The new Lionel catalog is excellent. I am referring to the catalog at http://www.lionel.com/ (the new Signature catalog). Why is it so good?
It has probably one of the best interfaces for perusing or looking at the catalog on the web. Period. The Adobe Flash technology is not sophisticated from an interface perspective however it is extremely clean, easy to use and consistent. I have to say I loved it.
I also really liked the design of this catalog. It was by far the strongest design statement Lionel has made in decades. It gave me a feeling that the catalog or the items in the catalog were really "larger than life". Items that are steeped in legend and that haven't seen the light of day until Lionel reproduces them in their factories. I know, I sound a little gaudy. But the catalog works very well. It is simple yet makes a bold statement. I really liked looking at every page.
Product choice: I know, it is O gauge. It looks like Lionel is parceling up their customers quite a bit like MTH has. K-Line, Signature Series, Ready to Run, Vision Line, Classics Line, etc.. I have to say, the Vision Line products are really cutting edge. The LCD Billboard and Grand Central are devastating. I'd like to have a little better idea of what the finished Grand Central product looks like; it appeals to me greatly however a $1400 investment is sort of daunting in this financial environment.
The motive power is definitely impressive although the prices and curves may appeal to a smaller audience, I'm actually not sure. The Santa Fe 2-10-10-2 loco is just jaw dropping. I'm actually incredibly anxious to see one in action.
Since there isn't any tinplate in this catalog I don't want to wax on too long about how great this catalog is. I really like the fact that Lionel seems to have captured the spirit of their past and created a very unique O gauge vision for the future. I like the fact they aren't reproducing everything under the sun; they focused on a couple of O gauge post war classics and will do those well. Coupling this catalog with the Lionel/MTH announcements I have to say I think Lionel is really turning a corner. I wish the economy was better; unfortunately right now trains are a luxury item many, many, many folks can't afford. I think now is an ideal time for Lionel and MTH to examine the lower cost market segments and continue their spirit of cooperation. I also am really glad to see the whole Lionel team and Jerry Calabrese lining up this wonderful catalog. Welcome back!