lionel, post war are toys?

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by ozzy, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i am just sick of hearing that! everyone say they are just "toys" i beg to differ!, back in there day, back in the 1940's and 1950's Lionel was the top of the line trains out there, and the most expensive. they was the best detailed for the day. the most realistic on the market. there was many adults making adult layouts with them, most kids did not have Lionel trains, most could not afford them. most ended up with the cheaper more toy like marx trains. Lionel did not become "toys" until HO scale came out.

    sure Lionel postwar looks like toys compared to a lot of the new stuff today. but this new stuff was not around back in the 50's now was it, you can only use what there was.

    if you ask me marx trains are the "Toys" Lionel was the "models"

    what says you!?! comments welcome, from all, the newer guys and the older guys that may of bought the postwar stuff brand new.
  2. Chief Eagles

    Chief Eagles Active Member

    O is the real thing. Old trains and accessories are fun. HO can put me to sleep. Too finikey too.
  3. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Historians describe Lionel as King of the Toy train market during the 1920's. Though those high expensive, detailed and large trains were out of reach for most people. It is interesting to note that J L Cowen gave away a profitable division to a salesman that was to become the American Eveready Company, Cowen just wanted to make model trains.

    His first train the Electric Express was not a toy but a window display. However this thing powered by battery then later electricity quickly moved from the window display to the toys bought for children.

    However one must consider that when the Transcontinental limited was released in 1929 it cost more than Ford's Model T did.

    Personally I consider all trains to be part of the toy market. However they have developed into an additional sub culture of hobbies or models. To me the Post War is all fun and imagination led by the greatest toy train maker named Lionel.

    So to be honest they are both and neither word takes away form the name Lionel Post War.
  4. dbaker48

    dbaker48 Member

    What's wrong with the label "Just Toys", I don't take offense to it. To me its just like golf or something being "Just a Game". Those of us who have an avid interest dedicate a lot of time and money to them, so we are a little more sensitive to it, I guess. But, the majority of people would catagorize all model trains as toys. Then too, some of us will run Thomas the Tank Engine, and a UP Big Boy, or 9000 on the same layout, even at the same time.

    What a diverse hobby, isn't it great!
  5. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    I have to get one of those Post War Thomas Train sets.:mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:
  6. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Interesting quote. Young was quoted as saying in Fortune in 1995. "The overall goal is to make an advanced toy that brings families together in a way videogames don't."

    Neil Young said the above when talking about Lionel.
  7. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Sure they were toys. Expensive toys, but the target market was boys. Scale modelers were going the HO route even in the 1950s, and you could see it in the old magazines from the period.

    AF usually beat Lionel when it came to scale fidelity, although the scale modelers will always say that's like arguing whether Wendy's or Burger King will impress a chef more. But sometimes Marx beat Lionel when it came to realism too, depending on the product line. The 6-inch Marx cars weren't realistic at all, but their 3/16 cars were reasonably accurate (to the point where Lionel copied a Marx design for one PRR gondola), and their plastic O27 cars had realistic markings on them, with fewer fantasy schemes than Lionel was prone to do, and while Lionel marked almost everything "built by Lionel," Marx was content to stamp its name on the underside of the car.

    All three of those companies were making toys, and they knew it. And they were darn good toys too--we're still chasing them down, lovingly refurbishing them, and playing with them decades later. I'd say they did a good job, and I'm glad they tried.
  8. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i did not think HO came about till the 1960's............
  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    HO came about in the 30s..
    Lionel help start the model railroad hobby not HO or even 2 Rail "O" scale.
    Sadly far to many has long forgotten where model railroading roots lay.
    Lionel remains the oldest model train manufacturer.
  10. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    A question that will never be answered to everyones satisfaction. I started out with Marx. Moved on to a used Lionel pre war set. Wish I still had it. Changed over to Scale HO as a teen ager. I've seen some pretty impressive things done with Lionel. It just depends what level of realism you are trying to achieve and how you want to run your trains. I wouldn't trust my HO stuff to unsupervised kids but Lionel would handle the abuse.
    Just as an afterthought, I had two ten year olds visiting this week. I set up a circle of Bachmann Easy track and let them use my On30 2-6-0 and a couple of cars. They couldn't keep it on the track and got bored after about ten minutes. They ended up watching TV.
  11. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I am one of the HO guys, and I will admit, I think you get alot more realism in HO then the bigger things ( they have 3 rails) but I love the look of the big ole Lionel trains, I am very glad that there are modelers out there keeping them alive and running.
    I like to think of them as the steam trains of the hobby. They are getting old and are dissapearing as smaller:)p) and "better" things come along, but they are definately worth preserving.
    Overall, you will not see me moving to O scale, but I do like looking at you O guys stuff and the videos out there are great. Please dont take offense from what some of us say, because we all know, a train is a train, and the best part of the hobby is that we can all do it the way we want.

  12. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    We like you little guys with those little trains even though we need a magnifying glass to see them. :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:

    Yeah HO has been around since the early 1930's.
  13. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Agreed. Someone started trashing HO and N over on one of the O gauge magazines' forums a week or two ago so I found myself in the unusual position of defending someone else's scale. 3-rail O will never be as realistic as HO or N, if only because of that third rail. (Which also was put in for play value--it made reverse loops fun and easy.) The editor mostly shut down the argument by chiming in that he's modeled in every scale but S and they all have things to offer. The argument wasn't fair anyway, because he was comparing the cheapest HO and N scale stuff to the most expensive O.

    I like a good layout in any scale, but for me, my Lionel and other 3-rail trains are about nostalgia as much as they are about trains. They take me to another time and place and connect me with my dad. The only two things he and I ever really connected on were Lionel and baseball, so that's a pretty strong pull.

    So that's why I have a 3-rail layout in my basement. But when I go to a friend's house, I can have a blast on his N or HO scale layout too.

    As far as history, N came about in the '60s. Lionel was feeling the heat from small scale early on, to the point where they even made OO trains in the late 1930s/early 1940s. At the time it wasn't clear whether HO or OO would be the next big thing. Lionel bet wrong. Gilbert (American Flyer) bet on HO and was right, but wasn't in position to capitalize on it. Neither of them really had a good handle on what the smaller-scale hobbyist wanted.
  14. Dr. John

    Dr. John Member

    When you get right down to it, it doesn't matter whether it's a four-figure brass loco or a post-war Marx engine, they are all toys! And there's nothing wrong with that.
  15. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    VERY nicely put Dr. John.

    Maybe we should all remember, "We dont stop playing with toys because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing with toys."
  16. kfh227

    kfh227 Member

    I'll make a big bold first post.

    1) I have a 3 year old. I want to get him a train (for use with supervision). We actually went and looked today at HO and O gauge. With both gauges, one thing struck me. I could buy and entire set of engines, cars and track for as little as $50 (HO) or about $180 (O).

    2) But for myself, I love those cool steamers. So I drool over 2-6-6-2s and 2-8-2s. The "nicer" steamers that are larger than what come in all-in-one kits start at around $100 (HO) or $250 (O).

    The simple answer is this: Trains, just like anything else has products suitable for children (AKA: toys) and products for enthusiasts (not toys). This is true with everything. One mans Porsche is another mans Mustang.

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