Skip to main content

There are multiple sites I shop on a regular basis looking for tinplate trans. I have noticed that things that have sat on shelves for years our now being sold out. For example, Western Depot had multiple items from the Tinplate Traditions catalog in 2007 before this Covid thing started. Now most of the Proto 2 engines are gone.

One of my favorite shops is Side Track Hobbies. What was 23 pages of MTH/Lionel tinplate is down to 16. This stuff is selling.

One of the thing that surprised me is the current MTH going out of business auction.  A yellow 3236 MTH/Ives locomotive is now going for almost $700.00 and the passenger cars are over $600.00. They couldn't give those 10 years ago. 

Are more people buying more tinplate? Is this a result of panic buying from the same old customers? Either way it is getting harder to find.

Scott Smith

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Scott

I think they see the writing on the wall.  If they want MTH Tinplate they need to buy it.  When MTH stopped making it, before the retirement announcement, I would always hear guys talking about MTH will make it again eventually.  Well now no one will be.  I don't see Lionel making any tinplate.  Unless someone buys the MTH tooling I think we've seen the last of new tinplate, unfortunately.  The secondary market though will always be there.

I am lucky that I was very selective on what I wanted and I got some nice pieces that make me happy.

Interesting you should mention this.  I had an mth 260e on the for sale board for months that just moved this week.   It does seem to be the new stuff moving though.  One of the recent Stouts Auctions did not bring some of the usual sky high prices.   Then again, they had 3 auctions in a row and the first mth auction is coming up at Cabin Fever.   The CF auction is still over a week away and some of the tinplate rolling stock has been bid up to near full retail,  and that doesn't include fees.

Lionel has a new line of Standard Gauge Trains that will run on 2 inch plastic or metal 2 or 3 rail track.

They call them Ready-to-Play trains sets.

They replaced the older G size sets and added new styles.

They are very cheap about $100 list and $50 + shipping from online sellers.

I brought one set for $45 to see if I can get it to run on powered standard gauge track by adding pickup rollers and electronics to convert to 9 volts dc.

They come stock as  "dead" rail with 6 C cells in loco for weight and power with a remote-control controller.

A UK garden mag has a article on how to covert them to G gauge track, but it is a lot of work.not G potter hogswarts train

Attachments

Images (1)
  • not G potter hogswarts train

I think Standard gauge has always had a universal attraction to people. If you have a specific gauge you tend to model in and a limited train budget as most of us do, scratching the Standard Gauge Itch is an "on the back burner", "someday" ideal.

But with no crystal ball to predict when or IF  a new manufacturer of Standard Gauge will appear, some are scratching their itch now. 

Not having an  MTH successor leaves a huge competitive void in several scales. And all those $$ now available for other endeavors. (like Tinplate).

One could almost speculate that Mikes' decision to "sell the business" is a part of his on going legacy to create even more Interest and demand in our hobby!

Thank you Mike Wolf for promoting and giving others the opportunity to collect and enjoy the toys of a bygone era...today, and probably another 100 years.

Last edited by justakid
@eddie g posted:

Be careful, Lionel may be making all those tinplate trains that MTH made.

Don't we wish. Lionel doesn't get it. They don't understand tinplate. There are unwritten rules to tinplate.

1) Color Counts and not prototypical colors, the more beautiful the better.

2)Toy like appearance is a selling point.

3) There are some purest that want original open frame motors and limited to no sounds, these people are a loud minority of customers buying tinplate today. Most of them won't buy the product anyway since they are not originals. Most people buying modern tinplate are operators. A friend of mine that collects European Tinplate, his collection and layout were in a TM video a few years back. "Most of my friends would cringe seeing you operate your trains instead of just displaying them."
4)Tinplate Operators generally like sounds and smoke. This actually adds to the toy like appearance. Mike Wolf was not in favor in offering tinplate with sounds and command but one of his employees talked him into trying it and the sales took off.

Let's  look at Lionel's last tinplate offerings.
On the O-Scale side they offered a Flying Yankee and a small steamer set. The flying Yankee set was 100% traditional and so was the small steam set. The steam set had no smoke and had flat paint (see rule #1). Stores still have these for sale.

The standard gauge offerings. The Hiawatha and the Commodore Vanderbilt. Both were fine looking sets however;

*They were built to look like scale trains (see rule #2)

*The Vanderbilt was painted a prototypical drab dark gray color like the real locomotive. (See Rule #1)

*They had open frame motors without any cruise control; mine had one speed-fast. It always seemed as it was going to run right off my elevated track.

If Lionel would have offered the Vanderbilts in different colors (like red, blue streak), they would have sold out rather than being forced to blow them out at a loss.

Scott Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott, 

I have noticed this reduction as well. Especially with Side Track hobbies. I believe some of the Std rolling Stock is flying off the shelves, due to it coming to an end and Lionel never putting advertising on their rolling stock. This is one thing I have loved as Mike Wolf always did an awesome job of this. 

Not long ago, I purchased a 500 and 200 series boxcars from Sidetrack for well under $100. In the past month, those same cars on that famous aution site went for $200+. Another 200 series car was over $500.

It is sad and depressing as Mike wolf has spoiled us all with what he was able to create over the years, especially with sound and smoke.

The originals and repros will always have their followers in the industry. No one choice is either right or wrong. It is just what a person likes.

I do not believe Lionel care or has any interest in the tinplate market. They know we are a select few, and let's face it, Mike Wolf tried to keep it affordable. You know that if Lionel did make it the 400E, they would scrap DCS, add legacy, and put a $2,200 price tag on it. Well? That leaves me out, as that is out of wallet range. So, I would get it all while you can, and expect to pay over retail.

Joe Gozzo

Over the last two decades, I have had quite a few MTH sound/smoke standard gauge locos, including the Blue Comet. Eventually tired of the sounds and TOO much smoke for my small spare bedroom! Now running exclusively traditional BAL powered locos and enjoying them more than the DCS engines. I also had and very much enjoyed both the Lionel Hiawatha and Commodore SG sets. 

Last edited by Tinplate Art

Those looking for original Standard Gauge locomotives and passenger cars should contact Waterman and have him build some custom locomotives and cars for you.  I did and I couldn't be more pleased with the results.  Below is a photo of craftsman Jim Waterman standing next to a custom-made Standard Gauge Milwaukee Road mallet locomotive he made for me followed by a second photo of the spectacular Standard Gauge Milwaukee Road Olympian Hiawatha Skytop observation car he also built for me.  The latter is one of 10 Olympian Hiawatha cars he built using the original blue prints I obtained from the Milwaukee Public Library, which is the repository for all Milwaukee Road records.  Not cheap, but well worth the cost.,

Bob Nelson Mallet and me 090320 

Waterman cars 

Looking forward to the day when I can run both on a SGMA layout!

Bob Nelson

Attachments

Images (2)
  • Bob Nelson Mallet and me 090320
  • Waterman cars
Last edited by navy.seal
@navy.seal posted:

Those looking for original Standard Gauge locomotives and passenger cars should contact Waterman and have him build some custom locomotives and cars for you.  I did and I couldn't be more pleased with the results.  Below is a photo of craftsman Bill Waterman standing next to a custom-made Standard Gauge Milwaukee Road mallet locomotive he made for me followed by a second photo of the spectacular Standard Gauge Milwaukee Road Olympian Hiawatha Skytop observation car he also built for me.  The latter is one of 10 Olympian Hiawatha cars he built using the original blue prints I obtained from the Milwaukee Public Library, which is the repository for all Milwaukee Road records.  Not cheap, but well worth the cost.,

Bob Nelson Mallet and me 090320 

Waterman cars 

Looking forward to the day when I can run both on a SGMA layout!

Bob Nelson

I have 3 of Jim's custom sets, plus a 4th in work. Unfortunately most people, especially those still raising their kids cannot justify the price. Until my kids were all gone on their own and doing well, I never even owned a new car, let alone expensive toys. 

Steve

Here's a photo of my O gauge tinplate that has just recently been moved from our former home to the storage side of our new condo's basement. We are still in the process of moving, so not everything is here yet. The finishing of the office/lounge/train layout side of the basement was just completed last week, and at some point in the near future I will start work on the layout area. I am planning to use Mianne benchwork because I have used it in the past and already have a whole lot of it on hand. The O gauge tinplate WILL have some layout space somewhere in the room because I love that stuff. IMG-1439

Attachments

Images (1)
  • IMG-1439

Here's a photo of my O gauge tinplate that has just recently been moved from our former home to the storage side of our new condo's basement. We are still in the process of moving, so not everything is here yet. The finishing of the office/lounge/train layout side of the basement was just completed last week, and at some point in the near future I will start work on the layout area. I am planning to use Mianne benchwork because I have used it in the past and already have a whole lot of it on hand. The O gauge tinplate WILL have some layout space somewhere in the room because I love that stuff. IMG-1439

Looks like amateur hour to me!  

MTH literally produced TONS of very fine repro tinplate products including the Lionel Classics, Tinplate Traditions and the LCT product lines. There will be PLENTY of these products entering the marketplace due to natural attrition and other factors in the coming years! There is no reason to think there will be a shortage of product at this time or that we should engage in "panic" buying!

Last edited by Tinplate Art

My predictions:

MTH sales of Tinplate dropped off sharply over the last few years he had the Lionel Corporation trademark. Before the closing announcement, Mike himself told me that if they ever made any more tinplate it would be limited and driven purely by demand .At that time one of his officers said 'nothing for at least 5 years.'

But there has been a mountain of trains built by Mike since Williams started to make the 381E, 408E, 9E and passenger cars. Mike bought out that tooling when he was still a teenager, so some of this stuff has been in production continuously since the late 1970's. I suspect that there are more MTH/Lionel Classics trains out there than surviving prewar examples of the same trains.

Mike gets the credit for having the zeal to eventually produce almost every classic era Lionel standard gauge piece and most of the Ives/AF and some Dorfan items after about 1925, plus all those accessories.

At the last York meet I attended, the average age of the participants was about 70 (and that was a year ago). So although there is no new production (and don't expect Lionel to ever do standard gauge again), there is a LOT of trains out there that will hit the market over the next 10 years. For every 2 seniors departing the hobby, I see maybe 1 replacing them, so lots of trains, less buyers, lots of stuff coming back on the market, and most of it still in boxes.

There is an auction now almost every week (and through the summer too), with at least some tinplate and standard gauge in it.

With the end of MTH production, I believe there short term price increases, but I expect that in a couple of years, there will be more with less buyers. Precious few of these items will have 'lionel type' collector value and may appreciate a little, but for those of use still buying, it will be a great time to pick up trains at fabulous prices.

I could be wrong, but this trend started before MTH ended the 'Lionel Corporation' deal.

Jim Waterman

My predictions:

MTH sales of Tinplate dropped off sharply over the last few years he had the Lionel Corporation trademark. Before the closing announcement, Mike himself told me that if they ever made any more tinplate it would be limited and driven purely by demand .At that time one of his officers said 'nothing for at least 5 years.'

But there has been a mountain of trains built by Mike since Williams started to make the 381E, 408E, 9E and passenger cars. Mike bought out that tooling when he was still a teenager, so some of this stuff has been in production continuously since the late 1970's. I suspect that there are more MTH/Lionel Classics trains out there than surviving prewar examples of the same trains.

Mike gets the credit for having the zeal to eventually produce almost every classic era Lionel standard gauge piece and most of the Ives/AF and some Dorfan items after about 1925, plus all those accessories.

At the last York meet I attended, the average age of the participants was about 70 (and that was a year ago). So although there is no new production (and don't expect Lionel to ever do standard gauge again), there is a LOT of trains out there that will hit the market over the next 10 years. For every 2 seniors departing the hobby, I see maybe 1 replacing them, so lots of trains, less buyers, lots of stuff coming back on the market, and most of it still in boxes.

There is an auction now almost every week (and through the summer too), with at least some tinplate and standard gauge in it.

With the end of MTH production, I believe there short term price increases, but I expect that in a couple of years, there will be more with less buyers. Precious few of these items will have 'lionel type' collector value and may appreciate a little, but for those of use still buying, it will be a great time to pick up trains at fabulous prices.

I could be wrong, but this trend started before MTH ended the 'Lionel Corporation' deal.

Jim Waterman

Thanks for adding to this thread Jim.

Joe Gozzo

Add Reply

Post
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×