The Marx 1829 was arguably the largest, nicest plastic steam locomotive of the postwar era. It was a plastic locomotive with a 4-6-4 Hudson configuration, a type of locomotive usually reserved for higher-end diecast models.
The 1829 wasn’t just a plastic Marx 333. The design of the casting differs from the diecast 333, and it used a different trailing truck, since the 333 was a 4-6-2 Pacific. The motor was similar, and like the 333, it came in both smoking and non-smoking versions.
The Marx 1829
Marx introduced the 1829 in 1953 to give it a high-end locomotive that it could produce at a low price. It shared a good deal of parts commonality with the 333. But Marx didn’t take the shortcut of just injecting plastic into the existing 333 mold, like its competitors sometimes did.
There may have been a reason new tooling was necessary. The 1829’s plastic body wasn’t as heavy as the 333, so Marx added large weights to the inside as well as a rubber traction tire. This gave it similar traction and the kind of pulling power worthy of a locomotive with six driver wheels.
There is a good deal of parts commonality between the 1829 and the diecast 333. For example, a hobbyist can easily swap rear trucks between the two to get a diecast 4-6-4 and a plastic 4-6-2, although Marx never made them that way. The two parts are completely interchangeable so it’s just a matter of unbolting one part and bolting the new one on.
Marx 1829 variations
There are two major variations of the 1829: smoking and non-smoking. Marx introduced a smoke unit in 1955. The smoking version is more valuable, regardless of which one is more rare.
Public interest in O and S gauge trains went into decline after 1957. Marx responded by pulling back from its high-end sets. Marx did well by selling inexpensive sets, and its trains survived into the 1970s, but the 1829 and 333 didn’t fit in well with this strategy. Smaller steam engines that were cheaper to make and diesel locomotives, which were more modern looking and also cheaper, fit in better. So the 1829 didn’t have a very long production run.
K-Line acquired the 1829 tooling, but only used it in one set.
A smoking 1829 sells for around $90, while a non-smoker sells for closer to $60.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.