I Love Toy Trains 12
By Bob Bubeck
A delightful diversion from current events arrived by post yesterday. I Love Toy Trains No. 12 from TM Books and Video is an eclectic tour of Toy Traindom with a timely patriotic theme that sweeps over a century of railroad history. As before, young Jeff McComas delivers lively narration and he is aided and abetted with fitting musical performances by James Coffey.
Being able to see Stu Shuster’s unusual and fabulous Carlisle and Finch layout operating is worth to this viewer the price of admission on its own. These were the earliest electric trains manufactured in America, circa late 1890s to 1900s. The layout includes early 0-4-0 steam profile engines running on vintage ribbon-style two-rail track powered by voltage regulated with an in-period bank of electric bulbs connected in series — no command control to be found here!
The history of the early streamliners of the 1930s is told with M.T.H. models playing the parts of the Union Pacific M10000 and the Burlington Zephyr, a Weaver model being the stand in for the Milwaukee Road Hiawatha, and an original prewar Lionel Corp. City of Denver. Representations of the New York Centrals Commodore Vanderbilt, Dreyfus 20th Century Limited, and Mercury also make brief appearances. The stunning (for the time) modernity of these flagship passenger trains gave hope to the nation coming out of the Great Depression. The American Freedom Train is presented with considerable detail. K-Lines 19 car version is shown in operation and these shots are interwoven with footage of the real thing, which was a source of national pride during the nations Bicentennial. The American Freedom Train was a traveling repository for many important American historical artifacts, both physical and philosophical. In keeping with the famous early streamliner theme, the story of Southern Pacific No. 4449, the most famous of the engines used to pull the AFT, is part of the proceedings. This Northern type, which first pulled the gorgeous SP Daylights, is one of the most beloved of our preserved steam engines. Vintage footage is used to show the history of this streamlined steam engine, both undergoing restoration and underway in its various guises. It was painted in a red, white, blue, and black scheme in 1976, and then again recently repainted in that patriotic design supporting renewed hope after 9-11. Sharp-eyed viewers will note that an M.T.H. model of No. 4449 was used when the full-length train was photographed in motion. Fans of the AFT and No. 4449 will surely enjoy this segment.
The appealing new M.T.H. model of the Pennsylvania Railroad DD1 is shown strutting its stuff, as well. As many may know, the prime purpose of the electric DD1 was to pull passenger trains such as the famed Broadway Limited out of Manhattan from Penn Station to interchange points such as Manhattan Transfer. From here the trains were subsequently taken the rest of the way by steamers such as the mighty K4s before the advent of the GG1s. This arrangement was made necessary by a Borough of Manhattan ordinance barring the use of steam and diesel (with their nasty vapors) on the island.
A new (to TM) Maerklin set up that is now combined with their 00 layout is shared with us and this segment includes footage of the famous German-built H0 model of the Swiss Crocodile in action. As with other issues of I Love Toy Trains, a true-to-its-roots toy train feel is consistently maintained throughout the show. Almost regardless of what period from which the models originate, there is a heavy reliance on the use of prewar style layouts as operating venues and die cast figures — oversized to be sure both in scale and in heart — arranged in casual and patriotic poses.
This edition rounds out an even dozen visits with ILTT series. It’s lots of fun, as usual, so be sure to catch a ride on this excursion soon.