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There have been a lot of comments (both good and bad) about the products in Lionel's 2018 V2 catalog. But, has anyone noticed that for the first time in a very long time, the product numbering system has changed?

The first two digits are the year of introduction. So, when you see a lot of 19's, you can guess when you'll see these products.

The next two digits are the marketing category. For example, to name a few random ones: 25 is track, 26 is O scale rolling stock, 28 is O traditional rolling stock, 29 is operating accessories, 31 is scale steam locomotives, 35 is motorized units, 38 is US made, 42 is Lionscale, etc.

The last 3 numbers are basically sequential numbers which represent different unique road numbers/names.

Think about this product number inflation in terms of a mundane die cast bumper. In the 1940's it was a No. 26. In the 1950's it became a No. 260. By the 1970's, MPC made those same bumpers a No. 6-2283. Not to be outdone, LTI threw in another digit, and made the same product a No. 6-62283.  But six digits was apparently insufficient to describe the lowly No. 26 bumper, so now we have seven digits, should they ever choose to make them again.

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The method to the numbering seems like a good plan, even if different than what we are used to.

I think the previous point where things became much too random was when they started with anything other than a "1" in the 5th digit.  i.e., when 12xxx used to always mean accessory, 11xxx used to mostly mean a set, etc.  Once we started with 22xxx, 38xxx, etc (and even some leading with a "1", like 14xxx), it became much more random.

If something is purely identical, it would seem silly to renumber it just for the year.  So I'm guessing the bumper example cited above will not result in a 19aabbb number for next years catalog, and then a 20aabbb number if/when cataloged in 2020.  (at least I hope not!)

Actually, to the point of a lot (all?  I didn't review to check) of the 2018 vol 2 items starting with a 19, that seems wrong to me, but it is what it is.  I would have stuck with catalog year vs. intended production year.  We all know the actual production schedule can evolve over time, so putting stuff in a catalog called 2018 V2 and starting the numbers with 19 doesn't make any sense at all to me.

So is it a positive or a negative that this scheme only allows Lionel to come up with 1000 unique items in each category for a given year?

-Dave

Last edited by Dave45681

Lionel's uninformative - to civilians - item number system has been an irritant to many for a long time; maybe forever. To those of us who are former catalogue junkies, and Hi-railers since dirt, it has not been a real problem, but to the newbies and those who have a real but more casual "internal data base" the numbers are no help.

Of course, "unlike MTH's system" is the next phrase, and rightly so - until you bring up 30- that can mean RK or RK Scale...still a better system, though.

Lionel's new system, if it is indeed going to be informative, does seem like a very belated change, and no real good to me at this stage.

GregR posted:

 

The first two digits are the year of introduction. So, when you see a lot of 19's, you can guess when you'll see these products.

The next two digits are the marketing category. For example, to name a few random ones: 25 is track, 26 is O scale rolling stock, 28 is O traditional rolling stock, 29 is operating accessories, 31 is scale steam locomotives, 35 is motorized units, 38 is US made, 42 is Lionscale, etc.

The last 3 numbers are basically sequential numbers which represent different unique road numbers/names.

do you have a complete list?

bigdodgetrain posted:
GregR posted:

 

The first two digits are the year of introduction. So, when you see a lot of 19's, you can guess when you'll see these products.

The next two digits are the marketing category. For example, to name a few random ones: 25 is track, 26 is O scale rolling stock, 28 is O traditional rolling stock, 29 is operating accessories, 31 is scale steam locomotives, 35 is motorized units, 38 is US made, 42 is Lionscale, etc.

The last 3 numbers are basically sequential numbers which represent different unique road numbers/names.

do you have a complete list?

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Interesting list.

Off the top of my head, the only part that makes me pause is the 2 single digit examples at the top (so those will only be 6 digit numbers, presumably), and the lump of "US Made" as a category.  So far all US made items have been traditional (non-scale) rolling stock, right?  (maybe I missed an example of otherwise, but that seems to be the general idea).  Oh, and "Miscellany". 

I wonder which category is club issued items?  Miscellany, General Exclusives, or just lump them in with whatever category they fit?

With some categories possibly overlapping, this could become meaningless after a while, but I guess we will see.

-Dave

Dave45681 posted:

Interesting list.

Off the top of my head, the only part that makes me pause is the 2 single digit examples at the top (so those will only be 6 digit numbers, presumably), and the lump of "US Made" as a category.  So far all US made items have been traditional (non-scale) rolling stock, right?  (maybe I missed an example of otherwise, but that seems to be the general idea).  Oh, and "Miscellany". 

I wonder which category is club issued items?  Miscellany, General Exclusives, or just lump them in with whatever category they fit?

With some categories possibly overlapping, this could become meaningless after a while, but I guess we will see.

-Dave

The first 2 categories on the list will not be 6 digit numbers.  There's a leading zero, as in 01 and 07.  Look at the SKU's on these items:

http://metca.org/Flyers/METCA%...der%20Form%20WEB.pdf

Club issues are in category 01, Exclusives.

Stu

NOT LionelLLC posted:

The first 2 categories on the list will not be 6 digit numbers.  There's a leading zero, as in 01 and 07.  Look at the SKU's on these items:

http://metca.org/Flyers/METCA%...der%20Form%20WEB.pdf

Club issues are in category 01, Exclusives.

Stu

Thanks, that does make more sense with the leading 0's

Are the 2 METCA cars sort of a new/old hybrid in terms of the numbering scheme though? 

Starting out with a 48 as seen on the order form and then following with the seven digits following the above seems a bit odd (at least with the format as described within this thread).

-Dave

Lionel's uninformative - to civilians - item number system has been an irritant to many for a long time; maybe forever. To those of us who are former catalogue junkies, and Hi-railers since dirt, it has not been a real problem, but to the newbies and those who have a real but more casual "internal data base" the numbers are no help.

I agree it is helpful to understand Lionel's numbering system. But there is good reason for Lionel to keep it to themselves, at least officially. Were Lionel to publish it's numbering system, then their ability to modify as needed would be severely impacted. They'd be bound to announce changes, and then listen to the cries of people who think it shouldn't be changed.

Plus, how many of the posts here are critiquing / criticizing the scheme?
I am certain the folks at Lionel put plenty of thought into it.

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