model train set on track

Learn More About Your Favorite Model Train Manufacturers

As with toy train manufacturers, there has been much change in the model train marketplace over the years. A few big brands reign supreme today, but you’ll discover an astonishing number of smaller and boutique model train brands throughout history.  

The top brands also vary depending on where you are in the world. For example, Hornby is number one in the UK and much of Europe. Bachmann and Lionel—two of the biggest brands in both toy trains and model railroading—are arguably the market leaders in the USA. However, there are several other contenders like Athearn, Atlas, Arnold, and Walthers. 

Who is the Best Model Train Maker? 

This is a tricky question, and the answer will vary depending on who you ask! Additionally, many enthusiasts will likely tell you that different manufacturers excel in different areas, such as producing various gauges and train styles. The answer also depends on whether you’re speaking about vintage model trains or those from the modern era. 

Search the Database 

Ready to research? Examples of model trains from every possible brand abound in our database. Search by manufacturer, gauge, and/or year to return results from our National Toy Train Museum collections and more. 

More Model Train Information for Collectors 


Toy trains (including model trains) come in different sizes, reflecting different rail gauges—the distance between the main rails on the track—and scales. We have information for you about some of the most popular toy and model train gauges. 

Grading Standards 

TCA has adopted standards to help guide toy train collectors and encourage common terminology usage when describing things like item categories and conditions. Visit our Grading Standards section of the website for more information. 


Creating scale environments for toy trains is something that many collectors dedicate a lot of time to. Layouts may be purely make-believe settings, or they can be designed as scaled-down versions of real-world locations.

Grow Your Love of Model Trains with Other Enthusiasts. Join TCA Today! 

If you are not yet a member of the Train Collectors Association, you’re missing out. TCA Members receive a long list of tangible benefits that put them on the toy train collectors’ inside track! These include free admission to the National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg, PA, as well as access to special collections of material in the National Toy Train Library, among other great perks and benefits our TCA members enjoy.  

Ready to get involved and join our excellent organization with thousands of other model and toy train enthusiasts around the world?