by Gordon Wilson
For quite a number of years the Train
Collectors Association has been offering
for separate sale, Commemorative pieces
for the express purpose of raising
funds for the TCA Museum. There have
been freight cars, powered units,
passenger cars, and specialty cars
for happenings such as ground breakings,
mortgage burnings, anniversaries,
and most recently for the Grand Reopening
of the Museum. In virtually every
instance these cars have been well
advertised and nearly everyone who
wanted one has been able to obtain
one. Rarely has there ever been a
"sellout" of the Museum Car or engine
offering. The "rarely" did happen
in 1995 and 1996. It caused quite
a "flap" and angered many members.
The reason for this "rare" event was
built into the job description of
TCA's Executive Director.
To avoid any possibilities of someone
in the National Business Office playing
favorites or doing some "inside trading"
of toy trains, a major criteria in
the job description of TCA's Executive
Director was that the person could
not be a member of TCA and the less
known about toy trains, the better.
The person hired was a well-versed
businessman, but hardly what anyone
would call a serious train collector.
It was this desired "ignorance" of
the product which would result in
the Museum's "rare" offering.
1994 Lionel was once again offering their Post-War
"hit," the 6464 Box Cars. Two of them, the # 19267
New York Central Pacemaker and the # 19268 Missouri
Pacific Merchandise Car (part of the 6464 3rd Edition),
had a significant manufacturer's overrun. For whatever
reason, Lionel had produced 300 more of each car
than they were able to sell. As they had done previously,
Lionel contacted TCA Headquarters and offered these
600 extras for a very favorable price. In the past
when this had been done, the excess cars had been
redecorated, usually by Pleasant Valley Process.
Such redecoration would leave no hint of the car's
original number, road name, or decorated scheme.
That would not be the case, however, this time!
in the job for just over three years, the Executive
Director, Anthony D'Allesandro, had done a product
analysis of sales at the Museum. What he found was
that anything which contained the words "The National
Toy Train Museum" took an average of 18 months before
it was a full sellout. Seeing an opportunity to
expand TCA's treasury in a year and a half, he agreed
to purchase Lionel's excess Pacemaker and Mo Pac
Box Cars. They were then over-stamped with "The
National Toy Train Museum." His knowledge about
the Lionel 6464 series was slim to none; and so,
figuring that the sooner they were put on sale the
sooner money spent would be recouped, he developed
a promotion package. It would prove to be very successful.
full-page ad appeared in the January 1995 National
Headquarters News billing the 6464-125 NYC Pacemaker
Box Car (# 52063) as a special issue of 300 cars
for the National Toy Train Museum. The first wave
of this publication was sent out to all who had
paid the extra fee for first class delivery. By
overstamping "The National Toy Train Museum" on
the sides of these cars, the Executive Director
had inadvertently created a fairly "rare" variation
of a common Lionel Car. To his amazement, all of
the cars were sold within a week. So much for the
usual 18-month "average" of selling museum specialty
items! One can only imagine the grief which was
to come his way when the regular 3rd Class Postage
National Headquarters News issues arrived
in the mailboxes of the rest of TCA's members. To
say "the kitchen got hot" would be an understatement!
Much to his chagrin, he learned quite quickly about
the collectibility of Lionel 6464 Box Cars. He had
a similar advertising program scheduled for the
Missouri Pacific Merchandise Car (# 52064), but
after this "faux pas," that campaign was put on
the back burner.
the October 1995 teleconference Board Meeting, the
disposition of the Mo Pac cars was given over to
the authority of the full TCA Board of Directors.
Many plans were discussed, including their destruction
(they, too, had already been overstamped with the
words "The National Toy Train Museum"). Another
proposal was to give each of the 20 Divisions an
equal number to be used for raffle prizes and fundraisers.
The ultimate plan for their distribution was to
create a lottery. Each interested TCA member could
submit his/her name ONCE if he/she desired a car.
A second entry would result in total disqualification
from receiving any. The criteria and lottery rules
were published in the May 1996, issue of the National
Headquarters News. All car orders were prepaid
($39.95 plus $5 shipping and handling) and sent
to TCA's audit firm, Walz, Deihm, Geisenberger,
Bucklen, & Tennis. Three hundred envelopes were
selected at random by that firm, and the winners
So, there you have it! This is the whole story
about the how's and why's of the only two Museum
Cars which can truly be called rare! The cause was
done blissfully and in accordance with the history
of National Toy Train Museum sales items. This one
time TCA's usual desire to be totally fair and above
board with the item totally backfired, which all
goes to prove that some days, no matter what, good
ol' Murphy will show up, regardless of how astute
you may think you've been.