I'm kind of wondering how the original poster is able to reconcile toy-train American Flyer stuff with "realism": toy trains are made primarily to look like toy trains, especially if they are three-rail, running on too-small curves with obviously mechanical animated accessories and colorful/fanciful buildings. Of course, much S scale equipment is modeler-oriented rather than toy-train American Flyer, but the original poster doesn't seem to make that distinction so I wonder how much research they have done. Craftsmanship in the context of model railroading has more to do with the modeler than the model: an amateur can take a "craftsman" kit and build something that looks like a three-year-old made with Popsicle sticks, and a master modeler can take a cheap knock-off model and make something eye-poppingly realistic out of it. The most expensive and detailed model motive power and rolling stock still looks like a toy if it's going round and round on a sheet of plywood, but a low-end Bachmann trainset with horn-hook couplers can look pretty good rolling through a detailed layout. "Most realistic scale" isn't really an effective questions either: small scale models are for people who want to model long trains and realistic scenery, and larger scales are for people who are more interested in the trains themselves--or have gobs and gobs of room. Large-scale equipment does look good close-up, but small scale looks equally good at longer distances because an effective scene "frames" the trains. S scale is a good compromise between detail and compactness, but it's not the only solution. "6 to 8 lanes of track"...I'm not even sure what that means. Typically the only time one sees 6-8 tracks in parallel is in a yard. It is apparent that the original poster is still learning--hopefully they will take the time to learn more.