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Marx train set 4222

The Marx 4222 steam type electric freight train set was a hybrid set from the early 1950s with a plastic 400 locomotive and four wheel plastic tender paired up with 6 inch tin freight cars. At least four variations of this set exist. They all came with the same locomotive and tender and a New York Central 20102 caboose. The differences in the variations are in the type and number of freight cars.

This specific set illustrates the challenges of collecting Marx sets. Marx used the same catalog number on multiple variations in the same decade. It’s not something Marx did all the time, but someone at Marx must have liked the number 4222. One of the variations I found wasn’t in Robert Whitacre’s 1991 Greenberg’s Guide to Marx Trains Vol 3: Sets.

How much did it cost?

Marx steam type electric train set 4222, in its original box

The Marx steam type electric train set 4222 consisted of a plastic tender and locomotive and two or three 6 inch tin cars.

Tracking down an ad for this specific set is difficult, because retailers didn’t necessarily always use Marx’s catalog number in their ads, but rather, their own SKU. It’s understandable why, since this set exists as both a five unit and a four unit set. Using their own SKU and a generic description greatly reduced the risk of consumers angrily demanding a price match.

Speaking of price, in 1954, a five unit set like the 4222 with a plastic #400 steam locomotive and 6-inch cars typically sold for around $10.95, and could go on sale for $9.95.

A four unit set would sell for somewhat less. The appeal of a four unit set was a slightly lower price for families on a tight budget. And the appeal to the retailer was the ability to sell a smaller set that could be expanded with one or more additional cars of the purchaser’s choice.

Additional cars weren’t terribly expensive, typically selling for less than 50 cents each. Additional track sections sold for about 15 cents. Selling accessories and add-ons was an attractive proposition for retailers. A gift of an electric train set was a gift that kept on giving, even after the sale.

That said, ads pushing 5-unit electric sets are much more common. A 4-unit consist was much more common for mechanical sets than electric. Toy stores advertised these trains heavily late in the year, but other stores sold them too, including discount/variety stores, hardware stores, drug stores, and even grocery stores.

Marx steam type electric freight set 4222 contents

Marx train set ad from 1954

This ad from 1954 shows how Marx train sets were marketed. Newspaper ads could feature other toys, including competing makes of trains, or various other household items alongside this set.

The set consisted of a model 1209 45 watt transformer, the 400 locomotive, the 1951 plastic tender, and the 20102 caboose. It came with 8 027 curved track sections, and two o27 straight track sections to make a simple oval. Or you could say it came with 102 inches of track. That’s better marketing.

The variations came in the type and quantity of freight cars.

The four unit set came with a silver UTLX 553 tank car.

One of the five unit sets came with a 553 UTLX tank car and a flat car with poles. Whitacre’s book dated these two variants to 1954.

Another variation, which could also date to as early as 1954, came with a 553 UTLX tank car and an 86000 Delaware, Lackawana & Western (D.L.&W, or Lackawana) hopper. This one wasn’t in Whitacre’s book.

The other variation came later, circa 1958. It came with a State of Maine Bangor and Aroostook boxcar in patriotic red, white and blue with a number ranging from 4485 to 4500. A red 738701 Pennsylvania railroad high-sided gondola rounded out the set.

All of the sets used plastic knuckle couplers.

Marx 4222 train set value today

Complete and boxed, the five unit sets are worth around $100 today. The smaller four unit set is worth closer to $75.00. Nothing in any of these sets is especially rare except the original pole load and the clamps that held the poles in place. Since the items are common, the sets are worth very close to what they cost in the ’50s after adjusting for inflation.

If you have one of the earlier 1954 sets with the pole car and it’s complete, you can expect it to add around $25 to the value.

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