Trix evolved from a Nüremburg Germany company named Fortner & Haffner that originally made metal
construction sets, tin figures and metal play goods. The roots of the company can be traced back
to the year 1838. The name was derived from the construction sets as the metal strips had holes for the bolts arranged
in an X-shaped pattern with 3 holes in each arm i.e. Tri – X. In 1935 the company began producing the
electrically powered model trains that it became famous for, under the Trix Express label. These trains
were produced under the guidance of former Bing managing
director Stephan Bing. Bing had left the family business in 1927 and purchased this firm. At this
time the name was changed to Vereignigte Spielwarenfabriken Fortner & Haffner or The United Toy Company. Initial
production of trains was in 'OO' gauge for three rail track, a scale that the Bing company itself
had also made in the 1920's.
Prior to the outbreak of World War II the Trix company produced a small range of fairly unrealistic
AC powered three rail models running at 14 volts. The track current was reduced and controlled
via means of a transformer or via batteries.
Unlike other manufacturers of the period, Trix allowed two trains to run on the same track simultaneously
under independent control, one collecting current from the left rail and centre, the other from the
right and centre. This system was known as 'Trix Twin' in the United Kingdom where from 1936 British outline models were
made by a subsidiary - Trix Limited. These were distributed directly but also by
Bassett-Lowke under the brand name
'Twin Train Table Railway', initially using German outline models painted in British colours
from 1935 onwards. The early models were relatively crude but became more realistic following new designs
by Henry Greenly a
well known model railway designer employed by Bassett-Lowke. Hence some boxes have the dual name
“Trix Ltd and Bassett-Lowke
scale models” from 1937 to 1939. Joseph Wenman Bassett-Lowke and
the Bing family had a long standing relationship, with the Gerbrüder Bing company building many of the Bassett-Lowke
locomotives and carriages in the early part of the 20th century. It was actually W. J. Bassett-Lowke who had persuaded
Bing to develop the smaller sized train in 1920 called 'Bing's Table Railway' in OO gauge.
Bing established a UK subsidiary in 1932 called Trix Ltd. and put his son Franz in charge as director.
Initially this company marketed and produced construction sets, not trains. However, Bing and his management team,
who were all Jewish, were forced to flee Germany after the company there was taken over by the Nazi Socialist
regime under Adolph Hitler in 1938. They all emigrated to England where the British company continued
the manufacture of Trix trains at a
Northampton factory under the Trix Ltd. name. This company concentrated production on English outline trains.
In order to retain rights to manufacture Trix trains in England, Bing agreed to pay a licence fee to the German
company as well as guaranteed
to make a minimum amount of purchases from the German company. The German and English companies
continued to work together right up to
the end of 1939, some components such as motors used in all the English locomotives were made in Germany.
Patents were taken out in both
countries but under either company’s name. German made Trix Express locomotives were imported to England,
the bodies were removed, the wheels painted black and English bodies were mounted. The Trix Express
goods wagon chassis were also utilized.
Bing eventually passed away in 1940 before the end of World War II.
His son Franz and daughter Lilli continued operation of the British company through 1957. Over the years
the Trix brand in the UK was taken over several times becoming Trix Twin Railways, Trix Trains,
and then merging with the Austrian manufacturer Liliput which
is now part of Bachmann. Production of British Trix trains ceased in the mid 1970's.
In 1938, Trix in Germany was acquired by Ernst Voelk, the President of the Chamber of Trade in Nürenburg and owner of
Distler, a long standing toy manufacturer. Voelk ran the company until 1962.
In 1939 German Trix introduced its line of electrical signals, remote control switches,
remote controlled uncoupling track, and a train control system.
Trix manufacturing plants in Germany had to change over to manufacturing armaments during the war for the
German Army. This included telegraph and field telephone equipment. The plants in Nüremburg became targets for
Allied bombers, and in the spring of 1945 the Nüremberg, Kobergerstrasse 15 plant was destroyed.
Production resumed in 1948 in Germany but began to lag behind the technology used by rivals.
Trix switched from AC to DC (with its simple reversing function) later than rivals like
Tri-ang, and the surviving British Trix company. In 1956
Trix switched to DC and in 1967 to two-rail as used by most
'N' gauge models under the Minitrix brand were made from the late 1960's mostly
of European prototypes
(German and British primarily). North American prototypes were also manufactured and marketed under the
Aurora "Postage Stamp" brand; later these items were sold under the American Tortoise, Model Power
and Con-Cor brands. Trix sometimes utilized North American consultants to aid in the design of this
portion of the product line. The 'Hornby Minitrix' brand was used in the 1980's for a short lived range
of British outline models using the earlier product tooling.
German Trix's owner in the 1980's and early 1990's was Mangold. Also for a brief period
in 1993 Gama-Schuco combined with Trix. Mangold went bankrupt in the late 1990's and
Märklin purchased the assets in January of 1997. In part,
this purchase was a reflection of Märklin's need for added production capacity; Trix had been manufacturing
certain items for Märklin in previous years. But the purchase was also in response to the earlier
purchase of the Karl Arnold company by
the Italian company Rivarossi. In 2003, Märklin
introduced its first 'N' gauge models under the Minitrix brand. Some of the more well known products were
the King Ludwig, the Wilhelm II set and the Adler set; all are now very expensive collectors
items. Several Märklin HO scale three-rail AC
locomotives have also been introduced in two-rail DC versions under the Trix logo.
The Minitrix brand is very popular in the United States of America. In 2009
Walthers became the exclusive North American distributor for Trix products.
Selectrix is the Trix Minitrix proprietary Digital system and is fully compatible with
Besides the AC Trix Express and Minitrix brands, the Trix company is also well known for its 1:87 scale
DC brands, Trix International and Trix HO, dating back at least to the early 1970's and still being
A particular Trix speciality is the reproduction of Bavarian prototype models from Epoch I and their
equivalent Epoch II, DRG versions. Examples such as the B VI (BR 34), D XI (BR 984-5),
D XII (BR 73), G 3/4 H (BR 54), Gt 2x4/4 (BR 96), P 3/5 H (BR 384), PtL 2/2 (BR 983)
and S 3/6 (BR 184) have been produced in the steam locomotive line, along with numerous
passenger and goods wagons.
Trix also produced highly-detailed brass models of steam locomotives in limited quantities under
the "Fine Art" label in the late 1990's.