I grew up with Lionel and Marx, but had two friends with American Flyer, and always liked AF for its realistic look. I have slowly been gathering some Gilbert isues and within the last year added a loop to run them on the layout.
I bought a few link-era cars, a steam engine and ATSF PA diesels, but then decided to specialize further. I had had the 1956 AF catalog as a kid, and wanted that North Coast Limited set so-o-o bad. It never came, but the 1956 catalog has become the basis for my AF collection. How's that for specializing?
I love watching the 970 Automatic Walking Brakeman car and 977 Action Caboose! I love the steam engines' sounds and those flashing whitewalls. I'll never get the complete catalog, but I'm having fun looking.
Oh, and I did get my North Coast Limited, though the 1992 version, in 2006 - 50 years after the original was produced. It's just as beautiful as I though it would be!