I like to say that this weekly column finds the coolest and most fun electric vehicles from China that either drive, float, or fly. But with this entry into the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the WeekI might need to update that list to include things that locomote by rail.
This just may be my new favorite weird thing I found on Alibaba: a life-sized electric train set.
Well, I guess it’s not technically life-sized, as in it’s not the size of an actual honest-to-goodness train. But it’s big enough that you and your friends can still hop aboard and play out your best hobo life fantasy, riding the rail from coast to coast with nothing but a bindle stick and a dream.
There are seven seats, and the weight limit is up to 500 kg (1,100 lb), which means you could fit several friends, colleagues, or kids’ birthday party participants on one train ride.
The motor is fairly weak at just 200 W (1/4 horsepower), though, so perhaps you shouldn’t try and set the tracks up on any significant incline.
Oh, right, and that’s the other cool thing here. You can actually lay out your own track, just like a real train set! The base model seems to come in a circle, but who wants that boring hunk of garbage? Give me something I can be creative with! I want to design my own little train city here, folks. The options for track shapes are listed as “Round shape, Oval shape, 8 shape, B shape, or as customers’ requirements.” That’s perfect because I’m about to have a lot of requirements, sir.
If I were to buy myself a train set like this, I’d need a whole container full of spare track segments so I can really go to town laying down some serious tracks.
Or maybe I’ll just keep the stack of track pieces on the three carriages in the back, laying down segments as I go in a freestyle runaway train scenario.
At a mere $2,200 for one of the coolest train sets I’ve ever seen, I’m dangerously close to needing to find a lawn somewhere to lay this stuff out. Something tells me my apartment complex isn’t going to appreciate me taking over the lobby.
Of course, that price doesn’t include the container ship full of extra track segments I’m going to require, but how much can that stuff cost? If an entire train costs a couple of Gs, then tracks must be practically free.
And look at how many different train designs they offer. There’s more than just a copyright-infringed Thomas the Tank Engine. There’s a little bit of everything, as long as it’s “cheery.”
Ok, ok. Let’s settle down for a minute here. As much fun as we’re having while enjoying the weirdness of Alibaba, please don’t run off and try to buy this thing.
Yes, I know they’ve got it all packaged up and ready for you. But don’t be like my ill-advised readers and jump in with both feet on a crazy train pipe dream. There’s a lot that can go wrong when buying things sight unseen from China. In fact, there’s perhaps more that can go wrong than can go right.
It’s worked out for me a few timesbut the stress and complications of the process have surely shaved a few weeks off of my life expectancy and contributed to no fewer than three more gray hairs in my beard.
For now, let’s just enjoy this weirdness from afar, the way it was meant to be. If you really need to take a ride on an electric toy train, consider hitting up the local birthday party scene.
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