HO Model Train Sets Then and Now

HO scale model train cars are the most popular scale of the model railway in the world. Because the HO scale is more delicate than the O scale, it allows modelers to fit more details and more scale miles into their model railway. Learn a little more about the HO scale and how it became popular.

HO model train engine driving forward


The HO model was created to be half of the size of the O scale to be more accessible to more people after the First World War. The model first appeared in the United Kingdom but gained its popularity in the United States. In the 1950s, HO challenged the market dominance of the O scale because it was able to fit in smaller homes and was much cheaper to manufacture than the O scale. As the 1960s arrived, it overtook the O scale in popularity and manufacturers who were once loyal to the O scale began to make and distribute HO trains.


Today, HO is the most popular model railroad scale in continental Europe and North America. Many different locomotives, cars, carriages, buildings, scenery, and other accessories are available in the HO scale from many different manufacturers. Models are usually available in ready-to-run, shake-the-box kit, and craftsman kits.

  • Ready-to-run models are ready to use right out of the box. Integral parts are installed by the manufacturer and there is no complicated assembly to get started. Some intricate detailing parts may need to be added, but all necessary operating parts will be ready to go.
  • Shake-the-box kits get their name from the joke that no skill is required to assemble them. You can shake the box and the kit falls together. The shake-the-box kits are quick and easy for anyone to assemble.
  • Craftsman kits are the most detailed and difficult to assemble. A typical kit can include several hundreds parts. A higher level of skill is required to assemble these intricate kits.

For all your HO model train needs, be sure to visit ExactRail today.
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