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Tinplate Toy Trains

Having added another O-Gauge Tinplate toy train set to my collection, the thought occurred to me that while I've had photos of my various Tinplate toy trains scattered throughout the web site and my blog, there was no one place on the web site that someone interested in tinplate could go to see them all.  While photos of Tinplate will continue to appear on the appropriate pages throughout the web site, I've decided to also consolidate them all on this page.  Though they mix O-Gauge and Standard Gauge, they are united by the fact that they are very colorful reproductions of Tinplate toy trains from the years between the two World Wars.  They appear here in something approaching chronological order, that is, my oldest Tinplate trains first, with the newest down toward the bottom of the page.  All of the Tinplate trains are manufactured by MTH, either as part of their Tinplate Traditions line, or by Lionel Corp., a division of MTH, licensed by Lionel LLC.

In early 2002, MTH released an O-Gauge version of the New York Central J1e Hudson in gray enamel with a tinplate tender, to accompany a limited edition club set with reproductions of prewar O-Gauge Tinplate passenger cars in blue.  This set came ready-to-run with track and transformer and was called American Legacy.  The train set itself was a reproduction of a Lionel set released in 1939.  This was the special box the set came in and was my very first Tinplate set.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

Here's the contents of the box; everything was included even down to the hookup wires!

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

This is a close-up view of the MTH Scaletrax.  In time, I found that this is better used on a permanent layout rather than carpet.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

Here's the gray enameled Hudson, based on the Lionel 763.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

This is the tinplate tender.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

Here's the 2612 coach car.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

This is the 2613 coach car.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

Here's the 2614 observation car.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

And this is the 2615 baggage car.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

Finally, here's a shot of the set on the auxilliary layout on the floor of my library.

MTH American Legacy tinplate set

 In 2005, MTH brought out a reproduction of the Lionel O-Gauge tinplate 763E locomotive in two-tone blue.  This locomotive, when combined with the blue tinplate passenger cars in the American Legacy set above, made up the Baby Blue Comet (called "Baby" when the O-Gauge set is compared to the Standard Gauge Blue Comet).  When put together, they make a stunning O-Gauge tinplate set!

MTH 263E blue tinplate locomotive

MTH 263E blue tinplate locomotive

Since I put together the Baby Blue Comet set as shown above, the gray Hudson with the tinplate tender (with a box coupler) was pretty much left to the display shelf.  MTH brought out a set of O-Gauge tinplate passenger cars very much like the blue ones that originally accompanied the Hudson in the American Legacy set, but these were in a stunning terra cotta paint scheme.  They made a fine addition to the gray Hudson and now run as a set together.

MTH terra cotta tinplate passenger cars

MTH terra cotta tinplate passenger cars

MTH terra cotta tinplate passenger cars

MTH terra cotta tinplate passenger cars

In 2002 and again in 2004, MTH brought out Standard Gauge ready-to-run sets (quite unusual actually) for Christmas.  The first set featured three of the 330-series passenger cars and the #10 electric locomotive.  The second set featured a #384E steam locomotive and tender and two passenger cars.  These were my first Standard Gauge Tinplate toy trains.  Over the years, they've also brought out add-on cars to fill out the sets.  Here are the two sets shown together so that all of the reindeer (and their boss) can be in order.  I usually run these as two individual sets, one with five passenger cars and one with four.  First up is the #10 electric locomotive.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

The smiling face of the locomotive.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

Next up is the #384E steam locomotive.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

This is the tender.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

The locomotive and tender, broadside, on the floor of the library.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

The 384E steamer really smokes up a storm!

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

This was one of the add-ons, a baggage car.  I mean, what's the use of the reindeer if Santa isn't with them?

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

And here are the reindeer, in Night Before Christmas order.  First up is the Dasher coach car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

This is the Dancer observation car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

And here's the Prancer observation car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

Here's the Vixen coach car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

This is the Comet coach car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

This is the Cupid coach car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

Here's the Donner coach car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

Finally, here's the Blitzen coach car.

Standard Gauge Christmas Set

In December of 2008, I got myself an early holiday present with the purchase of the 2007 MTH Tinplate Traditions reproduction of the 1929-1930 Ives Olympian set.  Standard Gauge Tinplate Toy Trains come in a variety of sizes, never pretending to be anything approaching scale, the Ives Olympian is from the enormous school, with the locomotive and four cars stretching out over six feet in length!  Here are some photos showing the exquisite locomotive and cars.  The first photo shows the locomotive.

Ives Olympian

The second photo shows the club car.

Ives Olympian

The third photo shows the dining car.

Ives Olympian

The fourth photo shows the Pullman coach car.

Ives Olympian

The fifth photo shows the observation car.

Ives Olympian

The last photo shows the train operating on the standard gauge loop on the floor of my library.  Those are the Standard Gauge Christmas set cars on the shelf behind the Olympian (see below).

Ives Olympian

The next set up is Standard Gauge and is one that I put together, having been bitten by the Standard Gauge bug quite badly.  It has a massive 400E steam locomotive made by Lionel Corp. (with PS2 electronics) and has one of each type of 500-series freight car.  As you can see, it's in a very attractive gray paint scheme.

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

Here's a closer shot of the locomotive.

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

This is the refrigerator car, more commonly called a reefer.

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

Here's a car with two operating searchlights.

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

This is the stockcar.  Stay upwind!

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

This is the caboose which is nothing short of gorgeous in a PRR paint scheme.

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

Here's a boxcar -- even a plain old boxcar looks snazzy in bright enamel paint!

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

The tank car carries Jersey Central markings and was a must-have for me.

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

Finally, here's a coal hopper.

Lionel Standard Gauge freight set

The next set is a particular favorite of mine.  It's the Standard Gauge State set, which Lionel originally brought out in 1929 -- an auspicious year for a top-of-the-line train set when you think about it!  The set consisted of the 381E model of an electric locomotive, the largest and most elaborate locomotive that Lionel had made to date.  It was accompanied by four passenger cars, also the largest and most elaborate that Lionel had made.  My modern set was made by MTH as part of their Tinplate Traditions line.  I have two of the 381E locomotives, one with PS1 electronics and one with PS2, and enjoy double-heading them at the front of six of the passenger cars -- modern times being what they are, two new cars were issued for the set.  Both locomotives look identical.  For the original 1929 set, the single-motored locomotive could not successfully haul all four cars, so in subsequent years the set had only three cars.  There was also a brown version of the State set which came with a 408E locomotive with two motors that could handle a four car set.  There is no such problem with the modern reproductions of the 381E!  These are, as far as I know, the largest passenger cars that Lionel ever made.  In the first photo, you can see the locomotive in all its glory.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

The second photo shows the California coach car.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

The next photo is a close-up of the nameplate.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

The interiors of the cars are detailed, with seats for the passengers and actual bathrooms.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

The holes in the seats were for pegs in the bottoms of seated passenger figures that you could buy for the set.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

The bathrooms were detailed to the point that the lid opens and closes on the toilet.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

They knew how to build them in the old days!

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

This is the Maryland solarium car, a modern addition to the set.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

This is the Colorado coach car/

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

Here's the New York observation car.

Lionel Standard Gauge State Set

The next Tinplate toy train set is the modern reproduction of the Standard Gauge Blue Comet, manufactured by Lionel Corp.  This is a truly magnificent Standard Gauge set, reproducing the Lionel original that was introduced in 1931.  The cars are named after actual comets.  It has the full PS2 electronic sound and control package.  The first photo shows the locomotive, posed on my ceiling layout.

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

The next photo is a closer shot of the Vanderbilt oil tender.

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

The next photo shows the Olbers baggage car.  This is a modern addition to the original three car set.

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

The next photo shows the Tuttle coach car, also a modern addition.

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

Here's the Faye coach car.

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

And the Westphal coach.

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

This is the Tempel open platform observation car.

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

The insides of the cars were detailed with seats and even bathrooms!

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

Here's a close-up showing the bathroom.  Yes, that's a sink and toilet!

Lionel Standard Gauge Blue Comet

The next set is my most recent addition.  It's a reproduction of an O-Gauge train set that Lionel brought out in 1924 (and catalogued through 1930), but painted in the very attractive colors of the Great Northern.  The #256 locomotive was the only two motor locomotive that Lionel made in the prewar era.  This reproduction set is manufactured by Lionel Corp. and contains the full modern electronic sound and control package, Protosounds 3 (PS3).  The first photo shows the locomotive broadside.

Lionel 256 tinplate locomotive

The next photo shows the face of the locomotive.

Lionel 256 tinplate locomotive

The next photo shows the 713 baggage car, a modern addition to the set.  For their time, these cars were considered to be quite large!

Lionel 713 baggage car

The fourth photo shows one of the 710 coach cars.  There are a total of three in the set.

Lionel 710 tinplate coach car

The next photo shows the 712 observation car

Lionel 712 tinplate observation car

The last photo is a better look at the open platform at the rear of the observation car

Lionel 712 tinplate observation car



Last updated: 03 May 2015

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