Collecting Early MPC Lionel
By Mike Stella
The first few years of Lionel production under the MPC flag are interesting and fun to collect. Items can still be found that are new or very close to new and the prices have never increased much beyond what they were 38 years ago!
I started buying MPC in 1970 and remember how much of the Lionel collecting community looked forward to new catalogs and new releases from Michigan. How things have changed in the 38 years since 1970, but the trains are still great and I have actually sensed a growing interest in collecting many of the earliest items.
Back in 1971, I was a young sailor assigned to a BIG ship that had all the comforts of a small city including a “hobby shop”. One day I asked the person running the shop if any Lionel trains could be had? He returned from a restocking run one day with a Lionel #8111 DT&I switcher marked at the whopping price of $12! It turned out to be the only item I ever purchased for my train collection (just getting started in 1971) on board my ship, but I am willing to bet that it is pretty unique to have anything made by Lionel that was purchased from a U.S. Naval vessel! I treasure it along with the Lionel trains that made a cruise to the Gulf of Tonkin one year.
When I wrote the article on Illinois Central trains a few weeks ago I didn’t have available the boxed GP I had in storage but I dug it out to be a part of this article, as it too, is from the very first years of Lionel MPC production.
I think the box is much hardeR to locate 38 years later then the locomotive inside.
The #8031 CN GP also comes in this style box which is very compact, protects the locomotive just fine, and takes a lot less room to store.
I hate the new “China” boxes that are way too large. I tend to list them for sale on the Internet and then toss them if they do not sell.
I hope some of you continue to be interested in the MPC era, but not too many as I really enjoy buying these terrific trains at bargain prices.
Happy collecting AND operating.