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The Halloween Set

The Halloween Set was offered only in 1960 as an uncataloged set from Sears. It was evidently a poor seller and was never offered again. The set came with the Plasticville 963-100 "frontier set," and the box was an open face maroon carton that fit into a plain tan cardboard sleeve. To this day the set number is unknown as very few intact sets have been recovered, and those that have, do not show the set number printed on the box. GIF (5K)

The Boston & Maine Alco

The Boston & Maine Alcos were numbered "217" and were the first Alcos produced by Lionel in an "A" & "B" unit set in 1959. The following year Lionel would add a horn to this diesel, change the number to "226" and produce it uncataloged for Sears. The front coupler on all of the late Alcos that had them were easily broken. So much so, that Lionel produced a re-enforcing metal replacement part that was available to all of their service centers. The blue color of this Alco is subject to fading from exposure to sunlight. This has caused a running debate among collectors regarding the production colors that Lionel used on these diesels. GIF (6K)

The Burlington Alco

The Burlington Alco was only made one year in 1958 and is scarce. A premium is paid today for bright silver paint. Even if you couldn’t afford to buy their trains Lionel inspired a kid’s imagination with their catalogs. This was one of the shortest sets that Lionel made (3 feet, 10 inches), but that didn’t stop Lionel from telling us that, "All planes grounded! Rush the passengers and freight by crack diesel express!" in an effort to sell this set, and at the same time take a swipe at the airline business that was cutting into the railroad’s passenger revenue. GIF (5K)

Over Land Sea & Air

A Land-Sea-Air Diesel Freighter was the title used by Lionel to describe this set in 1961. Following the "Boston & Maine" GP-9 were cars with loads for all of the listed environments, here for the protection of the "High Explosives Car" (exploding box car) and the secret contents in the "Security Car" (caboose). Smiley GIF (6K)

The Alaskan

The Alaska Railroad was never produced as a set, but has developed to be considered as such by collectors. Produced on an individual basis in 1959 and 1960 the GM NW-2 Switcher and all of the cars are rare. GIF (5K)

The Berkshire

The Berkshire of all of the Lionel locomotives had the greatest longevity. It was in production from 1946 to 1968. It was also the largest (except for the 773) and is shown here in this nice set from 1961. The operating "TV Car" and "Boat-Loader Car," were new this year. Today, the No. 197 Rotating Radar Tower is almost always found with the radio antenna missing and broken hand rails. GIF (7K)

The Santa Fe Freight Alcos

The Santa Fe Freight Alcos were numbered 208, and surprisingly, Lionel offered them heading up this passenger set in 1959! The Santa Fe railroad almost always put their premier passenger trains behind their more familiar "War Bonnet" painted diesels. These "A" units differed from the previously produced number 204 in that the light in the dummy "A" unit was removed and a horn was added to the powered unit. The 3428 United States Mail operating box car was only offered this year and the next and is scarce. The passenger cars in this set were numbered: Vista Dome 2412 and Observation 2416. GIF (5K)

The Texas Special

The Texas Special has the distinction of being the first of the single motor F-3s. Premiered in 1954 it was "designed" according to Lionel to be used on 027 track. However, this really wasn’t true because these diesels had the same frame size as the other F-3s. This is also the only single motored F-3 with portholes in the "A" Unit. The "B" Unit came with and without the portholes. GIF (5K)

The Norfolk & Western Class J

The Norfolk & Western Class J was called by Lionel "a magnificent heir to the tradition of steam." Made between 1957 and 1960 it is shown here with the more desirable "long stripe" tender. This set is illustrated in the 1959 catalog, and here Lionel called this set "The most powerful and complete ‘rail-to-space’ outfit ever made!" In contrast to what Lionel stated, the prototype ceased commercial operation on the Norfolk & Western this same year, and was, in reality, the "last gasp of steam!" Smiley GIF (9K)

  The Girl's Set Top of Page
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The Girl’s Set is also known as "the male chauvinist pig set." Unfortunately for Lionel, girls didn’t buy this set, and, for that matter neither did the boys. Which resulted in it being produced only two years in 1957 & 1958. Some dealers went so far as to repaint the engine in an effort to sell at least this part of the set. All of this combined to make one of the most highly prized of the post war sets. GIF (5K)

The Boy's Set

The Boy’s Set was made in limited "test" quantities before "The Girl’s Set." These sets eventually fell into the hands of Lionel salesmen who sold them (usually) to dealers. The locomotive and cars are painted in colors that were unique to them and were only available in this set. "The Boys Set" presents several mysteries. The main one being that no one is sure of when these sets were produced. The printing of the "N" in "NYC" on the second panel of the gondola dates this car to early 1954. This is at odds with this being a companion set for "The Girls Set" in 1957. Very few collectors have ever seen this set because there are only four known examples. The value of this is set is unknown, but one of these was sold at auction in 1988 for $23,000.00. GIF (4K)

The Transition Years

The Transition Years of 1946 to 1950 saw many changes at the Lionel factory in the way that they produced electric trains. This set from 1948 typifies these changes. The F-3 "New York Central" diesels were new this year. The "6454 Box Car" was the precursor to the "6464 Box Car" and was injected plastic, yet the door was still metal. The "Coal Dump Car" and the "Sunoco Tank Car" were of all metal construction and of "Pre-war" vintage, and the Caboose was injected plastic but it still had metal tool boxes and ladders. GIF (7K)

The Electronic Set

The Electronic Set utilized microwave technology long before the first garage door opener. Produced from 1946 to 1949, this set came with a special transformer that allowed uncoupling of the cars anywhere on the track without the use of a UCS uncoupling track. The locomotive is the Pennsylvania’s S-2 steam turbine. The railroad considered the engine inefficient and they only made one prototype. Lionel, however, made thousands of them. GIF (6K)

The Dynamo

Dynamo Electric Freight was what Lionel called this set when they issued it in 1961. One of Lionel’s selling points for this set was that the pantographs on the GG-1 locomotive actually worked, and that the engine could be made to run from an overhead "catenary" system. However, I’ve never quite figured out how this set could do that with all of those cranes in the way! Smiley This was the only year that the 2360 single striped GG-1 had the letters "PENNSYLVANIA" heat-stamped on. In 1957 & 1958 the stripe and lettering were rubber-stamped, and in 1962 and 1963 the painted lettering and numbers were replaced with a decal. Even in the latter years of production the GG-1 could out haul anything on a model train layout with the possible exception of the Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster. Few Lionel locomotives have found more favor - or more controversy - than the GG-1. All kinds of variations have occurred some suspect and some genuine. All "odd" variations should be approached with care and the advice of experts should be sought before purchase. GIF (9K)

The Black Virginian

The Black Virginian was produced only in 1955. If it is not the rarest of the Fairbanks Morse Trainmasters, it is certainly the most striking with its BLACK and YELLOW colors and GOLD lettering. The production shells of this engine in 1955 used the GRAY plastic shell of the "Lackawanna." In mid-year Lionel switched to painting these in the more common colors of BLUE and YELLOW, but because the shell was still GRAY plastic this version is rarer than all of the other variations of this diesel. Both "The Rutland" and the "State Of Maine" 6464 box cars were new this year, as was the "Auto Loader" car, and the bay window caboose. The solid red door on the "State of Maine" box car is a rare variation. GIF (8K)

The Virginian

The Virginian in striking BLUE and YELLOW colors was first available in 1955 and was last produced in 1966. Those units that were painted over a GRAY "Lackawanna" body mold are probably the rarest of all of the Trainmasters. It is shown here pulling a coal drag of 6456 Lehigh Valley hoppers. GIF (5K)

The 773

The 773 was the first post-war production of the massive pre-war scale 4-6-4 Hudson and was made in 1950. It has come to be known as one of the two 50th Anniversary Sets, and it came with an equally massive $100 price tag. This was quite expensive in 1950, and the set sold poorly. As a result it was discontinued the next year. The locomotive is true "O" scale, and is shown here pulling the "Irvington" cars. Lionel never did make an observation car for this set during the "Post War" years, although rumors of the "Sager Place" observation car have circulated for years. GIF (6K)

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