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October 19, 2006

TCA Fall '06 Open House - Recap Part 3

Atlas O and Lionel had plenty to announce at the open house.  First up was Atlas O's Jim Weaver.  He ran down all the interesting and new offerings for each of Atlas O's three product lines.

Atlas O Master Series:

  • Atlas O's first steam loco will be an USRA 0-6-0 switcher.  See my post here for more info.  Initial road names will be Pennsylvania, Burlington, Jersey Central, Union Pacific and unlettered.  Locomotives will be detailed specific to each road name.  Shipping is scheduled for April '07.

Click on the link below to read on

Continue reading "TCA Fall '06 Open House - Recap Part 3" »

TCA Fall '06 Open House - Recap Part 2

Sunset Models/3rd Rail and Weaver Models presentations were good but they didn't compare to the excitement generated by Mike Wolf, owner of MTH.  Mike started off by announcing that the 2007 Volume 1 O Gauge catalog was the best MTH has produced and the Tinplate catalog is the largest tin plate catalog MTH has produced.

Shortly thereafter Mike and the crowd turned their attention to the pre-production model of the Coors Light locomotive.

Click on the link below to read on

Continue reading "TCA Fall '06 Open House - Recap Part 2" »

TCA Fall '06 Open House - Recap Part 1

I never tire of visiting the TCA Museum.  I could spend hours examining all the fine models on display and the great layouts.  Today the TCA held it's bi-annual open house at the museum.  The open house is always held the day before the Spring and Fall TCA Eastern Division train meets in York, PA.  If you've never been to the open house you need to attend at least one.  It's a great event because most of the influential leaders of the O Gauge industry present their "wares" to the their core demographic and plant the seeds of anticipation by showing pre-production models and hinting at things to come. 

Compared to the Spring '06 open house (my first) I thought the attendance was about the same, maybe slightly lower.  Sunset Models/3rd Rail, Weaver Models, MTH, Atlas O and Lionel were all represented as well of Marklin (HO).  In my opinion, the presentations at the Spring open house offered up more interesting and new information.  Nonetheless, there was still some good info to be had.

Click on the link below to read on

Continue reading "TCA Fall '06 Open House - Recap Part 1" »

October 07, 2006

Atlas O Announcements

Atlaso_1 Atlas O made two announcements this week.  First, they announced the offerings in their monthly "mini catalog" which includes 2 new items in the Atlas O Trainman line. Items include:


Atlas also announced they will be doing something new at the Fall '06 TCA York meet.  "Behind the Booth" seminars will be held at 2:00 pm on Thursday, 10/19 and 10 am on Friday, 10/20 at the Atlas O booth (#LL-1, in the Orange Hall).  Limited seating will be available and will be first come, first serve.  The seminar will consist of 3 20 minute presentations.  According to the Atlas O news flash email, speakers will be:
Click on the link below to read on

Continue reading "Atlas O Announcements" »

May 31, 2006

York '06 Attendance Figures

Last week, Farmer_Bill on the O Gauge Railroading forum posted attendance figures for the Train Collectors Association - Eastern Division Spring train meet in York, Pa that he received from the TCA's president, Clem Clement.  To recap, there were 14,094 people registered to attend, 9,242 of which where TCA members or about 30% of the TCA membership.  The TCA show is held in the spring and fall of each year and registrations for the Fall '05 meet totaled 14,107.  The number of registrants for the fall show usually outnumbers the Spring registration by about 1,500.  Here are some other Spring '06 figures:

Continue reading "York '06 Attendance Figures" »

April 23, 2006

York Roundup Part 3

This is the last post about my visit to the Spring '06 York show.

For the first time at York a modular layout was on display.  It was located in the "black" hall and was a huge layout built by the National Capital Trackers out of the Washington, DC area.  The layout must have been over a 100 ft long and it had some very neat equipment running on it.  The day I stopped in they were running a Union Pacific Big Boy and Challenger lashed together pulling numerous Union Pacific boxcars and coal hoppers, probably close to 40+ in total.  It was a sight to be seen.  They also had a C&O M1 Coal Turbine sitting on a siding with a large consist of streamline passenger cars but I didn't get to see it running.  I also enjoyed their version of Lionel's "disappearing" layout where the train enters a tunnel, disappears on a loop of track under the layout and appears exiting the same tunnel it entered a few seconds later.

O Gauge Railroading magazine held it's semi annual Grandstand meeting on Friday and there was a great turnout.  OGR invites folks to sit in the Grandstands at York to listen to a number of speakers from the industry.  This is where Walter Matuch of Ready Made Toys unveiled his BEEFs and PEEPs.  There was some other interesting news as well.

Continue reading "York Roundup Part 3" »

York Roundup Part 2

York_mapPart 2 of my observations and discoveries at the TCA Spring Meet in York.

Since I don't collect pre or post war Lionel and have more interest in the new stuff, most of my time was spent in the dealer halls.  For those not familiar with York, there are dealer halls where manufacturers and retailers (train shops) set up shop to display and sell their products and collectors halls where any collector looking to sell pieces of their collection set up.  The collector halls have a yard sale feel to them but that's not a bad thing.  Some of the dealer tables in the dealer halls had a yard sale feel as well which is a bad thing. 

Spending most of my time in the dealer halls, I took at least two passes through all the aisles in an attempt to get a feel for prices and what people were buying.  In my travels through the aisles, I overheard a phrase uttered several times that went something like this - "not

Continue reading "York Roundup Part 2" »

April 22, 2006

York Roundup Part 1

My first TCA York meet is behind me now and all I can say is WOW!  I felt like I was in O Gauge heaven.  I couldn't believe the amount of products on display and for sale.  Now I understand why so many people look forward to the Spring and Fall shows at York.  I took me 2 days at a leisurely pace to browse everything in all the halls. 

As I expected, O Gauge products dominated the show, especially in the "dealer" halls.  In the collector halls O Gauge ruled as well but there was plenty of old Standard Gauge tinplate and S Gauge too.  G and HO scales were sparsely represented and there were harldy any N or Z scale items at the meet.

Apparently the TCA added a third day, Thursday, to the show recently to try to

Continue reading "York Roundup Part 1" »

April 19, 2006

TCA Open House - Part 4

The last presentation of the day was Lionel.  Jerry Calabrese and two other Lionel representatives presented for Lionel.  Mr. Calabrese started the presentation.  This was my first experience with Mr. Calabrese in person and he projected himself as a business man that was running a company that made trains.  He made the following interesting points:

  • Mr. Calabrese thanked everyone for the success of the '06 volume 1 catalog
  • He stated that people made it clear that they want more affordable products.
  • He announced that the K-line deal was complete and that "12 tractor trailers are removing K-Line product inventory" from K-Line head quarters for relocation to Lionel's Michigan headquarters.
  • Mr. Calabrese confirmed that Lionel will make good on all outstanding K-Line club orders and all other orders that customers pre-paid for.
  • He stated that all repairs that remained at K-Line have been repaired and sent back to their  owners.
  • It will take at least 60 to 90 days for Lionel to sort out the details of the outstanding orders.
  • Some outstanding K-Line orders have not been manufactured yet and most all orders on manufactured goods have been sent out.
  • Lionel will re-launch K-Line in the '06 catalog volume 2 due out in July.  The initial offereings will be sparse but Lionel will carry on the K-Line brand.
  • TMCC2 will be in '06 catalog volume 2
  • A "Big Boy" manufactured with new tooling will be first to get TMCC2 which is scheduled to shipped by the end of the year.
  • Lionel will produce a subway set with TMCC2 also scheduled to be shipped by the end of the year.
  • The first exhibition of TMCC2 will be at the LCCA convention in Denver on the layout that was displayed at Grand Central Station over last year's holidays.
  • TMCC2 will be backward compatible.
  • Mr. Calabrese finished his portion of the presentation by saying Lionel is "Having another good year".

The Lionel Reps took over the presentation.  The highpoints were:

  • They announced a new drive system for Diesel locomotives.
    • Power is transferred from the motor to a single axle to maximize tractive effort
    • Improved slow speed operation
    • Traction tires can be easily replaced by removing the removable side frames
    • Synchronized lash up performance between locos with new drive system
  • Reviewed the Polar Express offerings
  • Showed a production sample of the new Hiawatha
  • Showed production samples of new Coke containers and "Carolina" heavyweight passenger car

See photos of the Lionel display models here.

TCA Open House - Part 3

Next up was Mike Wolf of MTH.  This was my first time seeing Mr. Wolf in person.  You can definitely sense that he is passionate about the hobby.  Mr. Wolf started by reviewing  the RTR 2006 catalog.  Interesting points of Mr. Wolf's presentation:

  • HO Locomotive will be available at the end of May
  • MTH will be upgrading the details on the Railking line
  • Mr. Wolf made his case for delaying the launch of MTH's newest catalog on line and delivering copies to train shops first.  He feels that by delaying the launch on line it will create traffic at the local train shops.  Support of local train shops is crucial to the growth of the hobby.
  • Mr. Wolf commented that he felt the UP lawsuit will be done by year end.
  • He addressed the issue of "fantasy" trains in response to a discussion on a web forum asking why fantasy trains are necessary.  Mr. Wolf stated that fantasy trains (trains that don't exist in the real world) like the Steeler's super bowl train, the Budwieser Train, etc sell well so he keeps making them.  He gave an example of Atlantic Coast Lines passenger cars that were offered in a prototype paint scheme (silver with purple stripe) and a 'fantasy' paint scheme (entire car body was painted in a purple).  The fantasy paint scheme out sold the prototypical scheme by ten times.
  • In response to a question about selling a grand central station that appeared on a MTH show layout last year, Mr. Wolf stated that he probably would not produce it because it had a very large foot print.  His answer was based on the results of a survey MTH conducted that showed 80% of train operators have layouts that are less then 8' x 8' - no room for large foot print buildings.
  • In response to a question about wireless tenders, Mr. Wolf stated that MTH is working on the technology but made no commitment on when it would be available.
  • There will be many new products added to MTH's G gauge line in the near future.
  • Many people in the crowd asked when specific pieces will be made.  Mr. Wolf responded that product decisions are based on consumer requests so if you want MTH to consider making something send your requests to MTH.
  • Mr. Wolf confirmed that MTH will continue to make subway sets.  Apparently there were rumors that MTH would stop making subway sets.
  • An attendee asked if MTH will make a curved section of the elevated subway trestle and Mr. Wolf responded that they want to make the section flexible to accommodate various radii curves and they haven't sorted it out yet.

Photos of some of the models displayed by MTH can be viewed here.  It was tough to get good photos because of the crowd around the podium.  The samples were quickly removed after the presentation ended.

TCA Open House - Part 2

Jim Weaver of Atlas O took the podium after Weaver.  Highlights from Mr. Weaver's presentation:

  • Mr. Weaver announced the Industrial Rail acquisition
  • There will be Industrial Rail Ready to Run train sets that will include a new transformer developed by Atlas O.
  • Locomotives for the Industrial Rail RTR sets will be newly developed and not Trainman locos.
  • When asked what track will be included with the Industrial Rail RTR sets, Mr. Weaver responded they were still working on that decision but said it would connect to Atlas O track (so it won't be Atlas O track).
  • Samples of the RTR set should be on display at the Fall '06 York show.  RTR sets are scheduled to be available for the 2007 product year.
  • Gunderson Twin Stack Cars will be on display at York and production should be complete in May/June '06.
  • X-29 boxcars will ship at end of month.
  • The Trainman GP15 is in production and scheduled for a June '06 delivery.
  • Trainman Alco RSD 15 "Alligator" high and low Nose versions will be produced and are scheduled to be available in early 2007 (unpowered versions will not be available)

View photos of the Atlas O models here.

TCA Open House - Part 1

I attended the TCA Museum Open House today. The docket included speakers from 3rd Rail, Marklin, Weaver Models, Atlas O, MTH and Lionel.  There was a abundance of 55+ year old men and few 40 somethings or younger like myself.  At any one time there was at least 150 people in the museum taking in the presentations.  It was a well run event!   I have a lot of information so this will be the first of a multi-part post.

First up was Scott Mann of 3rd rail. Here are the interesting points from his presentation:

  • 3rd Rail spends about 100K per year on advertising of which 8K goes to TCA.
  • 3rd Rail locomotives are hand fabricated in brass with the exception of the smaller parts, which are cast.
  • The larger O Gauge firms will use photos of 3rd Rail models in their catalogs to represent pre production photos of their own models. Apparently this is common practice in the industry, however, most companies will not footnote the photos to give credit the manufacturer of the product shown in the pre-production photo. Mr. Mann stated that MTH used one of 3rd Rail’s Erie Camelbacks for a pre-production photo in their catalog.
  • Firms will also use 3rd Rail models as proto types for their own models.
  • 3rd Rail is the first to use a belt drive system. The belt system replaces the uses of gears and thus the locomotives run much quieter then competitors.
  • The belts used in the 3rd Rail locomotives are similar to those used in printers. The belts are installed in over 15,000 locomotives and 3rd Rail has yet to replace one.
  • Accuracy of the models is most important to 3rd Rail and Mr. Mann pointed out that it is      frustrating when consumers complain that the electronic whistle doesn’t sound “just right” when all other aspects of the model are true to the prototype.
  • 3rd Rail locomotives are built as 2 rail models and converted to 3 rail.
  • All 3rd Rail models are painted with DuPont automotive paint sealed with a polyurethane      sealer.
  • All external structures – hand rails, grab irons etc. on each locomotive is soldered and meant to be “handled”. While making this point, Mr. Mann grabbed the Burlington M-4s on the speaker's table around the mid section and proceeded to lightly pound the loco into the table!
  • Mr. Mann commented on the Union Pacific lawsuit against MTH and Lionel concerning licensing fees for the UP logos. He stated that he is on the side of Lionel and MTH an against having to enter into licensing agreements with railroads because it could give the railroads a say in what models can be produced.
  • Mr. Mann is now selling 80’ Heavyweight Coaches made from ABS plastic under the Golden Gate Depot name. These coaches are 20” long and very detailed. More info here.

Mr. Mann had samples of an REA

Continue reading "TCA Open House - Part 1" »

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