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By Neil Blumberg
latest video from Tom McComas and Joe Stachler and colleagues
is directed at kids, and the kid in all of us toy train enthusiasts.
As Bob Bubeck mentioned in a recent review, there are a lot of
trains crashing, knocking over walls, etc. echoing the activities
orchestrated by many boys in the 1950s and 1960s, and before.
But there is plenty of just plain unadulterated, high dose three
rail whimsy including trains with animals, trains with dinosaurs,
and just plain trains, trains, trains.
Did I mention accessories? Almost every major Lionel accessory
is demonstrated functioning, or should I say, malfunctioning?
Some of the narration and acting comes from McComas’s young
son Jeff, who demonstrates that his polished narration in other
videos was not always due to his uncanny ability of “hitting
it” on the first take. It’s all done with the usual
good humor and lack of pretense that characterizes the McComas-Stachler
Background music is by Jim Coffey, who I would liken to a cross
between Mr. Rogers and Pete Seeger (singing style here, not necessarily
There is, as always, one song that pulls a little at the heart
strings, evoking memory of days gone by and the role of toy trains
in the imagination and childhood reveries of many now middle
aged men. Coffey is well on his way to being the unofficial minstrel
of modern three rail "traindom". His song “One
More Train” might well become the unofficial anthem of toy
train lovers everywhere and everywhere. I’ve never met Coffey,
but I would not be surprised to find him to be a younger version
of the late Ward Kimball, whose love of trains and sense of play
so enriched the hobby for decades.
All in all, 40 minutes of great fun. Certainly this program will
prove irresistible to any kid between 2 and 12, and perhaps over,
say, 35. I seem to recall one poster on the OGRR Board mentioning
he cannot he get his kids to stop watching it. Those who cannot
abide toy train mayhem, even staged, or who pride themselves in
rivet counting, may be the only folks for whom this tape is not
recommended. And even those folks may watch the tape when accompanied
by a kid (rated CG—Child Guidance recommended)
Be forewarned that the title OH NO! is repeated numerous times
throughout the video in a voice resembling that of the Cookie
Monster. Like the Lionel Railsounds ™ horn and whistle,
each repetition is slightly different in tone and articulation.
This is particularly amusing to the smaller viewers and, at least
in my case, not objectionable to the decidedly larger viewers.
Indeed, it is in keeping with the childlike sense of play, wonder
and mischief that joyfully permeates the video. And do pay attention
for the various cameramen listed on the clapboards of each take.
They pay homage to many familiar names from toy train history.
How many do you recognize? The prize for the correct answer is
in multiple viewings of this good-natured, action filled tribute
video. It pays tribute to the mischievous child and playful leprechaun
in all of us as we enjoy three rail trains.
TM Books & Video
$12.95, 40 minutes.