the view through the windshield car blog

Toy Trains (page 2)
To read about full-sized trains and locomotives, go here.

Christmas Trains - 2014: Due to my current health situation (cancer surgery plus six months of chemotherapy), I lacked the strength/stamina to put up the usual train layout this year. Instead, I put up three loops of track on the living room floor by the Christmas tree.

Everything is now working: the big outer loop is for my Lionel Hiawatha streamlined passenger train, the middle loop is for a Pennsylvania Railroad diesel freight set and the small inner loop is for a trolley car.

I did a lot of bending, kneeling and stretching to assemble the track, hook up the power transformers and assemble the trains on the tracks. And, boy, was I sore for the next couple of days.

My daughter's dog, Lucy, has always been fascinated by the trains:

I hope to have the regular train layout up next Christmas. (posted 12/15/14, permalink)

Lionel Connection: Singer Frankie Valli wrote, "My dad, Anthony (Castelluccio) ... had been a barber, but by the 1940s he was working for Lionel Trains. He started as an assembly-line worker in their plant in Hillside, NJ, but he soon became responsible for designing model-train displays in store windows. He was a creative guy."

Who knew? (posted 6/26/14, permalink)

End Of The Line: After nearly 80 years in business, Aristo-Craft Trains will cease operations by the end of 2013. The G-scale and O-gauge model railroad manufacturer is based in Irvington, N.J.

"Since 1935, we have provided service and innovation to the hobby industry," said the Polk family, owners of Aristo-Craft. "In this latest downturn, we cut back staff to the minimum required to survive. Then the government battle over the debt ceiling drove the consumer market down even further."

Aristo-Craft had been growing steadily until 2008. Like many hobby manufacturers, Aristo-Craft fell on hard times when the Great Recession hit. The company managed to stay afloat but fell into "debt that was unsustainable." The higher cost and space requirements of larger-scale trains had also depressed Aristo-Craft's market share, according to the company.

Here's the other problem: toy train enthusiasts are getting older and kids are getting into trains at too slow a pace to replace the number getting out. Additionally, the rise of video games and related electronic pursuits has negatively affected the model train business.

Interest in toy trains dwindled in the 1970s but picked up again when many baby boomers began collecting electric train sets again as deep-pocketed, free-spending adults during the 1980s and '90s. "A lot of our business is baby-boom men basically rekindling their memories. That could be a problem, as far as those guys going away," said Andy Edelman, vice president for marketing at MTH Electric Trains, maker of Standard Gauge, O-gauge and HO-scale trains.

Now that pre-boomers and boomers are getting older and downsizing, they are buying fewer trains. Or have already purchased everything they want. (posted 10/21/13, permalink)

Scale Disparity: Looking at a recent sale flyer from a train shop, I was shocked by the price spread between two HO scale buildings.

Must be the licensing fees or something. (posted 7/10/13, permalink)

Just Not The Same: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, AZ has changed much since we last visited in 1991.

The old and very impressive model train layouts were apparently torn down and new ones are under construction in a fancy new building. Unfortunately, neither the O-gauge, HO-scale nor N-scale layouts have been completed and, when we visited, only the O-gauge layout was partly operational while still under construction:

There used to be several charming little steam locomotives of various scales pulling trains which folks could ride on. A blue diesel loco has now replaced steam. (posted 2/18/13, permalink)

Tasty Christmas: My daughter gave me a wonderful Christmas gift: an O-gauge Tastykake boxcar offered by the Atlantic Division of the Train Collectors Association.

Lionel trains

Only 100 were produced; the car was manufactured by Lionel and decorated by Weaver Models. The Tasty boxcar has die-cast, fully-sprung trucks and operating couplers.

toy trains

Here it is on my O-gauge train layout as it passes the Tasty Baking Co. Hunting Park Plant. (posted 1/16/13, permalink)

More toy train photos and stories are posted here.

Other Pages Of Interest

copyright 2013-14 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


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