FUN TO “COLLECT” TRAINS
By Mike Stella
PART 1—OLD TRAINS
By now you know I was "stuck" in England for two
months this summer as my wife ended up very sick and hospitalized
for 8 weeks while I had to worry, wait, and find things to
The day before we finally got to check out, there was a train-meet
just a few train stations up the line, so I took the opportunity
to explore. I knew there was never anything of real interest
at these little meets so didn't take along a lot of money.
Two minutes into the meet and I was both glad and upset at
my failure to plan ahead. Glad because I would have purchased
too much to carry back to the hospital and certainly too much
to get back home. Upset, because I finally ran into the kind
of "O" gauge dealer I had hoped to. Lots of trains,
varied condition, and priced very fairly from what I had seen
in the past.
While I always try to get some English Hornby or Bassett-Lowke,
it was the LIONEL set on the table that caught my eye and my
interest. A very nice #257 with an 8 wheel tender and 3 cars,
all in excellent shape, all boxed, and all marked with “Made
in the U.S. of America” along with the Lionel paper stickers
affixed to the bottoms. Owner said it was an import for the
English market and it is different then any set I've seen before.
I had to leave the Hornby and the Bassetts this time in order
to get the Lionel back to the country where it was made and
I did purchase a little JEP French steam loco that was featured
last month in E-train.
There was a big "O" gauge display layout at this
show and I took the Lionel over to test it and it ran like
the day it was made. A really beautiful set and a great find
on my last day in England. I carried my train back to the hospital
to show my wife and she seemed excited (for me) too. We began
to talk about our trip back home and packing the trains when
another visitor sitting in the visitor’s lounge asked
if I liked trains!!! He had an OLD one up in his attic just
a few miles from the hospital and was I interested? We left
the wives to visit while and headed out; but that is another
story for another day. The Lionel made it back to the USA and
is now a treasured part of my vast collection, possibly the
largest collection in my entire town.
PART 1—NEW TRAINS
I am one of those unique Lionel collectors that started collecting
in 1970, the very same year that Lionel trains started to be
manufactured by a new group, a part of General Mills located
in Michigan, and referred to as MPC. While only under the Model
Products Corporation flag of General Mills for the first few
years, the MPC name stuck in collectors minds for the next
15 years, up until the Richard Kughn era began.
Just as original Lionel is divided into prewar and postwar,
so is the Modern Era divided into MPC (including Fundimensions
and Kenner) from 1970 to 1986, the Richard Kughn (LTI) era
from 1986 to 1995, and finally the current Wellspring (LLC)
era from 1995 to date. Many still lump this entire period into
the same "Modern Era" category. I think that is a
big mistake and shows both a lack of interest in newer Lionel
trains and ignorance of the art of collecting these items.
Much has been written about the fall in prices of MPC and
even LTI. Seems a lot of “collectors” aren't really
collectors at all. I've never sold an MPC locomotive equipped
with "Sound-of-Steam" in order to replace it with
a similar locomotive that had “Railsounds I” and
then traded that off in order to get the same type locomotive
with “Railsounds II.” A true collector, in my opinion,
just keeps adding to the collection and ends up with all three!
I cannot understand why trains from just a few years ago are
being “dumped” on the market at prices that are
half of what they cost?
I DON'T MIND AT ALL.
I have been adding a few duplicates to my collection of early
MPC at giveaway (sometimes throwaway) prices and plan to continue
to do so. The three locomotives featured in this part of the
article are all early MPC era Hudsons that are beautiful reproductions
of the classic Lionel #2055/2065.
All come with the long #2046 style tender. All were purchased
LN or better in the box and all were less then $100. I think
they are outstanding Lionel pieces and even though I bought
my first ones in the early 1970s, I was just as happy to find
these 30 years later.
My modern era locomotive roster numbers close to 1000 and
I only anticipate it growing larger. I do think the time will
come when more and more toy train folks discover the fun of “collecting” and
the affordability and quality of the early MPC era products.
Until then I am snapping up as much of it as I can. Someday
I hope to share my 5000+ boxcars with all of you.