Superstreets sets by K-Line by Lionel
Published: November 10, 2008
|OKAY, THE SUPERSTREETS STUFF IS, well, kinda starter-set material - but not quite in the sense of there being a train involved. Both of these sets have a powered unit and track with metal rails, and even a power supply. And oh, yes, trains can run on the track, too. But strictly speaking, they aren't quite train sets.|
The concept is simple: Layouts have moving trains, so why not have moving vehicles? This takes the old concept of mixing slot cars and trains a step or two further, since the roadbed is made to look like streets, and the vehicles have flanged wheels that run on track embedded in the roadbed.
Of course, there are also some wonderful side benefits in that you can model an interurban railway or a trolley line with SuperStreets track. Or you can use the track system for an ultra-realistic roadbed in the industrial quarter of your town, for a little "street running."
I was a big fan of SuperStreets when it was originally launched before K-Line folded. I hesitated to jump into what might have ended up being an orphan track line, but not any longer. I was glad that Lionel resurrected the product when it resumed production of the K-Line flag. I was so enthusiastic that I bought a trolley set and a Dirty Dogz van set. Well, I bought two Dirty Dogz sets - one for me, and one to give as a gift to my mobile pet groomer. But I digress. Let's open the packaging.
So let's open the boxes
Opening both sets (all the more track to play with), you'll find that the contents are identical except for the powered unit. One set has a trolley car (illuminated and with operating reverse bumpers), while the other contains a generic van with graphics for a mobile pet grooming service.
The trolley looks fine. This is the classic Lionel Birney car that we've seen before. It has the standard window silhouettes and nomenclature on the body. The car has interior illumination and the time-honored, whiplash-inducing, bumper-activated reverse unit.
The van differs a bit, in that the wheels are metal and have flanges. They look dark, but reflect bright lights (I thought they were chemically darkened until I took a snapshot to post in the Classic Toy Trains forum, where they looked a bright golden color - a reflection from the camera flash.
Trackage for each set includes six 10-inch straight sections, eight no. D16 curves, and four straight-to-curve transition sections. The transition sections need a slightly wider gap in the middle to allow movement of the flanged wheel as it rolls into the curve.
The tubular track (and straight-edge power rail) are embedded in textured gray plastic that replicates a city street lane. You'll also spot a lot of manhole covers. These cover pre-drilled holes for you to screw the track to your benchwork. Once the screw is in place, pop the cover back on for concealment.
K-Line by Lionel has cataloged a wide range of add-on track pieces, many of which are filtering into stores. These include a "Y" road splitter (for a loop) for $12, intersection pieces ($10 each), SuperStreets-to-tubular ($8) and SuperStreets-to-FasTrack transitions ($9), a Tubular Track crossing (with railroad crossing crossbucks) for $18, and a SuperStreets/FasTrack crossing ($20).
Perhaps the most important add-on piece is the no. D21 curved section. This is essential if you want to create a two-lane street. The D21 is placed on the outside of the D16 curve.
Power is provided by a small Life-Like DC power pack. This is more than adequate for running motorized units around the line.
Blowin' and goin'
Motorized units either work or they don't work. If they do work, they tend to be speedy and fairly quiet. The trolley and the Dirty Dogz van both operated very quietly. Movement was smooth, with very few lurches. The trolley has a single traction tire, while the van mounts them on the rear two axles.
The bumpers on the trolley are functional. However, I like to operate a loop or continuous circuit rather than rely upon a hi-speed whack against an inanimate object like a bumper post.
After zipping the cars around long loops of the combined set trackage, I bought a crossover and a "Y" roadway for a loop. These additions made operation more enjoyable since they increased the odds of a collision from a rear-ender to a T-bone or even a head-on! Are we talking fun, or what?
The only way to reverse the trolley is through bumper action, while the van is forward only.
The set power units state they were rated 18VAC and 16VDC. Easy to spot is a white paper label covering the AC connectors with "REMOVE FOR USE WITH AC ACCESSORIES DO NOT CONNECT TO TRACK."
We ran both units with their set DC power packs. We also ran them with an AC MTH Z-4000 transformer. They might have run a wee bit more smoothly using the DC power packs.
This would is a terrific product for a trolley line around a Christmas tree - picking up passengers from the "steam railway" station and hauling them into the package-strewn depths of Holiday City. That having been noted, operation of the motorized units was quiet, with a dash of fun thrown in.