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Does anyone recall Lionel's foray into toy store operation.  I remember finding a Lionel Toy Store in Freeport, New York sometime in the late 80s or early 90s.  I'm not 100% sure of the actual time frame,  I started working in Nassau County in 84 so it was definitely after that, but I didn't become engrossed in our hobby until about 92 and the items I have have identified as coming from that store would have been purchased with an eye on a layout.

This was not a hobby shop but a toy store.  I remember it being bigger than a KB but not as large as a Toys-R-Us.  I bought a K-line Coke TOFC, a box of Life-Like lichen and three ERTL Vintage Vehicles semi-cabs, 1947 International K-12, 1950 Chevy COE, 1960 Chevy.   I had forgotten where I bought these cabs until I recently came across the packaging.  I got the semis on clearance from $8.99 down to $4.98.

I don't remember if it was a one time visit or multiple stops while in my travels for work.  Do any of the Lawn Guy Land members remember this store and does anyone have any info on Lionel's attempt at retail toy stores.

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What got me started back up in mid 80's was Kiddie City in Fredrick Md. Right along Rt.40. We went there for the kids toys at Christmas. I walked past a Kline coke car. I looked it over and my memory went back to the late 50's early 60's. We would visit friends of my parents in Herminie Pa. Their son had Lionel trains under the tree. From looking at that Coke car I remembered the white milk car with the man bringing out the cans under his tree. And before I knew it I was smelling the smoke of the engine and the smell of icicles on the track. I wondered if I could find a milk car anymore. See I had been away from trains for a long time. I found a hobby shop in Thurmont Md. I drove there one Saturday which would be the beginning of dozens of trips. I left that day with my milk car, track, and a ZW. As they say it's been downhill since. Thanks for letting me share. Dave

@NHVRYGray posted:

If I remember my history correct, the Lionel toy stores were one of the last remnants of the ORIGINAL Lionel corporation and its later day diversifications.  Had nothing to do with trains other than selling whatever they could buy at a right price for a discount sale.

I did a little digging, and you are correct. The Lionel Kiddie City was founded in around 1960, so it was the original lionel corporation. They actually did well for a while, they were like the #2 or #3 toy retailer in the country in the 70's. It was not bought by General Mills when they bought the train business and created MPC. It went through a number of boom and bust cycles, their last gasp was in the early 90s they tried buying Child World but couldn't get financing. One article said something interesting, that Richard Kuhn when Kiddie City went under he bought the rights to the name and so forth (Lionel Kiddie City, Lionel Playworld, and Lionel Toy Warehouse were the names they operated under, in the 1980's all three existed). There was a debate whether he bought it thinking he might want to use the name for a new venture or whether he did it to make sure the Lionel name was only used for trains going down the road.

Attempts to use the Lionel name on other things always seemed to fail. They had the Power Passers slotless race track (the cars could change lanes) in the mid 70s, friend of mine had it and I kind of liked it, but it flopped (in part I suspect because by then the slot car craze had died out).

Well this is a topic I can contribute to Joe. I was a kid in the 1980’s. My parents both worked so in the summer my sister and I would spend 2 weeks with one set of grandparents (in their farmhouse along the ex Pennsy Popes Creek Subdivision in MD)followed by 2 weeks with the other set in VA Beach.

My grandmother took me to pick out toys at the Virginia Beach VA Lionel Kiddie City. I remember they had formed plastic Train layout forms hanging from the ceiling they you could buy. There was a train aisle full of sets, track and cars in O and HO. N scale was behind the counter. They did sell exclusive sets with a pack in hopper. Here is mine.809EE416-01AB-40E7-9807-037EC08DA1ED
The  mascot was a kangaroo.

I think my grandma got me some GIJoe A Real American Hero figures and an airplane to go with it. I’m sure I played with it my whole visit. But yes I have fond memories of really combining through all the toys at Lionel Kiddie City.

Up into the late 80’s Toys R Us, K mart, JC Penny Sears and “Kay-bee Toy and Hobbies” sold trains as well. I bought many of my first HO trains from Kay Bee. I since have collected all the MPC short boxcars TRU and Kay-bee packed into their “exclusive” sets. Fun stuff with a lot more product out in front of the public and kids could see it.


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Last edited by Silver Lake

Rob the store was in a shopping center on Sunrise Highway just west of the Meadowbrook.  There was a Modells and Pier 1 Imports in there until they both went out of business a few years ago.  There's a Marshall's in there.  The Lionel Store, I guess it was a Kiddie City,  was in the back corner where that shopping center forms a 90 degree.  I believe there's a supermarket in there now.

Andy your contributions are always welcome.

I think there was a Lionel Kiddie  City located somewhere on Erie Avenue in northeast Philly during the 1970s.  I purchased the Chevron oil tank car and the Union Pacific box car, photos shown below, from that store during the spring of 1976.  The tank car was manufactured in 1974 and the box car on 1975.  Very inexpensive with cheap plastic trucks.  This proves that I have kept every and any train item I have ever bought.🤪9B6537E4-5902-4D1B-8538-53A5ACB3C3CB622174BB-9871-4DAF-9C6E-283C5EBA191D


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@RSJB18 posted:

Funny, I grew up in Baldwin but I don't recall that store Joe. Trainland, and Nassau Hobby were my go to spots. IIRC there was a small shop on Merrick road too, Dave's Hobby?

A quick search did turn up this.

Lionel Kiddie City - Wikipedia

Vintage Toy Store Pictures I Part Six I | Vintage toys, Toy store, The good old days

Kiddie City toys bring back fond memories

Maybe some of the Lionel experts will know more of the history.

I couldn't ever remember being there until I saw the sign in the middle... one on Merrick Road, and I think there was one on Route 110 up in the Farmingdale/Melville area.


The Lionel Corporation entered the leisure marketing business, including Kiddie City, with the acquisition of Leonard Wasserman Company in August 1969.  Lionel was not in that retail space back to 1960 but Wasserman was.   Lionel Kiddie City lasted until the liquidation of the original The Lionel Corporation in June 1993.

Also, when General Mills formed MPC, it acquired the rights to use the Lionel name and manufacture trains, for which it paid royalties.  It never bought the train business, which was still owned by The Lionel Corporation. 

Richard Kughn bought the rights to manufacture Lionel trains without paying future royalties, which he had been paying.  Lionel Leisure etc. was not part of the agreement.

(My sources are the Lionel Annual Reports and internal Lionel executive documentation.)

Bob Osterhoff

Follow up on Lionel Kiddie City, Ardmore, PA

My brother who is nine years older, got married during his sophomore year at University of MD. He moved out and with him went his Lionel trains in late January, 1973.

For Christmas 1974, an eighth grade little me asked repeatedly for trains for Christmas. My parents were skeptical as I was heavily into cameras and electronics at this point. But I persevered. My brother helped my parents with the selection and my first set was purchased at our local Kiddie City in Ardmore, PA. My parents spared ALL expense and bought a very basic oval with, fortunately at least a a die cast steam Locomotive. (No steam, no lights, no switches) This was the height of the MPC era.

That Kiddie City and a nearby Sears were the places for toys and for a time trains. Higher end gear and accessories were available across Lancaster Ave at a hobby shop across the street in Ardmore West that caters more to the HO crowd. Both the Kiddie City and Ardmore West strip center were built on the old Autocar Plant property in Ardmore. The Kiddie City store was actually part of the old factory. Across the street was a volunteer fire company.

Fast forward to the time after I began enjoying LGB trains, there was a horrific fire at Kiddie City on October 30, 1988. It was a major fire. 11 volunteer companies responded and tragically, one brave fire fighter lost his life. I’ve attached a link to an anniversary remembrance of that tragic day. I remember driving by a day or two later and seeing the melted shopping carts. The rear part of that building still exists and is part of a largely vibrant shopping district in that section of Ardmore today.

Last edited by WRW

Interesting, I never knew Lionel owned Kiddie City. We had one in Feasterville, PA - a great toy and game store in the 1970s till sometime later when they closed - I must have been in the Army at that point. However, I recall they only put out trains around the holidays...or perhaps they were always there and just merchandised them prominently around Christmas . I would study the O-gauge trains intensely as I prepared my list for Santa; and I recall vividly the price tags - $20 to $25 for a boxcar - that amount could buy a whole lot of Matchbox, Hot Wheels, and GI Joe stuff, and knowing what Santa could spend...well trains never made the list Nevertheless, I had great fun with my Dad's Marx set every Christmas season.

Last edited by Paul Kallus

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