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The world’s first toy train that levitates and runs on magnetic force
500 km an hour. As the practical realization of a linear motor car levitating and running on magnetic power gains attention in advance of its scheduled 2027 debut, Takaratomy is one step ahead with a toy version, launching its own Linear Liner.
The toy is a 1:90 scale version of the original. It moves at about 6 km/h, but converted to scale speed, that’s even faster than the 500 km/h operating speed of the linear Chuo Shinkansen LO Series. A visit to the exhibition space at Takaratomy’s headquarters reveals an elliptical track set up in a space about one tatami mat in size. The Linear Liner, stopped in the station, starts out slowly, but picks up speed as it makes one, then two trips around the track. It passes by so fast, you could almost mistake it for the real thing.
Development of the product began in the fall of 2013. “What we focused most on was using the power of magnets to levitate the train and make it run. Lifting the train car itself was not that difficult; the problem was getting it to run fast while suspended above the track,” explains Takuya Ishii of Takaratomy’s New Toy Planning Department Plan Development section.
Aiming for Realistic Speed
That role falls to the magnets embedded in the rails and the train car. Turn on the power, and the high-speed magnetic sensor in the train car detects the magnetic power of the round magnets in the rail, which sends electricity to a coil that generates a magnetic field. This creates a repulsive force between the magnets in the rail and the train car which generates propulsive power, moving the car forward. By pushing down on the train car when stopped, you can tell how it is just slightly floating above the track.
Mr. Ishii continues, “At first, we tried to emphasize appearances, and focused on how high the car was off the track, but no matter how many times we tried, it didn’t run very fast. One day, though, it ran faster than usual. Puzzled, we looked into it and found that, because we’d forgotten to install some of the magnets, it was floating just a few millimeters lower than before. With that as a hint, we began a series of experiments in balancing distance from the track with speed, and eventually arrived at the current height of 2 mm from the track. We didn’t achieve a stable scale speed of 500 km/h until the day before the scheduled toy show presentation.”
The Linear Liner comes equipped with about 30 different fun audio phrases, including “The train is about to depart,” and “We have reached a speed of 500 kilometers an hour.” Until the real linear motor car comes along, we can all dream of super-fast train travel with the Linear Liner.
Photos: Noriyuki Kamio Text: JQR Editorial Staff