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Toy Trains 12:
By Bob Bubeck
A delightful diversion from current events arrived by post yesterday.
I Love Toy Trains No. 12 from TM Books and Video is an eclectic
tour of Toy Traindom with a timely patriotic theme that sweeps
over a century of railroad history. As before, young Jeff McComas
delivers lively narration and he is aided and abetted with fitting
musical performances by James Coffey.
Being able to see Stu Shuster's unusual and fabulous Carlisle
and Finch layout operating is worth to this viewer the price of
admission on its own. These were the earliest electric trains
manufactured in America, circa late 1890s to 1900s. The layout
includes early 0-4-0 steam profile engines running on vintage
ribbon-style two-rail track powered by voltage regulated with
an in-period bank of electric bulbs connected in series -- no
command control to be found here!
The history of the early streamliners of the 1930s is told with
M.T.H. models playing the parts of the Union Pacific M10000 and
the Burlington Zephyr, a Weaver model being the stand in for the
Milwaukee Road Hiawatha, and an original prewar Lionel Corp. City
of Denver. Representations of the New York Centrals Commodore
Vanderbilt, Dreyfus 20th Century Limited, and Mercury also make
brief appearances. The stunning (for the time) modernity of these
flagship passenger trains gave hope to the nation coming out of
the Great Depression. The American Freedom Train is presented
with considerable detail. K-Lines 19 car version is shown in operation
and these shots are interwoven with footage of the real thing,
which was a source of national pride during the nations Bicentennial.
The American Freedom Train was a traveling repository for many
important American historical artifacts, both physical and philosophical.
In keeping with the famous early streamliner theme, the story
of Southern Pacific No. 4449, the most famous of the engines used
to pull the AFT, is part of the proceedings. This Northern type,
which first pulled the gorgeous SP Daylights, is one of the most
beloved of our preserved steam engines. Vintage footage is used
to show the history of this streamlined steam engine, both undergoing
restoration and underway in its various guises. It was painted
in a red, white, blue, and black scheme in 1976, and then again
recently repainted in that patriotic design supporting renewed
hope after 9-11. Sharp-eyed viewers will note that an M.T.H. model
of No. 4449 was used when the full-length train was photographed
in motion. Fans of the AFT and No. 4449 will surely enjoy this
The appealing new M.T.H. model of the Pennsylvania Railroad DD1
is shown strutting its stuff, as well. As many may know, the prime
purpose of the electric DD1 was to pull passenger trains such
as the famed Broadway Limited out of Manhattan from Penn Station
to interchange points such as Manhattan Transfer. From here the
trains were subsequently taken the rest of the way by steamers
such as the mighty K4s before the advent of the GG1s. This arrangement
was made necessary by a Borough of Manhattan ordinance barring
the use of steam and diesel (with their nasty vapors) on the island.
A new (to TM) Maerklin set up that is now combined with their
00 layout is shared with us and this segment includes footage
of the famous German-built H0 model of the Swiss Crocodile in
action. As with other issues of I Love Toy Trains, a true-to-its-roots
toy train feel is consistently maintained throughout the show.
Almost regardless of what period from which the models originate,
there is a heavy reliance on the use of prewar style layouts as
operating venues and die cast figures -- oversized to be sure
both in scale and in heart -- arranged in casual and patriotic
This edition rounds out an even dozen visits with ILTT series.
It’s lots of fun, as usual, so be sure to catch a ride on
this excursion soon.