1970: Set 1086 – The Mountaineer
Certainly one of the most ambitious sets in the 1970 catalog, this set as well as its separate sale engine (8062) never made it to production. In addition the Trailer Train flatcar with trailers, L & N log dump as well as the Great Northern N5c caboose from this set were not produced.
Interestingly, the Trailer Train flatcar with trailers was shown as separate sale item 9120, however item 9210 was produced as a Northern Pacific flatcar with trailers. While the exact reason the set wasn't made may not be known, one theory is the engine was simply too complicated to get into the busy production schedule, as certainly in 1970 Lionel-MPC was scrambling to get production set up in Mt Clemens and the remainder of the line done in time for the 1970 holiday season. Or perhaps it was just wishful thinking when planning the set for the 1970 line. It's unfortunate this set wasn't made, as the 665 type steam loco was certainly more impressive than the typical 2-4-2 locos offered by Lionel in 1970. It would have also been the first MPC steam engine with a whistle; however the whistle would have to wait until 1972.
1970: Set 1087 – Midnight Express With an Illinois Central powered GP-9 and matching GP-9 dummy, long string of cars and large layout, this would have been the top of the line set for 1970. Although this set was never made, the Illinois Central powered GP-9, 9130 B & O hopper, 9203 UP boxcar and 9160 Illinois Central N5c caboose were manufactured. The GP-9 dummy was listed as item 8031 in the catalog, however this item wasn't made until 1972, and at that point a new item number (8254) was assigned to it. The 8031 number wound up being used for a CN GP-7 which was uncataloged in 1971. The same Trailer Train flatcar with trailers and L & N log dump car as shown in set 1086 were not produced. Without a doubt, the most unusual piece of rolling stock in the set was the Penn Central satellite car, but this item never made it to production. Unfortunately collectors of the Lionel military items would have to wait over 30 years for Lionel to resurrect the satellite car.
1979: Set 1964 – Radio Control Express Only shown in the 1979 Fundimensions Product Line Catalog, or commonly called the Toy Fair catalog, this starter set certainly is one the most unusual sets designed by Lionel. With its plastic two rail track, battery powered engine and remote control transmitter it had very little in common with traditional Lionel train sets. Whereas the engine and rolling stock were all small sized 027 pieces, this set featured wide radius curves. The catalog specified the set as being six units: engine, tender, boxcar, gondola, dump car and caboose, but yet the catalog photo shows an additional boxcar for a total of seven pieces. Without a doubt, set this set falls into the "What on Earth were they thinking" category.
1980 ADVANCE CATALOG
1980: Set 1051 - Texas and Pacific Diesel Advertised in the 1980 catalog as a "bright and colorful 7 unit set dominated by an Alco diesel…" this sharp looking set didn't make it into production. Certainly the Alco diesel did feature an attractive paint scheme; it's hard not to notice similarities between this engine and what would later appear in the 1982 Quicksilver Express.
Regarding the set number, it does not appear in the 1980 consumer catalog, it does however appear in the 1980 Advance catalog along with an August 1980 ship date.
The Lionel derrick crane shown in the set would have been the first reissue of the derrick car by modern era Lionel, however collectors would have to wait one more year for the car, as it appeared in the 1981 Reading Yard King set.
Had the set been produced, the Missouri Pacific boxcar as well as the Texas and Pacific SP type caboose would have been unique to this set.
1992: Set 11729 L & N Express
Initially shown in the 1992 Book 2 catalog as a ready to run 7-unit diesel freight featuring an L&N GP-38-2 locomotive, the boxed set didn't make it into production.
On the back cover of the 1992 Stocking Stuffers catalog, the components were now offered as separate sale items. However there one was one major difference, the bright yellow SCL/L & N standard O caboose was replaced by a traditional size L&N bay window caboose. Also the truck tractor unit was not available. Purchasers of the L & N diesel loco were also in for a surprise (myself included) as the locomotive was not made with the grey color frame as shown in both catalogs; it was manufactured with a less attractive black frame.
1996: Set 1464RS – Rock Island Rocket
Advertised in the 1996 Lionel Corporation catalog as "On the Lionel Horizon", a formal Lionel item number is not listed, it's simply referred to as set 1464RS. Heading the set was a black and red Alco FA diesel following by three 027 style passenger cars: a combination, coach and observation. Apparently the idea behind the set was to include deluxe features such as Pullmor motor, TMCC, Railsounds and a Scout CAB remote unit in a starter set, almost like TMCC lite. It's not clear why this set or the Scout CAB remote never made it to production, perhaps the high end features wound up being just too expensive for the intended price range.