Kalmbach has decided, after more than a decade, to release a new Greenberg Pocket Price Guide for Marx trains (here’s my review). Although the O’Brien Collecting Toy Trains guides have a section on Marx, the Greenberg guides have always been more complete and more accurate. The most recent O’Brien guide from 2006 completely omitted Marx’s 3/16 line, a difficult flaw to overlook. That’s why the out-of-print Greenberg book from 2001 remained the standard for all these years and in recent years used copies commanded prices of $100 and more.
I wholeheartedly recommend getting a price guide, especially if you’re just getting started. When I was getting started, I didn’t really want to spend $13 on a price guide, preferring to spend that money on another train car, but what I eventually learned was that by overpaying for cars, I spent more than the $13 I saved by not having a guide.
Traditionally, Marx trains have attracted less attention from collectors than their more expensive peers from Lionel and American Flyer. They cost less, and generally sold in lower-tier stores, so they didn’t have as much prestige. But they were well built, attractively designed, and just as much fun to play with. And they’re a bit more of a challenge to collect, since Marx didn’t attract as much attention as the other makes. There aren’t a lot of Lionel and Flyer mysteries left.
And, when times are tough, you can still afford to collect Marx trains, since common Marx items frequently sell for well under $20 and there are enough of them to provide a challenge that will last several years, if not longer.
I suspect all of that played into Kalmbach’s decision to release a revised Marx guide. The rumor I heard is that Kalmbach will alternate Marx and Flyer guides on alternating years, while continuing to produce a Lionel guide every year.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive gift for a toy train enthusiast, you can do a whole lot worse than the Greenberg guide for his or her favorite make of train.
The guide is available on pre-order. When you pre-order from Amazon, you’ll get whatever the best price is between the time you order and the time it’s released.