If we are to believe the current owners of Lionel than yes, Standard Gauge is indeed dead. If we are to believe otherwise, than we should let it be known as brilliantly as it was in the brief article that accompanied this wonderful picture in the TCA Quarterly in 1966 (yes, 41 years ago):
"Those who are inclined to say so are in error, as proven by the photograph to the left. The Thorley Hoople Toy Company of Palo Alto, CA is now in production of the passenger train passenger train shown. We wish to quote a letter received with the picture:
"Enclosed is a photograh taken at the April 20th meet of the Northern California TCA. TCA Member Willard Saunders on the left and myself on the right are discussing future projects of the Hoople Toy Company. The "Major Belle" train is rumbling by in the foreground, with two cars in another color scheme standing on the siding.
Also of interest is the size comparison of the Blue Comet car and the 29 Day Coach. The track is also cataloged. Our catalogs will be available at $1 after June 8 (1966).
Probably the most historic feature of the photo, other than those items already mentioned is that Will Saunders was the purchaser of set number 0001! This was particularly gratifying because Will and the other early buyers of these sets are all senior members of the local division and purchase only premium items."
The letter was signed George L Cody, Jr. Previously Mr. Cody sent us a copy of an advance sheet, actually a full scale drawing of the three-car train set. The locomotive is a short coupled 4-4-0 or "American" type with baloon stack. To again quote from the accompanying letter:
"The locomotive is primarily of brass. The cars are the size of Blue Comet cars with cast details, sheet steel sides, wood bottom and roof. (Archbar trucks.Ed) The loco has a manual reverse and will operate on any standard gauge layout." We wish to thank Mr Cody for furnishing this very detailed info on the new line of trains."
Please remember the above article is not from 2007, it's 41 years old. Even 41 years ago people that played with trains knew that standard gauge is not only alive and well, it has vitality and always will have a passion that caused people to be heartfelt and spirited about the hobby. They built new products around a toy standard that has now endured for a century.
PS I used the Courier font because it is the same font the old Quarterly's were produced with (probably using a member's old Underwood).
PSS If anyone has one of these Thorley Hoople sets and can send us some pics, it would be greatly appreciated!