In the 1950s, Marx produced hard plastic 60mm figures of U.S. presidents. Louis Marx meant for them to be an educational toy or collectible, but the Marx president figurines turn out to be a great accessory for train layouts too. Here’s how I use them.
If you’re more interested in collecting them, I hope you’ll still read on. I have some tips for finding them and restoring damaged figurines.
On Dec 12, 1955, Louis Marx was on the cover of Time magazine, the subject of a story that called him the Toy King. Twenty seven short years later, Louis Marx died in his home, aged 86. The same day, a bankruptcy court ruled that his factory in Glen Dale, West Virginia, had to close for good. Marx and his company died on the same day. Why did Marx Toys close? And why so suddenly?
There were several reasons. I don’t think it was any one thing, but rather, several things that led to another, and the cascade brought Louis Marx’s empire down.
I never can seem to find O gauge track dimensions and other key information about O and O27 track when I need to find them. So I’m finding them one last time and collecting them here. Maybe someone else can use the information.
For a time in the 1950s, the defunct Louis Marx & Company was the largest toy company in the world. Marx’s headquarters was at 200 Fifth Avenue in New York City, in what is commonly known as the International Toy Center. But where were Marx toys made?
Not in New York City, it turns out. Marx had three factories in the eastern United States that it operated for more than 40 years in the region we today call the Rust Belt.
Marx isn’t as synonymous with electric trains as some of its competitors, but Louis Marx had a good run. It outlasted numerous other more-storied brands. Here’s a brief look back at Marx trains history, which spanned about four decades.
Marx sold its trains pretty much anywhere, as opposed to Lionel and American Flyer, which primarily sold in hobby shops and department stores. The low price gave Marx a blue-collar reputation that tended to hold its value down over time. But the Marx designs were reliable and attractive. This gives them a following that endures more than four decades after Louis Marx made its last train.
Sometimes you want to lock a Marx motor in one direction. Some of them have a switch for doing so but many do not. Here’s how to find the switch, and what to do if yours doesn’t have one and you don’t want to modify it.
A transformer’s circuit breaker should trip within a few seconds for safety, if not faster. If your Lionel ZW transformer circuit breaker doesn’t trip reliably anymore, it’s time to source a replacement. Here’s how to find a modern breaker suitable for use as a Lionel ZW circuit breaker and install it.
Don’t be intimidated. This is a relatively easy project and costs less than $20. The hardest part is soldering two connections. But first, always run a safety check, and, on ZWs in particular, check for and replace any bad binding posts.
There are any number of materials you can use to make ties to fill the empty spaces underneath Lionel O27 track. But I think I’ve found the easiest of all. The materials are cheap and readily available and you don’t need anything special in the way of tools. Here’s how to make O27 track ties out of foamcore board.
My favorite engine is the Marx #54 tin diesel lettered for Kansas City Southern. Unfortunately it has poor pulling power. Being a hollow tin body, it just doesn’t have much weight to it, making the marginal Marx motor even more marginal. Here’s what to do when a Marx engine can’t pull.