TCA's annual conventions are fabulous events for train collectors and their families. They are a vacation as well as an opportunity to find that special item that you may not see at meets in your area. They are also opportunities to acquire what I believe are some of the most underrated collectible trains around.
Since the 1965 convention in Pittsburgh, TCA has produced one or more cars for its annual conventions in scales ranging from S to Standard. As these cars were designed to commemorate a specific convention, they incorporated logos and information for TCA and the division sponsoring the convention.
Convention cars expanded in to convention train sets, where cars were added to the consist annually. The original O gauge offering has been increased to the current suite of standard, O and S gauges. Two constants for TCA's convention car program are you must be a TCA member to purchase the cars and it is a fundraiser, the proceeds of which go towards keeping your dues down.
Over time, tastes have changed, product availability has increased exponentially and membership has expressed an interest in more scale appearing cars. The results of these changes include decreased demand, resulting in much smaller production runs, which, in turn means increased collectability. Some of the cars offered over the last few years have seen production runs as low as 300 pieces. Current offerings are designed to represent railroads or industries within the convention's geographic area.
The 2013 Convention Cars
This brings me to a bit of promotion of the most current set of offerings for the 2013 convention in St. Louis. The Ozark Division folks have come up with an excellent set of cars for your consideration. Prototypes of these cars were shown at the Atlanta convention and will be at the fall York meet.
The first offering is the addition to the TCA 50th anniversary train set- a Lionel standard O PS-1 boxcar decorated for the Cotton Belt (St. Louis Southwestern) Blue Streak Merchandise freight train. This car carries an interior load of 1950's Lionel train sets!
Another Lionel standard O offering is a gorgeous St. Louis Refrigerator Car Company steel reefer. These cars were used to haul Anheuser Busch products.
The 2013 cars will include a first time "Made in the USA" O gauge offering from Weaver Models, a Minneapolis & St. Louis tRAILer service TOFC car. While the M&StL never made it to St. Louis proper, this car could well have.
The St. Louis Kids Club offering is an MTH Railking O Switzer's Candy Company hopper with licorice load. Switzer's has been a St. Louis candy making icon since 1888. The licorice alone makes the purchase worthwhile!
St. Louis' S gauge car is an American Flyer covered hopper decorated for the Aluminum Ore Company, an East St. Louis, Illinois firm, while the standard gauge offering is a Lionel by MTH 214R refrigerator car decorated for the long defunct St. Louis Independent Packing Company.