Friday, June 30, 2006

The Poll Is Up

I thought this "polling thing" to send a message to standard gauge manufacturers was a good idea. So I have developed the poll based on emails I have received as well as feedback on the Yahoo Groups and the Tinplate Forums.

What I plan to do is leave the poll open a couple of weeks and get as many people as I can to reply to it. I'll take it and send it off to manufacturers. If they want to ignore a market and revenue, that's their perogative. I am tired of "hoping" that manufacturers read my webpage or the Groups Pages or the forums. Hope isn't a bad thing (now I sound like the Shawshank Redemption) but it doesn't always pay the bills. I don't like people that set around and bellyache without offering up some solutions so this is my start at an offering.

"What are you talking about Marc? What's the problem you are solving?" The problem is that the O gauge market seems to get a newly tooled set of engines from every manufacture at least once every twelve months. New rolling stock, new buildings, new signals. Std gauge seems to get an periodic remake of a Lionel Classic Period peice or Ives peice once or twice a year. While I think we should be thankful for that fact it doesn't exactly float for innovation.

So I have compiled a list from "All the things I'd like MTH to produce" as well as the O gauge forums to the best of my limited ability. Hopefully the list will never really be finished (because everyone's imagination is really unlimited). It's a first crack at starting to expand the standard gauge catalog beyond the stock items. There has been so much fantastic standard gauge built since World War II ended, we need to give it recognition as well as new items that should be but have never been produced.

Go vote! Use the link above. And get others in the TCA, TTOS and LCCA to vote as well!


Thursday, June 29, 2006

What Can MTH Make?


I did the interview with Mike Wolf and I am jelling the parts to make it interesting reading. I spoke to Mike extensively about what will get made and why.

Before you all fantasize too much (hence the nice looking automobile on the left) on what can and cannot be made, I can tell you that MTH's focus is on products that will sell.

Mike told me they put out the articulated 400E and there were almost no pre-orders. Suffice to say, he wants to make sure everything MTH produces finds a home in a collection or with an operator.

So here's what I propose: either I'll do it or we can do it on the Yahoo Groups - we create a list of all items we would like to see produced, rank them by putting out a survey and then send them to MTH. It's the best way to be straight with what we would like to see. I'll either build the list or the survey, one or the other, I need some help (please volunteer because it won't get done any other way). It will give our friend's at MTH a roadmap for things we'd like to see.

Any thoughts?


It got away....

The insane collector in me rarely pops out. But when he does (Mr. Hyde) I obsess about certain items. This standard gauge work car I just lost out on on eBay is one of them.

Am I nuts? Well, yes. This is the only one of these I have ever seen. The price went way too high for me to pay. All I can think of is Smeagol from Lord Of The Rings jabbering on about "my precious". It gives me the creeps. Has anyone seen this and where in blazes can I get one?

It is likely and even probable that this car is a Wakeling. Since Arno introduced me to these things I can't seem to get enough of them. I only have seen them once or twice on eBay. This is the kind of low hanging fruit I wish standard gauge manufacturers would pursue. I love the Blue Comet but sometimes track needs to get fixed and my Westphal car just doesn't have maintenance of way rights. Seems like this would do the trick.

I hope it shows up again (and no, I am not eating any raw fish or prancing around talking to a lake (a cheesy, geeky Lord Of The Rings joke)).


New Hope, PA Trains

My Buddy $$$mint was in New Hope, PA and managed to grab some nice shots of an engine under steam.

Yes, I know it isn't standard gauge but who cares? This is one really nice engine and set.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Prague Toy Museum

That Boxcab intrigued me too. I am guessing it is a Bing 1 Gauge but I could be wrong. Fandor?

I have quite a few more pics to upload. The one's of the huge Marklin station are really something to see.


More Prague Toy Museum....

By the way, the trolley pictured below is a current trolley from Prague. They call them "trams". Roland told me that they have trams running in Prague, Austria and all over Europe.

Looks like we gave up yet another bright idea to get gouged for gas prices instead.

I have some tram pics I can post if anyone would like to see them. They are just too cool. Roland said he might send me some movies later on.


You guys are quick!

Damn, you guys are quick!

Roland sent me these pics from the Prague Toy Museum and some pics of trolleys in Europe. He sent me so many they clogged my email today for over 2 hours and sucked up around 3 gig of HD space.

Here's a few to get you started.

I know these aren't Lionel authentic standard gauge and the like but I know that you'll still find them really interesting. Especially when it comes to percolating some ideas for tinplate.

I could spend the next 4 days posting these things. I'll post as many as I can. They are really intriguing.

Here comes a few more in another post...

Where was this taken?

If anyone can tell me where my buddy Roland took this picture, I'll post some pics of the biggest station I have ever seen. It's Marklin but it is friggin amazing.

Truly, this thing is just enormous. I'm not posting diddly until someone tells me where this toy museum is!


PS He took pics of the rest of the toy trains in this museum as well. They kick ace!

Lots of good stuff on the way....

I can't post much this week but I will post some good stuff in the next 4 or 5 days.

Stay tuned - a standard gauge interview with Mike Wolf is coming up in the next two weeks. If you have any questions for him, send them to me at:

No patently stupid questions (such as anything with profanity or that will be an insult to our collective intelligence (like "What does MTH make?" as an example). And NO lawsuit questions! Everything else is fair game!

Cheers for now!


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Great Rich Art Article

I was pouring through some ancient TTOS bulletins and I found this amazing article on Rich Art. Blow it up and read it using "Full Page View" on IE. Hilly Lazarus did some great writing for the TTOS bulletins. His knowledge and study of trains is exceptional.

This article is really worth reading. I am anxiously awaiting Arno's book on these makers of toy trains. I expect every reader of this blog to pick up a copy as soon as it is available!

As I have said in previous posts, much of their production is exclusive; one off's that are rare and almost always wonderful. I know Dick Mayer cranked out a ton of great trains and many are documented and many are not.

Take a gander at this article; what I am hoping is that it will inspire many of you out there with mechanical talent, patience and skill to think about building toys like these. Remember, we are remembered by our actions and the decisions we make. Great products and thought translated into amazing toys like these will make them the rare inspired artists of the future.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What I would like to see (and your ideas)...

Aye Carumba! I almost forgot my yearly babble on what I would like to see in standard gauge!

How could I be so stupid? Probably because I keep buying trains and not making my friggin mortgage payment.

By the way, that loco pulling out is one of Jim Cohen's. I like the engine but it's the shed that has captivated me.

If our hobby is going to have a future, we need to slow down the recreation of the old favorites - 400E's, 408's and so on. Here's my ideas for some things I'd like to see in standard gauge in the future:

An American Flyer Brass Piper (been looking for a Rich Art one but they aren't easy to find).
A Lone Scout Set
A Pocahontas Set
A #3 Trolley
A Statesmen Set
An Ives Tiger Set

Ok, let me get out of the Prewar mode and into new operating equipment:

A Blue Streak Set (yes, in standard gauge)
A Decent Zephyr or Flying Yankee
A Comet set (no, not the Blue Comet, the New York Central Comet. If you haven't seen it let me know and I'll post a picture).
The i5 (probably one of the nicest engines ever designed).
A Carlisle and Finch mining set
A Voltamp set
A decent Hudson
An American Flyer Aeolus Set

All of the above needs to be made IN STANDARD GAUGE.

I'd love to see some new tinplate accessories. Heck you could reproduce the Smith Metalworks gear above and I'd be happy. By the way, I called Smith Metalworks and the lady that answered said she would get back to me (and never did). Guess she thought I was some nut that was bugging her about something they never made.


A decent engine house like the one above from Smith Metalworks
A new station (something a little closer to Grand Central or Union Station in Kansas City).
Some new tunnels and mountains that make it easier to model prewar tin into the landscape.
How about a decent prewar backdrop for a layout?

Here's one that's constantly overlooked: most of us are still using the same lock ons that were used 100 years ago (literally or technically). Can't we get a lock on that looks like a tinplate switchhouse with some lights in it and some new fangled power/surge protection?

Well, I put myself out there. It's up to you guys to come with some more ideas on things we'd like to see. Being that the number of manufacturers is dwindling rapidly, I think we need to let people know that if products are made, if I ideas are made real, we'll support them. I'm always amazed whenever I see some dufus walking around a train show and belly aching about how he wants a mint condition standard gauge "whatever" (you fill in the blank; freight car, fancy motive power, etc) for 10 bucks. Just won't happen. It actually almost never did happen. But I think all of us are willing to go the extra distance for quality.



Simply Wonderful....

Believe it or not, the world of standard gauge is rife with news. There seems to be a substantial amount of activity going on. Every time I speak with a fellow collector, there are new things happening in the world of classic toys, especially in our little patch.

I liked this picture because it so aptly describes a little slice of our hobby. It's simple and has a common set of toys. Yet their assembly creates something uncommon; memories, elegance and plain old fun. It's great to watch a 408E and the 400 series passenger cars go through their motions! What's the most interesting 408E story anyone has? Where is the most unusual place you've found the venerable 408?


Sitting and Watching Stout

I'm just sitting here watching the Stout Auction online. Seems like there are some good deals, especially if you are looking for MTH Standard Gauge Boxcars.

Here's something I noticed though; MTH sets seem to be going much higher than I would have expected. The Olympian set just went for $2200 and that is without the buyers premium, shipping and so on.

Hey, don't get me wrong, buyers are getting something they want and I am glad the sellers are making a couple of bucks. I just can't figure out why these folks didn't buy these sets from MTH brand new when they had the chance. MTH gives plenty of warning and they even offer some of these sets from catalog to catalog. I do like the fact that MTH offers them because I tend to like running new gear vs. the older stuff. We won't go down that road again.

I also noticed another eBay anomaly; I just saw one of those compiliations of prewar catalogs from Greenberg go on ebay. Jumped from 91 bucks to 188 in the last few minutes. I haven't seen one of the Greenberg books go for less than 120 smackers. I've seen them on ranging from $145 to $250.

So maybe thorough books and reference materials do have a market? I've seen a few posts on the forums stating there is no market for standard gauge and books relating to prewar trains. Have you looked at your local train store book rack lately? How many books does there need to be on balasting track and building lichen trees? For a real train person, that was mastered long ago (I figured it out in 1976 without a book).


PS Current train books that are basically "coffee table books" by Roger Carp and price guides don't count.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I liked this ad

I just saw this ad and I liked it. It got me thinking of a quick story my buddy Jim Cohen told me -

He was in New York City in 1951. He was looking for an O gauge switcher. He decided to pop into Madison Hardware.

Madison was the usual amazing place full of amazing stuff. Jim let his mind wander a little and decided he really wanted some Stephen Girard cars.

Lou pulled out the box. That is, A full set of Stephen Girard cars, brand new in the box including the master carton. Not "like new", not sort of new, just new.

Madison wanted $175 for those cars. Jim scoffed slightly, a nice set of used cars could be had at a meet or from another collector for under a hundred bucks. Why the hell would he pay big money in those days for a full set in boxes?

(I had to leave the room for a minute and bang my head against something repeatedly). While my friend has no regrets, he did wish he had the 175 bucks that day.

By the way, call me when Lionel produces a catalog page or advertisement like the one above. The current "go back to when you were a kid and could have your dad buy you a $700 GG1" nostalgia advertising and marketing really doesn't do much for me. I showed the current train advertising du jour to one of my kids and asked what he thought, he asked if the train game was available on the Playstation 2. Doesn't that say it all?


Station Envy......

My 116 Station and 129 Terrace seems so insignificant next to this thing.

I just bought a whole bunch of TTOS Bulletins and I saw this on the back of one. It's a model from the Worlds Fair of Grand Central.

Where did this station go? Please tell me that it wasn't lost to antiquity. What can anyone say when they see something like this?

I've been walking through Grand Central Station in NYC for more than 18 years and this is the first model I have seen that comes even close. The 116 station was close or at least I thought so. 1930 isn't that long ago, did anyone see this? What I wouldn't give to hang out with Sherman and Mr. Peabody and jump in the Wayback Machine" with as much 21st century multimedia gear as possible.

This by the way, is ignoring the simple fact that the trains leaving the station are also amazing....


Monday, June 05, 2006

Stay Tuned....

Some interesting stuff is right around the corner.... Specifically interesting articles on this blog.
If you think the machine below is used for making standard gauge trains (and nice one's) you'd be guessing correctly! Writing is like making great toys; it can be rushed but is much better if a little bit of thought is put into it. Keep looking this week and you'll see some interesting stuff.