Model trains are the best hobby in the world, but if you are going to pay full retail price for everything you buy, it will soon become the most expensive hobby you have ever had! Do your research first, talk with other railway enthusiasts, check how much space you have available, you want to steam or diesel locomotives, will your multi level layout, etc...
So, I'm always on model trains and you are a beginner, what you should know before you begin to collect and build a model layout train? Well, that's the truth, that I don't really need too much prior knowledge.
Experience and knowledge will save considerable money in the long run if you become a model train junkie but you can dive in with an almost pre-assembled layout from a number of manufactures.
I say almost mounted because there is always something, it must be.
Pick a Scale
Model trains come in a wide variety of scales (measurements) ranging from the very tiny (T scale) to quite large (G scale).
Select where you want to put your layout and what scale to determine what you want to do.
Also note that the individual scales of trains are not compatible with each other, so pick one and stick to it (unless you desire multiple setups featuring different scales).
The most popular scale is the world's HO (1: 87).
Due to its global prevalence you will find that this scale has the largest selection of model train stuff available.
In model trains for beginners, this is the ideal scale, because some smaller, it can take.
This is the best choice for those more interested in running their trains than in detailing them.
There are only two forms of power and they are DC (direct current) and DCC (digital command control).
Latest model trains use DCC, allowing more model trains all run at different speeds, very dynamic.
DC on the other hand is more limited and less dynamic; turn on the power and anything on a track starts to move.
Dove most likely trains meet only DC is in small scales and or lower than T-scale and Z scale.
These trains are so small that they have difficulty staying on the track and pulling any weight at all (even dust on the track can stop them).
Many of the old T scale and Z scale trains on DC now DCC can be converted and some of the newer already have this feature.
So, be aware of this when purchasing trains, especially if you are looking at a lot of garage sales for bargains.
Finally aware that international measures differ is considerable, so that if you something in buy Europe can not fully compatible with a train set made in United States.
About Hobby Stores
Oh how I love them.
People who work in shops such as hobbies generally make minimum wage, and have difficulty just surviving.
Why do they do it? Love.
They love to talk and share their knowledge and because of this are tremendous resources.
The prices in a retail store, hobbies are generally much higher than comparable products which find in art shops.
In particular paints and support products so shop around.