Toys of Yesterday and Today

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Scales: Trains to Cars

traincarscaleToys come in a variety of sizes from small, i.e.,, micro to very large, i.e., ‘model’ trains that are for the outdoors.   Therefore, when looking to buy a toy consider the age of the child you are buying for and the intended purpose.  Is the gift going to be meant as a plaything or to be set on a shelf as a collectible?

If the child is very young, look for toys that they cannot put into their mouths and does not have small parts that might be broken off.  If the child is older, some of the highly collectible items, such as Hot Wheels, NASCAR and train sets can offer both play time, collectability and come in a variety of scales.  When talking about scale, we are talking about the measure of the size of the  toy item vs. the size of the original it is based on.  You may remember from math class this can also be the ratio.


Various train sizes range from those large enough to be ridden to those that you often see set up as models. Often times, in addition to an elaborate track layout, you’ll find landscaping, cars, people and animals included.  Train scale is measured not so much by the size of the train itself (engine, cars, etc.) but rather by the size of the track or gauge.  Some of the most popular gauge or scale measurements are:  [1]


  • G – often referred to as ‘Garden Scale’ as it is large.  Scale can range from 1:22.5 to 1:29.  A typical 40′  box car would be 17.25″ L  x 4.50″ W x 6.50″ H.
  • O – most common and what we typicall think of; like Lionel.  Scale is 1:48.  A typical 40′ box car would be  10.50″ L x 2.50″ W x 3.75″ H.
  • HO  –  most popular.  Scale is 1:87.1.  A typical 40′ box car would be 5.75″ L x 1.50″ W x 2.00″ H.

Other scales used for model trains are S (1:64), TT (1:120), N (1:160), Z (1:220),  OO (1:76.2), 1 Scale (1:32), and T (1:450).[2]


To see a selection of train sets on Amazon, visit this link.

Die Cast

The size for these cars is based on the size of the actual car, truck or other vehicle.  The most popular size used by Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightening is the 1:64 scale.  A good rule-of-thumb for determining the difference in the sizes is:  [3]

  • 1:12 scale = 14″ – 16 ” in length –  Highly detailed, often featuring motorcycles.
  • 1:18 scale = 8″ – 11″ in length  –  Detailed model targeting the adult collector market.
  • 1:24 scale = 5″ – 8″ in length  –  Favored scale for model kits; also used by Franklin Mint.
  • 1:43 scale = 3″ – 5″ in length  – Most popular around the world and used by Dinky.

Other popular scale sizes are:

  • 1:32  – used by Ertl and Britians
  • 1:64 – used by Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightening.
  • 1:87 – used by Herps, popular due to their compatibility with HO trains.

To see a selection of diecast cars on Amazon, visit this link.


Slot Cars

Seemingly a cross between die-cast and trains by making use of a track are slot cars.   These scaled down cars make use of actual car bodies that have been tailored for racing.[4]  Raced on a ‘slotted track’ these cars are controlled by a hand-held controller.  Might add that new digital technology now has it where these cars can not only change lanes but share lanes.  Similar to other scales, you’ll find slot cars in the following:

  • 1: 24 – larger size so they are typically run on commercial or club tracks.
  • 1:32 – most common home ‘friendly’ size; also popular at clubs and hobby shops.
  • HO (1:87 – 1:64) – originally designed for train layouts; size may vary due to need for larger motor.

These cars have also been produced in 1:48 (1960’s)  as well as 1:43 scale (2007 – today) although it would appear there is little ‘organized’ racing.

Scale can be used to fine a toy, based on individual desire or purpose.  However, shopping for a gift  should simply  be based on the person it is intended for and if it is to be played with or collected.

To see a selection of slot cars on Amazon, visit this link.

Happy Shopping!





[1] http://www.trainsetsonly.com/page/TSO/CTGY/Scales

[2]  https://support.modeltrainstuff.com/hc/en-us/articles/202970203-What-are-the-different-Gauges-and-Scales-What-do-they-mean-

[3]  http://www.mintmodels.com/scalesize.aspx

[4]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slot_car


Posted 2 years, 2 months ago at 8:50 pm.

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Mamod Steam Truck



If you’re like me, I never pass up the opportunity to look for vintage toys – especially those with wheels. This lead me to a very nice find last week while passing through Brownsboro. Came across a Mamod truck in excellent condition. It even had the original pamphlet, funnel and extension steering rod. For those that may not be familiar with Mamod, these toys are powered by a real steam engine.

The overall design for the many varied models is very realistic. Because of the nature of the power mechanism, they are made of quality metals with brass tubing. Depending on the model, you’re likely to find Momod toys with the following features:

  • Reverse speed control (Steam Roller)
  • Exhaust to chimney
  • Whistle
  • Double reduced drive for better traction (Steam Wagon SW1)
  • Die-cast frames
  • Flywheels
  • Brass pulleys

Due to the fact that these were actual working steam engines, each engine was fitted with a safety valve and was supplied with a burner tray and filler funnel. The boilers and steam fittings were all made from brass. These fantastic toys were manufactured in England starting circa 1936. Sizes vary depending and can range from 17″ in length to 3-1/2″.  It should also be noted that different colors were used – at least for the Steam Wagon.  The pamphlet shows this item in red, white and green – while the one I found is in red, white and blue.

Some of the more popular designs manufactured were:

  • Steam Roller S.R. 1a
  • Traction Engine T.E. 1a
  • Steam Wagon S.W.1
  • Lumber Wagon L.W.1
  • Open Wagon O.W.1
  • Polishing Machine *
  • Grinding Machine *
  • Power Hammer *
  • Power Press *
  • Lineshaft *
  • Driving Band *
  • Steam Engine Minor No. 1
  • Steam Engine Minor No. 2
  • Steam Engine S.E. 1a
  • Steam Engine S.E. 2a
  • Superheated Twin cylinder Steam Engine S.E.3.
  • Marine Steam Engines M.E. 1

* These items could be operated independently or together using the power supplied by the Steam Engine S.E. 2a.

In addition to the land models, Mamod also produced a marine steam engine that could be fitted to boats up to 24″. The engine could run for up to 15 minutes per filling. Also, it came with a flexible base plate for use with V bottom boats. If you would like more history on Mamod steam engines, please visit this link. . .




Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 7:18 pm.

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