I am a collector of PennLine (and some later Life Like) 60' passenger
cars. And recently saw some "Hobby Line" cars that look like the same
line on eBay.
Did a Google search but didn't find any usefull information. Can you
tell me anything about Hobby Line?
Hobbyline was a maker of cars and some locos back in the '50s. For the most
part, they were a bit oversize in their details
I had one of the tankers that recently sold on eBay and the catwalk was
really very thick as was the brakewheel post.
Why isn't there an Ozone Hole at the NORTH Pole?
"HObbyline" was the plastic / ready-to-run product line from the John
John English made Zamac kits in the 1950's for a very nice PRR A-5s 0-4-0
switcher (essentially similar to the current Bowser PRR 0-4-0), and for a
USRA-ish 4-6-2 and a USRA-ish 2-8-2, both of which shared the same boiler
casting. English also made kits for a die-cast 60' combine and coach. All
of the English Zamac models are notorious for getting the "Zamac disease"
and distorting and disintegrating. I have an old Penn-Line "Bride and
Groom" electric commuter combine and coach set in plastic which seem to have
come from the old English dies.
In the late 1950's English introduced the HObbyline plastic trains in two
lines - an operating line which included Alco FA-1 and FM H-10-44
locomotives and 40' flat cars, 40' gondolas, 40' steel box cars, a PRR
N-5-ish caboose, and I believe the 60' combine and coach in plastic. These
cars all had brass wheels on thick nylon-ish axles in rigid plastic
sideframes. The also made a "static" model line with an 0-4-0T tank engine,
a PRR A-5s 0-4-0, a NKP S-3 2-8-4, plus freight car kits for the same cars
in the operating line plus a tank car, but not including the passenger cars.
The static models all had crude wheels / axles could be turned by hand, but
would rotate when pulled under the weight of the model. In my experience,
the 3 static steamer are fairly common at train shows, the operating line
locos and cars rather uncommon, and the static line freight cars more
uncommon. Gary Q
For examples, you can visit the "Hobbyline" sub album in my album "Don
Dellmann's Stuff" at my Yahoo group,
The "static" models often came with two sets of trucks, so you could run
them, although extra weight was needed. Another interesting tidbit, the
cars were not painted, but rather molded in the color desired. The "better"
cars came with factory imprinted lettering, the later "cheap" cars came with
A very popular aftermarket kit was offered by "Simpson" to power the
They produced an early line of HO plastic freight cars and non-powered
plastic steam locomotives. At first they were 'kit' only, but some of
the cars were later available RTR. Quality was average for the period,
but quite crude by today's standards. The cars had grossly oversized
molded-on grabs and roofwalks. The horn-hook couplers had poor springs,
and were heavy and crude, even by horn-hook standards.
The steam locos were, IIRC, an 0-4-T and a typical 2-8-4. The Berkshire
was a good "roundhouse stuffer". Quality and overall appearance were
similar to the later Monogram non-powered steam offerings. A bit later
Rivarossi came out with their Berkshire, and it was better looking and
more detailed in every way, and powered too (but obviously more expensive).
I suppose the line is now getting into the collectable category, but not
greatly so. They show up quite regularly at flea markets, and are not
yet expensive. Except for a few kits still around in original boxes, the
rick is to recognize them when you find them. Some of the prototypes,
like the 4-bay rib side hopper were unique (so far), and worth upgrading.
By chance I recently helped a friend get his old Lionel OO gauge Hudson
running again (Wow there is a beautifully built and over designed model -
seemed like I was taking a watch apart!!). This friend loaned me a video
about the history of the Lionel OO and later HO product lines. The video
claims that after the first year of marketing Rivarossi-built trains and the
second year of marketing Athearn-built trains, Lionel eventually acquired
the old HObbyline dies and that these became the basis of the HO product
line Lionel itself manufactured. I'm not sure I saw much HObbyline heritage
in the rolling stock illustrated - much of it looked more like HO replicas
of their O gauge tinplate products - but the Lionel HO 4-6-2 with smoke and
whistle clearly showed its ancestry in the John English HO Pacific - that
broadly curved top to the trailing truck is unmistakable. Gary Q