrower than scale-sized cars but is the same length. Menards trains are compatible with other O gauge locomotives and rolling stock.

Where can I buy Menards trains?

Menards trains can be found both in-store and online. Menards stores carry a selection of trains and accessories, including Menards branded items. Menards also has an official website where enthusiasts can purchase their products.

How popular are Menards trains?

Menards trains have gained popularity and a dedicated following among train enthusiasts and collectors. The affordability and value for money offered by Menards trains have made them an attractive option for hobbyists.

What is the charm and appeal of Menards trains?

Menards trains have a charm and appeal that resonate with collectors and enthusiasts. Their well-painted and decorated rolling stock, along with unique novelty cars, add character and interest to train layouts. Menards trains make the hobby accessible to a wider audience with their affordability.

What is the conclusion about Menards trains?

Menards trains offer affordable options for train enthusiasts and collectors. They provide good value for money and a wide selection of trains and accessories. Menards trains have gained popularity and have their own unique appeal in the O gauge model railroading community.