Saturday, January 24, 2009

Brass Piper Movies

Check out this Brass Piper Youtube Video. Also, the guy that did a great job loading this one loaded quite a few more. Check them out when you go to You Tube.


Lionel Summer Trolleys

The new Lionel Standard gauge tinplate summer trollry repros running. This is a really nice set. The motor in the powered car seems like a very faithful reproduction of a period motor even down to having bronze bushings in the steel side frames.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ives Shots

Bruce sent me some nice shots of his Ives 1134 cruising around his layout. Just sharing on a very cold Wednesday!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jan NETTE Auction is Up!

The Jan. 2009 NETTE auction is up. The above is one of the huge highlites of the auction: a boxed coal train. Go out to NETTE's website to check out the auction. Also, they've started breaking up the standard gauge, there is a section with standard gauge exclusively and there is also a section with newer standard gauge from MTH and Lionel.

By the way, has anyone been able to get into or look at eBay's live auction area? Every time I click on live auctions now it blips me back to eBay's home page. Has this been shut down? Even with its' quirks I still think this was one of eBay's nicer features.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Lionel Corporation Website

It looks like the new website is up. I give high marks to MTH for working the website into a prewar feel. I have to say, the young lady that does the video presenting (Taylor) is very pretty but needs a Dale Carnegie course in public speaking. Reading the teleprompter or cue cards a million miles a minute makes the video rather painful to watch... Take the course and get back to me.

Looking forward to the catalog though, I'll have my little web robots watching for the PDF!

Go to Prewar Times for the whole announcement.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New MTH/Lionel Website

Josh over at the Prewar Times has been doing a great job of covering the phantom MTH/Lionel website that was supposed to go on line today or tomorrow. I'm kind of hoping that the information that leaked out about a Jan. 6th debut wasn't an arbitrary date picked out by a web developer or marketing person. Typically MTH focuses their catalogs and product launches around an event, usually York, PA.

This is one of the very few catalogs I am really anxious to see. For obvious reasons, this should be one of the most exciting toy train catalogs of the last 10 years. The fact that MTH and/or Lionel has a catalog ready, approved with product and price is very encouraging. It says volumes about both companies ability to plan and launch.

It's kind of funny, if we look at the history of Lionel, this kind of sharing is almost in their DNA. After Ives was split between Flyer and Lionel in 1928, Lionel put out Ives products. Some of Ives most memorable products came out under Lionel's stewardship. Lionel still puts out American Flyer S gauge product that is excellent.

Again, throughout Lionel's entire history of the 20th Century at one point in time or another they've had to align with their largest competitors to maintain or grow the market. Someday maybe we'll be privvy to how the current deal with MTH was struck, I'm sure it is probably just as interesting as the Ives receivership or the eventual downfall of the American Flyer train line. As I recall neither Flyer nor Ives had the legal animus that MTH and Lionel had for the last decade or so. I can only say (as a customer) what a relief it is to see an end to the legal wrangling.

More important, the new trains that this brings to market could be, should be and hopefully will rival some of the tinplate from the classic era of the 1930's. What I am hoping this is NOT is a licensing deal that lets MTH just stick brass tags on the sides of 408E's that say "Lionel" instead of MTH and do no more. I hope it's a license to be creative and to appeal to a segment of the market that may not have participated MTH's products or direction.

Hopefully this will also create a blue print for other great things to happen. I've been watching Buddy L fairly closely for the last 5 years at auction, on eBay and in train shows. All of the Buddy L repros still carry hefty price tags and the originals are still going for top dollar. What if the Dorfan crane had TMCC or DCS? Have you seen the amazing cranes and accessories Buddy L created for their trains and toys? I'm not expanding this concept too much, I think cooperation yields results. Buddy L, Dorfan, Boucher and others are still some of the most intriguing products that have yet to be produced. Imagine some of the prewar greats with modern electronics or with just plain old reliable castings!

I'll leave most of the coverage of the catalog debut to Josh over at Prewar Times. I think this is big news for the toy train community and I will be checking my computer and Blackberry with high hopes and expectations for the next great chapter in Tinplate.


PS the pic is of an angry little 33 that's been hanging around my train room floor too long. It's going to get a layout to stretch it's squat little legs on prettttttyyyyy soon.
PSS Ok, I got off on a mild tangent with the Buddy L stuff. My mind has way too much train stuff in it. My point was that I am hoping both companies use their creative license and really put out some memorable product. Not having this new website ready is really driving me nuts.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

SGMA Website

Hey Folks,

Go check out the Standard Gauge Module Association's website. Mrs. Lindvig posted some wonderful pics today from the Oaks, PA meet. I'm jealous! I just couldn't get out to PA today, I am still holding on to (and grasping) every second of holiday vacation (that is until I have to go to work tomorrow morning).

Check out the site here.


PS I'd recommend going out to this site - if you would like to see some very rare trains stretching their legs (Boucher Blue Comet or a Standard Gauge Challenger) go check out the movies.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008 TCA Car from MTH

This really isn't a review. It's just a couple of pics and thoughts on this little Reefer car. Couple of first impressions:

1) The graphics are some of the best I've seen on any car, scale, high rail or otherwise.
2) It is really well packed and it came out of the shipping box in perfect condition.
3) I'd like to see more cars like this one. Less brand recognition and more color and graphics.

Damn, this is a nice car. Makes me wish I had about 10 of them; I just can't afford that many! I hope the TCA keeps up the great work on these. Between the crane car from last year and this one, I am just blown away. I do hope they cut a deal with MTH/Lionel and do something really innovative. Look, these are going to cost some $$$, they might as well be really nice and really unique. This Brookside car definitely fits the bill!

Once I get it running behind a 390E I'll let you know how it holds up with switches and cross overs....


Some thoughts on the MTH/Lionel Nnnouncement

I read some of the comments below (on the blog) and on some of the forums with great interest. I really do hope both companies get some serious mileage out of this. My thoughts are the following:

1) We needn't look any further than the current pickle the auto industry is in to know that innovation (among other things) needs to be one of the key factors in building new consumer products.

2) The innovation needs to reflect some kind of consumer reality.

3) Lionel and MTH are no longer operating in a vacuum.

4) Their real competition is other hobbies and computers/video games. Has been for quite some time.

It's good to see these two companies cooperating for the betterment of their customers and their market. I hope they are rewarded handsomely.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Seismic Events

Well, the Lionel/MTH Story is breaking on the internet and I think everyone should be excited/ecstatic about it. Why? Well, it indicates a cessation of hostilities between the two companies; they can get innovating vs. litigating. That's a great thing, not just a good thing. More money should go to R&D, less to legal fees and court costs.

Second and just as important; it means standard gauge and prewar trains are still on the minds of both companies. It's funny, I've had several manufacturers at shows tell me that there is no new news in prewar toy trains. All of the new and exciting stuff is in the amazing high rail gear coming out coupled with the electronics that has become pervasive in the hobby. Yet here we are, two of the largest train manufacturers in our country doing something great and teaming up to make products from yesteryear. And it is likely they will be great products as well.

There is news in great prewar trains and they will continue to get even better in 2009 and 2010. Over 100 years past their introduction and the innovation hasn't stopped. Here's the whole press release:

From Jerry Calabrese:

Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:02 pm (PST)
From Jerry Calabrese:
Yesterday, an electric charge rippled through the model train boards when someone managed to find a draft of a press release on the M.T.H. web site that was not otherwise available to the public, and post it on OGR. And while the timing was off by a week or so, the facts are correct.
Since the news leaked yesterday afternoon that Lionel is going to license M.T.H. to use its name on historical tinplate Standard and O Gauge model trains and accessories, a lot of questions have been raised, and I've heard everything from, "Wow, great for the hobby," to "Wow, say it ain't so." I understand that the idea of Lionel and M.T.H. working cooperatively, so soon after settling our long and bitter lawsuit, is a shock to a lot of people, especially those who became so personally invested in that conflict.

I can only say that the model train hobby isn't about lawsuits or personal enmity, it's about exciting products, the fellowship of enjoying them, and ultimately, it's about making sure that our hobby is stable and strong. I'm sure I can speak for Mike Wolf, when I say that the best way to repair the damage that was done to our hobby as a result of those hostilities is for our two companies to do exactly that.

Before anyone starts singing Kumbaya, or wondering what happens on the color spectrum when you mix Orange, Blue and Purple, I'd like to issue a reality check and answer some of those questions that were raised:

Lionel and M.T.H. are two, entirely separate companies with entirely different business models and destinies. We fiercely compete, and will continue to fiercely compete, in the core, O gauge segment of the model railroad hobby, especially in the arena of high end engines and Operating Systems. However, our interests do not conflict, to any great extent, in other gauges and markets. Both companies are equally committed to making great trains and, where we do compete, both companies are equally committed to convincing hobbyists that they do so better than the other. And none of that will change.

The agreement between Lionel and M.T.H. is a conventional and straightforward, multi year license, in which Lionel will be paid a royalty on each tinplate train that is sold. As an acknowledged and acclaimed maker of tinplate trains and accessories, M.T.H. will now be able to do so using the historical and authentic Lionel and American Flyer badging that made them historical and authentic in the first place. While M.T.H. will be solely responsible for manufacturing the new line, Lionel will work with M.T.H. to select the trains that will be made over the next few years, and will do whatever it can to help make them the success they deserve to be.

Yesterday, before the thread that broke the news was taken down, in response to a post that expressed strong negative feelings, someone quoted the great, old Nick Lowe song, 'What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?' I can only add that we live on a very small planet and we participate in an even smaller hobby. And while I don't anticipate that M.T.H. and Lionel will begin exchanging Valentine's Day cards, it's not too much to work on items one and three.
Below you'll find the press release, as it was intended to be released next week.
Happy New Year.

Jerry Calabrese


Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:06 pm (PST)
New York City, NY, Dec. 31, 2008 -- Lionel Electric Trains announced today that it has entered into a multi-year licensing agreement with M.T.H. Electric Trains, in which the Columbia, MD, model train maker will create a new line of tinplate Lionel Standard and O gauge products. The license will also include tinplate Standard and O gauge offerings for American Flyer, which has been part of Lionel since its acquisition in 1967.

Using its extensive collection of tinplate tooling, M.T.H. plans to issue new versions of Lionel and American Flyer classic tinplate trains and accessories that were originally released between 1900 and 1942. These products will be packaged in all-new boxes with iconic Lionel and American Flyer advertising images and logos from the prewar tinplate era. Promotion of new tinplate Lionel and American Flyer products will begin in early 2009, with full-color catalogs. A Web site, dedicated to the new product line, will also offer product videos, sound clips and other information not available in print catalogs.

"I'm very pleased that M.T.H. and Lionel will be working together on this new Lionel and American Flyer tinplate line," said Jerry Calabrese, Lionel CEO. Calabrese went on to say, "In times as difficult and challenging as these, I hope it's reassuring to all model train fans that both our companies will be joining forces to write a productive new chapter in our hobby's history. There is no better way to express our mutual belief and commitment to the future of model railroading than for Lionel and M.T.H. to collaborate on something as imaginative and exciting as these new Tinplate products.

"This collaboration builds on what we've accomplished with our Tinplate Traditions line over the past three decades," noted M.T.H. President Mike Wolf. "It is no secret to those who know me that Lionel's history has inspired me since my youth." Wolf went on to say, "By working together, our two companies will be able to offer products that even more faithfully evoke the beauty and artistry of the toys that Lionel and American Flyer turned out in the prewar years, as well as make those trains available to a wider audience.

Wolf added, "Putting aside the differences our firms have had over the years, Jerry and I have always recognized how much synergy exists between Lionel and M.T.H. Together we sat down and worked out this agreement with the express goal of expanding on both firms' longstanding commitments to grow our hobby."

Based in New York City, Lionel has been making model trains and accessories since 1900. It is one of the world's leading model train companies, and among the most widely recognized brands in America.

Based in Columbia, Maryland, M.T.H. Electric Trains is a seasoned model train manufacturer with a long history of innovation. In little more than a quarter century, M.T.H. has created an appealing multi-gauge product line.