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What are Lionel trains?

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Quick Answer

Lionel trains are toy electric trains originally manufactured by the Lionel Corporation. Inventor Joshua Lionel Cowen founded the corporation in 1900. The very first Lionel train was a one-off, created as a store window attraction. According to the National Toy Hall of Fame, customers soon expressed more interest in purchasing the trains than the products the toys were advertising, so Cowen began producing model trains for retail sale.

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What are Lionel trains?
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The National Toy Hall of Fame, which inducted Lionel trains in 2006, states that the original company's products were noted for their high level of attention to detail, smooth operation, three-rail track system and use of transformers that allowed operators to vary the speed of the trains. During the company's heyday during the 1950s, two-thirds of all toy trains sold in the United States were manufactured by Lionel.

The corporation went into liquidation in 1969 and the rights to manufacture trains under the Lionel brand were sold. In an effort to cut costs, Lionel trains produced after this time have a lower level of detail and are crafted mostly from plastic rather than metal. For this reason, Lionel trains manufactured between 1945 and 1969 are highly sought after by collectors, with those in mint condition sometimes changing hands for tens of thousands of dollars.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the history of Lionel trains?

    A:

    Established in 1900, the Lionel Corporation grew to become a highly profitable model train manufacturer during the 1920s and the 1950s, but suffered from sharply declining sales in the 1930s and the 1960s. The Lionel Corporation declared bankruptcy in 1967 and sold its train business to General Mills in 1969. The General Mills subsidiary Fundimensions revived the brand. Real estate developer Richard Kughn bought the brand and formed a new independent company in the 1980s.

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  • Q:

    What are some common Lionel wiring diagrams?

    A:

    A common Lionel wiring diagram can be found on the Lionel website. The wiring diagram is there to help with the operation of the product. Common Lionel wiring diagrams include the descriptions along with the part numbers.

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    What is Lionel Messi famous for?

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    Lionel Messi is famous for being a football (soccer) star for FC Barcelona. He is also known for his work as a children's activist.

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    What are the names of some toy companies?

    A:

    Some of the most well-known toy companies include: Hasbro, KB Toys, Lionel Corporation, Little Tikes, Tonka, Mattel, Lego and Fisher-Price. Many toy companies also own smaller subsidiaries that manufacture toys under different names.

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