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Who did Lionel buy Lion Chief from.  The original question was why did they buy Lion Chief when they had TMCC and Legacy and I am sure the reason was cost, and marketing.  Lionel charges a good chunk of change for Legacy and Sunset charges a good bit for the TMCC/Odyssey system they bought from Lionel, and if they had put TMCC in their lower priced sets, they wouldn't have been able to charge as much for Legacy as they do, plus I am sure Lionchief is much cheaper to produce.  

MTH is an established brand and has had a highly visible presence in O gauge trains for at least twenty-five years. As far back as I can recall there consistently have been at least two catalogs per year and local hobby shops nationwide where you could just walk in and buy an MTH model off the shelf. That’s why it’s difficult for me to realize that the brand and trademark may just vanish from the marketplace. It’s as though Ford Motor just announced that it will cease vehicle production next June. A little hard to grasp. If you said to me that a smaller company (say Weaver) was closing its doors and walking away from the market, the impact would be significant but not huge. But MTH is the only real competitor to Lionel and is a huge presence in the market. So, what will the market be like if there are no new trains from MTH? Difficult to conceive of it.

MELGAR

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...4#146142158405113124

Melgar, Weaver did close its doors several years ago.  Mike made some great stuff, but his Proto 1 ended up to be very troublesome, even though it was QSI that made it for MTH.  But he over produced trains just like Lionel did, and they together "killed the goose that laid the golden egg".  They are making this stuff in China, yet keep raising the price to a level that people are not going to buy much of it.  Mike had problems in Korea too with zinc pest; I do not know if that problem exists with any of the stuff made in China.  I am sure someone will buy the rights to produce some of the products, but how many Big Boys can you make and sell, and people like me that bought his early stuff are either converting it to TMCC or Proto 3, which may go away, or trying to sell it and we are getting a lot less than we paid for it.  When it comes to rolling stock, you can pick up some nice MTH premiem cars for $20-30 on ebay.  Why pay $65.00 for a new box car?  

"Who did Lionel buy Lion Chief from. "

I'm pretty certain they developed it from existing technology but in house.  They have not made it available except as part of their products or allowed anyone to make it as an after market product.  I don't know that they have patented it, but one could search.

It is definitely cheaper to manufacturer. You can buy a loco with LionChief for less than an HO loco with DCC.  Rough rule of thumb in other scales is $100 more for DCC than DC, and another $100 more for digital sounds.  For $200 you can get an inexpensive Lionel diesel with LionChief (the equivalent of DCC command basic control) and basic sounds.  Gives you a rough idea of the costs.

@Nessmuck posted:

The Train hobby is an Old Guy thing....let’s face it. And we are dying off...like yester years Flathead engine.  Today’s video games occupy the under 40 crowd...not model trains. But I will enjoy what trains I have....and haven’t made any new purchases in a long time....but my 14 year old nephew likes the hobby.

I agree for O gauge that we are older and dying off but disagree for other scales. I once asked a hobby shop owner what he thought the state of the hobby was (about 18 months ago) and he said “The hobby is doing great (accounting for all scales) but hobby shops are an endangered species.” His store did carry O Gauge as well as HO and N. Take it for what it’s worth but when you the see people at Trainfest and Amherst Society I find it hard to believe the hobby is going away. 

 

The HO stuff will have no problem selling. Athearn could use that C44-9W for their Genesis line. Broadway limited will probably take the rest.  I could see Scaletrains purchasing the SD70Ace.

Beside MTH employees continuing the company, sadly it looks like Lionel is the only one in position to purchase the company

I'm a big fan of MTH's products and especially DCS.

At one point I had over 50 engines, but then caught the Standard Gauge bug. I sold off every piece of O scale I had and went full bore into Standard Gauge. I've had some life changes in the last few years and ended up selling off all of my Standard Gauge. The only items I kept were a Z-4000 and the DCS system. Although I keep my membership up I haven't been to York in several years.

I recently re-caught the O scale bug and have purchased 3 engines. I plan on this time around to control my buying and enjoy every item I do buy, instead of keeping any of them in boxes. I also plan on attending the next York meet. I certainly hope DCS will somehow be supported by some other entity.

It all started for me about 15 years ago. I walked into The Hobby Shop in Aberdeen NJ looking to buy a slot car set. After browsing for about an hour I walked out with a Railking starter set instead. 


Thanks Mike for what you've done for this hobby. Enjoy your retirement!

Shocking news.  2020:  Pandemic, looting, political unrest, cop haters, high meat prices, no Clorex wipes, toilet paper hoarders, summer fairs cancelled, no sports to watch, jobs on the line and now MTH going out.  Yeesh....

And I've been buying more new MTH engines over the past two years than ever as my rolling stock inventory has maxed out!

It's time for a little comfort food, some alcohol and running my trains in my train room where everything is okay in this world.  Thanks to Mike Wolf for making this a great outlet in times of uncertainty like this.  It's been fun and I am hopeful this too shall pass and my bells and whistles and smoke units keep working.

I'm a big fan of MTH's products and especially DCS.

At one point I had over 50 engines, but then caught the Standard Gauge bug. I sold off every piece of O scale I had and went full bore into Standard Gauge. I've had some life changes in the last few years and ended up selling off all of my Standard Gauge. The only items I kept were a Z-4000 and the DCS system. Although I keep my membership up I haven't been to York in several years.

I recently re-caught the O scale bug and have purchased 3 engines. I plan on this time around to control my buying and enjoy every item I do buy, instead of keeping any of them in boxes. I also plan on attending the next York meet. I certainly hope DCS will somehow be supported by some other entity.

It all started for me about 15 years ago. I walked into The Hobby Shop in Aberdeen NJ looking to buy a slot car set. After browsing for about an hour I walked out with a Railking starter set instead. 


Thanks Mike for what you've done for this hobby. Enjoy your retirement!

Frank, it has already been announced that a group of MTH employees will take over DCS. You can read about it here:

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...proto-sound-lives-on

 

Last edited by Hudson J1e

Wow sorry to hear of the news.  I found out on facebook.  I don’t frequent OGR, maybe once a year.  I would not be in the hobby had it not been for MTH, and scale wheels.  I started in 3 rail with just one train set around the Christmas tree but after extensive research, as well as a visit to a local club, the train bug bit and  I dove in head first into 2 rail O scale.

Mr Wolf, I wish you all the best in your retirement and thank you for your many years of commitment and innovation to the hobby as well as support of the super, super small population of 2 rail O scale folks.

Best Regards,

Michael

 

I still have my first dcs proto 2 engine I got in the early 2000's. still runs like new today. its trains like mth made that got me to go all in on o scale trains. except for maybe the cost young people today still  love model trains and mike new that. hence the smartphone app and dcs in every part of the line not just the higher end.  a good used dcs engine is sometimes less than a new HO engine with dcc. so mth will somehow someway always live on. lets just hope some one who realy has a passion for model trains and model train operation in general buys the company or most of it. maybe I should start a go fund me page online. 😉

Mr. Mike Wolf,

Best of health and happiness in your upcoming retirement.  Thank you, for all the fun and joy your products provided for me, my family and friends over the past 40 years and still do today.  From my first MTH locomotive purchases, a Premier UP Big Boy and Premier PRR K4 in May of 1997, to my latest purchases has enhanced this great hobby for me many times over.

As a big fan of MTH products, I'll be looking forward to see what the future holds.

Heck, maybe Warren Buffett can sell BNSF and buy the MTH train manufacturing!

@sxe60 posted:

Unless an investor like a Richard Kughn or Neil Young is there to step in, it is all over and it's like losing of an old friend. MTH is a small business created by a visionary entrepreneur and like so many such organizations when that leader leaves, for what ever reason, that organization usually is no longer viable.  I suspect that Mike has looked at the demographics and sees that the market is shrinking as would potential investors. Sadly trains, to younger generations, are a forgotten form of transportation and the models of them only take up valuable space. Their world is Virtual Reality and not the 3 dimensional things that we enjoy and remember.  I have been a MTH fan since the first UP Challenger with PS1 and will be sad to see it all go away, but the same can be said for K-line and Weaver's neat trains. I quess that I'm just getting old.      

 It is exactly as you say. Just look at the pictures of us in this forum, this is an grown-ups hobby...old grown-ups to be precise. People seldom see real trains and youths barely know trains exist. How can you appreciate the model of something you do not know? Lionel is in no better position 

Interesting comments from so many people. An era is coming to and end. I remember when he was a kid working at York with Jerry Williams in the Purple Hall. But now I have a question. Because of Mike and MTH, Lionel was kept at bay on pricing. Even now, here they go pushing that price up and up many times for a re-issued product with a slightly newer electronics board. MTH kept their products at a straight price. In 2000, their Premier Big Boy was $1,399.99 and later, in the 2010's it was $1,499.99 (these are approximations) Back in 1990 I remember Lionel trying to raise those prices on their newer products which Mike then was helping to produce. But in 1995, MTH released a locomotive that shocked the O gauge/scale world, a highly detailed, die-cast UP Challenger and it was priced $1,399.99. Lionel's prices had to start coming back down or MTH would have put them out back then. Both companies had been keeping their pricing fairly standard since then but, as we all see, Lionel is starting that price push again. They are now at $2,100.00 for many locomotives all because they load a little bit more electronic function to it.. My father once said that if it weren't for MTH during the first decade of this century (my father had a hobby shop then) Lionel's prices woud ahve been twice and maybe in some cases three times higher because of the name. MTH kept them at bay. No one else could do it. 3rd Rail -  different market, Weaver, Atlas - too small, K-Line was coming on but they got put out 15 years ago so there is no one to challenge Lionel UNLESS, as Mike alluded to, some of his employees, some of whom have been with him for decades and know the business by now as good as he does, can continue under a new name or such. A lot of options are on the board. Like GunrunnerJohn said, I am a bit concerned about getting service and replacement parts for DCS. I guess it's time to go through and put Legacy in everything? Legacy is really good, equal to DCS, but there are still a few things that you can do with DCS that you cannot do with Legacy and the one thing I really like is the ability to customize your individual volumes. Another story for another time. As Pete said above, maybe Lionel would buy the DCS system and rights and be able to offer it like ERR. ERR is Lionel, so why is 3rd Rail doing it? Just weird!!!

Last edited by Rjm

MTH lived up to its slogan of “Quality in the tradition you remember”.   Their product line offered more variety than their competitors and I have many of their steam locomotives with the last one, Premier Union Pacific Challenger no. 3943, purchased from a dealer just last week.  Likely it will be the last MTH locomotive purchased new.  It seems safe to say no one will make a steam locomotive smokestack function like MTH!  

I wish Mr. Wolf the best in retirement and sincere appreciation for what he brought to our hobby.  I also wish MTH staff health and prosperity in their future endeavors.

@palallin posted:

An attempt to inject a smidgeon of humor:  have you bought a Mercury lately?

(Or an Olds or a Plymouth?)

 

True....change is the only constant.  But rather than loosing OLDS this is more like loosing GM whole!!! An entire segment is going to close. And like in the automotive world loosing GM would be very bad for the industry.....loosing MTH will be too. 

 

MTH and Mike is why I switched to O3r back when Mike brought out the N&W J 611 in RK.  If I didn't have a basement full of O scale layout I may have my excuse to go back to HO......Sad day....

More thoughts –

I would think Lionel would be interested the later MTH car molds due to the fact they can be converted to 2r.

Also, restore the Lion Scale – Weaver cars by acquiring the correct Weaver - Roller bearing and Bettendorph truck lines that MTH gets from the original supplier.

 The DCS, software and electronics piece of the pie is already planned and taken by the other MTH VP’s. Mike probably gave them that entity so they could carry on and reach their retirement eligibility time frame. Whoever buys the engine pieces will have to buy DCS from that new company group I suppose. Probably a good strategic move.

 I really don’t want Lionel getting into too many MTH items, their prices are too high and Quality issues have been a concern by consumers as well. The train selling market pricing has surpassed the average majority of consumers budget. The hobby has leaned more for the well to do. Suppliers can’t seem to establish a cost-effective way to bring it back in line. Unless you can do so, any acquisition in these times would be very risky.

On the other hand, Mike as I did with a former business knew when to say when. I hate to say it, I believe the writings on the wall folks. Let’s see where we all are in about three years after the smoke has settled.

 

@MELGAR posted:
 

It’s as though Ford Motor just announced that it will cease vehicle production next June. A little hard to grasp.

MELGAR

@palallin posted:

An attempt to inject a smidgeon of humor:  have you bought a Mercury lately?

No, I was absolutely serious. The loss of new MTH model trains (even if they are reruns) will affect the O gauge market in ways that can only be guessed at right now. I may not have bought an Edsel lately, but many people have bought an F-150.

MELGAR

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...4#146142158424073734

As a former business owner, I also knew when it was time to leave it..  the difference then was I sold the company and retired,   For MW to just walk away there had to be other mitigating circumstances such as debt greater then company value or ownership of tooling in China. not in MTH possession to sell..  Whatever the case its a shocker for the hobby. I wish MW well in retirement.   

I've been recitant in commenting on the MTH closure. First of all,I wish Mike Wolf all the best with his retirement. I'm very close to retiring myself as we are the same age and I full understand about slowing down and enjoying those "Golden Years". Like many of us,MTH was the reason we returned to the hobby,for me,it was in 1999 after seeing MTH in action at a Cincinnati train shop while on business. I immediately jumped in big time buying nearly every big Premier steam engine till no more new tooling was produced. I still have most of those steam locomotives and most (Samhongsa made) still run like new. I also have most of the Premier MOPAC Diesels and Passenger Cars and will aways cherish those beautiful MTH items. 

Hopefully,the tooling for all these trains will end up in good hands. I can see Kader (Bachmann)taking over all or part of the line. Like some have mentioned,Menards might be a good fit for continuing the Rugged Rails or Railking Line, I'm not ruling out Lionel buying everything, The MTH HO line would be a great fit (The Challenger and UP turbines were originally Lionel HO but that's another story that does not need repeating). I also could see Broadway Limited taking the HO and Premier lines - Let's not rule that possibility out. BLI is a HUGE mover and shaker in the industry,like MTH was.

Those are my thoughts. Thank you Mike and all the crew at MTH for helping make this hobby the "World's Greatest"

Ricky 

Here are some of my MTH Premier Steam locos. These shelves are no longer up as the train room is getting a makeover and all new shelving going up will be Snyder extruded aluminum.

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Talk about being out of it.  Haven't visited the forum in a few days and then just happen to see an advertising email from Mario's Trains in my inbox about MTH closing which shocked me. So I came here only to find out this has been going on for a few days.

This is sad news indeed.  As some before me have mentioned, I figured that Mike would retire but the company would move on like many others do.  I do hope that another corporation sees the value and buys it to continue.  I don't have a preference between Lionel or MTH products, but I like market competition.  It keeps all sides on their toes and forces them not to sit on their laurels.  We already have enough issues with the current "O" manufacturers not making items that many model railroaders want, requiring them to kitbash, etc.  As each company leaves the business (Weaver, etc.), that selection availability will only get worse, the prices will rise higher than the corresponding inflation rate, and we'll just have to take it and like it  .  A big thank you from Menards for entering this hobby recently and providing good product at an affordable price, especially more modern and current buildings.  Maybe Menards can buy and take over the MTH product line. .

Thank you Mike Wolf for all that you've done for this industry the past few decades.  

Last edited by Amfleet25124

I don’t want to steer the thread in another direction, but I will ask this question.

Is it possible that production in China - and the fact that it may not be possible to extract the tooling from China or transfer its ownership to a prospective purchaser of MTH Trains – was responsible for the decision by MTH to close the company? If so, it is a lesson people need to remember.

I also wonder about the future of die-cast steam engines that are produced for MTH in South Korea. Who will own those assets and what will happen to them?

MELGAR

For the people wondering if BLI would be interested in MTH's HO and perhaps O tooling, one might consider that BLI is owned by Bob Grubba, who hasn't exactly been Mike Wolf's favorite colleague in the industry .  Seems unlikely at best. 

Just need to see how things play out.   The sky isn't falling, at least not yet.  OGR and CTT do not rely on MTH for significant revenue, for one thing, so I'm keeping my subscriptions active. I would advise everyone to do subscribe to both if you can afford it.  Supports the industry and the hobby. 

"Does anyone have an idea as to what is Lionel's annual sales volume and what is that of MTH?"

No, these are privately held companies. Fifteen years ago (forever in some ways), during the lawsuit era, the estimates were something like 70-100 million a year for Lionel and about half to two-thirds that for MTH.  But that was another time and place and probably not totally reliable estimates.  And that may be part of the problem.  Companies are often priced at twice annual sales.  May be that no one wanted to spend or borrow 50-100 million to buy MTH.  Just wild speculation on my part, but it's free.

 

I have been absorbing all this for two days now, and not much is left to do but to see how this all plays out. A few observations:

1. Best of luck to Mr. Wolf for a long and healthy retirement; he has earned it.

2.Mr. Wolf ranks up there right behind Josh Cowen in impact on this hobby, along with a number of others, including Louis Marx, Maury Klein, Gebruder Bingen, Jerry Williams, a couple of the senior guys at Fundimensions / MPC ,  Dick Kughn,  Neil Young, and a few others I can't remember right now.

3. All things must pass. Life is change. Nothing is static.

4. I don't expect a "White Knight" to buy MTH lock, stock and barrel. Surprise me.

5. Menards is an unlikely suitor; it has a business plan that works for it, and when John Menard (bless him) isn't as involved, its train stuff may be of less importance to its Board of Directors in any event. Surprise me.

6. I don't know " 'nuthin about 'nuthin", when you get right down to it. 

 

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