model train set on track

The MPC Collector. Variation Explanation or Possible Creation?

e*Train Issue: Feb 2004   |   Posted in: ,

By Mike Stella

I enjoy collecting Lionel MPC. Huge amounts of available product and small numbers of interested collectors make for relative easy finds and very reasonable prices.

I notice some prominent TCA sellers always claim every item they offer is a “variation” in an effort to boost the selling price.

Some variations seem pretty obscure to me while others tend to create entirely different items to collect. I always have tried to teach my son about variations and often hold two items side by side and have him point out the differences. For me a variation is worth collecting “IF” you can spot an obvious difference in looks from at least a few feet away.

I’d like to share with you a very early MPC variation from about 1972 that shows up in the first Stock Car offered, the #9707 MKT.

Most of the #9707s that you find will have 3 lines of data left of the doors where the 3rd line is the BUILT DATE.

But a very few of these cars only have 2 lines of data and the Built Date is missing.

The BUILT DATE on these cars shows up on the far RIGHT SIDE of the car.

Not a very big difference but for me a true VARIATION and worth collecting.

Finally, the #9707 was a remake of the sought after postwar #6556 MKT car produced in 1958 but MPC used YELLOW DOORS instead of White Doors. I recently added a #9707 to my MPC collection that has WHITE DOORS and it really is an eye catcher.

Over 30 years have passed since Lionel manufactured these cars in Michigan and I wonder if this was a Monday morning creation that made it into a set box and out the door?

These “created” variations or Factory Errors can still be a lot of fun to collect and certainly add another dimension to collecting MPC.