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Mantua HO Pre-war Brass 2-8-0 Reading Consolidation Steam Locomotive circa 1937 Mantua (pronounced Man-chew-ah) Metal Products was a metalworks business founded in 1926 by John Tyler and family. In the 1930's, Mantua was one of the leaders in the development and promotion of the model railroading HO scale in the United States. In the 1950's, Mantua pioneered ready-to-run HO-scale model railroad kits under the Tyco (for Tyler Company) brand. Many early Tyco and Mantua die-cast products, primarily the steam locomotives, have become valuable collector's items. By the late 20th Century the company became the 3rd largest toy manufacturer in the United States producing over a 1000 different toys.

Mantua HO kit-built brass 2-6-0 8-ball Mogul steam locomotive Kit #203 circa 1940's John Tyler had been interested in model railroading since his boyhood in England where the hobby developed much earlier than in the United States. John was an electrician by trade and emigrated to the US from England in 1925. Tyler and his friend James P. Thomas formed a partnership with the purpose of manufacturing wood and metal sailboats in their Mantua, New Jersey shop on Third Ave. Thomas had been trained as a tool and die maker at the Socony Vacuum Oil Company (Mobil) in Paulsboro, NJ before he left to devote his attention to creating toys and models. He had started a company called Triple-T Toys in 1925 located in Woodbury, NJ. In 1927 the partners had built a 3' long model of a cabin cruiser they jointly owned. The unique aspect of this sheet metal and brass model was a small electric motor designed by Jim Thomas that powered the boat using dry cell batteries. Fellow boat owners admired the electrically powered model and encouraged them to build more boats to sell. With all this encouragement, the partners decided to produce the battery-powered boat in quantity. The model boat proved to be popular but as the orders for the boats increased, finding enough good quality motors became a big problem. To solve this problem the partners decided to design their own motor. The result was a dandy - being both rugged and inexpensive to build.

Mantua HO unpainted Pacific 4-6-2 Die-cast loco & tender circa 1950 The model boat and the new motor helped launch Triple-T Electrical Toys manufactured by the Mantua Toy Co. The 'Triple-T' stood for Thomas, Tyler, and Tyler. The second Tyler was John Tyler's wife (James Thomas' sister Pauline) who was also active in the business. Mantua's first project was to produce Triple-T Electrical Toys of Distinction. The Woodbury Heights, New Jersey Mantua factory began making items for the first time in 1933. With the new 6-volt motor, the Triple-T line was expanded to include accessory items youngsters could drive with the motors. These Items included a miniature drill press, grinding wheel, and trip hammer. The partners continued to work at improving the motor. The result of this was the Number 100 motor, offered either open or enclosed. The motor was quite large, measuring 2¾ x 2½ x 1¾ inches.

Tyco HO Pennsylvania RR 0-4-0 Booster 3975 die-cast Locomotive red box era circa 1960's #T213-A In 1932, a friend from England showed John Tyler a British-made HO scale locomotive. He informed John that British model railroaders were going crazy over these small-scale model trains made by the likes of Bassett-Lowke. However, there was a problem. The current motors available were only powerful enough to haul short trains. This started John and Jim thinking and they immediately began experimenting with a motor for HO scale engines. It would be some time before an actual product was announced.

Mantua HO #K209 Kit-built 0-4-0 Shifter and slope tender circa 1960's Mantua's motor development led to a motor small enough for use in 'OO' scale locomotives. The team had been aware of the growing interest in 'OO' and HO scales in England and the US so they placed a small ad for this motor, dubbed the 'Midget Motor', in the March 1930 issue of The Modelmaker magazine. The number of orders received was a pleasant surprise so they continued to run the ad. The Midget motor measured only 1½ x 1¼ x 1516 inches. Soon a second small motor was added to the line - The Midget Senior. It was more powerful and only ¼ inch longer. In a June 1931 article on building an 'OO' scale locomotive that appeared in The Modelmaker magazine, F. D. Grimke wrote, "The only motor worth considering is the one manufactured by Mantua Toy Co. Either the Midget or Midget Senior can be used."

Sales of Midget motors to the 'OO' scale model railroad market continued to grow and Tyler and Thomas directed more effort towards products for this market. Early American 'OO' gauge models built by Howard Winther employed Mantua electric motors. In 1933, increased business prompted a move from the town of Mantua to a new, small shop the partners built in Woodbury Heights. By 1935, when Mantua's first ad appeared in Model Railroader, they had an additional new line of motors for 'O', and larger scale locomotives called 'Right of Way'. The July 1935 ad was directed at model supply houses. Mantua stated they had a complete machine shop and were interested in manufacturing model railroad parts in all scales. They also announced that a permanent magnet DC motor for HO scale would be ready in the fall. Up to this time, all of Mantua's motors were the universal type with a field winding that could be operated from either AC or DC. The announcement proved to be a little optimistic. It was not until spring of 1936 that the new DC motor was in production.

Mantua HO Ready-to-run Brass 2-8-0 Reading Consolidation Steam Locomotive, tender and bobber caboose set circa 1938

For most of 1937 it looked like the folks at Mantua had finally run out of steam. Ads for their mechanisms indicated they planned to offer a complete locomotive later on but no product was introduced. Finally, in December 1937, a full page ad appeared in Model Railroader announcing their new Reading 2-8-0 Consolidation built for two or three rail operation. This was Mantua's first full-page ad. The banner read "First Time Ever Offered". The Consolidation was offered ready-to-run for $49.50 or in kit form for $28.50. To encourage beginners, the company announced a complete ready-to-run freight train consisting of the Consolidation, two gondolas, and a caboose. A track kit with 21 feet of track was included. The special Christmas price was $59.50. The HO scale model trains were made of die-cast metal, and became very popular. All this was taking place at the same time that Lionel was introducing its 'O' scale 700E scale Hudson locomotive. Mantua was on its way to becoming the leading hobbyist brand in the HO gauge. The prices for Mantua's cars and locomotives must have seemed high to the average working man as the average weekly pay for a railroader in 1937 was $34.15. Mantua and Varney would go head to head promoting the new HO gauge. A year later, in 1938, A.C. Gilbert/American Flyer would introduce their first HO offerings, and now the force of these 3 entities would push HO ahead of 'O' gauge as the preferred gauge in the 1941 Model Railroader poll.

Mantua HO scale Reading 4-4-2 Atlantic steam loco & tender In 1938 Mantua introduced a much more affordable kit for a Reading Camelback 4-4-2 Atlantic switcher - only $15. Soon the Reading Atlantic with a Belpaire firebox was added. It was priced at $37.50 ready-to-run or $25 for the kit. Also introduced in 1938 was Mantua's patented HO 'Ready-Laid Track', available in straight and flexible 18 inch sections. By the end of 1938, the line included locomotives, cars, couplers, and track - everything needed to get started in HO scale. The word 'Toy' was dropped from the company name and it became Mantua Metal Products Co. The Pre-war era also saw Mantua release a sheet metal Reading 4-6-2 Pacific and a sheet metal 0-4-0 Mighty Mite Switcher (1949). Mantua not only helped to pioneer the introduction of HO gauge trains in the United States, but also introduced several innovations to the hobby in the 1930's that were later adopted as standards. These included developing die-cast drivers with brass rims insulated with sheet fibre, design of automatic couplers, creation of flexible 'Ready-Laid' track products, bridge kit offerings, switches and accessories. Other innovations from Jim Thomas included the use of Scalite to provide the wiring setup and bulbs for the Mantua 0-4-0/0-6-0 Booster (1948-52), Little Six, Mikado and Pacific locomotives.

Mantua HO gauge NYC Little Six 0-6-0 tank loco 302-22 circa 1978 Up until 1940 Tyler and Thomas had operated the business as partners on a handshake agreement. A new formal arrangement defined specific areas of responsibilities with Jim Thomas handling all production, tool and product design and John Tyler managing the business and financial aspects. In the early 1940's Mantua introduced the first HO all-metal passenger and freight car kits and a brass kit for the old-time Belle of the Eighties 4-4-0 HO locomotive. A Roundhouse Goat and a Reading Pacific were in development phase but production had to be delayed because of the impending World War. 1941 saw the introduction of the Mantua 8-Ball Mogul 2-6-0 loco sheet metal kit.

Mantua HO Belle of the Eighties 4-4-0 loco & tender circa 1940's Mantua also produced some 'OO' gauge trains in the pre-war period. They sold a version of their 4-4-0 Belle of the Eighties regauged for 'OO' along with their matching stamped brass old time passenger cars. These kits were simply HO cars with the trucks regauged for 'OO'. The 2-6-0 loco was also regauged for 'OO' and Mantua marketed tin printed box car sides and sold a line of 'OO' flex track and turnouts. Unfortunately, Mantua's 'OO' track used HO sized rail (code 100) and the deep flanges on some 'OO' equipment would strike the spike heads. Mantua also marketed their HO loop-and-hook couplers for 'OO' as well.

During the war years many companies discontinued their normal products to make war materials. Mantua was one of these companies. From 1942 through 1945, production of Mantua model railroad products was suspended. Mantua's manufacturing facility was used to make precision measuring and mapping equipment for the war effort. Mantua's machines were operated twenty-four hours a day by three shifts of workers to turn out stainless steel scale map-reading rules and protractors for the Army and Navy and beam compasses for the Army Air Corps. Although production of model railroad products was suspended, Mantua continued to stay in touch with the public by running ads in Model Railroader. The June 1945 back cover of the Model Railroader featured a black and white photo of the Bell of the Eighties and a 'Mantua Family Album' graphic, along with text "...Remember when you modelled the Belle of the Eighties? It won't be long now before you can be back on your model pike!" In 1945, Mantua received the Army-Navy "E" Flag award for its war-time production efforts. Something they were quite proud of.

Mantua HO Central of Georgia all metal with paper sides 50 ton 42' gondola #306-9454 from 1947 After the War, Mantua began the task of converting their plant back to producing model railroad products for hobbyists. This was not an easy task but by mid-1946 Mantua announced that it was back in production. An all-metal HO gauge model of a 50 ton, 42' gondola was the first new Mantua offering of the post-war era. Next came the Belle of the Eighties and the Roundhouse Goat locomotives promised before the war. Mantua issued a 52 page catalog in 1947, the first since 1942. In the catalogue, John Tyler wrote that the war-time experience at Mantua producing precision instruments had given them greater skills to facilitate improving the model trains. The entire line was brought back with some additions and changes. The biggest change was a new motor voltage. 12 Volts DC had become the standard voltage instead of 6 volts. In an ironic twist, the 12V, 6-pole motors were the only part of the line not made by Mantua. The company that got its start making motors was now buying them from Pittman. Later Mantua went back to making its own motors. During the 1930's and 1940's Mantua was producing the die-cast Zamak parts for Pittman's line of 'O' gauge Trolley cars.

Mantua HO Brass Kit-built USRA 2-8-2 Mikado Steam Locomotive and Tender Kit #208 circa 1948

The 1948 Mantua catalogue announced the 'Big 2-8-2 Mikado' locomotive kit. The complete kit with tender was priced at $29.95. Or the hobbyist could acquire any Mantua locomotive kit by itself, and choose any of the 5 separate tender kits offered. The Mikado featured the Pittman DC71 motor, a silent flexible drive, insulated automatic rear coupler, a heavy trailer truck and brass axle bearings. The boiler, cab and frame were all die-cast. The ad copy stated that the Mikado was simple to assemble, and that no drilling, soldering or hole tapping was required. The loco ran on 18" radius track.

Mantua 0-4-0 HO brass metal Roundhouse goat camelback switcher kit-built Kit #204 circa 1940's In the ensuing years, changes taking place at Mantua included the conversion of brass and sheet metal parts over to zinc alloy die-cast. Updated locomotive kits for the 8-Ball Mogul and Belle of the Eighties now had a frame, tender, and cab roof that were made of die-cast while the boiler was still made of brass. Other locomotives in the line, such as the new 4-6-2 Pacific kit, were re-designed to be all die-cast in 1952. The Pacific model was introduced shortly after the 0-4-0 shifter and it appears Mantua simply used the shifter's cab. The time immediately after the war was a time of rebuilding as Mantua and other model railroad companies struggled to get back into production and overcome critical materials shortages that kept them from fulfilling a growing demand. However, once the production problems and material shortages were overcome, the post war boom accelerated model railroad business like never before. Between 1945 and 1950, the circulation of Model Railroader grew from 20,000 in 1945 to over 100,000. The majority of model railroad Mantua HO Kit-built brass & die-cast Little B tank loco Kit #206 circa 1949 hobbyists (69%) were working in HO scale by 1950. In a 1953 Popular Science article on model railroad manufacturers, the author reported that Mantua had 50 employees and sales of over $1 million annually. In 1952 sales of the little 0-4-0T 'Little B' switcher kits, introduced in 1949, exceeded 20,000. It was priced at $19.95 (kit #206). The small workhorse switcher featured a Mantua PM-1 electric motor with positive power pick-up. The catalogue copy stated that it could pull a string of 15 all-metal Mantua cars with ease. In 1949 Mantua was placing full page ads on the back cover of every issue of Model Railroader magazine. During this period the trains were packaged in green cardboard boxes and marketed as 'Little Trains'.

Mantua HO Kit-built D.L.&W Lackawanna Reefer metal kit #301-9434 circa 1940's-50's On April 30, 1947 the partnership of Jim Thomas and John Tyler was dissolved. Thomas sold his interest to Tyler who took control of Mantua while Thomas pursued other business interests. Wilbur Brazier, husband of Jim Thomas' sister Jean, worked at Mantua at the time and he took over Jim Thomas' position as designer and was placed in charge of production. Jim's brother David was also working at Mantua and continued in his role after Jim's departure. In 1947 Jim Thomas created Thomas Industries, and by 1948 started to put out a line of 'O' gauge tinplate trains. He had signed an agreement with his brother-in-law that prohibited him from going into HO gauge until 1955.

Mantua HO 40' Sheet Metal-sided Refrigerator Cars With Plastic Molded Body Shells Circa 1950's
Mantua HO 40' Steel sided Metal Burlington Reefer circa 1950's #313-A Mantua HO Crazy Crystals Water Company 40' steel reefer with pressed metal sides circa 1950's #313-B Mantua HO 40' Steel Sided reefer Bordens BPDX 12055 circa 1950's #313-C
Mantua HO 40' Steel sided reefer Pluto Water NADX 1240 circa 1950's #313-D Mantua HO 40' Steel sided reefer Land O Lakes NADX 3640 circa 1950's #313-E Mantua HO 40' steel sided reefer Baby Ruth NADX 6256 circa 1950's #313-F

Mantua HO Kit-built GN very early box car in metal #302-9403 circa 1948 Mantua offered an HO scale brass and cast metal twin-bay coal hopper kit with paper sides in 1948. They later added gondolas, boxcars, and refrigerator cars of the same metal design. Through the 1950's they offered a 40' steel ice-hatch refrigerator car kit that used pressed sheet metal sides combined with a plastic shell that featured the roof and car-end details. It was later offered under the Tyco line in fully assembled form. 1953 saw the release of a 40' gondola in plastic that appears to be the first time plastic molded rolling stock was issued. The easy to build gondola kit featured a single piece body that followed the same pattern as the previously issued HO metal and brass gondola. It included the Mantua automatic couplers and sold for $2.25. It was offered in Baltimore & Ohio, Pennsylvania Railroad, Rock Island, and Texas & Pacific liveries. Shortly after, fully assembled ready-to-run gondola models in the same four road names were issued under the Tyco line with a price tag of $3.50 suggested retail. The model underwent modifications, most notably discarding its die-cast metal underframe for a plastic one, but continued in the Tyco line for 40 years. By 1953 Mantua's automatic couplers were being used on more than 75% of all HO rolling stock in the United States. Their production of plastic freight cars began to ramp up in 1954.

Mantua HO PRR Pennsylvania 40' Gondola #397036 first made 1953 catalog #310-B Mantua HO Rock Island RI 80600 40' Open Gondola catalog #310-D circa 1953

Mantua introduced their plastic 40' steel sided box car model #311 kit in the fall of 1954. Original road names included General American, Great Northern, Gulf Mobile & Ohio, Maine Central, Missouri-Kansas-Texas, and Western Maryland. 1955 saw the introduction of the Mantua #316 plastic 8-wheel caboose kit, #309 plastic 4-wheel bobber caboose kit, and the #314 plastic flat car kit. The box car, flat car and caboose frames were cast metal. Flat cars were available in Pennsylvania, Santa Fe, and U.S. Navy road names.

Being a model craft company, Mantua's customers consisted of adult and young adult hobbyists. Mantua's marketing director Milt Grey presented John Tyler with the concept of offering complete ready-to-run HO train sets that would appeal more to younger children. Tyler Manufacturing, under John and Milt's leadership, began offering these sets in 1953, which opened a new market in the toy industry. In the 1950's and 1960's these ready-to-run HO train sets outsold the traditional Mantua railroad kits and led to John and Milt's general shift from the hobby market to the toy industry. As the company shifted its focus to toys, the marketing strategy, and the company philosophy, also changed. Up until this time Mantua had focused its sales strategy on using mail-order and hobby stores as retail outlets. Discount chain stores and toy stores would now be added as outlets. HO trains were small and took up less space on retailer's shelves, which meant an increase in profits. Industry leaders such as Lionel and Marx were now noticing the competition from the Mantua efforts. This change involved difficulty and risk. The company was now marketing products that were pre-assembled rather than products whose whole appeal had been that the buyer could assemble it. Plant workflow processes and manufacturing had to be changed to produce assembled sets rather than specific parts. The gamble paid off in the end, even though the competition also followed suit, and price wars in the ready-to-run market ensued.

Tyco HO die-cast Baldwin RF-16 Sharknose diesel circa 1953 Tyco HO Die-cast Baldwin RF-16 Sharknose Diesel circa 1953

The Company also continued to produce die-cast steam locomotives and some early diesels. In 1953 Mantua released their die-cast Baldwin RF-16 Shark Nose A and B unit diesels. Later-on in the 1970's the Sharknose was cast in plastic. In 1955 Mantua boasted that with their roster of 11 locomotives that they had the largest selection of motive power of any manufacturer. Many of the Mantua HO steam locomotives were generic designs that shared the same cab. Because the company was based in New Jersey, the models they created tended to follow local prototypes from Central of New Jersey, Reading and Lehigh Valley railroads. In order to have a working headlight in their die-cast locomotives, the bulb was initially placed in the front of the engine's smokebox and a simulated headlight with opening was included in the casting. In later years a change was made to facilitate more space between the headlight and smokebox front, and the headlight could be placed almost anywhere on the loco to be more prototypical, since there was now more room for the bulb.

Tyco HO Blue Box Era Aluminum Streamliner Passenger car #505 Coach

Mantua tended to be very creative in the design of its locomotives, but took some shortcuts that were not prototypical. The 4-4-2 Lehigh Valley Camelback Atlantic was a camelback superstructure mounted on their Pennsylvania RR Atlantic power mechanism, valve gear and drivers. The 4-6-2 Camelback took the same shortcut and had the same LV Camelback superstructure, but mounted on the Mantua 4-6-2 Pacific mechanism. For the 4-6-2 Heavy Pacific, Mantua took their Mikado boiler and mounted it on their Pacific mechanism. For their 4-6-4 Heavy Hudson, Mantua took their Mikado boiler and placed it on their Pacific mechanism, then changed the trailing truck to a 4-wheel one. Their NYC 4-6-4 Hudson was simply their Pacific, with a 4-wheel trailing truck and a set of spoked drivers substituted for the original Boxpok ones. The 4-8-0 Twelve-wheeler utilized the same superstructure as the Ten-wheeler, but with an extra driver squeezed in. Twelve-wheelers were called Mastodon's. In the mid-1960's Mantua redesigned their superstructure for their small Shifter loco, and used a number of different wheel arrangements under it (0-4-0, 0-6-0).

Tyco HO Blue Box Era 40' Steel Box Cars
Tyco HO western Maryland 40' steel box car blue box era #T311-A Tyco HO Gulf Mobile and Ohio 40's steel box car blue box era #T311-B Tyco HO Maine Central MEC 6454 40' steel Box Car #T311-D blue box era Tyco HO Missouri, Kansas, Texas the Katy 40' steel box car T311-F c. 1950's

Tyco HO Blue Box Era 40' Live Stock Cars
Tyco HO New Orleans Texas & Mexico Stock Car Missouri Pacific #312-A c. 1960 Tyco HO Atlantic Coast Line stock car #T312-B blue box era Tyco HO MKT The Katy Livestock car #312-C c. 1960

Tyco HO Blue Box Era 40' Gondolas
Tyco HO Baltimore & Ohio #T310-A early plastic gondola from the 1950's Tyco HO Texas and Pacific #T310-C early plastic gondola from the 1950's

One confusing aspect of the Tyco story for many regards Mantua and its relationship to Tyco. The name Tyco appeared for the first time in 1952. The Tyler Manufacturing Company or Tyco was created at Mantua and began selling a product line under that brand that is often known to collectors as 'the blue-box era'. This moniker was created because Tyco offered kit versions and later ready-to-run(RTR) versions of various steam and early diesel era model trains in a light-blue packaging. The growth in ready-to-run HO scale train sets was the reason behind the creation of the Tyco nameplate in 1957. Mantua is considered the pioneer of the 'ready-to-run' HO-scale model railroad kits under the Tyco brand. Many Tyco and Mantua die-cast products, such as steam engines, are collector's items today. From 1957 to 1963 the Tyco brand from Mantua produced the box cars, Wilson Reefer and gondolas for Penn Line HO train sets.

Tyco HO gauge #T-9 Talgo Articulated Streamliner Train Set with Engine and 3 passenger coaches circa 1956

In 1956 during the blue box era Tyco came out with its version of the streamlined Talgo train in HO. The #T-9 articulated passenger train was Mantua's imaginary futuristic set and answer to Varney's Aerotrain from this period. It featured a Talgo diesel locomotive and 3 passenger cars. The engine was powered with a conventional Mantua power truck. A Baker style coupler connected it to the articulated car set. The passenger cars were joined together with screws. The engine featured an operating headlight and each passenger car had interior lighting. Talgo is an abbreviation for 'Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol'. It was a company first founded in Spain in 1942. Talgo trains are best known for their unconventional articulated railway passenger cars that use in-between carriage bogies that Talgo first patented in 1941, similar to the earlier Jacobs bogie. The wheels are mounted in pairs but not joined by an axle and the bogies are shared between coaches rather than underneath individual coaches. This allows a railway car to take a turn at higher speed with less hunting oscillation. As the coaches are not mounted directly onto wheel bogies, the coaches are more easily insulated from track noise. As prototypical futuristic high speed trains rapidly fell out of favor with the public so did these models and as a result they were not made for very long. As a result this Tyco set is very rare.

Tyco HO Western & Atlantic General Set Passenger Coach and Combine

Tyco HO 4-4-0 Western & Atlantic General loco In 1959 the A.C. Gilbert Company, makers of the famous American Flyer 'S' gauge trains, offered a very desirable 'Frontiersman set' in both 'S' gauge and an HO version as part of their HO line to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. A. C. Gilbert contracted with Mantua/Tyco to produce the HO version of the Frontiersman set. Mantua/Tyco was already producing their #T-8 HO General Set at the time, so the same loco, tender and coach were utilized. The American Flyer catalog number for this set was #35099. It came with the #30188 Franklin General Locomotive and 2 #33720 passenger cars. It had a special paint scheme and some of the details like the stack and headlight were changed to create a special look for American Flyer. The engine body was cast metal and due to space constraints utilized a tender drive motor that drove a worm and spur gear on the 4-4-0 loco. This HO set is considered to be one of the most desirable sets in the complete Gilbert/American Flyer 25 year HO series. It is beleived that as part of the deal, A. C. Gilbert provided plastic passenger car shells for the Tyco passenger cars advertised in the 2 sets offered in the 1959 Tyco catalog - set #T5913 The Royal Blue Limited and set #T5908 The Canadian Limited. Up until this time Mantua had produced aluminum passenger cars but was now in the process of making the conversion to plastic. Tyco used their own frames with the plastic shells and their cars had some subtle differences with the American Flyer ones, including 2 interior light bulbs vs. 1 in the AF cars, and different passenger silhouettes. These shells were used for one year only by Tyco. From 1960 forward, Tyco made their own passenger car shells. It is easy to spot the difference, as the Tyco shells are shorter, and the 1959 longer cars have the American Flyer part number embossed on the inside. Tyco only produced the combine, coach and observation cars. American Flyer had a vista-dome car in their HO line.

Tyco HO F9A Diesel Locomotives
Tyco HO New Haven F9A diesel #T224-G red box era c. 1960 Tyco HO Santa Fe F9A Powered Diesel #T224-H Tyco HO Canadian National F9A unit diesel #T224-K made 1961 Tyco HO Union Pacific F9A Diesel red box Era #T224-N Tyco HO Penn Central F9A unit diesel #T224-R red box era Tyco HO Canadian Pacific F9A diesel #T224-B

Mantua HO Pennsylvania RR #413-181 F-7 A Unit #5861 Tyco released its plastic shell F unit diesel in the spring of 1960. It had first appeared in the 1959 catalog in Canadian Pacific livery heading up 2 sets - #T5908 The Canadian Limited passenger set and #T5903 The Coast To Coast Diesel Flyer freight set. And in Baltimore & Ohio livery heading up the #T5902 Coast To Coast Diesel Flyer. This diesel locomotive model would continue in the lineup throughout the entire existence of the company in various roadnames - 36 different ones. It was described in the catalog as an F9A, but it in fact was really an F-7. This incorrect naming practice was eventually rectified in the late 1970's when the 2nd generation Mantua took over production, altered the tooling and labeled it correctly as an F7. The 1960 release included the new road names Atlantic Coast Line, Santa Fe (blue freight livery), Chesapeake & Ohio, Denver & Rio Grande, New Haven and Santa Fe Warbonnet passenger livery. Canadian National, Burlington and both a green as well as a red painted Pennsylvania livery were added in 1961. The A units were offered in matching powered pairs. Non-powered dummy A units were also available in matching road names.

Tyco HO F9A & F9B Diesel Units
Tyco HO Baltimore & Ohio F9A & B units #T224-A & #T229-A c. 1961 Tyco HO Burlington CB&Q F9A & B Diesel Units #T224-L & #229-L circa 1961 Tyco HO Atlantic Coast Line F9A & B diesels #T224-C & #T229-C circa 1961 Tyco HO Baltimore & Ohio special chrome plated F9A & B diesels #T224-AC & #T230-AC circa 1963 Tyco HO Denver & Rio Grande Western F9A & B diesel Units #T224-F & #T229-F circa 1961 Tyco HO Chesapeake & Ohio F9A & B Diesel Units #T224-E & T229-E circa 1961

1961 saw the release of matching B units, made available in powered or non-powered versions. In 1963 Union Pacific was added and in 1964 an Atomic Energy Commission F unit was added to the catalogue, along with a special run of metalized chrome F units in Baltimore & Ohio and Santa Fe paint. In the 1970's Tyco added F unit diesels in Conrail, Amtrak, Spirit of 76, Penn Central, Western Pacific and Chessie System liveries. With the return of the Mantua name in the late 1970's twin motored units were offered with 2 power trucks. Road names expanded even further with the addition of Chicago & North Western, Great Northern (a simplified Empire Builder scheme), The Milwaukee Road, and VIA Canadian National. By the 1980's New York Central, Reading, Frisco, Southern Railway, a Big Sky blue Great Northern, Military, MKT, and Northern Pacific (in both the Lowey 2-tone green and the Pine Tree schemes) appeared in the F unit lineup. The only new road name issued in the 1990's was the NFL Super Bowl Express.

Tyco Mantua HO scale Union Pacific Mighty Mite Plymouth CR-4 Industrial Yard diesel switcher #T227-B circa 1961 In the 1960's, Tyco continued to change its focus from model train kits to ready-to-run trains sold in hobby shops and chain stores. Around this time they also added HO scale electric racing, or 'slot car' sets (in 1963). During this period, the HO scale train line saw growth and expansion, especially with diesel locomotives. One new item issued in 1960 was the Plymouth Industrial Diesel Switcher. This was essentially a one piece plastic shell placed over a 4-wheel power truck. Other diesel locomotives issued in the Tyco line typically were made available as both ready-to-run as well as in kit form. The Plymouth Industrial Diesel was never produced as a kit however. This small switch engine remained in the Tyco catalogues through 1968. Mantua did bring back this switcher in its revamped new line in 1978. The Tyco 1960's product line is referred to as 'the red-box era', as items from this time period are found in red Tyco boxes.

Tyco Mantua HO scale Red Box era #T214B Main Street 8-window Brill Trolley circa 1962-3 Starting in 1953, Mantua advertised an HO gauge 8-window Brill-type trolley kit in molded plastic. Coincidently, in the 1950's identical HO gauge trolleys were first imported to the United States by Bernie Paul and his General Hobbies Corp. (GHC), and marketed under the name 'The HO Train Company of Philadelphia'. The GHC-imported trolleys were from the Japanese producer Sakai. It is not known if Mantua acquired their trolley shells from that same producer, but the similarity would lead one to beleive that either they did acquire them from Sakai, or Sakai copied Mantua's trolley in exact detail and dimensions. There has been no documnetation produced to clear up this question. Mantua promoted their new model in all the model railroad magazines and it makes its initial appearance in the 1955 Mantua catalogue. Under the Mantua brand they first issued a kit #214 that consisted of a body shell molded in orange and a #33552 open-frame five-pole Pittman-type 12-volt motor. Unlike the GHC/HO Train Co. of Phila. model, this early Mantua version did not have a trolley pole. The advertised price for the Mantua trolley in 1953 was $8.95, while GHC sold their version for $4.95. Eventually in 1959 Mantua issued complete ready-to-run sets consisting of two trolleys, with a power car and a trailer car, and added an oval of special street track, that simulated a paved street with 2 embedded rails, almost like slot car track. This early set was called the 'Old Strap Hanger Electric Street Car Set' and used 6 'D' cell batteries to provide the constant track power to run the trolley. The trolley cars manufactured by the HO Trolley Company and the early Mantua production each had two axles, with one electrical pickup per axle, which resulted in erratic operation. Eventually, Mantua realized that the poor performance that resulted from only one electrical pickup per axle was hindering potential sales. Rather than extensively (and expensively) redesigning the power mechanism of the trolley, Mantua chose to replace the drive unit in the trolley with an existing power mechanism from their diesel locomotive line. This replacement mechanism was a proven unit, but it had the wrong axle spacing for the trolley car’s short wheelbase. The difference was small, and most people did not notice it. Initial catalogue images depicted the trolley as a street car with the name Mantua printed on its sides, but the early trolleys that were issued and that collectors have discovered have never bore Mantua lettering. As early as 1955, the street car was advertised under the Tyco banner, as ready-to-run, showing a multicolor paint scheme on an unlettered model. Tyco continued to offer these trolleys through the 1980's in several colors and line names including Coney Island, Main Street, Crosstown, Nob Hill, Wabash Avenue, Beal Street and Broadway.

Tyco & Mantua HO EMD GP20 Diesel Locomotives
Tyco HO CBQ Burlington GP20 Diesel Locomotive Red Box era release from 1962 #T228A Tyco HO Union Pacific GP20 circa 1960's #T228-C Tyco HO New York Central GP-20 diesel Red Box era release 1962 #T228D Tyco HO Denver & Rio Grande GP20 diesel Red Box era 1963 release #T228F Tyco HO gauge GP20 Western Pacific diesel Brown Box era release from 1979 #T228-33 Mantua HO Reading Lines GP20 diesel locomotive #406-21 circa 1979

The EMD GP20 diesel was first released by Tyco during the red box era in 1961, and would continue to be produced in the brown box era and then by Mantua through 2001. Tyco's release of the GP20 coincided with the real EMD GP20's introduction. The majority of Tyco’s GP20 models wear the number 5628. That number was given to one of EMD’s demo set of GP20s. Originally the model was offered with Mantua’s powered-truck drive, but later was fitted with the Tyco PowerTorque drive truck. The split between Mantua and Tyco had its beginnings in 1967. Norman Tyler, son of founder John Tyler, became president and chairman of the board of Mantua in 1967.

Tyco HO Red Box Era 40' Steel Box Cars
Tyco HO BM Boston & Maine #70056 40' steel box car T311-G Tyco HO Great Northern Railway GN 18626 40' steel box car T311-H Tyco HO L&N 40' Steel box car #311-K red box era Tyco HO Rutland 40' steel box car #311-L red box era
Tyco HO Toronto Hamilton and Buffalo 40' steel box car #T311-M red box era Tyco HO Chicago Outer Belt 40' steel box car #311-N red box era Tyco HO Southern Pacific 40' steel box car #311-P Tyco HO Minneapolis & St Louis 54657 40' steel box car #T311-Q
Tyco HO Chesapeake & Ohio C&O 40' steel box car red box era #T311-S c.1960 Tyco HO Burlington DF Route - Everywhere West CB&Q 19720 40' steel box car T311-T Tyco HO ATSF Shock Control #12079 40' steel box car T311-U Tyco HO Baltimore & Ohio 40' Steel Box car #T311W red box era
Tyco HO Penn Central 40' Steel Box Car #311-X 1970 Release Tyco HO #T311-X US Army Explosives box car red box era 1964-66 Tyco HO J. C. Penny's 40' Steel Box car #311-Y circa 1960's Tyco HO Canadian pacific 40' Steel Box car #311-Z red box era

Tyco HO Red Box Era 40' Open Gondolas
Tyco HO Chesapeake & Ohio C&O 36003 40' open gondola #T310-E Tyco HO Monnon 40' open gondola #T310-F Tyco HO NYC MOW #310-G Gondola c. 1960
Tyco HO Union Pacific 40' gondola #T310-H red box era Tyco HO B&O Baltimore & Ohio gravel gondola #T338-A circa 1967

Tyco HO Red Box Era 40' Wood-side Refrigerator Cars
Tyco HO Swift's Refrigerator Line 40' Wood-side reefer #329-A Tyco HO Armour ARLX 40' Wood-side reefer #329-C Tyco HO Mars Milky Way Wood-side reefer #T329-D made 1960 red box era Tyco HO Morrell's Pride Rd# MRX 5360 40' wood-side reefer #T329-E
Tyco HO Super Chief to California SFRD 25841 40' wood-side reefer T329-F Tyco HO scale Dairymen's League 40' Wood-side Reefer GARX 907 #329-G Tyco HO Kahns Brine Tank Reefer #T329-H red box era Tyco HO Pacific Fruit Express PFE 77678 40' wood-side reefer #329-J

Tyco HO Red Box Era 40' Live Stock Cars
Tyco HO D&RGW Rio Grande 3949 Livestock car #312-D c.1960's Tyco HO AT&SF Santa Fe 80680 40 Foot Livestock car #312-E c. 1960's

Tyco HO Red Box Era 40' Single Dome Tank Cars
Tyco HO Texaco 40' Single Dome Oil Tanker Car #315A circa 1962 Tyco HO Shell 40' Single Dome Tank Car #315C circa 1962 Tyco HO Hercules Powder tank car #T315-E red box era

Miscellaneous Tyco HO Red Box Era Freight Cars
Tyco HO Western Maryland flat with pipes #342-A 1960's Tyco HO Western Maryland 40' Skid Flat with 3 Tractors #351-A red box era 1960's Tyco HO Diamond Chemical Tank car #324-A red box era
Tyco HO Automated Log Dump Car #926-900 T350A c. 1969 red box era Tyco HO Scale 50' Pulpwood Car #4365 The Southern Railroad #334-A circa 1966-7 Tyco HO Virginian Automated 2-Bay Hopper with Unload Feature #T330-F red box era

In early 1964, Mantua began selling a separate line of injected molded HO freight cars under the name of Crown Products that were produced in Hong Kong by Kader. The cars were a 36' steel-type end-cupola caboose model, a 50 ton steel box car, 3-dome tank car, 50 ton gondola, and a 50' 200 ton 16-wheel flatcar with logs. Mantua advertised the Hong Kong-made Crown line on the inside front cover of the January 1964 issue of Model Railroader magazine. At the bottom of the ad Crown Products was listed as a division of Mantua Metal Products. The Crown cars were sold in cardboard and plastic blister-packs that were marked with Mantua’s Woodbury Heights, N.J. address. These were the first HO scale Kader-produced trains to be sold in the United States. All of the Crown Products freight cars appeared to be knock-off copies of other manufacturers cars. Similarities to Varney and Athearn HO freights are uncanny. The Crown cars can be easily identified as the words 'Crown' and 'Hong Kong' are embossed on the undersides of the plastic frames. The Crown cars had sprung trucks with plastic wheels and cylindrical axles, rather than pointed axles found in replacement wheelsets. These Crown freight cars were offered at a much lower price point than the regular blue box and red box Mantua/Tyco production freights. These same cars later appeared in the lines of AHM and Bachmann. In 1984 Kader acquired Bachmann and continued to produce a wide variety of model trains in multiple scales, including the same HO freight cars that Mantua offered in the Crown Products line.

Crown products HO Freight Cars Issued by Mantua in 1964
Mantua Crown Products HO PRR 50 Ton box car #C150 circa 1964 Mantua Crown Products HO Texaco 3-dome tank car #C151 circa 1964 Mantua Crown Products HO Chicago Outer Belt 50 ton gondola #C152 circa 1964
Mantua Crown Products HO A.T & S.F. 16-wheel Lumber flat Car #C153 circa 1964

Tyco introduced its HO model of the ALCO Century 430 diesel locomotive in 1966. This engine would remain in the product line through 1993, 25 years longer than the real ALCO Century 430's that only lasted 2 years (1966-68). During its lifespan at Tyco it was catalogued as the #235 series and appeared in Chicago Quincy & Burlington, Burlington Nothern, Canadiana, Canadian National, Chessie System, Grand Trunk RR, Great Northern, Green Bay & Western, Illinois Central, Illinois Central Gulf, New Haven, Penn Central, Pennsylvania, Rock Island, Santa Fe (Warbonnet), Santa Fe (freight), Silver Streak, Soo Line, Spirit of 76, Spokane Portland & Seattle, USA Express, and Virginian liveries, plus an upainted kit version. It was always found with road #4301 rgardless of road name. Tyco's Century 430 was initally powered using Mantua's power-truck motor. The early versions have 'Mantua-Tyco' embossed on the weight at the bottom of the fuel tank. Later Century 430 models utilized the Tyco PowerTorque drive. Starting in 1990 Tyco moved production from Hong Kong to Yugoslovia, where Mehano built the ALCO Century 430's using their own tooling. This later production is easily recognizable as it does not carry Tyco's name on the fuel tank. There have been no known models discovered of either the Green Bay & Western or the Spokane Portland & Seattle Century 430's in HO by Tyco, so it is generally believed that they were never actually produced in this road name despite being catalogued.

Tyco HO Penn Central ALCO Century 430 Diesel Locomotive circa 1970's #T235-C Tyco HO Rock Island ALCO Century 430 Diesel Locomotive circa 1971 #235-10 Tyco HO Virginian Alco Century 430 diesel #235-79 1982 Release

By the 1970's, Tyco shifted sales and marketing to a consumer-oriented, mass marketing focus. After the name changed to Tyco Industries, the company was sold in 1970 to Consolidated Foods during an era of corporate conglomerates, takeovers and diversification. The sale ended forty-five years of continuous ownership by the Tyler family. John Tyler passed away in November, 1972. With the creation of Tyco Industries, the Mantua brand name was retired. Tyco headquarters was moved to Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. Although the Mantua name was no longer used, many locomotive kits continued to be sold but under the Tyco name. As a division of what became Sara Lee, Tyco continued to grow. Norman Tyler oversaw the incorporation of the company under the new name Tyco Industries, which combined Mantua Metal Products and Tyler Manufacturing. This Consolidated Foods Era is referred to as the 'brown-box' period for collectors.

Tyco Brown Box Era HO 40' Wood-side Refrigerator Cars, Billboard Reefers & Old Time Reefers
Tyco HO Schlitz Beer 40' Wood-side Billboard Reefer Brown Box Era #355-A Tyco HO Hershey's Chocolate 40' wood-side billboard reefer #355-B Tyco HO Baby Ruth Candy 40' wood-side billboard reefer #355-C
Tyco HO Gerber's 40' wood-side billboard reefer #355-D Tyco HO gauge Ralston Purina 40' wood-side billboard reefer #355-E circa 1980's Tyco HO H.J.H. Co. Heinz 57 Varieties Pickle Logo 40' Reefer #355-F brown box era Tyco HO Oscar Mayer 40' old-time wood-side reefer #370-A circa 1978 Tyco HO Miller Beer 40' old-time wood-side reefer #370-B -1978 Release Tyco HO Budweiser Old Time Reefer #370-C -1978 Release Tyco HO Hires Root Beer 40' old-time wood-side reefer #370-D circa 1978

Tyco HO Brown Box Era 40' Steel Box Cars
Tyco HO CP Rail 40' steel box car brown box era 1974 release #311-A Tyco HO Illinois Central 40' steel box car brown box era release 1974 #311-B

Tyco Mantua HO ALCO Super 630 C&O Chessie System 1102 Diesel made 1975-6 The Super 630 ALCO diesels were introduced in the 1972 catalog. The 630 was the first new locomotive to arrive after the Tyler family sold the Tyco line to Consolidated Foods. Prior to 1970, Tyco offered models that reflected fairly accurate prototypes. After 1970, under Consolidated Foods leadership, Tyco's offerings wandered into a fantasy world of unprototypical models. It is this interesting period that provides modelers and collectors with such items as a Popsicle and Star-Kist Tuna box cars and various Bicentennial locomotives. Looked down upon by serious hobbyists, these items none the less found favor among those who enjoyed them as kids and went on to enjoy collecting them as adults. After reaching its zenith in 1973, the work force at Woodbury Heights dwindled as Consolidated Foods moved more and more production to the Far East. Many items from this period can be found with 'Made in Hong Kong' embossed on the underside. Consolidated Foods management remained positive on Tyco and appointed Dick Grey, son of Milt, as president and Harry Pearce as chief financial officer in 1973. Grey and Pearce brought Tyco back into the black by the late 1970's.

Tyco HO Brown Box Era 50' Plug Door Box Cars
Tyco HO El Capitan Santa Fe 50' Plug Door Box Car #339-A Tyco HO CP Rail 50' Plug Door Box Car #339-D Tyco HO Burlington Northern 50' plug door box car #339-E Tyco HO Railbox 50' Plug Door Box Car RBOX 10000 #339-F Tyco HO Alaska RR 50' Plug Door Box car ARR 10804 #339-J

Tyco HO Brown Box Era 50' Old Time Box Cars
Tyco HO Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco 50' Old Time box car #374-A -1979 Release Tyco HO Enjoy Coca-Cola Old Time 50' Old Time box car #374-B 1979 Release Tyco 50' Jack Frost Sugar Old Time box car in HO Scale #374-C 1979

Tyco HO Brown Box Era 50' Billboard Box Cars
Tyco HO JELL-O Dessert GARX 50' Billboard Box Car 365-A 1977-82 Tyco HO Canada Dry Ginger Ale 50' Billboard Box Car #365-B circa 1977 Tyco Railbox 50' Billboard Box car in HO gauge #365-F 1977-80

Tyco HO Brown Box Era 40' Tank Cars
Tyco HO Union 76 40' Tank Car #315-H brown box era Tyco HO Wesson Oil Single Dome Tank Car GATX 9876 brown box era

Tyco HO Brown Box Era 63' Tank Cars
Tyco HO Coca Cola 63' 12-wheel 3-dome Tank car #357-F c.1972-73 Tyco HO Gulf Oil 63' 12-wheel 3-dome Tank car #357-B c.1972-73

Tyco HO Brown Box Era 40' Live Stock Cars
Tyco HO K C Durango 40394 Stock Car #312-G made 1977 Tyco HO LNP&W Laramie Stock Car #53412 #312-H made 1981

Miscellaneous Tyco HO Brown Box Era Freight Cars
Tyco HO Union Pacific Gondola #341-B Brown Box era Tyco HO Bethlehem Steel Billboard Hopper Car #366A from 1977 Tyco HO ATSF Santa Fe 50' Piggyback Flat car #354-A circa 1970's

Tyco Chattanooga 2-8-0 Consolidation Steam Engine and Tender with Smoke in HO circa 1975 catalogue #245-15 In 1975 Tyco came out with its Chattanooga Choo-Choo products. The line included regular production locomotives and freight cars, configured in sets, and adorned with Chattanooga Choo-Choo graphics. The first year featured a 2-8-0 Consolidation as the loco. The Consolidation and the caboose were made available as separate sale items. The 1977 set was headed up by a yellow-and-orange GP-20 diesel. In 1978 the motive power provided in the set was an 0-8-0 steam outline loco and tender. The Chattanooga Choo-Choo 0-8-0 had the motor and gearing completely located in the tender, so the locomotive was essentially a dummy. Chattanooga Choo-Choo sets remained in the Tyco catalog through 1992, with the exception of 1982, 83 and 84. Only the 0-8-0 loco with tender was advertised in the catalog during that 3-year period.

Tyco HO Amtrak GG-1 Circa 1977 #251-07 Tyco HO Amtrak Streamline Combine Passenger car #520-N brown box era Tyco HO Amtrak Streamline Observation car #522-N Brown box era

Tyco introduced its HO model of the famous GG-1 Electric in 1977. It was offered in only a single set - The Broadway Limited, but remained in the Tyco catalogue through 1986. It was available for separate sale in Pennsylvania, New Haven (1981-2) and Amtrak road names. In 1978 Tyco released an HO model of the Electro-Motive Division's (EMD) SD24 diesel locomotive as the #239 series. The HO model was driven by Tyco's single-truck PowerTorque mechanism. This was the first diesel issued by Tyco to employ solid snap-in plastic handrails instead of metal wire. Tyco's actual HO model appeared Tyco HO Chessie System SD24 diesel #239-03 1980 Release somewhat different than the illustration that was used in the 1977 catalogue announcement. It is beleived that the artist actually utilized a custom painted Atlas SD24 that was produced by Roco as a model to create the drawing. The Tyco SD24 production models differ from Roco's in that they do not have a winterization hatch over the lead radiator fan and the exhaust stack is rectangular shaped vs. the Roco model's oval shape. Other differences include grab irons running up the nose of the short hood, as well as more correctly spaced trucks and fuel tank. During its life span at Tyco the SD24 was catalogued in Burlington, Chessie System, Rio Grande, Rocky Mountain Line, and Union Pacific road names. Again in later years when production shifted from Hong Kong to Mehano in Yugoslavia, the appearance of the Tyco SD24 differed from earlier production. The length of the early diesel loco was shortened, but featured a prototypical flexcoil truck. Late versions were fitted with a non-prototypical truck similar to the trucks found on Tyco's Super 630 diesels. The SD24 was last catalogued by Tyco in 1983.

Tyco Midnight special sharknose diesel freight set in HO gauge circa 1977

Tyco HO New York Central TY222-06-PO Sharknose Diesel #222-06 -1976 Release By the 1980's, Tyco dominated the market in electric slot car racing, as well as the radio control category. In the mid 1980's, Tyco products no longer carried the Consolidated Foods ownership markings and Tyco Industries emerged. Consolidated Foods sold Tyco in 1981 for $18.6 million to Savoy Industries. Savoy was known for being an investment company that restructured troubled companies. Tyco's train line was becoming even more outlandish with items like 'The A-Team' and 'Rambo' train sets. The line in general also was shrinking in total variety. The company added Tyco HO Northern Pacific Sharknose diesel #222-72 -1982 Release the 'US-1 Trucking' slot trucks to its line in 1981. In early 1986, Savoy Industries put Tyco stock on the open market generating $13.4 million and ending Savoy’s involvement in the toy company. Diversification continued with the 1989 purchase of the View-Master/Ideal Group, which brought to the company the View-Master®, Magna Doodle® and the Ideal Nursery line of dolls. The company also began offering telephones; remote-control vehicles; and other items beyond the model train line. These changes in product line see the model train category down to 60% of Tyco’s overall 1986 sales.

Tyco HO gauge Turbo Train circa 1986

Tyco had first utilized television ads and program tie-ins in the 1960's to promote their products. By the 1980's more and more money was being spent and children's television programs were being produced to sell specific toys. In 1989, Michael Lyden, Tyco Industries, Inc.'s then vice president of business development, announced that the company would be spending more dollars on television advertising. A total of $2 million was to be spent on primetime television promoting Tyco's Twin Turbo Train. This was a system of two trains that could race against each other and go through loops. That amount was the most Tyco had ever spent promoting a single train.

Tyco HO #253-25 1880 Central Pacific 4-8-0 Mastodon Twelve Wheeler Locomotive circa 1976

Tyco HO gauge #1435 Southern 0-6-0 steam loco from Casey Jones set circa 1983 catalogue #257-76 In the 1990's, Tyco branched out with other toys such as airplanes, Super Blocks, which were clones of Lego brand building elements (after the basic patent ran out in 1983), and Sesame Street items. Tyco purchased Matchbox, a maker of model cars, in 1993. They acquired licensing agreements with Warner Bros., Walt Disney, and Children's Television Workshop to produce Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Sesame Street, and Little Mermaid toys. Tyco exited the model railroad business after the 1993 catalog. Only three train sets were offered in the final year, including Railroad Empire II, Overnight Freight, and Santa Fe 72. No separate accessories were offered in this final year of production. In 1995, Tyco Preschool was named the primary toy licensee for the Children's Television Workshop. A year later Tyco Preschool launched an extensive new line based on the popular children's program, Sesame Street. When Tyco was purchased by Mattel on March 27, 1997, it was the third largest toy company in the United States. The brand survived as the Mattel Tyco R/C division. In 2005 the Mt. Laurel headquarters was closed and the Tyco division was moved to Mattel's headquarters in El Segundo, Ca.

Mantua HO Northern Pacific 0-8-0 USRA Alco Loco & Tender #314-04 issued 1977 The Tyco model railroad business was purchased back by the Tyler family on July 1, 1977. When the old factory in Woodbury Heights, N.J., was placed on the market, Norman Tyler purchased it. Mantua Metal Products was reborn as Mantua Industries. To commemorate the milestone, a limited edition box car designated MMP 307 was produced and sent to each Mantua distributor. This white and orange car is colorfully designed with an illustration of the General locomotive and its wood pile tender to the right of the car door and printed data relating to the Mantua firm and car weights to the left. These cars were never offered to the public and are quite rare. The new group of HO scale trains made consisted largely of the items found during Tyco's Red Box Era and before. Products were again being issued in blue boxes, just as Mantua had in the pre-war era. Nearly all steam engines and a few of the diesel locomotives, plus an assortment of rolling stock were included in this new Mantua product line. The initial diesels included the F-unit, now correctly labeled as an F-7, the GP-20 and the Plymouth Yard Diesel. These late 1970's Mantua diesels differ from their Tyco counterparts in that the Mantua locos featured the company's self contained Power Truck motor and not Tyco's PowerTorque motor. The Power Truck featured an electric motor with a 5-pole armature fitted with a nylon worm and gear. The truck also had solid brass wheel bearings. Mantua also added a Dynamic Brake to the GP-20's hood. The brake could be purchased separately as a kit.

Mantua HO Santa Fe 4-6-2 Pacific Steam Loco & Tender #311-01 released in 1978

Mantua HO scale 0-4-0 Southern Railway Shifter Steam Loco & Tender #303-40 made 1978 There were 14 different steam locomotive offerings included in the Mantua 1978 catalogue, covering the majority of its pages. The lineup consisted of the small #301-series Booster 0-4-0 tank, the #302 series 0-6-0 Little Six tank loco, the #303 series 0-4-0 Shifter loco with tender, the #304 series 0-6-0 Big Six loco with tender, the #305 series 0-4-0 Pony loco and tender, the #306 series 2-6-2 Prairie loco and tender, the #307 series 4-4-0 General loco and tender, the #308 series Dixie Belle loco and tender, the #309 series 4-6-0 1890 Rodgers loco and tender, the #310 series Mantua HO Burlington Route 0-4-0 Pony Loco and tender #305-62 circa 1978 4-8-0 1880 12-wheeler loco and tender, the #311 series 4-6-2 Pacific loco and tender, the #312 series 2-8-2 Mikado loco and tender, the #313 series 2-6-0 Mogul loco and tender, and finally the big #314 series 0-8-0 USRA Alco loco & Tender. Unlike the Tyco 0-8-0, where the electric motor was located in the tender, the Mantua 0-8-0 had the electric motor placed in the locomotive shell. By 1979, Mantua had added 4 more steam outline locomotives to the catalogue. These were the #315 series 2-8-0 Consolidation loco and tender, the #316 series 4-6-4 Hudson loco and tender, the #317 series 2-8-4 Berkshire loco and tender, and the #318 series 2-10-0 Decapod loco and tender.

Mantua HO Philadelphia & Reading 0-4-0 Goat #335-020 made 1985 Mantua HO Sierra RR 4-6-0 1890 Rodgers Steam Engine #309-07 1978 release

In 1979 the Mantua freight lineup consisted only of the 1860/1890 Vintage Old-time Car kits and the passenger cars issued were the same extruded aluminum streamliners that were the mainstay of the Mantua line for many years in the 1950's, before the change to plastic was made. Initially only Santa Fe and Pennsylvania road names were available as ready-to-run, along with undecorated kits. The six streamline car styles offered were the diner, combine, room car, coach, baggage car and observation car. In 1980 ready-to-run versions in Union Pacific, New York Central, Pennsylvania (maroon or silver), Santa Fe, Baltimore & Ohio, Amtrak, Chicago & Northwestern, Milwaukee Road, VIA Canadian National, and Great Northern (green) road names were added. Only the body shells and floors were aluminum.

Mantua HO Aluminum Streamline Passenger Cars
Mantua HO Santa Fe Aluminum Baggage Car #221-001 circa 1980's Mantua HO Santa Fe Aluminum Combine #222-001 circa 1980's-90's Mantua HO Santa Fe Aluminum Passenger coach #223-001 circa 1980's-90's Mantua HO Santa Fe Aluminum Diner car #224-001 circa 1980's-90's

The streamline passenger car ends, doors, and truck side frames were pressure molded plastic. The cars featured dual lighted interiors and were packaged in orange and yellow boxes with black lettering for Mantua. Later on in 1985 a vista-dome car was added, and in 1989 a vista-dome observation car joined the lineup. In 1985 Northern Pacific, Southern Pacific, New Haven, Southern, and Great Northern (classic) road names were added. In 1992 a 4-car set labeled Golden State Limited appeared in the catalogue, and by 1993 it was expanded to a 6-car set. By 1995 the aluminum passenger cars disappeared from the Mantua catalogue. Employment went from a skeleton crew in 1977 to 80 employees in 1984. Many of the former Tyco model train products were produced by Mantua and by International Hobby Corporation (IHC) in the 1990's after Tyco completely ceased model train production.

Mantua HO Commemorative State Series 50' Plug Door Box Cars 1980-81
Mantua HO Commemorative State Series Georgia Peach State 50' Plug Door Box Car #711-4 circa 1980 Mantua HO Commemorative State Series Louisana The Pelican State 50' Plug Door Box Car #711-18 circa 1980
Tyco HO State of the Union Commemorative Series & Bicentennial Series 50' Plug Door Box Cars 1975-76
Tyco HO State Commemorative Series Georgia Statehood 50' Plug Door Box Car #363-D 1975-6 Tyco HO Spirit of 1776 Washington's Crossing 50' Plug Door Box Car #362-C 1975-76

In 1980 Mantua issued its first 24 cars in its Commemorative State Box cars set. These cars utilized the same bodies as the original Tyco 50' plug door box cars first released in the 1960's. Each car in the Commemorative State Box car set was decorated for a different US state. In 1981 the remaining 26 US state cars were released to complete the full set of all 50 US states. These cars were only shown in catalogues through 1984. These Mantua cars are often mistaken with a set of the same 50' plug door box cars issued by Tyco in 1975 to commemorate the American Revolution and the 200th birthday of the United States. Tyco intended to issue 13 cars in that series to honor the original 13 US colonies, however only 6 state's cars were ever made, and this series disappeared from catalogues after 1976. Tyco referred to this #363 series as Commemorative Box Cars in catalogues, but offered the cars in 3-pack sets that were called State of Union Cars. To add to the confusion, in the mid-1970's Tyco also issued a US Bicentennial set of 50' plug door box car offerings. That set featured 3 cars decorated to commemorate the American Revolution. They were the Minuteman car, Paul Revere's Ride car and the Washington's Crossing car.

Mantua HO 41' Steel Box Cars Made from Acquired Lindberg Tooling
Mantua HO PRR Pennsylvania 41' Steel Box Car #734-520 circa 1984 Mantua HO Reading 41' Steel Box car #734-186 circa 1989 Mantua HO Lifesavers 41' Steel Single Door box car #734-010
Mantua HO NYC Pacemaker 41' Steel Box car #734-022 circa 1988 Mantua HO Pennsylvania RR Merchandise Service 41' Steel Single Door box car #734-249 circa 1984 Mantua HO Frisco 41' Steel Box Car #734-012 (RTR) 1989 release
Mantua HO Rail Box 41' Steel Box Car #734-230 circa 1993 Mantua HO Boston & Maine 41' Steel Box car #734-530 circa 1997 Mantua HO 75th Anniversary 41' Steel Single Door box car #734-775 issued 2001

In the early 1980's, Mantua began offering a selection of HO scale freight cars to expand its line beyond just locomotives. These freight cars came from Lindberg’s train line and date originally to the early 1960's. The offerings included a 41' steel box car that debuted in 1984 in kit form. Ready to run versions came out in 1987. By 1989 the kit versions of the steel box cars are gone from catalogs. The 40' stock car, 43' Gondola and 36' center cupola New England-style Caboose are other freight cars added to the Mantua line from the former Lindbergh offerings.

Mantua 43' HO Gondolas Made from Acquired Lindberg Tooling
Mantua HO scale Railgon 43' gondola with coal load #731-221 circa 1994 Mantua HO scale CBQ Burlington 43' Gondola with coal load #731-062 circa 1994 Mantua HO Reading RR 40' gondola #731-521 circa 1997

Mantua 41' HO Stock Cars Made From Acquired Lindberg Tooling
Mantua HO Union Pacific OSL 41906 41' livestock car from Lindberg tooling #735-003 Mantua HO Pennsylvania Railroad 41' Wood Stock car #735-520 circa 2000 Mantua HO 41' Wood Stock Car #735-064 Chicago & North Western

Mantua HO Undecorated Kit-built 2-6-6-2 Articulated Logging Mallet #524 released 1981 Also in the early 1980's, Mantua produced an HO scale model in die-cast metal and plastic of the 2-6-6-2 Mallet articulated logging locomotive. It was made available in both kit and ready-to-run versions, as well as with two different options for cylinder types (slide valve, and piston valve types). The loco was powered by an open frame motor through the 1990's when Mantua switched to can motors. This loco remained in the Mantua line throughout the life of the company and appeared in 6 different configurations covering 14 road names, including Booth Kelly, Uintah Railway, Weyerhaeuser, Virginian Railway, Long Bell, White River, Rayonier, Meadowood Logging Co., Sumpter Valley, Sierra Railway, Great Northern, Cherry Valley, and Deep River Logging Co., resulting in 21 different models.

Mantua HO 4-6-4 NYC Hudson loco #356-022 circa 1980 Mantua 2-10-0 HO PRR Decapod #318-20 circa 1979

Mantua HO NFL New York Jets Super Bowl III Champions 40' reefer #733-928 circa 1991 Mantua continued to offer an expanding line of model trains in the 1980's and 1990's. Eric Tyler, grandson of Norman Tyler, became vice-president of Mantua and oversaw the introduction of a line of ready-to-run train sets in 1990. In 1991, through a licensing agreement with the National Football League (NFL), Mantua issued a Super Bowl Express freight set in HO scale. The set featured a GP-20 locomotive, caboose and 12 box cars commemorating past Super Bowl Champions. The set was sold at major retail outlets such as Sears and JC Penny. Additional non-Super Bowl Winner cars were eventually also issued. Mantua added an N-scale Superbowl Express freight train set in 1993. The N scale Superbowl set was actually produced by Life-Like. In 1996, Mantua issued a 30th Anniversary Superbowl Express edition. Mantua also offered a yearly team update, however the last issue was the 1999 Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos.

Mantua HO 40' Wood-side Refrigerator Cars
Mantua HO scale ART 40' wood-side refrigerator car #739-182 circa 1994 Mantua HO scale Great Northern Western Fruit Express 40' Wood-side Reefer #739-180 circa 1994 Mantua HO Union Refrigerator Transit M&StL The Peoria Gateway Wood-side Reefer #739-179 circa 1994

In 1993 Mantua issued its version of the 40' Wood-side refrigerator cars. The original Tyco version had featured stirrup steps that were either open or filled in, but the Mantua version of this ice-hatch style reefer were all completely filled in and solid. This change was in answer to several complaints received from customers about cracked or broken off steps. These Mantua reefers are differentiated from the Tyco versions as they featured die-cast underframes and a separate brake wheel. The earlier Tyco reefers had a plastic underframe. These cars continued in the Mantua line through 2000. Mantua also made a rivet side steel 41' refrigerator car in HO that came from the Lindberg tooling. It was introduced in 1983 along with the other former Lindberg freights.

Mantua HO 41' Steel Refrigerator Cars Made From Lindberg Tooling
Mantua HO 41' Steel Reefer State of Maine Bangor & Aroostock #733-130 circa 1983 Mantua HO 41' Steel Refrigerator Car Santa Fe #733-001 circa 1994 Mantua HO 41' Steel reefer Carnation Milk #733-306 circa 2001

The Mantua Collectibles line of steam engines began appearing in 1996. The Collectibles series was a limited edition production run of 2500 models of each designated locomotive. The locos came with a wood base made of walnut fitted with a straight section of HO track that the loco sat on, and there was a brass nameplate on the wood plaque base that identified each locomotive. Mantua issued a separate 16 page color catalogue for the Collectibles line. Each locomotive issued in the series was patterned after its actual prototype and was adorned with significantly more boiler detail and glossier paint jobs than the regular run versions of these same locomotive types. Each model was priced at $195. The lineup included the Southern Crescent Limited Pacific, the B&O President Adams Pacific, the B&O President Washington Pacific, the B&O Royal Blue Pacific, the PRR Lindberg Special Atlantic, the New York Central Hudson and the Union Pacific Grey Goose Pacific.

Mantua Collectibles HO Limited Edition Locomotives
Mantua Collectibles 4-6-2 HO #03001 loco & tender Class 1300 of the Southern Crescent Limited issued 1996 Mantua Collectibles HO Union Pacific Grey Goose 4-6-2 Pacific Locomotive #03004 made 1996 Mantua Collectibles HO President Adams B&O P7 4-6-2 Pacific Locomotive #03007 made 1996 Mantua Collectibles HO Lindberg Special Pennsy #460 E6 4-4-2 Atlantic Locomotive #03008 made 1996

Mantua 2-8-2 HO Atlantic Coast Line Camelback Mikado loco #322-47 issued 1981In the late 1990's, Mantua steam locomotives underwent a transformation. They used to offer the following wheel arrangements: 0-4-0, 0-6-0, 2-8-2, 4-4-2, 4-6-2, 4-6-4 (two versions, one with Pacific boiler and one with Mikado boiler), and a 2-6-6-2 articulated logging locomotive. They were all powered by an open frame motor. The newer incantation of these locomotives included more wheel arrangements including several Camelbacks. The newer models also came in a variety of road names and had Sagami can motors and improved gearing. The new can motors made a considerable difference in locomotive performance. Mantua made steam locomotives in the small to medium size range. The switcher is a fairly accurate model of a Reading 0-4-0, except that it scales out about a foot too high. The 0-6-0 version is not a model of anything other than an 0-4-0 body on a 0-6-0 chassis. The switchers come with a rubber tire on one wheel. Mantua applied two versions of a larger boiler to different chassis to produce both light and heavy USRA designs of both the 4-6-2 and the 2-8-2 wheel arrangements. The 4-6-2 is very close to a USRA light 4-6-2 or a B&O class P-7 4-6-2. The 2-8-2 is very close to a Lehigh Valley 2-8-2 or CB&Q O-3. They also used it as a generic Camelback boiler.

During this period the F-7 and GP-20 diesels saw a number of improvements as well. A brass flywheel motor and full 8-wheel drive with a die-cast metal chassis greatly improved the performance of the Mantua diesels during the 1990's. Also during the 1980's and 1990's, Mantua picked up many former pieces of rolling stock that were once part of the Lindbergh line of HO scale trains. The 43' Gondola and 36' center cupola New England-style Caboose are both examples of cars added to the Mantua line from the former Lindbergh offerings.

Tyco Mantua HO Scale Brown Box Era Union Pacific City of San Francisco SF-4 GM EMD E7/8 #255-23 circa 1978 2001 marked Mantua's 75th anniversary. Sadly it was to be their last. Citing 'Market Conditions' as the reason, Mantua announced that as of October 31st 2001, Mantua ceased production of its model railroad lines. Model Expo bought all of the ready-to-run locomotive inventory and offered them for sale through their mail order catalog. The model railroad business tooling and raw materials were sold to the Model Power company, which continued to sell a few items such as steam engines as its Mantua Classics brand. On April 22, 2014, after 50 years of serving the hobby industry, the 3rd generation Model Power/Tager family business closed down permanently. Model Power was then acquired in 2014 by Model Rectifier Corp (MRC), and continued to produce the Mantua Classics products line. In August 2018 Lionel announced that it had agreed to a deal with ATI Model Products Inc., doing business as Model Power, to acquire a broad range of model train tooling used to produce the Model Power/Mantua product lines. Final details of the agreement were being worked through and tooling was expected to transfer to Lionel in September of 2018. No previously produced product was contemplated in the transaction. This strategic acquisition was intended to accelerate Lionel’s expansion in the HO category, while adding complementary products and accessories to other portions of its business.

Mantua 2-8-2 HO Chesepeake & Ohio Mikado Steam Loco w/operating smoke & Vanderbilt oil type tender issued 1997 #348-023

Mantua HO Reading 0-6-0 Tank switcher #393-021 circa 1994 The collectibility of Mantua and Tyco model and toy trains is a subject of debate amongst antique toy train collectors. HO and N scale trains are normally not considered to be collectible. Typically, they are worth not more than half of their original retail value no matter how old they are. Exceptions are brass locomotives and some limited run plastics. There are however those who had these toys, perhaps as their first exposure to model trains when they were young, who still enjoy them and seek them out for the memories they hold. There are those who are on limited budgets to exercise their hobby, and enjoy the hunt to complete a collection of inexpensive models, such as the plastic trains made by Tyco. Then there are instances where some of these models actually do have collector value because of the limited quantities manufactured and their scarcity today. The Tyco Gulf Mobile & Ohio GP20 #228-71 was only made for less than a year, and these locomotives have been seen selling in the $200 range on Not bad for something that retailed for $16 in 1978 (adjusted for inflation, $16.00 in 1978 is equal to $66.21 in 2020). The older Mantua metal kit-built locos, such as the pre-war era sheet brass 2-8-0 Consolidations are also in demand. While these older brass and cast trains do not match up with the more modern HO locomotives readily avaiable today with far more scale detail and on-board electronics, such as TMCC and sound, they do represent early milestones in the HO hobby. And they still look good on a shelf or in a display cabinet, and many of them are still traversing layouts. There are also those who are just starting out in the hobby and don't want to spend a lot of money to get going. Since the majority of Tyco trains produced in the red box and brown box eras are available in greater numbers and at very affordable prices, hobbyists with minimal funding can jump right in and get their railroad empire up and running quickly.

Link to Tyco Trains Resource Web Site.

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