This past week, I watched an episode of James May: The Reassembler. In the opening episode of season two, May walks through the reassembly of his first ever toy train set, a Hornby Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sound, which he received one year as a Christmas gift. Quite ironically, a week before, I had begun exactly the same endeavor, rebuilding my first ever LEGO train set.
The 9-volt era had several diamond sets: the Metroliner and Santa Fe Super Chief among them. There were also several oddball sets, with no real prototype counterpart. Set 4561 Railway Express, which I received on Christmas morning around the year 2001, was one such set. But this didn’t stop me from enjoying the set. I built it with the aid of my father and we watched it run around the simple oval track for hours, loading and unloading the wagons countless times. Then, after I got bored of the set, I tore it apart and begun making my first rudimentary train MOCs.
That brings us to the present, or at least a few weeks ago: 4561 sat in pieces, strewn about my layout, built into many other creations. I dug out my file box of instruction booklets and found the ones for 4561, and set to work.
Most of the locomotive was intact, thankfully.
The wagons proved to be more of a challenge.
Many of the larger bricks had been incorporated into various train MOCs and even some buildings, and a handful were just plain gone. No matter, there’s nothing a Bricklink order or two can’t fix.
Over the next few days I finally finished rebuilding the Railway Express, save for about 3 parts. Even better, it still worked beautifully.
I regard the 4561 as one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received, because it launched my hobby as a whole. Sure, the latest and greatest MOCs are cool. There’s nothing wrong with taking the hobby as far as you can. But, for me, the “first set” will always be a winner.