Model Train Manufacturers

The following is a list of model train manufacturers that made model trains that are typically considered to be collectable today:

 

 

 


 

American Flyer - American 1910-1966

Bassett-Lowke - England 1898-1964

Bing - Bing's first trains hit the market in the 1880s. When Märklin formalized several standards for track gauges in 1891, Bing adopted them, and added O gauge by 1895 and gauge III (2.5 inches), causing confusion as Marklin Gauge III became Bing gauge IV (3 inches). In the early 1920s, under the auspices of Bassett-Lowke, Bing introduced a still-smaller gauge, half that of '0' at 0.625 inch, which it called OO. However, Bing's OO gauge at 4 mm scale became a British standard, larger than the 3.5 mm scale on the same gauge of track favoured elsewhere.

Bing produced numerous items for export which were then sold either under its own name or for other companies. Bing produced trains styled for the British market for Bassett-Lowke and A. W. Gamage, and it produced trains for the North American market, which it exported and marketed on its own. Early in the 20th century, Bing jockeyed for market share with the Ives Manufacturing Company, who did not surpass Bing in sales for good until 1910. Throughout their histories, the two companies would frequently copy one another's designs. In some instances, the two companies even used the same catalog number on their competing products. Due to cheap German labor and low shipping and duty costs, Bing was often able to undercut the prices of its U.S. competitors. By 1914, Bing had 5,000 employees. By comparison, Märklin employed 600.

Boucher - The Boucher Manufacturing Company was an American toy company that specialized in toy boats and toy trains. It is best remembered today as the last manufacturer of Standard Gauge/Wide gauge toy trains until the much smaller McCoy Manufacturing revived the old standard in the mid-1960s.

Boucher entered the toy train business in 1922 with its purchase of the Voltamp line of trains. Voltamp had been a direct competitor to Carlisle & Finch, the inventor of the electric toy train. Boucher modified the Voltamp trains from Carlisle & Finch's 2-inch (51 mm) gauge to match Lionel Corporation's 2 1/8 in (53.975 mm) Standard gauge. The Voltamp/Boucher offerings were highly accurate and detailed and occupied the premium end of the market.

For the duration of Boucher's life the market was dominated by the so-called "Big Four" of Lionel, Ives, Dorfan, and American Flyer. Like all of them, Boucher struggled through the Great Depression, and while it outlived all but Lionel, by 1940 the 2 1/8-inch Standard gauge had become an orphan standard that was priced beyond the means of most consumers. Without a smaller, more affordable product to sell, and with World War II limiting what it could produce, Boucher went out of business in 1943.

Buddy L - Buddy "L" toys were originally manufactured by the Moline Pressed Steel Company, started by Fred A. Lundahl in 1910.  The company originally manufactured automobile fenders and other stamped auto body parts for the automobile industry. The company primarily supplied parts for the McCormack-Deering line of farm implements and the International Harvester Company for its trucks. Moline Pressed Steel did not begin manufacturing toys until 1921. Mr. Lundhal wanted to make something new, different, and durable for his son Arthur. He designed and produced an all-steel miniature truck, reportedly a model of an International Harvester truck made from 18- and 20-gauge steel which had been discarded to the company's scrap pile.

Buddy Lmade such products as toy cars, dump trucks, delivery vans, fire engines, construction equipment, and trains.  Fred Lundahl used to manufacture for International Harvester trucks.  He started by making a toy dump truck out of steel scraps for his son Buddy. Soon after, he started selling Buddy L "toys for boys", made of pressed steel.  Many were large enough for a child to straddle, propelling himself with his feet.  Others were pull toys. A pioneer in the steel-toy field, Lundahl persuaded Marshall Field's and F. A. O. Schwarz to carry his line. He did very well until the Depression, then sold the company.

Bub - Germany 1851-1960

Carette - American 1886-1917

Carlisle & Finch - American 1894-1917

Dorfan - American 1924-1934

Fandor - Germany 1910-1936

Hafner - American 1901-1956

Hornby -  Hornby is a UK toy company founded in 1901. Hornby actually started their company manufacturing Meccano construction sets. Meccano sets contained a number of metal plates, nuts and bolts from which someone could build houses, cars and the like. Hornby introduced its first train in 1920. It was O gauge and clockwork meaning it was powered by winding up the motor with a key. Their first electric model appeared in 1925, incredibly powered by 240 volts AC! Lower voltage models appeared in the early 1930s. Hornby introduced OO gauge trains under the name of Hornby-Dublo on 1938.

Ives - American  1868-1932

Hoge - American

Lima - Italy 1950-2004

Lionel - American 1900-Present day

Marklin - Märklin is a German toy company founded in 1859.  You often will see the name spelled MÄRKLIN or MAERKLIN and for those of us in Canada, just Marklin. Märklin produced its first wind-up model train in 1891.  Märklin is also responsible for the creation of several of the popular model train gauges that are considered "standards" today.  Märklin started O gauge in 1895, HO in 1935 and the diminutive Z scale in 1972.

Marx - American 1919-1972

MTH

Rivarossi - Italy 1945-1985

Schöenner - Germany 1875-1912


Trix - Trix is a German company that originally made Trix metal construction sets. In 1935 it began producing the electrically powered model trains that it became famous for, under the Trix Express label. Prior to the outbreak of World War II the Trix company produced a small range of fairly unrealistic AC powered three rail models running at 14 volts.

Voltamp - American 1903-1922
An early American manufacturer of toy trains based in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded by Manes Fuld (1863-1929), the son of a Baltimore stove dealer, Voltamp's trains utilized the same 2-inch gauge metal track as Carlisle & Finch, the inventor of the electric toy train. It is significant for its 1907 release of the first electric toy train that operated on household alternating current; earlier electric trains had used battery power. Voltamp released its first toy train product in 1903.

Although Voltamp outlasted Carlisle & Finch, its primary competitor, both companies were eclipsed in the marketplace by the Ives Manufacturing Company and Lionel Corporation, and Voltamp exited the market in 1922, selling its line to Boucher.