Lionel train sets dating
In an effort to compete with companies that 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 the Winner Toys or Winner Toy Corp. 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.
Members of the public started approaching store owners about buying the trains instead, prompting Lionel to begin making toy trains for the general public.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. 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.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.Apparently, also in 1922, Boucher bought out Volt Amp 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.
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.
Lionel resumed producing toy trains in late 1945, replacing their original product line with less-colorful, but more realistic, trains and concentrating exclusively on O-gauge trains.
Many of Lionel's steam locomotives 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.
Lionel's first train, the Electric Express, was not intended for sale to consumers, but rather, as a storefront display.