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May 11, 2007

Founder of Sunset Models Passes

Morton Mann, founder of Sunset Models, passed away on 5/6/07 at the age of 78.   Morton Mann was considered a pioneer in the O Gauge industry because he brought highly detailed brass locomotives and rolling stock to the three rail hobby.  Read more about Mr. Mann here and here.  My condolences to the Mann family.

February 17, 2006

Another Statement from Lionel's CEO

Lionel CEO Jerry Calabrese has issued another statement on the Lionel web site today.  The subject of this statement addresses Lionel's reaction to Sun Model Corporation's attempt to liquidate K-Line locomotives.  In the statement Mr. Calabrese explains that Lionel had asked Sun Models to stop shipping models that were covered by a permanent injunction issued by a Federal court when Lionel brought suit against K-Line for stealing it's technology.  The Lionel CEO goes on to explain that Lionel has decided to allow Sun Models to continue to liquidate the models in question "even though we have no legal or moral obligation to do so" in what could be interpreted as a sign of good will toward K-Line fans.

Mr. Calabrese seems to take a shot at K-Line's current owner when he states:

Lionel intends to make K-Line products as part of a larger plan to expand our own middle line offerings that we believe have a greater role in our catalog and overall business –  offerings intended to give more people a chance to own quality Lionel products at many levels.  This includes engines and rolling stock that are more manageable in size and price, but yet strong on value.  Having said that, selling highly detailed, die cast, steam engines that contain state of the art electronics for not much more, or in some cases, less than they cost to make, is a devil’s bargain and not a good deal for anyone.

Manufacturers and dealers who do that kind of business do not survive in the long term.  In their wake they leave broken companies, broken hobbies and broken promises.  Who takes responsibility for unshipped orders and pre-paid deposits?  Who provides service and repairs trains that don’t work?  Who invests in new tooling for next year’s products and keeps the hobby fresh and alive?  Worst of all, this kind of irresponsible opportunism poisons the market for merchants and manufacturers who are committed and deeply invested in the next 20 years of the model train business, not the next 20 minutes.

Read Mr. Calabrese's entire statement on the Lionel web site


February 16, 2006

Sun Models Shipping K-Line Locos with Cruise Control

The buzz on the OGR forum is that Sun Model Corporation is shipping the K4 locomotives, originally manufactured for K-Line, with the controversial K-Line cruise control included.  K-Line is in bankruptcy court and was unable to pay Korea Brass, the manufacturer of the models, so they are being sold through Sun Models in an attempt by Korea Brass to recoup manufacturing costs.  O Gauge enthusiasts were hesitant to order these locomotives, at a savings of over 40%, because it was not known if Sun Models would be able to include the cruise control component.  K-Line's use of the cruise control technology was part of the subject of a lawsuit filed against K-Line by Lionel, LLC.  Lionel alleged that K-Line stole the technology from Lionel and was installing it in it's products.  Lionel won the case.  Part of the ruling stated that K-Line could not sell any products that contained the stolen technology.  Cruise control technology keeps the locomotive's speed constant through curves and up grades.

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