When it comes to toy collectors, Lionel Trains rank at the top of the "must have" list for many collectors. These trains are frequently sought after by collectors and the value of each individual car can vary greatly. Typically, older pieces are the most sought after due to the rarity, age and nostalgia associated with train sets. Complete sets as well as individual pieces that were manufactured before 1969 are the most desired pieces. Pieces manufactured after 1969 are often difficult to authenticate between those made by the Lionel Corporation and American Flyer, which is the next most valuable train sets. In 2006, the National Toy Hall of Fame inducted the first two electric toys, one of which was the Lionel Electric train.
The Lionel Corporation was founded in 1901 as a company for electrical novelties and although the company produced a variety of unique products, the toy trains and model railroads were their most popular item as well as what they are primarily known for. Lionel trains that were made from 1901 until 1969 are the most sought after collectables, because of their attention to detail, solidly built construction and authenticity compared to the actual railroads at the time. The highest peak in sales was during the 1950's, when the Lionel Corporation sold $25 million in train sales during each year.
The Lionel Corporation has undergone several setbacks in sales, with the worst being during the Great Depression when sales dropped by more than $400,000, because the Lionel trains were thought to be a luxury item. During the height of the Depression an extravagant Lionel locomotive, cost as much to buy as a used Ford Model T. In order to recoup some of their losses and to compete with other brands, the Lionel Corporation manufactured a line of less expensive electric trains under the name, Winner Toy Corp. or Winner Toys, which were sold for two years, from 1930 until 1932. Each set sold for $3.25 and included a transformer. Although the Winner Toys helped to pull the company back up, the product most known for saving the Lionel Corporation was a Mickey and Minnie Mouse wind-up handcar, which operated on an 0 gauge track and sold for only $1.
In 1942, the Lionel Corporation stopped all toy production in order to manufacture nautical items specifically for the United States Navy during World War II. Following their nautical item phase, the company began to introduce the "paper train", which was detailed sets of cut and fold models to replicate Lionel trains. The company began to produce their toy trains in 1945, but they replaced the original pieces with pieces that were less colorful, but more realistic and primarily were O-gauge trains. The newer trains also included a smoke feature, which was made by dropping a special oil or tablet into the smokestack.
The Lionel Corp sold the die for their trains in 1969, to General Mills. Although the name continues as Lionel and the company is owned and operated by Lionel, LLC, collectors and train enthusiasts alike consider 1969 to be the last year of production for authentic Lionel trains.
Just last week I bought my 1960 Lionel Trains: Billboard (uncut) No.1103-12 Envelope Complete Contents Plus on eBay.David wrote:
Got my LIONEL TRAINS POSTWAR NO. 3619 HELICOPTER RECONNAISSANCE CAR - VERY NICE hours ago and am totally pleased the purchase.Jennifer wrote:
Just last week my son picked up my 1959 Lionel Trains: Billboard (uncut), Common Repairs Booklet, 2-Catalogs & "How at garage sale.Horacio wrote:
Just last week I picked up my 3 antique Lionel train cars #807,Tank car & Pullman NR at garage sale.Andera wrote:
Got my Lionel Trains Rock Island Box Car 6-15887 From Set 6-30179 hours ago and am really happy the purchase.Verlie wrote:
Got my Lionel Trains 6-18009 New York Central 4-8-2 Mohawk L-3 Class Locomotive years ago and am really happy that I got it.Zofia Vickery wrote:
Got my Lionel trains 8060 PRR Tuscan Pennsylvania F-3 B unit, non-powered years ago and am really happy that I got it.Mercedes Busick wrote:
Got my Lionel Trains - Absolutely New - 6-26769 - Santa Fe Command Control Crane Car years ago and am really happy the quality.Verlene Odell wrote:
Got my lionel train car Motorcraft ford some time ago and am totally pleased the quality.Sims wrote:
Just last week I found my LIONEL TRAINS POSTWAR NO.397 OPERATING COAL LOADER - VERY NICE/ WORKS on Amazon.Walton wrote:
Got my Vtge lot of 6 Lionel Train Cars hours ago and am really happy that I got it.David wrote:
Today I picked up my 108714 2014 Greenberg's Lionel Trains Pocket Price Guide Brand New at a yard sale.Elinor Oshiro wrote:
Today my son-in-law bought my Vintage Lionel train parts switches camtrol pins grease More at a yard sale.Aldo wrote:
Recently I bought my Lionel Trains #2332 Pennsylvania GG-1 GREEN at a yard sale.Jules wrote:
Got my Lionel Trains 6-17246 New York Central Standard O Gauge Freight Car Set Of Four years ago and am totally pleased with it.Dustin wrote:
Got my 6 1980's Lionel Train Wabash Fallen Flags series #1 Passenger Cars Boxes months ago and am totally pleased the transaction.Nathan wrote:
Got my LIONEL Trains. Parts Lot. Trucks, Couplers, Wheels, Axels. some time ago and am totally pleased the transaction.Lynnette Bomberger wrote:
Got my Lionel Trains Long Island Railroad Girder Bridge 6-37163 years ago and am totally pleased with the price.Ivey wrote:
Got my PREWAR 1926 LIONEL TRAIN ELECTRIC ENGINE #252 O GAUGE years ago and am totally pleased that I got it.Marya wrote:
Got my EARLY 1900s Lionel Train Catalog FAIR "Standard of the World for 17 years" months ago and am totally pleased the purchase.