Home Page Column from October 1999

Welcome to our second issue. We have found that producing a webzine is different from publishing a printed magazine. First, our webzine is free (our readers should be happy about that). Second, webzines are immediate. We can deliver breaking news whereas magazines require a 6-to-12-week lead time. Third, webzines cost a lot less to produce which means we donít need advertisers which means we donít care whose toes we step on. 

When we created Toy Train Revue, it was to give the toy train enthusiast an alternative to the traditional hobby press that we felt was ignoring important issues. Fear of lawsuits and the possible wrath of advertisers resulted in a timid approach. Important issues that were costing unsuspecting hobbyists money were ignored. The Toy Train Revue Journal filled the information gap with articles about fakes and other scams.

Eight issues were printed in a magazine format and eight more have been printed as part of our TM Price & Rarity Guides. We will continue to print the Toy Train Revue in our guides. Articles that appear in our guides will not appear in this on-line version (and vice-versa).   

Our hobby is constantly changing. For example, the emphasis is now on operating rather than collecting. Another change has to do with the Internet. It is having a dramatic effect on the way trains are bought and sold. And what about all the trains being made today? Never has the hobby seen such a variety of both trains and types of manufacturers.

As always, we welcome your input. We also welcome opposing views. The Toy Train Revue is opinionated. If you donít agree, e-mail your view and weíll print it.

Among the recent news in the hobby was the death of Martin Davis on October 4. Mr. Davis was the Managing Partner of Wellspring LLC, which owns the majority interest in Lionel. We offer our condolences to his family.

Lenny Dean is back with Lionel. Welcome home, Lenny.

Todd Wagner has joined the team at Lionel. Todd was co-author of our Lionel Price & Rarity Guide, Volume 2, for the past two years. He will be working in the Product Management department at Lionel. We wish him the best.

Larry Pfost will continue at Train Express. At first, Larry was going to be bought out by his partner but in the end, Larry did the buying out. Larry changed his mind because he decided heíd miss the train biz too much.  Thatís good news because weíd miss Larry too.

The energy level at the recent York, PA meet was as high as ever. MTH Electric Trains released two new catalogs and Lionel will have soon have theirs out. Lionel had a Standard gauge Blue Comet, with smoke and RailSounds, operating at their display. K-Line is generating buzz (particularly about their new caboose), Williams is making some great new trains (including aluminum streamlined cars) and then you have Atlas, 3rd Rail, Weaver, Marx. So many trains. So little money.

Hats off to Frank Razzagone for making his "York AOL Barbecue" a huge success. Attendance was a record 160. Many manufacturers donated items for the raffle. Our I Love Toy Trains boxcar was won by 10-year-old Joss Matthews. Joss' dad, Gary, reports young Joss was thrilled. That's nice. It's great to keep the future of the hobby happy.

We are happy to see MTH re-reproduce the Ives Circus Train (with the Ives name). Some collectors are upset because they think it will devalue the original. How many guys have the original? We heard one went for $65,000 at some auction recently. We don't think this repro will affect the value of the original and it will make a great train from the past available to many more people. Same with the gorgeous two-tone blue Presidents Special. What would you rather have? An original for $6000 or a mint repro for $1800? The key is to make as many great trains available to as many as possible. Thatís sharing the fun which is what this hobby is (or should be) all about.

Note to MTH: Donít forget the backdrop. It is not shown in your catalog but a great circus backdrop came with the original Ives set. Hope you find one to copy because your Ives Circus Train wonít be complete without it.

Congratulations to TM. We have been selected by Lionel to produce their 100th Anniversary video. There will be two videos. Part 1 will cover all the trains up to 1969, and Part 2 will cover all the trains from 1970 to 2000. All footage will be new.

The Lionel website has a special note from Dick Maddox. Here is the message: "I have just received a copy of a very generous, yet fraudulent Internet posting. It is a pyramid scheme with the Lionel name on it. Needless to say, the tremendous offer stated in the posting is not in this year's budget. To those of you who have received copies of this Lionel pyramid scheme, please disregard it. We would never distribute an offer of this type in this format. Thank you for spreading the word that this is a complete scam. Sincerely, Richard Maddox, President, Lionel LLC." Does this mean we don't get free prototypes from the Lionel archives?

We hope you enjoy this issue. Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you again in December.