Module 17G: MTH Electric Trains Passenger Cars
Please read the topic introduction in Module 17 if you have not already done so.
There are several other suppliers of Gauge 1 passenger cars which may not be quite as well known as LGB, Aristo-craft and USA Trains, but each play their part and merit proper recognition in this final module.
M.T.H RailKing Gauge 1 Passenger Cars
M.T.H Electric Trains (formerly known as Mike's Train House) has been in business for over 30 years and are based in Columbia, Maryland, USA.
They produce a wide range of model trains in various scales but the division that is probably of most interest to serious large-scale model railroads is their RailKing Gauge 1 operation. This focuses on accurate 1:32 scale models for those who prefer to model US standard gauge. The company point out that they are the only company who supply 1:32 scale American-prototype garden railway models equipped with sound, smoke, and DCS command control, suitable for outdoor or indoor, DC or AC operation whereas products from their main competition supply to the hybrid scale of 1:29 which make them look oversized on 45mm gauge track.
MTH has had a chequered career from at on time being a major distributor and sub-contractor of the Lionel Corporation through to being a major competitor to Lionel in more recent times following a history of litigation. In this video Mike Wolf, founder and owner, outlines their approach:
MTH Streamlined passenger cars differ from some makes in that their bodies are rugged pre-formed ABS polycarbonate rather than extruded aluminium. Not having been able to examine these cars close-up it is not clear how they compare from a visual and comparative weight perspective. However, in all other respects they appear to be very similar having smooth-running sprung trucks, detailed, lit interiors, opening doors, and crisp graphics along with other features. The range of railroad liveries in 1:32 scale is not as extensive as that of their competitors (1:29 scale that is) but do offer alternative smooth or ribbed versions.
To summarise the key features:
Rugged, Highly Detailed Polycarbonate Body
Detailed Interior with Overhead LED Illumination
Crisp, Authentic Graphics
External LED-Illuminated Marker Lamps
Smooth-Rolling Sprung 4-wheel Trucks with Detailed Brake Gear
Stainless Steel Wheels & Axles
Separate Metal Grab Irons
LED-Illuminated Tail Light and Drumhead
Supplied with Both Knuckle & Hook & Loop Couplers.
Unit Measures: 28 1/2" x 3 3/4 x 5"
Operated on Radius 1 Track
Despite MTH having a major presence in the marketplace I have been unable to find many online reviews for their RailKing G Gauge Product Range so I would suggest speaking to you local dealer first before committing yourself to any purchase.
Whilst researching this project I did, however, come across a company based in St.Brelade, Jersey, Channel Islands called D.P.Associates Ltd. They describe themselves online as "dealers" and do not purport to be an officially authorised distributor so you will need to make you own enquiries as to their trustworthiness. They appear to be accepting pre-orders and quite clearly state that delivery dates have been known to slip, often by so much as a year or more.
This may sound "warning bells" and you may be reluctant to commit so far ahead but this does appear to be Mike Wolf's (the owner of MTH) normal method of trading. He announces new models in the catalogue and only when the company has accumulated sufficient pre-orders (say after 3 months) does MTH commit to actual production volumes. In some cases, if consumer response is lower than expected, the item may not even go into production at all. This significantly lessens the risk for the manufacturer and dealer community but may not be a style of doing business that you are accustomed to unless you have committed to purchase large-scale museum quality locomotives made in very small production runs and retailing at several thousands £'s.
Personally, I found the website to be somewhat amateurish for such a business operation and the ordering process, availability prospects, shipping and payment methods to be difficult to understand and many of the page links refused to work. Also, I could not find the company listed as an authorised RailKing Dealer on the letter's website. I would advise extreme caution and do not accept any responsibility should you contact this company.
The following gallery features a selection of passenger cars, especially those that feature in the new 2019/2020 catalogue;
These videos, courtesy of Youtube uploaders, gives you a far better idea as to how these cars look when pulled by the appropriate locomotive:
Incidentally, if you are really interested in the development of MTH Passenger Cars across all the scales there is a "Comprehensive Guide to MTH Premier and RailKing Passenger Cars 1994-2014" by Richard Ridolfo available from, as they say, all good bookshops (an possibly some really bad ones). A number of online suppliers also stock this publication.
This publication is claimed to be unique by the writer and is a complete listing of all Passenger cars produced from 1994 through 2014. It includes detailed information including:
The first catalog the product appeared in
Road numbers of the items
Nearly all items include pictures
Other books in the series:
MTH Premier Engines 1993- 2012
MTH RailKing Engines 1995- 2011
MTH Premier Rolling Stock Volume I 1996-2013 Catalog 1 (Covers Multi Car Sets thru Stock Cars)
MTH Premier Rolling Stock Volume II 1996-2013 Catalog 1 (Covers Flat Cars thru Foreign Cars)
M.T.H. Trains President & CEO Mike Wolf has announced his retirement in May 2021 and the subsequent closure of the company he founded in 1980, after 40 years in business.
“It is, therefore, with mixed emotions that I tell you I have decided to retire in 2021 and close the business,” he said in a June 8, 2020 letter to the industry.
In particular, I am proud that M.T.H. has released more models than any train manufacturer in the history of our hobby. The variety, quality, and infusion of technology throughout our offerings allowed M.T.H. Electric Trains to help bring enjoyment to all who share our wonderful hobby.
It is, therefore, with mixed emotions that I tell you I have decided to retire in 2021 and close the business.
“The last two M.T.H. catalogs, our 2020 Volume 2 O Gauge catalog, and our 2020 HO catalog and all non-delivered items from our 2020 Volume 1 O Gauge catalog, 2020 Ready-to-Run Train Set catalog, 2019-2020 S Gauge catalog, and 2019-2020 G Gauge catalog will feature the last products produced by M.T.H. Electric Trains,” the letter stated.
However, in a communication to the dealers the following day, the company revealed its electronics department will live on as a separate entity. “The new tech company will continue to manufacture and provide support including any necessary software updates to the DCS hardware or DCS WiFi App. In fact, new and exciting product ideas are currently under development.”
The DCS System controls any Proto-Sound 2.0 and later equipped locomotives. The new company will be comprised of current M.T. H. staff.
The items in those catalogs will be available now through April 2021 and will carry a limited 1-year warranty supported by the company’s Authorized Service Center network and the M.T.H. Service Department. After the company closes in May 2021, the ASC network will provide warranty coverage through April 2022.
Wolf thanked the retailers who have carried the company’s products throughout the years. “M.T.H. Electric Trains would not have enjoyed success without the support of the M.T.H. Authorized Retailer network. I wish all of them good luck and prosperity in the years to come.”
Additionally, he praised the people who make the company run. “I want to thank all of my employees for their hard work over the years. Most of them have been with me for decades and their loyalty and talents were paramount to our success.”
Wolf is open to the possibility of selling the firm’s thousands of tools, molds, and intellectual property and days he’ll “entertain various options and buyers.”
One scenario is a new company organized and owned by members of my current staff,” he said.
The company was founded in Columbia, Md. in 1980 as Mike’s Train House, a manufacturer of reproduction Lionel standard and O gauge trains. It remains headquartered in Columbia.
After the demise of Aristo-craft in 2013 this announcement will come as a major blow to the model train industry and significantly reduce the choice of equipment available to enthusiasts.
Copyright © John Prescott 2014 and respective copyright holders.
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