Lionel's offshore move

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Lionel's offshore move

  •  Deputy wrote:

    There is a finite supply of postwar stuff, and the price on that supply is going up like a skyrocket.


    not sure what leads you to that conclusion. Post war prices have been dropping for years, and will continue to fall. I believe this is primarily due to the fact that the post war Dad's are leaving this world and their kids are finding the stuff in the attic and sending it off to ebay.

    Look at the prices in the most recent Greenberg catalog -- not the pocket guide -- and compare to what this stuff actually sells for- night and day.

    For me, it's a great environment to be a post war enthusiast - lots of material in the market, available at reasonable prices, easy to fix and will still be running after the imported stuff is a shelf queen with fried electronics. 

    I bought this post war 221 for $91.00:

    This post war Santa Fe and a slew of track, switches, 11 pieces of post war freight, two operating cars, and a pristine transformer for well under $400.00. If I added up the Greenberg prices on all that stuff with an honest assessment of the condition, it would be well over $1000.00.

    The New Haven 2350 in this photo was well under $200.00, and the Jersey Central 621 on the right was $65.00.

  • I find it interesting/amusing that the very people who were responsible for the dramatic RISE in the cost of Lionel products and the move of Lionel to overseas production, the UNIONS, were the ones that griped the loudest when the company moved overseas. You can see this exact same thing happening over and over again in every major industry in the USA. Unions demand outrageous salaries and benefits and the companies are forced to move to where there is cheaper labor. There was a show on cable about the textile industry and how the unions finally "won" the benefits and pay raises that they fought so hard for. Then the company ended up selling out to a group that moved production overseas a year later. The people that the union fought to help ALL ended up unemployed with no future.

    I like the postwar Lionel stuff. Especially the favorite loco. But you all can pretty much forgetabout Lionel moving back stateside. It just ain't gonna happen. Welcome to the "global economy". As far as the imported stuff from Lionel and MTH and others...I got no complaints. I'd rather have it imported and be available, than nothing at all. There is a finite supply of postwar stuff, and the price on that supply is going up like a skyrocket.



    Virginian Railroad

  •  ChesBchRy wrote:


     Mexico IS in North America


     Lionel Trains were made in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    Actually, it's a bit controversial whether Mexico is in North America or Central America. The UN (a uselsss institution at best) says it's in Central America. At any rate, whether Lionel trains were made in Mexico or Peru or Bolivia, they could STILL say "Made in America" in their advertising. That was my point. Smile [:)]


    Virginian Railroad

  •  prewardude wrote:

    LOL! Don't get that started again, Frank! Big Smile [:D]

     - Clint

    I guess you haven't heard the latest breaking news, eh Clint? Big Smile [:D]

  • I was surprised to see this old thread up on top of the discussion. Remember, Dick Maddox said at the time (smokescreen or not) that Lionel needed to move overseas in order to compete. Of course, what he meant was to develop new products, which Lionel did almost immediately.

    It's important to remember that Lionel was subcontracting and outsourcing for parts and components long before the official move overseas. When I bought a Lionel set in 1992, the box said "Made in the USA" but inside the locomotive casting were the words "Made in Maccau." By 1996, Lionel had admitted in their catalog that all starter sets and many other similar items were being made overseas. Top end items would continue to be made in the US.

    It is a challenge for all the companies when the factory is no longer across the parking lot, but across the Pacific. Differering companies have differing success levels with quality: Williams does better for example, but they stick with what is tried and true as far as products and features. And many dislike Williams for their lack of detail and features.

    The adult consumers who want the higher detailed trains have spoken and unintentionally won. It isn't finacially for the train companies to put the millions into new products without doing it overseas. US production costs would be double if not tripled on many of these new items. If a new top end steam engine costs a million dollars to bring to market in China, well how much more would that have to retail for to do the work in the USA? MTH spent millions to develop DCS. How much more would it have cost if the work had been done totally in the USA?

    I'm perfectly content with lower end products and comproses such as reusing truck sides from one loco model to another, regardless of prototype. This IS the way Lionel too, operated for years. Today it won't due with many modelers. Remember the brew-ha-ha on the OGR forum over the K-Line KCC SD90MAC fuel tank... it wasn't prototypical and many over on the OGR forum let their disdain be known for this. Gee, the engine was budget priced cheaper than many other non-scale lower end locos, and still it wasn't good enough. For $125 I wouldn't have griped about the fuel tank, but many did.

    As far as quality, I'm not convinced that American quality (at least non-postwar) was that much better than what is being done now. The newest Lionel starter cars are far nicer than the ones being done in the US. What annoys me here is the price is doubled now, when Lionel's actual cost is SUBSTANTIALLY less for these cars.

    The high end eletronics can potentially suffer as much from the long journey from China to the US as much as from manufacturing/assembly oversights. Lets see: loaded into a container, trucked in China to the shipping port, loaded on a freighter, the smooth non-temperature controlled journey across the Pacific, to be unloaded again, placed on a truck again to go to the distributor, where the container is unpacked and contents unloaded, only to be loaded on a truck again to go to retail outlets. Not including another smooth shipping trip if items are purchased mailorder as many are. It's no wonder to me that products arrive to the consumer with loose wires, loose screws, broken components, etc.

    I've been to department stores and seen piles of opened returns on consumer electronics. Of course, these items are made in the millions and replacements are easily available. The consumer doesn't expect repairs, but a replacement. The retailer doesn't repair it... they ship it back where repairs are made in bulk and those items are sold again as re-packs. There are certainly liabilities with so much shipping and handling of products.

    Had train consumers been more content with fewer new scale train items, and more extended runs of those items (as in the past), compromises in details and accuracy (as in the past) then maybe the train companies could still be in the US. But we know even from this more toy-train friendly forum, that wasn't going to fly with many folks. So many of you got the high end detailed trains you wanted, but they by necessity say made overseas on them.

    Another example... I was totally content with the older K-Line products which were made in the US until 1991. When K-Line went overseas, they started building up the capital to make new tooling investments they probably couldn't have otherwise done. How many of you guys think the K-Line Alco non-scale S-2 was one of the best train locos ever made? I do. I prefer it over many others.

    Tooling and engineering costs are a BIG factor in this hobby. A million dollars to develop a new scale steam engine that has very limited sales potential (and a limited production run due to the absolute prototypical insistance of many modelers) is a big chunk of change. MTH put out as many new products in ten years as Lionel had done in decades because MTH was doing everything overseas, and I don't hear too many MTH fans complaining they wish the stuff was made in the USA. They do complain they want more and more new prototypically accurate items.

    I'd be happy with American made. But I'm happy without the electronics, without command features and happy with extended profitable production runs of prototpically inaccurate (or compromised products). Until more modelers agree with me, I think Chinese production is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

    brianel, Agent 027

    "Praise the Lord. I may not have everything I desire, but the Lord has come through for what I need."

  • LOL! Don't get that started again, Frank! Big Smile [:D]


     - Clint


    P.S. The layout's lookin' good. Smile [:)]

  • jeez - this is proof the archive works.

    As for Lionel Trains retaining manufacturing in the US, you can still find that being the case, if you know where to look:

    Whistling [:-^]

  • Much of the engineering and design work (including tool manufacturing) for Lionel from 1922 to 1933 was done in Italy by a Lionel owned company Societa Meccanica La Precisa.  The low cost of labor in the US (depression) and the rise of Mussolini in Italy lead to the move to pull this type of work back to the US.
    When everything else fails, play dead
  • Deputy;

     Mexico IS in North America


     Lionel Trains were made in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

  • From the Lionel website:

    Were original Lionel® trains made exclusively in the USA?
    Yes. "Original" Lionel® trains are generally considered to be those trains made by the Lionel® Corporation from 1900-1969. The Lionel® Corporation manufactured trains in New York and New Jersey until 1969. After 1970 ownership of the Lionel® name and trademarks changed several times and trains continued to be manufactured in Mexico, the United States, and most recently, in the Pacific rim. The last made-in-the USA Lionel® train was manufactured at the Michigan factory in August, 2001. That manufacturing facility has now been closed and Lionel® trains are now produced in the Pacific rim. The trains are produced according to the precise high quality standards of Lionel® LLC.

    Virginian Railroad

  • Hmmm...SOME of the Lionel stuff from 1991 was still Made in the US. The 18010 S2 Turbine I have on order was made here. And I have a 11914 NYC GP-9 Command Control Freight Set from 1997 that I think says Made in USA. I wonder if there is a list anywhere of USA made (remember that TECHNICALLY Mexico is part of AMERICA) and imported Lionel stuff.


    Virginian Railroad

  • What years were the failed Mexico experiance?  What year did they move everything overseas?  What years can you purchase and know it is made in the USA?


    Jim H 

  • I hate this whole situation as well. I do cherish my PWC Inspection car that has made in USA on it. Made in Chesterfield near the end.
    I pretty much stopped buying lionel after that, except for the docksider, which has already seen a repair.

     Mike S.

  • Lionel has recently changed some of their manufacturing to
    another supplier and quality is down.  Apparently it is something
    to do with the old K-Line thing and that manufacturer has a
    bone to pick with Lionel.  Some of the latest product reminds me
    of "lionel Mexico" when they moved down there and had such a
    fiasco.  Maybe Lionel will fix this before it gets out of hand. 
  • California??? I am a Texas boy, and I think I will take China over California. LOL

    Lionel collector, stuck in an N scaler's modelling space.