Lionel, LLC, based in Michigan, designs as well as imports model railroads and toy trains. The history of Lionel, LLC can be traced back to 1900 when Lionel Corporation was founded as an electrical novelties company. The erstwhile American toy manufacturer and retailer was a specialist in making toy trains as well as model railroads. Harry C. Grant and Joshua Lionel Owen are the founders of the Lionel Corporation. The company’s first train model, the Electric Express, was intended to be displayed in front of stores and not for sale. Cowen’s intention of displaying the model in stores was to catch and direct public attention to the goods which were kept for sale. Contrary to his expectations, people started enquiring the possibility of buying the trains. This prompted Lionel Corporation to start making toy trains. The Lionel Corporation sold as many as 12 copies of the Electric Express. From 1915 onwards Lionel Corporation started following O gauge standard and by the time the World War I ended, the Lionel Corporation had established itself as a major toy train manufacturer in the U.S.
However, the great depression of the 1930s hurt Lionel Corporation badly and the company went into receivership in 1934. By 1942, the company stopped its toy production in order to manufacture nautical items for the U.S. Navy when World War II was going on. The Lionel Corporation restarted the production of Toy Trains after the World War II ended in 1945. The period from 1946 to 1956 was the golden period in the history of Lionel Corporation. In 1959, Cowen and his son sold off their stake in the company to Roy Cohn, grand nephew of Cowen. Despite Roy Cohn’s efforts to revive the company, the Lionel Corporation had to file for bankruptcy in 1967 despite buying its competitor American Flyer that went bankrupt a few months earlier. The Lionel Corporation sold the train line product dies and the brand name to General Mills, a cereal conglomerate. In 1986, Lionel was sold to Richard P. Kughn, toy-train collector and real estate developer. Lionel changed hands once again in 1995 and came to be known as Lionel, LLC. In November 2004, Lionel, LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company cited the USD 40 million judgments in the MTH lawsuit as the key factor. However, Lionel came out of bankruptcy fully by 2008.
Lionel’s Product Range
Train Sets ranging from ready-to-run to premium.Locomotives that come with headlights, operating whistles and couplers.Freight Cars.Operating Cars ranging from classic reissues to new designs.Passenger Cars including traditional and standard O passenger cars.Accessories such as tunnels, building, lamps, etc.SuperStreets vehicles as well as roadway trackPower & ControlTrack
Freight Promotional Set
This is one among the highly prized promotion sets that was sold through Sears in 1965. This conventional classic being offered by Lionel consists of six freight cars including auto carrier, milk car and culvert car as in the original set.
Anniversary Passenger Set
This set was originally introduced in 1950. The special reissue of this train includes the most popular version of the U.P. Alco that sports a grey nose and truck side frames.
Non-Powered B-Unit U.S. Marine Corps Alco
This is a rare military Alco. The U.S. Marine Corps Alco was originally produced in 1964 for J.C. Penney Co.
LRRC Mercury Capsule Car (50th Anniversary)
New designs that are inspired by the original post war 1962 50th Anniversary Series.
Bethlehem Steel Operating Hopper
This toy hopper can be used with the operating coal ramp or as an addition to any consist. The hopper comes with doors at the bottom of the two bays in order to allow falling of coal into a plastic bin that is kept below.
Amtrak Acela 2-Pack Add-On Passenger Set
The Amtrak Acela makes a comeback in 2012 into Lionel’s product list, featuring operating doors. This is an exact replica of the Amtrak Acela zooming at 150 miles per hour between Boston and Washington DC.
Railroad Crossing Flasher
When the train passes by, red lights flash.
Chatham Police Van
The Chatham Police Van comes in traditional O gauge and has a length of 4.5 inches.
Power and Control
LEGACY command set
This command set features a CAB-2 remote controller and a command base charger. One layout requires only one command base charger.
This is a 10 inches long straight track section.
Lionel currently markets products for several skill levels as well as those that suit a person’s budget. However, the collectible value is retained by the higher-end limited production as it was in the past. Some such products are the diesel and steam locomotives that are equipped with LEGACY. These are accurate and made-to-scale replicas of real life engines. In March 2012, the company released the first American Flyer exclusive catalog.