Marx vs. Lionel

In the 1950s, Marx and Lionel took turns being the biggest toy company in the world, largely riding on the popularity of O gauge trains. Neither company particularly liked the other, but both owed some degree of their success to being compatible with one another. Because of their interoperability, the two makes of trains are frequently compared and contrasted even today.

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Mehdi Ali: Commodore spinmeister

Mehdi Ali: Commodore spinmeister

I found the thumbnail biography of one Mehdi Ali recently. It reads, in part:

“His prior experience includes serving as the President of Commodore International, where he accomplished a major operational turnaround.”

I don’t think he and I share the same definition of “major operational turnaround.”

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How to disassemble a Marx 490 locomotive

How to disassemble a Marx 490 locomotive

Disassembling a Marx 490 locomotive isn’t too difficult, but it’s very different from other Marx locomotives.

Once you take one apart, though, you’ll see why it was designed how it was. It was Marx’s lowest-cost locomotive, and it could be assembled without tools, so the labor costs were minimal.

For that matter you only need one tool to take it apart, and since there’s so little in it that can break–not even a headlight–you can find anything you would need to service it at the nearest hardware store or auto parts store.

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Department 56 scale: The definitive guide

Department 56 scale: The definitive guide

The breadth of Department 56 product lines, such as Department 56 Snow Village, is rather extensive, but there are items they don’t produce and likely never will. If you want to complete your village with other items, or use Department 56 in other settings, such as a train layout, then scale might matter to you—and Department 56 scale is undefined. Here’s how to make sure the things you want to use together will go together, size-wise.

The answer, by Department 56’s own admission, is that it varies. But since I see the question come up again and again, I’m going to tackle it. It varies, but there’s a method to it the madness.

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Blogging my way through the 1935 Goudey baseball card set

I’m collecting baseball cards again.

I collected for most of my youth, but as adulthood set in, other priorities took over. It happens a lot. But now my kids are getting old enough to take an interest in such things, and if my son is buying baseball cards, I might as well buy a card or two myself, right?

On Christmas Eve, I decided to take on a challenge: The 1935 Goudey set. Goudey was the biggest name of the 1930s, but at 36 cards, the 1935 set is small enough that a mere mortal like me can stand a chance of accumulating one example of each, and do so in a reasonable period of time. Most of the player drawings in the 1935 set are reused from the 1933 and/or 1934 sets, so it looks and feels like a classic Goudey set.

It’s not going to be a particularly cheap endeavor, but with one exception, it’s possible to get a low-grade example of each card in the set for $10-$15. A complete set in low grade is likely to cost less than $1,000. And while $1,000 is a lot of money, that’s approximately $20 a week. Most of us spend $20 a week on things that aren’t particularly good for us. Spend two years doing it and it drops to $10 a week.

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My boys and the Hot Wheels Shoebox

I took the boys to Toys R Us the other night to do some Christmas shopping and buy a little (very little) something for them. I ended up finding 99 cents worth of something for me, too, in the diecast aisle. I like to buy Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars and un-hotrod them for my train layout. And the Hot Wheels shoebox, with a small amount of work, looked like it would make a very passable 1949 Ford. So I bought it.

The next morning, my youngest brought the car to me as I was getting ready for work. “Daddy, will you open it?”

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