One car, exponential variations! A case of not so “fuzzy” math.
By Mike Stella
I collect Lionel Postwar. (Big Deal…so do thousands
of others). I collect variations. (Yeah, so do the rest of
us). I figure out how many possible variations Lionel "could” have
created with a given car and then try to find them all. (What
does he mean?). Let me explain what I mean.
Take the 6823 Missile Car ... P L E A S E!!! (Henny Youngman
had nothing on me).
A pretty mundane postwar flat car that carries two ICBM missiles.
I guess the idea was to have a few extra ICBMs around to fire
from a variety of launchers produced by Lionel. Every postwar
collector has at least one of these cars in order to have a "complete” set
of Military and Space items. A variation collector has to have
a few more. How many? Well, the #6823 red flat car comes in
a 6424-11 mold and the 6511-2 mold. Many collectors might not
really care but they really are quite different flats. The
6511-2 is a much darker red and has four extra holes in the
middle of the deck used not in this configuration but on other
flats with other loads. The more advanced Lionel collector
will have at least one of each style of #6823 flat.
How about those ICBM missiles? Just as the much sought after
#6500 Bonanza Airplane Car comes with a Red over White or a
White over Red plane, so does the ICBM come Red over White
or White over Red but also is found completely White and sometimes
completely Red. If a collector has all four missiles combinations
on each of the two style flats he ends up with EIGHT different
Now take a LOOK at the rubber tips on those missiles. They
can be Black or they can be Blue!
That's SIXTEEN cars and it assumes the two missiles on each
car have the same color tips. If not you jump to THIRTY-TWO
different cars! (How long can this go on?) And finally, we
still are assuming that both missiles on each car are the same
color combination. Two Red over Whites. Two All Whites. "IF” Lionel
ever sent cars out of the factory with two different colored
missiles then each of the 32 cars can actually come four different
ways bringing the final total to 128!!!
So how many #6823 flat cars DO YOU HAVE? I have four. (See
Picture above) After all, there has to be a reasonable limit
on some things.