Variety is the Spice of Collecting! Schuco and Their Classic Toy Train: The Boxes
By Doug Burwell TCA #81-16885 Summer-Fall 2014
I have been collecting Postwar Lionel for approximately 50 years, but have only been collecting Schuco Disneyland monorails for around 18 years. There are a lot of similarities in collecting both of them, but one big difference for me in collecting the Schuco Disneyland monorails is that I have a chance of purchasing at least one of each of the four sets and the over 45 accessories Schuco made for their toy train line. In fact, I already have, and it only took me about five years to do so. On top of that, I could afford it with a lower middle class income!
With the first Schuco Disneyland monorail set we purchased came a sheet that listed practically everything Schuco made for the monorails. I simply copied it and checked off the items as I found them. One item not listed on the paper was the 6333/21 manual switches which turned out to be one of the most difficult items to find.
After reaching my goal of having one of everything, I wanted to “spice” things up by collecting the boxes for all these items. Soon I discovered a variety of different boxes for the same items.
Starting with the small 6333/G set, the first boxes, especially the first generation sets, all contained the beautiful graphic that Schuco was known for. Later, as Schuco tried to cut costs, the boxes became more plain. First, they were wrapped with red paper and the label from the individual monorail boxes were glued on the lid along with a cover of the Schuco Disneyland monorail manual. Later, Schuco did not even bother adding the red paper and used a boring brown box. Eventually, even the labels disappeared! An oddball small set box is one that has part of the 6333/S set label glued on it.
The majority of the large 6333/S set boxes were wrapped in red paper and had a large drawing similar to the 6333/G set lid. Immediately to the right side of the colorful drawing were pictures of some the accessories contained inside and examples of layouts that could be built. I have seen a couple of S set boxes with only red paper and no label, and one with just the graphic and no additional picture to the right. A super rare version is a box wrapped in black paper instead of red.
With the 6333/99 accessory set box, I have seen two versions. One has part of the familiar 6333/G set graphic, and the other is a plain brown box.
I have not seen any variations of the American Set box on the outside, though I have seen a set with a cardboard insert inside instead of the usual yellow plastic insert.
As far as the boxes for the accessories, Schuco first started making them using the same red paper that surrounds the S sets and American sets. These boxes are harder to collect for specific accessories because many of them are not marked as to what was contained inside. Therefore, anyone could put just about anything inside these boxes. However, several of the red boxes do have either paper labels or an ink stamp on them. The red boxes were of a design that had both a bottom and top creating two individual sections.
I am guessing that the red boxes were only made during the first year of production, from the Fall of 1961 to the Fall of 1962. Then they were replaced by a blue and white checkered box. These boxes were constructed of one piece of cardboard and all have flaps and tabs that are susceptible to tearing. Most of them bear a label stating what is inside. The label usually includes a picture of the item.
Schuco did sell the Mark I monorail by itself, and it did come in a box. The Mark I consisted of three units, the front engine unit, the middle car, and the rear car. There is a checkered box for each unit, and each of these boxes fits into another box which organizes everything nicely. The individual boxes seldom have labels, and the one large box always has a red monorail pictured on the outside. If a buyer wished to know what color of monorail was inside, one would have to look for the colored dot (red, blue, or silver) that was placed on the end of the box. There was also a red box for the Mark I monorail. I have never seen it with a printed labeled, and there are no individual boxes inside. A note here is that each unit could be purchased individually. There was probably a red box for these and for sure checkered boxes as mentioned above. When the checkered individual boxes were displayed for sale, they did have labels on them. These labeled boxes are extremely hard to find. Schuco never boxed a complete Mark II or four unit monorail.
One accessory that has a variety of styles of boxes is the 6333/1 straight track box. The most common is the box containing 10 tracks, but Schuco also made a box that fits only 5 straight tracks. Instead of making another label stating that there were only 5 tracks, Schuco simply stamped a “5” over the “10.” I have also seen a 6333/1 label on a curved track box which is bigger than the standard straight track box. It holds 14 straights. In this case, someone physically marked a “14” over the “10.”
The next accessory that has two styles of boxes is the 6333/16 insulated straight track. The common one is the one that holds 5 tracks, but I do have a box that contains 10 insulated tracks and is marked from the factory with the “10” ink stamp.
The 6333/19 pins have two different sizes of boxes. Other accessories in this category are the 6333/26 automatic switch controller, the 6333/26/2 special pylon, the 6333/61 15mm pylon, and the 6333/72/3 extension cord for the 6333/27 block signal. The extension cord box can come with a plain ink stamp label or the more common one with a picture.
The 6333/21L and 6333/21R manual switches can come in the classic blue and white checkered box or a plain brown box.
The 6333/66 80mm pylon box usually holds 10 pylons, but there is a large box that holds 14. According to a Canadian collector, there is another small box that holds 6.
One note about the accessory boxes is that Schuco did not waste space. Many of the accessories barely fit inside, and the ones that contain instruction sheets are really tight.
In my opinion and experience, Schuco collectors value the boxes, but not as heavily as Lionel collectors. Therefore, it usually does not cost much more to obtain the box for the Schuco accessories. In general, Schuco Disneyland monorail collectors are willing to pay more for complete set boxes. Over the years, I have found it enjoyable and challenging to find all the boxes and variations. It did take me 17 years to find every checkered box for every accessory with the 6333/44 top rail terminal board box being the last one I obtained to complete my collection. To me, collecting the variety of boxes really adds to my model railroading experience. Variety IS the spice of collecting, and with Schuco Disneyland monorails, there is not only a variety in the boxes, but in the pieces themselves and in the mechanics of the monorails, but that is another article for the future!
Please visit my website at SchucoDisneylandMonorail.com