Lionel Corporation

Lionel Corporation was an American toy manufacturer and retailer that was in business from 1900 to 1995. Founded as an electrical novelties company, Lionel specialized in various products throughout its existence, but toy trains and model railroads were its main claim to fame.[1] Lionel trains, produced from 1900 to 1969, drew admiration from model railroaders around the world for the solidity of their construction and the authenticity of their detail. During its peak years in the 1950s, the company sold $25 million worth of trains per year.[2] In 2006, Lionel's electric train, along with the Easy-Bake Oven, became the first electric toy inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Lionel Corporation
Public company
IndustryManufacturing and retail
Fatesold rights: 1969, Liquidation
SuccessorLionel, LLC
Founded1900
Defunct1995
HeadquartersNew York, New York, U.S.
Key people
Joshua Lionel Cowen (co-founder and owner)
Roy Cohn (owner)
ProductsElectric trains and accessories

History

Lionel No. 100 Electric Locomotive, 1903
Lionel No. 100 Electric Locomotive, made in 1903
Lionel No. 6 Special Locomotive, 1908-1909
Lionel No. 6 Special Locomotive, 1908-1909
Lionel Corporation Products
Lionel Corporation products

The original Lionel Corporation was founded in 1900 by Joshua Lionel Cowen and Harry C. Grant in New York City.[3] The company's devotees disagree over the date of incorporation, as the official paperwork gives a date of September 5, but the paperwork was not filed until September 22, more than two weeks later. Initially, the company specialized in electrical novelties, such as fans and lighting devices.[4]

Pre-war era (1900–1942)

It was historically thought that Lionel's first train, the Electric Express, was not intended for sale to consumers, but rather, as a storefront display. Delivered in December 1900, it operated on a brass track and was powered by a battery and a motor Cowen originally intended to use in an electric fan. Cowen hoped to use the public's fascination with railroads and electricity to capture the public's attention and direct it to the goods for sale. Members of the public started approaching store owners about buying the trains instead, prompting Lionel to begin making toy trains for the general public. Lionel ended up selling 12 examples of the Electric Express.[5][6] Recently however, the 2014 edition of Greenbergs Guide to Lionel trains standard and 2 7/8" gauges has concluded that the first Lionel product was the motorized Converse Trolley, with the electric express being made to diversify the motor's use. Lionel's earliest trains were larger than the sizes commonly available today, running on two-rail tracks with the rails 2​78 inches apart. In 1906, Lionel began offering a three-rail track that simplified wiring of reverse loops and accessories. Its outer rails were 2​18 inches apart, which did not match any of the existing standards that other manufacturers had been using since 1891. Whether this was an accidental misreading of Märklin's 2 gauge specifications or an intentional incompatibility is unclear, but Lionel marketed this non-standard track as "The Standard of the World," and soon adopted the name in its catalogs as Standard Gauge and trademarked the name. When other U.S. companies began using Lionel's standard, they usually called it wide gauge. Starting in 1915, Lionel followed most of its U.S. competitors and adopted the smaller O gauge standard for its budget-level trains.[6]

By the end of World War I, Lionel was one of three major U.S. toy train manufacturers, and it grew rapidly due to shrewd marketing. Cowen began getting department stores to incorporate his toy trains into their Christmas tree displays, linking toy trains to Christmas and making them popular Christmas presents. Lionel made its trains larger than its competitors', making them appear a better value.

Competitors criticised the realism of Lionel's trains - Cowen had been unwilling to invest in the equipment necessary for lithography, so its early offerings were simply painted in solid colors of enamel paint with brass detail parts. Lionel responded by targeting advertising at children, telling them its products were the most realistic toy trains. Additionally, Lionel criticised the durability of competitors' products in ads targeted at parents.[6]

By 1922, Lionel was competing mainly against American Flyer and Ives. Also in 1922, Boucher bought out VoltAmp and started making what was known as the "Rolls Royce" of standard gauge trains. In 1925, American Flyer jumped into the standard gauge market; and by 1926, Dorfan started making their own standard gauge trains as well.

William Walthers, a large seller of model railroads, asked Cowen in 1929 why Lionel painted its trains in bright and unrealistic colors. Cowen said that the majority of trains were purchased by mothers for their children, and the bright colors attracted women buyers.[7] In 1929, Lionel opened a factory in Hillside, New Jersey where it produced trains until 1974.[8]

By the 1920s, Lionel had overcome Ives to become the market leader, selling metal trains with colourful paint schemes. Lionel's fierce ad campaigning took a toll on Ives, which filed bankruptcy in 1928. Lionel and American Flyer bought Ives and operated it jointly until 1930, when Lionel bought Flyer's share, outright, causing Lionel to operate Ives as a subsidiary until 1932.[6]

The Great Depression badly hurt Lionel. In 1930, Lionel's operating profit dropped to $82,000  - its operating profit in 1927 had been more than $500,000  - and in 1931, it lost $207,000.[5] The trains were considered a luxury item, and at the height of the Depression, one of Lionel's more extravagant locomotives cost as much as a used Ford Model T. In an effort to compete with companies which were willing to undercut Lionel's prices without diluting its premium Lionel and Ives brands, Lionel introduced a line of inexpensive electric toy trains under theWinner Toys' orWinner Toy Corp. brand name, which were sold from 1930 to 1932.

The starting price for a set, which included a transformer, was $3.25. These and other efforts to improve its financial standing were unable to keep Lionel from going into receivership in May 1934.[6]

The product widely credited with saving the company was a wind-up handcar featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse which operated on O gauge track, and sold for $1. Lionel manufactured 250,000 units, but was still unable to keep up with demand. At a wholesale price of .55 cents, the handcar's sales didn't provide enough profit to pay off Lionel's debts of $300,000; however, it did provide much-needed cash. In reality it was the success of the more expensive but profitable 752E City of Portland Union Pacific Streamliner which not only gave the company much needed funds, but also as Lionel's first scale model, it gave the company considerable presence in the model market and showed the way forward with the start of the scale detailed die-cast look. Whilst a number of equally successful streamliners were issued in the following years, the handcar experiment was not repeated and the novelty market was left to the cheaper toy manufacturers.

Lionel avoided bankruptcy and emerged from receivership the next year. By 1939, Lionel had discontinued its standard gauge products, concentrating instead on the more-affordable (and lucrative) O-gauge and OO gauge, which it had introduced in 1938.[6]

Lionel ceased toy production in 1942 to produce nautical items for the United States Navy during World War II. The company advertised heavily.

Lionel began to promote ads aimed at American teenagers, to begin planning their post-War layouts. Lionel also introduced the so-called paper train, a detailed set of cut-and-fold models of Lionel trains printed on cardstock which was notoriously difficult to put together.[6]

Competition

During the pre-war era, Lionel had competition with Ives Manufacturing Company, Boucher Manufacturing Company, Dorfan, Louis Marx and Company and American Flyer.

During the post-war era, Lionel was primarily competing with Louis Marx and Company and American Flyer.

Post-war era (1945–1969)

PostWarLionel
Post-war Lionel trains and accessories

Lionel resumed producing toy trains in late 1945, replacing their original product line with less-colourful, but more realistic, trains and concentrating exclusively on O-gauge trains.

Many of Lionel's steam locomotives of this period, had a new feature: smoke, produced by dropping a small tablet or a special oil into the locomotive's smokestack, which contained an electric heating element.[6] Lionel's most popular toy train ever mass-produced was the Santa Fe F3 released in 1948, which was manufactured for 19 years before being discontinued in 1966.

By 1953 Lionel profits reached their highest level, during postwar, at over $32 million; but as the 1950s progressed, Lionel sales began to decline in proportion to the growing prevalence of space and military-themed toys and slot car racing sets — all coinciding with the decline in rail travel and the launching of Sputnik, which began the space-race between the United States and Soviet Union, along with their associated military build-up as the Cold War progressed after World War II. The remaining interest in toy and model trains that existed was geared towards HO scale, which gradually overtook O gauge in popularity due to its more realistic detailing and smaller size that enabled the enthusiast to do more modelling within the same amount of space. Lionel attempted to keep the pace with the changing trends by offering space and military-themed train sets and coming out with their own HO line of trains. Unfortunately, they were never able to reclaim the market share they once held in the toy industry and by 1958 reported a net loss of $469,057. Company founder Joshua Cowen officially retired that same year. On September 8, 1965, Joshua Cowen died at the age of 88 in Palm Beach, Florida.[9]

Beginning in the 1960s Lionel attempted to further diversify into other product lines, such as phonographs, science, weather station and plastics engineering kits while toy train sales continued to decline and with the company enduring a series of management turnovers.[9] In 1967 Lionel purchased American Flyer trains from bankrupt A. C. Gilbert Company, but did not have a new catalog for that year. In December 1968 Ronald Saypol, Joshua Cowen's former grandson-in-law, became President and CEO of the Lionel Corporation, and in the following year, in an attempt to divest the company of what was by then determined to be a cash drain by the board and shareholders, began negotiations to sell their toy train line and lease the Lionel name to Model Products Corporation (MPC), a subsidiary of General Mills, Inc.[10] 1969 would be the final year the Lionel Corporation published a toy train catalog and manufactured O gauge trains.

Modern era (1970–present)

After the Lionel Corporation sold the rights to manufacture trains to General Mills in 1969, the Modern Era began the following year with train products being reproduced and introduced. The Lionel Corporation itself would continue on as a holding company, investing in various chains of retail stores and electronics companies while receiving royalties on toy train sales made by General Mills (later Lionel Trains, Inc.). In 1991, it sold its trademarks to Lionel Trains, Inc. for $10 million and eventually went out of business in 1993.

Lionel MPC (1970–1986)

In 1970, after tooling purchased from the Lionel Corporation was moved to a new factory in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, limited production of Lionel trains as a new product line under MPC began. Rolling stock debuted with "fast-angle wheels" with needlepoint bearings. This new wheel design, coupled with the use of Delrin plastic trucks, reduced rolling friction that allowed for longer trains to be run and is still in use by Lionel today. Lionel also began to offer trains in a wider variety of roadnames and colors and with improved graphics that were not previously available during the postwar period.

In 1971, Lionel debuted a new electronic sound system in their engines, called "Mighty Sound of Steam," to replace the electro-mechanical air whistles of the pre-war and post-war eras. An internal reorganization in 1973 caused Lionel to become part of General Mills' Fundimensions group, and a new line of scale-sized freight cars, called "Standard O", was introduced that same year. The new line of trains included the Blue Streak, an entry-level O-27 gauge train set produced by Lionel. The set included a blue Jersey Central Lines steam locomotive with a 2-4-2 wheel configuration and attached tender car. Lionel integrated several features into the locomotive, including a working headlight and a smoke unit.[11] In 1974, Lionel began to offer trains in HO scale for the first time since the postwar period, where they were last cataloged in 1966. In 1975, Lionel introduced a 75th anniversary freight set whose rolling stock included images of train products and logos from Lionel's past.

The brand rose to prominence in 1976 following a series of television commercials featuring Johnny Cash, himself a Lionel collector.[12]

In 1979, Lionel re-issued the Fairbanks-Morse Train Master diesel locomotive and re-introduced the American Flyer S gauge line of trains, both of which had not been produced since 1966. Starting in the 1980s, Lionel began to issue more postwar-derived operating accessories, such as the Lumber Mill, Ice Depot, and News Stand. In 1983, they released the 783 Hudson locomotive, which descended from the 773 scale-sized Hudson originally made in 1950 and again in the 1960s.

Lionel Trains, Inc. (1986–1995)

In 1985, General Mills spun off its Kenner-Parker division, with Lionel being placed under Kenner-Parker. In 1986, Lionel was sold again, this time to toy train collector and real estate developer Richard P. Kughn of Detroit, Michigan; it became Lionel Trains Inc (LTI). In 1989, Lionel phased out the Mighty Sound of Steam and replaced it with what would eventually be called "RailSounds," beginning with their re-issue of the pre-war B6 Pennsylvania switcher.

Lionel, LLC (1995–present)

Lionel, LLC currently owns all trademarks and most of the rights associated with the Lionel Corporation.

Construction set

During the post-war period, Lionel produced a construction set, utilizing a unique component set. While competitive sets used nut and bolt fasteners, the Lionel set employed round-head aircraft rivets retained with rubber grommets, eliminating the need for tools. The structural elements were hollow beams of square cross section made from folded and quite thin sheet aluminum, as a consequence subject to destruction if stepped upon. A more substantial folded aluminum base plate was used to form the foundation of most constructions, and additional circular plates could be used to construct larger wheels or pivots. Pulleys, gussets, and splices were also included. The deluxe kits included an electric AC motor with a worm drive and reduction gearset that was powered from household power. While innovative, the lack of general purpose beam members with lots of holes limited the adaptability of the set to complex constructions. Finished assemblies also lacked the robust durability of its principal competition at the time, the Erector Set.[6]

Outsells American Flyer

During the 1950s, Lionel outsold its closest competitor, American Flyer, by nearly 2:1, peaking in 1953. Some Lionel company histories say Lionel (more than just trains) was the largest toy company in the world by the early 1950s. Had that been the case, it was a short-lived greatness: Lionel's 1955 sales were some $23 million, while rival Marx's toy (more than just trains) sales were $50 million.[6]

The 1946–1956 decade was Lionel's Golden Age. The Lionel 2333 Diesel locomotive, an EMD F3 in the colorful Santa Fe "Warbonnet" paint scheme that was introduced in 1948, became the Lionel company icon and the icon of the era, yet Lionel declined rapidly after 1956. Hobbyists preferred the smaller but more realistic HO scale trains, and children's interest shifted from toy trains to toy cars. The shift caught Lionel off guard, and in 1957, they hastily introduced a line of HO-scale trains licensed from Rivarossi and a line of slot car racing sets. Neither product line was as popular as its O-gauge trains. Efforts to increase train set profitability and/or sales by cheaper manufacture (largely by replacing castings and folded sheet metal with unpainted injected-molded colored plastic) were largely unsuccessful; 1957 was Lionel's last profitable post-war year.[13]

In 1959, Cowen and son sold their interest in the Lionel company and retired. The buyer was Cowen's grandnephew, Roy Cohn (businessman and attorney to Senator Joseph McCarthy) who replaced most of Cowen's management. The business direction of the Lionel company changed: it added subsidiary companies unrelated to toy train sets — among them were Dale Electronics, Sterling Electric Motors, and Telerad Manufacturing.[14] Cohn's unsuccessful tenure of Lionel lost the company more than US$13 million in his four years of running the company.[6]

Diversification

As part of this diversification, Lionel formed a relationship with the Porter Chemical Company, whose owner, Harold M. Porter, was a member of the Lionel Board of Directors.[15] Lionel began making a variety of scientifically oriented, hands-on educational toys, designated "Lionel-Porter." The product line, cataloged from 1961 to 1968, included Chemcraft chemistry sets, Microcraft microscope sets, Biocraft biology sets, and sets teaching about mineralogy, physics, geology, mathematics, and industrial science, along with a junior line of tool sets.[16]

Decline and bankruptcy

Lionel's efforts to diversify failed to compensate for the public's declining interest in its toy trains. By 1966, Lionel's revenue was $28 million, 40 percent from government contracts.[2] Meanwhile, Lionel's closest competitor also was fading: in January 1967, the parent company of rival American Flyer, the A. C. Gilbert Company, went bankrupt. Lionel bought the American Flyer brand name and product line in May of that year in a $150,000 deal; however, Lionel lacked the money to exploit them and filed bankruptcy less than four months later, on August 7, 1967. In 1969, Lionel's sales had declined to just over $1 million per year. Lionel sold the product die tooling for its struggling train line and leased the rights to the Lionel brand name to the cereal company General Mills. The Lionel brand name continues today, owned by Lionel, LLC, yet many Lionel train enthusiasts consider 1969 the end of the "true Lionel trains", due to the original Lionel Corporation divesting itself of toy train production and the changes in design and manufacture, sometimes for the worse, under Lionel trains' new owners.[6]

Lionel Morsan

In the early 1970s Lionel bought Morsan Tents from founder Mort Jarashaw. It was a small chain of sporting goods stores based in New Jersey, which became Lionel Morsan.

Bankruptcy and buyout

After the sale of its train product lines in 1969, Lionel Corporation became a holding company that specialized in toy stores. By the early 1980s, Lionel operated some 150 stores,[17] under the names Lionel Toy City, Lionel Kiddie City, Lionel Play Town, Lionel Playworld, Lionel Toy Warehouse, and Lionel Toy Town. For a time it was the second-largest toy store chain in the United States. Lionel entered financial troubles during the early 1980s recession and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 1982. After reducing to 55 stores, it emerged from bankruptcy in September 1985.

By 1991, the chain had regrown to 100 stores and was the fourth-largest toy retailer in the country, but it once again ran into trouble due to a combination of factors. In 1989, Robert I. Toussie L.P., a partnership of several retail executives, attempted to buy the company. Lionel resisted and the fight drained the company of cash. Meanwhile, non-specialty discount stores expanded their toy sections and undercut the prices of specialty toy chains.[18] Additionally, Lionel found it difficult to compete on price with the larger Toys "R" Us, and it attempted to expand too rapidly in a weakened economy.[19] After a string of unprofitable quarters, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 14, 1991. In 1992, Lionel again tried to reverse its fortunes by merging with the bankrupt Child World, the United States' #3 toy retailer, but was unable to secure financing.[20] By February 1993, Lionel had closed all but 29 stores in six states, concentrating on the markets of Philadelphia, central New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and south Florida.[21] Unable to reach an agreement for reorganization with its creditors, on June 2, 1993, Lionel announced its intention to liquidate all of its stores and go out of business.[22]

Lionel Xmas shop O layout 1095 AoA jeh
A Lionel O gauge layout in New York City

The Lionel trademarks were purchased by Richard Kughn, a Detroit real estate magnate who had bought the Lionel product line from General Mills in 1986. See Lionel, LLC.

On April 15, 2004, a fire destroyed the former Lionel train factory located in Irvington, New Jersey. According to a report from the local fire department, it took 100 firefighters to extinguish the blaze. The building had been vacant for ten years and was in a state of disrepair, according to Fire Chief Don Huber.

The old Lionel factory in Hillside, New Jersey, where Lionel Corporation manufactured trains from the early 1920s up to 1969 still stands. Photos of the factory can be seen at the ihorse.com Web site.[23] As of 2015 building no longer stands having been torn down

The former Lionel factory at 28 Sager Place, Irvington, New Jersey, and the Hillside, New Jersey factory are the front and back doors of the same building. The building that housed the last Lionel office is located at 26750 23 Mile Road, Chesterfield, Michigan; as of March 31, 2017, the building was available for lease.[24] The former Lionel assembly factory was located at 50625 Richard W. Blvd, Chesterfield — a short drive from the office building.

Games licensed by Lionel Corporation

References

  1. ^ David Lander Archived 2010-02-18 at the Wayback Machine "Lionel" American Heritage, Nov./Dec. 2006.
  2. ^ a b Osterhoff, Robert J. "When the Lights Went out at Lionel, Classic Toy Trains, May 1999. Page 76.
  3. ^ Corporate Snapshot Archived 2009-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Lionel's Very First Catalog Discovered!!
  5. ^ a b Stephan, Elizabeth A. O'Brien's Collecting Toy Trains, 5th Ed., Krause Publications. Page 181. ISBN 0-87341-769-0
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Lionel Trains
  7. ^ Grams, John A. "Realism Comes to Lionel, Classic Toy Trains, March 1997. Page 72.
  8. ^ http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/12/made_in_jersey_lionel_trains_-_chuggin_around_the_christmas_tree.html
  9. ^ a b All Aboard! The Story of Joshua Lionel Cowen & His Lionel Train Company by Ron Hollander
  10. ^ http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-ronald-saypol-20141209-story.html
  11. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Blue Streak Freight Train from Lionel". ToyTales.ca.
  12. ^ Turner Publishing (2004). Lionel Trains: A Pictorial History of Trains and Their Collectors. Turner Publishing Company. p. 19. ISBN 1563119587.
  13. ^ Stephan, Elizabeth A. O'Brien's Collecting Toy Trains, 5th Ed., Krause Publications. Page 182. ISBN 0-87341-769-0
  14. ^ Osterhoff, Robert J. "When the Lights Went out at Lionel", Classic Toy Trains, May 1999. Page 76.
  15. ^ Price List of Lionel Stock Certificates
  16. ^ Better life through chemistry, Classic Toy Trains Magazine
  17. ^ Liebeck, Laura: "Deja vu all over again: Lionel re-visits Chapter 11", Discount Store News July 8, 1991
  18. ^ "Liquidations leave Toy's R US, Kay-Bee toying alone", Discount Store News, July 5, 1993
  19. ^ "Lionel Leisure 'branches out': toy retailer acquires part ownership of closeouter", Discount Store News, September 17, 1990
  20. ^ Liebeck, Laura: "Child World is grounded: rescue by Lionel falters", Discount Store News, August 3, 1992
  21. ^ "Lionel closing 27 stores in struggle for survival", Discount Store News, February 1, 1993
  22. ^ One of the World's Largest and Most Prestigious Collecting Societies Archived 2004-12-10 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Factories of the LIONEL CORP
  24. ^ "26750 23 Mile 1, Chesterfield Twp, MI 48051 (MLS ID 31279045)". Century21 Commercial. Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Archived from the original on 1 April 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017.

External links

2-4-2

Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 2-4-2 represents the wheel arrangement of two leading wheels on one axle, four powered and coupled driving wheels on two axles and two trailing wheels on one axle. The type is sometimes named Columbia after a Baldwin 2-4-2 locomotive was showcased at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition held at Chicago, Illinois.

2-6-4

Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, a 2-6-4 locomotive has two leading wheels, six coupled driving wheels and four trailing wheels. This arrangement is commonly called Adriatic.

3D Ultra Lionel Traintown

3D Ultra Lionel Traintown is a 3rd person railroading game by Sierra On-Line under their casual game brand Sierra Attractions, licensed by Lionel Corporation. It consists of train layouts, some of which the player can edit. Some of the locomotives include: Union Pacific EMD SW1500 switcher, an Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway F3A diesel locomotive (usually used to pull passenger trains), a generic 2-8-0 steam locomotive, and a 1950s passenger railcar. 3D Ultra Lionel Traintown Deluxe succeeded this game.

American Flyer

American Flyer is a brand of toy train and model railroad manufactured in the United States.

August 25

August 25 is the 237th day of the year (238th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 128 days remain until the end of the year.

Ives Manufacturing Company

The Ives Manufacturing Company, an American toy manufacturer from 1868 to 1932, was the largest manufacturer of toy trains in the United States from 1910 until 1924, when Lionel Corporation overtook it in sales.

Joshua Lionel Cowen

Joshua Lionel Cowen (; August 25, 1877 – September 8, 1965) was an American inventor and the co founder of Lionel Corporation, a manufacturer of model railroads and toy trains.

Cowen also invented the flash-lamp in 1899, an early photographer's flash light source.

Lenny the Lion

Lenny the Lion may refer to:

Lenny the Lion, puppet appearing with English ventriloquist Terry Hall

Lenny the Lion, character on American comedy-variety television show Saturday Night Live

Lenny the Lion, character in Dutch/Japanese animated television series Ox Tales

Lenny the Lion, club mascot of English football club Shrewsbury Town F.C.

Lenny the Lion, mascot of the Lionel Corporation

Lenny the Lion, ambassador character for children's diabetes created by Medtronic.

Lenny the Lion, mascot of the British and Irish Lions rugby union team

Lionel, LLC

Lionel, LLC is an American designer and importer of toy trains and model railroads that is headquartered in Concord, North Carolina. Its roots lie in the 1969 purchase of the Lionel product line from the Lionel Corporation by cereal conglomerate General Mills and subsequent purchase in 1986 by businessman Richard P. Kughn forming Lionel Trains, Inc. in 1986. The Martin Davis Investment Group (Wellspring) bought Lionel Trains, Inc. in 1995 and renamed it Lionel, LLC.

According to its reorganization papers filed as part of its bankruptcy plan on May 21, 2007, about 95% of the company's sales come from O gauge trains. The plan estimated that about US$70 million worth of O gauge trains are sold each year, and that Lionel accounts for about 60% of that market, making it the largest manufacturer of O gauge trains.

Lionel Wartime Freight Train

The Lionel Wartime Freight Train, better known among collectors as the "paper train," was a toy train set sold by the Lionel Corporation in 1943.

MTH Electric Trains

MTH Electric Trains, a privately held company based in Columbia, Maryland that is formerly known as Mike's Train House, is an American toy train and model railroad designer, importer, and manufacturer.

Mickey's Choo-Choo

Mickey's Choo-Choo is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. Ub Iwerks was the animator. Mickey's Choo-Choo was released at the same time as Springtime, the third Silly Symphony to appear. It was one of the series of early Disney cartoons that led Mickey Mouse to become a national fad by the end of 1929.Originally in black and white, this cartoon was of the ten Mickey Mouse cartoons colorized by the Walt Disney Company in 1991.

OO gauge

OO gauge or OO scale (also spelled 00 gauge and 00 scale) model railways are the most popular standard-gauge model railway tracks in the United Kingdom. This track gauge is one of several 4 mm-scale standards (4 mm to 1 foot or 1:76.2) used, but it is the only one to be served by the major manufacturers. Despite this, the OO track gauge of 16.5 mm (0.65 in) is inaccurate for 4 mm scale, and other gauges of the same scale have arisen to better serve the desires of some modellers for greater scale accuracy.

O scale

O scale (or O gauge) is a scale commonly used for toy trains and rail transport modelling. Originally introduced by German toy manufacturer Märklin around 1900, by the 1930s three-rail alternating current O gauge was the most common model railroad scale in the United States and remained so until the early 1960s. In Europe, its popularity declined before World War II due to the introduction of smaller scales.

O gauge had its heyday when model railroads were considered toys, with more emphasis placed on cost, durability, and the ability to be easily handled and operated by pre-adult hands. Detail and realism were secondary concerns, at best. It still remains a popular choice for those hobbyists who enjoy running trains more than they enjoy other aspects of modeling, but developments in recent years have addressed the concerns of scale model railroaders making O scale popular among fine-scale modellers who value the detail that can be achieved.

The size of O is larger than OO/HO layouts, and thus is a factor in making the decision to build an O gauge layout.

Collecting vintage O gauge trains is also popular and there is a market for both reproduction and vintage models.

Porter Chemical Company

Porter Chemical Company was an American toy manufacturer that developed and produced chemistry sets aimed as educational toys for aspiring junior scientists. The company's Chemcraft kits were first sold at major retail by Woodward & Lothrop, and appeared soon after at other retailers in the country. The company would later form a relationship with the Lionel Corporation, famed American maker of toy trains. The company also made the Microcraft line of microscope sets. The Chemcraft and Microcraft line competed with similar sets offered by A. C. Gilbert Company as part of a boom in science educational toys spurred by the Space Race between the US and USSR in the late 1950s.

In 1951, the company's top-of-the-line "Chemcraft Master Laboratory" set retailed for $27.50 ($equivalent to $265 in 2018) and contained, among other things, radioactive Uranium ore.At the peak of its success, Porter Chemical Company was the biggest users of test tubes in the USA. The company produced over a million sets before increasing consumer liability concerns led to its demise in the 1980s.

Standard Gauge (toy trains)

Standard Gauge, also known as wide gauge, was an early model railway and toy train rail gauge, introduced in the United States in 1906 by Lionel Corporation. As it was a toy standard, rather than a scale modeling standard, the actual scale of Standard Gauge locomotives and rolling stock varied. It ran on three-rail track whose running rails were 2 1⁄8 in (53.975 mm) apart.

Williams Electric Trains

Williams Electric Trains was an American toy train and model railroad manufacturer, based in Columbia, Maryland. Unable to compete with Kader, Williams was sold to Kader via their subsidiary Bachmann Industries in October 2007, and is now identified as "Williams by Bachmann."

It was founded in 1971 by Jerry Williams as a maker of reproductions of vintage Lionel and Ives Standard gauge trains. Williams had acquired some of the original tooling from the original Lionel Corporation after it sold the rights to the name to General Mills in 1969. In the 1980s Williams acquired tooling that had once belonged to Kusan, an obscure Lionel competitor from the 1950s, and its product line shifted to O scale. Williams eventually discontinued its tinplate offerings, selling the old Lionel tooling to the company that later became MTH Electric Trains.

Although today Williams is often considered a maker of reproduction 1950s-era Lionel equipment, Williams' offerings are distinguishable from the Lionel originals because Williams sometimes adds details that were not possible using 1950s manufacturing methods.

Unlike most other O scale manufacturers, Williams never added electronics such as Trainmaster Command Control or Digital Command System to its locomotives. This decision gained Williams a small but devoted following among those hobbyists who want a more "traditional" train layout reminiscent of the 1950s but who want to buy modern equipment. However, this decision has also allowed companies such as MTH and K-Line to eclipse it in size in spite of being an older company.

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