Lionel new O Gauge... Stourbridge Lion

Greg Procter wrote: [...]


I have a Lionel Thomas, it's a very well done toy -- robust, as close to the Awdry dimensions as one can get based on his artwork, etc. The roofs come off Annie and Clarabelle, which delights young children, who can stuff teddy bears and such into the carriages. The power pack is more than adequate. Thomas comes apart enough to service the gears and bearings. I used Teflon-loaded grease, which has lasted better than the original stuff. We ran Thomas regularly at the club last year when we had a large loop of G gauge with several sidings to store the trains. Very popular. His eyes move, too. It's standard 2-rail DC, BTW.
I'm a Thomas fan, so I would be pleased with any large scale version, but this one is excellent IMO. My grandchildren are past the Thomas stage, but I'm not. :-)
I have mixed feelings about Lionel. The original company made very good toys, and a few scale items as well. Then they went broke, because they refused to conform to NMRA standards, which meant they lost the only market that mattered in the long run, the adults who wanted scale trains of Lionel quality. The current owners cater mostly to the nostalgia market, I think.
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wolf k.

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wrote:

Actually they weren't that good quality. The bodies were robust toys, but they were let down by eg cheap motors in plastic cans without any kind of bushing for the shaft.
I don't know about the nostalgia market, but there was a resurgence some years back. These days three rail coarse scale AC from the other manufacturers outsells 2 rail DC by more than four to one in the USA.
It's a combination of marketing and tighter curves.
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Christopher A. Lee wrote:
[...]

Well, the Teflon grease works very well. Thomas has run several hundred hours now, with no sign of trouble. YMMV. BTW, I lubricate all engines, in all scales, after an initial run-in of a couple of hours or so.

True. And companies like Atlas offer both 2-rail sand 3-rail versions of most of their scale product.
But while kids like to watch any train, Lionel and other tinplate mfrs are marketing to the adults, not the kids (or their grandparents.) The entry-level sets run at two to three times the price of HO sets, which cuts out a large segment of the market. $200-300 for a toy that may not hold interest much beyond the season is too high for most people. OTOH, 2-rail DC is definitely for the scale modeller.
There is also growing interest in On30 (O scale running on 16.5mm gauge, representing 30" narrow gauge). This is a nice compromise for people who want larger models but don't have the space for standard gauge O. I suspect a lot of people who hanker after O scale have settled on On30 instead. The Christmas Village people like these trains, too, as they need only slightly more than 3ft of width to fit an oval of On30 track into their dioramas.

The tighter curves are a bonus for the adult with the usual cramped space for a layout. My experience is that a lot of scale modellers have fond memories of Lionel and other tinplate, but they won't buy it. A few have an old train displayed on a shelf. The people who buy Lionel in contrast a) don't care about scale fidelity, and care little about prototype accuracy; b) are unabashedly reliving their childhood; and c) aren't much interested in scale model layouts even to visit. NB that Kalmbach has recognised this split in the market, and offers a separate magazine for toy train enthusiasts. There is unfortunately in some quarters hostility between the two groups, insofar as they pay attention to each other at all.
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