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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.

How about this theory....There are 12 numbers in the UPC bar code on a Lionel box. The 6 means the first 6 digits which is the manufacturer which is always the same. The next 5 are the 5 digits of the product number and the 12th digit could represent some unknown item like production run or if the item has a different number car numbers???

What makes the new system more complex is that the car or engine number is not printed on the side of the car like in pre and postwar so moving to a UPC based system makes sense,

Edmund Schwartzel 060518 posted:

How about this theory....There are 12 numbers in the UPC bar code on a Lionel box. The 6 means the first 6 digits which is the manufacturer which is always the same. The next 5 are the 5 digits of the product number and the 12th digit could represent some unknown item like production run or if the item has a different number car numbers???

What makes the new system more complex is that the car or engine number is not printed on the side of the car like in pre and postwar so moving to a UPC based system makes sense,

The 12th digit in the bar code is just whats called a check digit, based on formula of the first 11 digits.  Whats strange with the barcodes is Lionel in the beginning simply used the 5 digits in the SKU as part of the barcode. For example, item 16200 would have a barcode like 02392216200x where X  is the check digit. This system was in place for quite a long time, then a few years back the 5 digits in the code became no longer related to the SKU number.  Makes it more difficult for scanning barcodes, as you need a master list to correlate the bar code to the SKU.

To further confuse matters, some of the new 7 digit PN barcodes simply show the last 5 digits of the SKU.  Which means for a new item for example 1919200 the bar code label would look like 02392219200X , which was a barcode label number already used for item 6-19200.  Possibility exist for the same barcode label tied to 2 different SKUs. Seems very confusing to say the least.

I've seen the various posts that give "Marketing Categories" for digits 3 & 4 of the new numbering system.  But Lionel doesn't seem to be using the 87- (HO) or 48- (O & S) prefixes -- meaning marketing categories for the two groups overlap on the posted lists.

I've created the list below of my 'best guesses' for the new Lionel 7-digit marketing categories.  I've also added a few of the pre-2018 6- 7- etc. numbers that seem to -- maybe -- have a specific meaning.

I've enclosed my list.  If anyone has more or better info - on either the old or new numbering systems -- could you please share?  I'd love to have a more complete idea of what info can be extracted from Lionel Catalog numbers...

My best,

Jeff

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No need to guess. It was previously posted above, prior to new HO line. Again, here is how the numbering system works:

Lionel new seven-digit numbering system

Effective in 2019

 

-First two digits are the year of introduction.

-Next two digits are the primary marketing category. (For example, 26 is for full O scale rolling stock, 28 is for O traditional rolling stock, 31 is for full O scale steam locomotives, 32 is for O non-scale steam locomotives, 33 is for scale diesels, and 34 is for non-scale diesels. See image below for full list of other categories.)

-Last three numbers are the product stock number, which differentiates items that share the same first four numbers. (Road numbers are also included as separate stock items.)

 

Take, for instance, Lionel no. 2031261. That’s the excursion version of the Big Boy. It’s a 2020 introduction (thus “20” is the first two digits). It’s a properly proportioned O scale model (thus the “31” in the next two digits) and is stock no. 261.

 

Lionel no. 1932040 is Pere Marquette Berkshire #1225. It’s the LionChief Plus 2.0 version of the Polar Express Berkshire that has been included in trainsets for more than 15 years. It’s a 2019 introduction (19), is traditional sized (32) and carries a no. 040 stock number.

 

Lionel no. 1933151 or 1933152 (Wisconsin & Southern SD40-2 #4001 or #4003) is a 2019 introduction (19),  full O scale diesel (33), with two different road numbers (stock no. 151 or 152).

 

Here’s a chart we have been sharing on the forum indicating the product coding for the two digits that follow the year.

 

 

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Yes, I saw that post, and those numbers work for O and S gauge.  But since Lionel isn't using the 48- prefix for O and S, and the 87-prefix for HO, the HO Marketing Categories and O Marketing categories conflict with each other,  For instance xx22xxx is "O Gauge High-End Sets" in the 48-prefix list, but xx22xxx is "Steam - Mid Range" in the 87-prefix list.  It appears when Lionel decided not to use the 48- and 87- prefixes, they had to revamp the 7-digit system (at least for HO) and assign different Marketing Category digits for those.  

Of course, I'm also hoping someone knows of additional pre-2018 6- 7- and 8- numbers that have a specific meaning (rather than being random).  I've listed a few on the spreadsheet that seem to qualfy -- but I don't know if they'r accurate or not.

Let me tell you about my problem...

A neighbor has some Lionel and MTH trains for sale due to a move.  I told her I would research and give her some recommendations re a price range for each item.  I dutifully wrote the number ON EACH CARTON/BOX, and told her I would get back to her with a "current market price" for each item.  I am  a TCA member, and thought I would look in a few of the more recent TCA catalogs to see what prices these TCA members were asking.

I found all of the MTH items, including those beginning with Cat. Nos. 20- and 30-.

I did not find any of the Lionel items, and the TCA for sale listings used a Lionel ID that was different than the ID on the Lionel boxes.  Rather than trying to contact TCA, I just told her I could not offer advice on the Lionel items.....

I guess the question I would ask Lionel (if I cared) is whether this new catalog number system benefits them or us???

@Hudson5432, You got the right numbers - the methodology is a little off.... Generally, your numbers are correct, but the TCA listings in the Modern Lionel 1970-Present category of the interchange generally omits the "6-" prefix. (the 8- prefix is for large scale trains). As such, with your limited set of items, it is not hard and fast that the interchange would have a record. Your best bet it to look at soled eBay listings using the Lionel numbers as a starting point.

( NOTE:  links to ebay were removed per our TOS!)

Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER
@Hudson5432 posted:

I am a TCA member and looked in several of their previous issues, but did find eBay listings much more informative re prices posted.  I know that TCA is Lionel focused, but must assume I never learned "the secret TCA handshake...."

The TCA pub lists the entire MTH catalog numbers.  Why don't they also list Lionel's?

If you mean the Buy and Sell list in the Headquarters News or the on-line equivalent (I don't know what else you might mean by "a few TCA catalogs" since the TCA doesn't put out "catalogs"), those numbers are filled out by the members themselves.  It's not like someone at TCA reviews the content and confirms everything is accurate in terms of matching the number to the item description.  (I've seen plenty over the years that just end up in the "Miscellaneous" section even though they are a very common item, and they may even have the item number in the description.)

As to why the "entire" number is or is not used:

1) since very early in MTH history, 20-# has meant Premier line and 30-# has meant Railking line.  Since that's an important identifier, you really can't leave off the 20- or 30- if you want people to know for sure what you mean.  I don't have examples, but I am pretty sure there would be a lot of overlap if you searched for things without the 20- or 30-.

2) For almost 50 years (until the change that drove the topic of this thread 2 years ago), nearly every item Lionel made in O Gauge technically started with "6-".  Most things that did not were either other scale or maybe promotional items (Christmas ornaments, etc).  With pretty much every item starting with 6-, it became very common to just list whatever was after the 6-, and people would know what you meant (the 6- added no useful information for 99.99% of the items).  They are also listed in price guides without the "6-".

-Dave

 

Last edited by Dave45681

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