Saw the pictures for the new Atlas O Monon heavyweights, and was struck but the resemblemance to the Polar Express verson. Only a slightly lighter shade of grey on the Monon differentiates them.

 

Lionel Polar Express O-Scale Passenger Cars - YouTube

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The Polar Express scheme is based on the animated movie. There was no prototype. Perhaps the filmmakers based the scheme in part on the Monon scheme, substituting the blue grey shade for Monon’s grey.

Which is based on the book that was first published in 1985.

Rusty

Limited correlation to the trains in the book. First of all, the film uses the basic story and expands on it greatly, including in details of the train. The use of Pere Marquette no. 1225 and the heavyweight passenger cars are movie creations. If I recall correctly, the book illustrations depicted cars without clerestory roofs, though the paint scheme is similar in my later copy of the book.

@Jim R. posted:

Limited correlation to the trains in the book. First of all, the film uses the basic story and expands on it greatly, including in details of the train. The use of Pere Marquette no. 1225 and the heavyweight passenger cars are movie creations. If I recall correctly, the book illustrations depicted cars without clerestory roofs, though the paint scheme is similar in my later copy of the book.

I can't remember where, but I read something that Warner Bros. used one of Strasburg's closed vestibule coaches for the model of the heavyweights. Not sure if this is fact or fiction because I remember it didn't have a citation with it.

Also, there is more to the use of 1225 as the engine as people think. While it is evident that 1225 = 12/25 (Christmas day), Pere Marquette 1225 was on display at Michigan State in Grand Rapids where Chris Van Allsburg (the author of the book) grew up. In the book, the boy's house is in Grand Rapids.

In a interview with the Detroit Free Press discussing the movie, Van Allsburg stated that he "remember[s] that train on campus, I can't believe it's the same train [as the one in the movie]! I climbed on that train. I actually stood on it."

In another interview, Van Allsburg stated that playing on the engine as a child was a partial inspiration for the book and he had the engine in mind as he wrote the story. I can't find a direct quote or citation for this part so I'm not sure how much of it is fact vs. fiction. 

For what it’s worth, my unopened/unboxed Polar Express scale RPO more closely resembles the pictured Monon car than it does the pictured Polar Express car. 

@breezinup posted:

Saw the pictures for the new Atlas O Monon heavyweights, and was struck but the resemblemance to the Polar Express verson. Only a slightly lighter shade of grey on the Monon differentiates them.

Lionel Polar Express O-Scale Passenger Cars - YouTube

I think the RPO is the “too light” released a couple years agothat we are supposed to exchange shells.  Waiting on
Ionesco.  The difference will be greater after this 2 year old mistake is fixed.

 

Monon was there first in 1949, adopting the colors of Indiana University for passenger equipment.

Rusty

A small but interesting detail: It appears that the actual IU colors are crimson and cream, not gray, so apparently this is not entirely correct. The passenger equipment ran long before the internet, yet used a gray color.  This from a IU website:

@Prr7688 posted:
Also, there is more to the use of 1225 as the engine as people think. While it is evident that 1225 = 12/25 (Christmas day), Pere Marquette 1225 was on display at Michigan State in Grand Rapids where Chris Van Allsburg (the author of the book) grew up. In the book, the boy's house is in Grand Rapids.

In a interview with the Detroit Free Press discussing the movie, Van Allsburg stated that he "remember[s] that train on campus, I can't believe it's the same train [as the one in the movie]! I climbed on that train. I actually stood on it."

In another interview, Van Allsburg stated that playing on the engine as a child was a partial inspiration for the book and he had the engine in mind as he wrote the story. I can't find a direct quote or citation for this part so I'm not sure how much of it is fact vs. fiction. 

FWIW, Michigan State University where 1225 was once displayed is actually in Lansing, MI, not Grand Rapids.  I believe Grand Rapids, MI was a big PM Railroad town though so I wouldn't doubt that it had something to do with the inspiration for the story.

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