The 100th Anniversary of Lionel Trains
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Lionel electric train company, I wonder what made this toy endure the test of time and how long its popularity will continue.
First lets examine the history of the popularity of this toy. The history of the real railroad speaks for itself. The impact of the railroads on the development of this country is unparalleled. This was one of the most romantic times of America and the "Iron Horse" was the prime player in this romance. Everyone loved the railroads, they joined America from coast to coast, travel and communication were revolutionized with the carpets of steel that were laid all over the country. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that it is no wonder that a toy representing such a integral part of "America" would forever be so popular.
It wasn't until the love affair between America and the railroads was over that the popularity of the electric trains started to diminish.
The progression of the mode of transportation from trains to planes and automobiles changed the demand for the toys that represent them.
We all know the resurgence of the collection of these toys brought about by the baby boom boys fueled the demand for toy trains for the past thirty years. But where do we go from here?
The year 2000 marks the beginning of a second 100 years for Lionel Trains.
I wonder how long the baby boomers can supply the money to support the toy train industry. Are there new collectors ready to jump in and take up the slack left by the boomers who are done collecting?
I wonder if an increase in the use of rails would have a real effect on the toy train industry. Will it once again kindle a new romance with America. Will little children want toys that depict the new mono rails, high speed rapid transit trains and other new transportation railroad modes that move the country. Will these kids relate these "new" trains with those historic trains that were popular in the 1900's. Someday, will my great grand children look at my train collection as junk or treat it like the treasures of king tuts tomb, I don't think it is realistic to think that Lionel train production will last another hundred years but we'll never know that. Personally I don't think the immediate future of this business is in danger. Change always comes slow and I think the companies now producing electric trains will adapt to the market or they will fold. The last check that I did I found six major suppliers of "O" gauge electric trains. I really don't think all of these guys will be around in the next five years.
However, that is only my opinion, I may be wrong.