model train set on track

“Derailed”-Catalogued but never produced

e*Train Issue: Dec 2013   |   Posted in: ,

By Ed Howanice
Winter 2013

1970: Set 1086 – The Mountaineer
Certainly one of the most ambitious sets in the 1970 catalog, this set as well as its separate sale engine (8062) never made it to production.  In addition the Trailer Train flatcar with trailers, L & N log dump as well as the Great Northern N5c caboose from this set were not produced.

Interestingly, the Trailer Train flatcar with trailers was shown as separate sale item 9120, however item 9210 was produced as a Northern Pacific flatcar with trailers.  While the exact reason the set wasn’t made may not be known, one theory is the engine was simply too complicated  to get into the busy production schedule, as certainly  in 1970 Lionel-MPC was scrambling to get production set up in Mt Clemens and the remainder of the line done in time for the 1970 holiday season. Or perhaps it was just wishful thinking when planning the set for the 1970 line.  It’s unfortunate this set wasn’t made, as the 665 type steam loco was certainly more impressive than the typical 2-4-2 locos offered by Lionel in 1970. It would have also been the first MPC steam engine with a whistle; however the whistle would have to wait until 1972.

1970: Set 1087 – Midnight Express
With an Illinois Central powered GP-9 and matching GP-9 dummy, long string of cars and large layout, this would have been the top of the line set for 1970.   Although this set was never made, the Illinois Central powered GP-9, 9130 B & O hopper, 9203 UP boxcar and 9160 Illinois Central N5c caboose were manufactured.  The GP-9 dummy was listed as item 8031 in the catalog, however this item wasn’t made until 1972, and at that point a new item number (8254) was assigned to it.  The 8031 number wound up being used for a CN GP-7 which was uncataloged in 1971.  The same Trailer Train flatcar with trailers and L & N log dump car as shown in set 1086 were not produced.  Without a doubt, the most unusual piece of rolling stock in the set was the Penn Central satellite car, but this item never made it to production.  Unfortunately collectors of the Lionel military items would have to wait over 30 years for Lionel to resurrect the satellite car.

1979: Set 1964 – Radio Control Express
Only shown in the 1979 Fundimensions Product Line Catalog, or commonly called the Toy Fair catalog, this starter set certainly is one the most unusual sets designed by Lionel. With its plastic two rail track, battery powered engine and remote control transmitter it had very little in common with traditional Lionel train sets.  Whereas the engine and rolling stock were all small sized 027 pieces, this set featured wide radius curves.  The catalog specified the set as being six units: engine, tender, boxcar, gondola, dump car and caboose, but yet the catalog photo shows an additional boxcar for a total of seven pieces.  Without a doubt, set this set falls into the “What on Earth were they thinking” category.


1980: Set 1051 – Texas and Pacific Diesel
Advertised in the 1980 catalog as a “bright and colorful 7 unit set dominated by an Alco diesel…” this sharp looking set didn’t make it into production.  Certainly the Alco diesel did feature an attractive paint scheme; it’s hard not to notice similarities between this engine and what would later appear in the 1982 Quicksilver Express.

Regarding the set number, it does not appear in the 1980 consumer catalog, it does however appear in the 1980 Advance catalog along with an August 1980 ship date.

The Lionel derrick crane shown in the set would have been the first reissue of the derrick car by modern era Lionel, however collectors would have to wait one more year for the car, as it appeared in the 1981 Reading Yard King set.
Had the set been produced, the Missouri Pacific boxcar as well as the Texas and Pacific SP type caboose would have been unique to this set.

1992: Set 11729 L & N Express
Initially shown in the 1992 Book 2 catalog as a ready to run 7-unit diesel freight featuring an L&N GP-38-2 locomotive, the boxed set didn’t make it into production.

On the back cover of the 1992 Stocking Stuffers catalog, the components were now offered as separate sale items. However there one was one major difference, the bright yellow SCL/L & N standard O caboose was replaced by a traditional size L&N bay window caboose.  Also the truck tractor unit was not available.  Purchasers of the L & N diesel loco were also in for a surprise (myself included) as the locomotive was not made with the grey color frame as shown in both catalogs; it was manufactured with a less attractive black frame.

1996: Set 1464RS – Rock Island Rocket
Advertised in the 1996 Lionel Corporation catalog as “On the Lionel Horizon”, a formal Lionel item number is not listed, it’s simply referred to as set 1464RS.  Heading the set was a black and red Alco FA diesel following by three 027 style passenger cars: a combination, coach and observation.  Apparently the idea behind the set was to include deluxe features such as Pullmor motor, TMCC, Railsounds and a Scout CAB remote unit in a starter set, almost like TMCC lite.  It’s not clear why this set or the Scout CAB remote never made it to production, perhaps the high end features wound up being just too expensive for the intended price range.

1996: Set 2177RS
Another item listed as “On the Lionel Horizon”, no specific name or item number was given to the set, it was simply referred to as set 2177RS.  The set was advertised with a 2980 GE AC 4400 diesel locomotive and dual 9875 double stack cars.  The catalog describes the AC4400 as follows: “Our 2980 takes Lionel in a new direction: big, modern motive power in a big, hi-rail proportioned package”. The artwork for the set is rather vague, showing a dark color locomotive with red nose and SP logo on the front, no graphics are shown on the side of the locomotive or on the double-stack cars.

1999: Set 21920 Amtrak Talgo
Advertised as “Our Evolutionary New Passenger Train Set” in the 1999 Volume 1 catalog, no other information was provided describing the set contents or features.

It’s unfortunate this set never made it to production, as the sleek looking locomotive and matching passenger cars would have made for an attractive looking set.  A mockup of the set was shown at the 1999 Toy Fair along with proposed artwork for the box design.

2000: Set 31900 Mickey’s Millennium Express
Advertised only through the Disney gift catalog, this six unit steam freight set was intended to showcase Lionel’s 100th anniversary with a Disney theme.  A companion 3444 Pluto and “pesky” cat animated gondola was also shown in the Disney catalog, this item was also never made.  Interestingly enough, the catalog describes the Pluto car as a “Pennsy flatcar with gondola” when clearly it’s a 3444 style animated gondola.  Compared with other Lionel Disney offerings, the set had a less colorful appearance perhaps that may be the reason it didn’t make it to production.  {Editor’s note:  The animated gondola appears to be going in a counter-clockwise direction which is the opposite of the usual 3444 going in a clockwise direction.}

2008: Set 31765 #11268 C & O Diesel Freight
This action packed Postwar Celebration Series set was a remake of a 1962 space & military theme Lionel set.  With its bright blue & yellow C&O GP-9, and action cars including a helicopter reconnaissance car, aerial target car and missile firing car its surprising this set didn’t make it into production. One item that may have contributed to the set being canceled is the lack of a TMCC equipped locomotive, as virtually all the Postwar Celebration Series engines featured TMCC.

2009: Set 31789 CSX Trackside Work Set
Cataloged in the 2009 Volume 2 catalog, this colorful seven unit set was intended to represent a CSX work train with rolling stock decorated in road names of CSX predecessors.  The CSX 44 ton switcher locomotive was cataloged with deluxe features such as Pullmor motor, magne-traction and metal handrails.  This configuration would have been the first time modern era Lionel ever made the 44 ton loco with these deluxe features, as all previous versions of this loco featured can motors, traction tires and plastic handrails.
Although the complete set was never made, in the following catalog (2010 Volume 1), the freight cars were now offered in three two pack sets, as items 11166, 11167 and 11168.

Apparently these freight car sets were not all that well received, as more than a few large dealers have heavily discounted them.

2011: Set 11182 Dixie Special
Shown in the 2011 Volume 1 catalog, this set was top of the line for ready to run sets.  Featuring a colorful powered and dummy FT A unit diesel (why does that cream and blue paint scheme look familiar?) along with 5 pieces of rolling stock and twice around layout, certainly it would make for an impressive set.  But as impressive as the set looked, the relatively high price and lack of command control certainly didn’t help potential orders. 

2012: Set 11199 Union Pacific NW-2 Switcher Work Set
Listed in the 2012 Signature Edition catalog, this set was to feature a Legacy equipped newly tooled scale NW2 switcher.  Also included was a die-cast offset hopper and work caboose, both items also being Standard O scale.

On the same page as the set, a separate sale Union Pacific (38594) NW-2 was also shown, which was also canceled.  In the same catalog an additional 14 NW-2 switchers (7 different road names with two road numbers) were announced but as of this writing they have also been canceled.

2012: Set 31743 Amtrak Acela
Advertised as “New for 2012, the Amtrak Acela returns to the Lionel roster”. {Editor’s Note:  Copy for the 2004 version stated “Don’t miss your one shot at this pinnacle of Lionel innovation and quality!”}
Set 31743 was to consist of a powered and dummy locomotive, a first class car and business class car.  In addition a matching 2 pack was shown consisting of a business class car and bistro/café car.  This set was basically an updated version of the 2004 set, although with two less cars, featuring the Legacy control system.  The one feature of the original set not intended to be included with the new set was the complicated tilting mechanism.  Initial reaction to this new set was mixed, on one hand new operators were eager to see a Legacy version of the Acela, on the other hand folks who owned or had experience with the 2004 set we’re somewhat skeptical to see a reissue of the set, as the original ones had their share of teething problems with some of the complex mechanical systems.  Many operators were hoping to see a Legacy equipped Acela, but without the complex systems of the original, thus being more affordable.  At this time, there has been no additional news regarding a future Legacy Acela.  Perhaps maybe this set will be considered at a future date.

Many thanks for Todd R. Wagner, who helped clarify information contained in this article.