In both Aparecium! The Hogwarts Express and Accio Prospectus Secundia, I stated that Lionel had lost its license to produce the O Gauge Hogwarts Express train set in late 2016. While this remains true, it appears that that time, Lionel has regained their contract and now are producing a new version of the Hogwarts Express under the LionChief Plus line. This great news, even if it makes my initial information incorrect.
The introduction of the LionChief Plus line and the inclusion of Hogwarts Express in it are both great news. The LionChief Plus system is designed to give you all of the control options of LionChief as well as the ability to run your locomotive via your conventional transformer as well with the flick of a switch. Now you can run your locomotive on any layout (Conventional, LionChief, TMCC™ or LEGACY™) with your LionChief Remote. It also introduces some very nice new features and technology updates.
Most exciting for me, LionChief Plus adds Blu Tooth capability to the locomotive, meaning you can control the train using your phone or tablet devices. This will remove the dependency on a remote as well as having ready batteries in case they are needed. It will also provide added safeguards to who can control it.
Another neat feature is automated couplers. It appears you can couple and uncouple your rolling stock directly from the controller, another feature our current train does not offer. Their website indicates a number of other features and benefits as well. Oddly enough, the site does not list the Hogwarts Express among the other LionChief engines and sets, although it is in their 2017 Ready To Run catalog online. It also appears to be available in their online store, as well as a coach pack and the Dementor Carriage.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that they are selling the upgraded engine and tender separately and the new LionChief Plus sets are substantially more expensive, averaging a $419 price tag. This is great news for those wanting to purchase it as their introductory set, as it was previously unavailable. However, it is a tad expensive for those just looking to upgrade, although the additional cars and track could be put to use as well. For now, I’m glad to hear that Lionel is once again being able to produce and sell this set and it gives my project more relevance to viewers and followers, which might once again be able to benefit from the work I’ll be doing.