Monday, July 11, 2005
3243 Face Off!
I'd love to think of what would have been like if Ives had survived... These 3243's are a really nice change from the old 402 and 408E.
Ok, so let me speculate for a few minutes:
Ives would have made a ton of prewar Trains (more than they did), probably in the ideal "Ives" styling that was uniquely Ives. Probably more locomotives.... A really nice New York City Interurban and Trolleys. Perhaps some Steeple Cabs?
Postwar Ives would have been different. Would they have merged with Flyer to create more glorious American Flyer/Ives Postwar Classics? My guess is that they would have focused on a few innovations, probably operating items like working O gauge accessories.
If they were around today, what would they be like? Still producing great toys like Marklin and LGB or reproducing stuff from the great days of Lionel yesteryear? There's a whole bunch of scenarios.
What if they had stuck to their precision clock making train roots? My experience with clock made trains is that they run smooth and the people that built them understood precision. I think it would have been interesting to see them live intact without ridiculous acquisitions (see the Lionel Roy Cohn acquisition or the current Wellspring debacle for futher info).
I always heard Edward Ives wasn't a terribly friendly fellow but the marketing and direction of the company was always focused on quality and fun toys. Toss in some serious precision and quality control and you basically don't have any company that exists today. Somehow I don't see Ives outsourcing their phone support to Bangalore.
Here's something to think about: Philip Morris (now called Altria) has been around since 1847 and Kraft Foods has been around since 1903. Animal Crackers (from National Biscuit) have essentially been the same since 1898. Coke isn't a whole heck of a lot different. The point is, even with some serious acquisitions, a couple of companies have still managed to maintain and grow their brand identities. Some of them substnatially.
Ok, there aint no stoppin progress, I get that. But some of the ideals Ives emobodied we need right now. Corporate greed seems to be the norm these days and a truly innovative product that has amazing quality can be elusive.
Here are some things I would like to see Ives 2006 produce:
1) Signals and lights (street and otherwise) from days long gone.
2) Ives Distant Control - a new Ives stylized Transformer. An integrated Ives system for powering trains, lights and accessories. Modular with prewar styling. Made in America.
3) Ives Locomotives. O Gauge and Wide Gauge. Lots of brass and steel (instead of Iron).
4) Toys from the past - Dorfan, Voltamp and Howard. Ives could make these, preferably in standard gauge or wide gauge. Stations, homes and little buildings. Amazing bridges and spans.
Just a few ideas. Ok, I'm nuts but it is something I think about. I know, tons of people that are out there saying I am insane, just spend $20k at an auction on original stuff. Still, the current attempts at Ives are a darn good start and I like 'em (MEW, MTH, etc.).
I just put together a Lego "Wolverine" for one of my kids. All plastic and two of the parts incorrectly formed. My kid's whole room is full of video games that my son has scratched and they barely work. I know at least a dozen parents that have spent over a thousand bucks on video games and the systems that go along with them. I have two video game systems and cartridges sitting in storage.
Am I really nuts?