Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

The Athearn $1.98 Kit

1488 views
22 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January, 2013
  • 151 posts
The Athearn $1.98 Kit
Posted by Run Eight on Sunday, September 10, 2017 4:16 PM

Let's her it for the famous $1.98 Athearn Kit of years past...like to hear readers meomries....

They sure beat the $2.98 R-T-R AHM from Woolsworth's!

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 1,856 posts
Posted by peahrens on Sunday, September 10, 2017 4:51 PM

Sounds like an outrageously high price, what year was that?  I recall buying kits in Jr High / H.S. and I recall some freight cars cost more than others.  I think the pricey ones were $1.79 and the regular ones maybe $1.59.  I'm talking early 60's.  It would be fun if someone could generate a list of car types and prices over the years.

I still buy a few at trains shows, as the shipping for EBay offers adds about 50% to the starting price, unless "free" shipping built into the price.  But I also like to use current Accurail & Bowser kits, plus some prior P2K and others.

 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 9,045 posts
Posted by dknelson on Sunday, September 10, 2017 4:57 PM

$1.98?   $1.98??   Sir, some of us are still bitter about that price increase.

Bring back the $1.29 stockcar, or the $1.49 flatcar with airplane load.  That's what I say.

$1.98 indeed, sir.  That's when this became a rich man's hobby.  Do you think money grows on trees?

Dave Nelson 

Devil

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • From: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • 223 posts
Posted by JOHN C TARANTO on Sunday, September 10, 2017 4:58 PM

I've built them all.  

I like passenger trains, so I saw Athearn as a quick, inexpensive way to build a fleet.  I soon had a full train of both heavyweights in pullman green and lightweight fluted stainless cars.  I love steam era boxcars with name train logos.  I had every Santa Fe boxcar with the system map that Athearn offered, along with the name trains of the other major railroads.  Reefer cars, tank cars, flat cars, cabeese.  All Athearn.  It didn't hurt that I was working at a LHS at the time with an extensive model railroad department.  I got first dibs on Athearn special-run box sets of hopper cars with Different Road Numbers!!  I love long strings of 50-ton USRA hopper cars.  I've put together long coal drags of Athearn and supplemented then with Accurail.

That was 20 years ago when I came back to the hobby.  I have since moved on to Red Caboose, Intermountain and Proto 2000.  Cars with wire grabs and separatly applied ladders have replaced most of the blue box.  Walthers passenger cars are now polishing the rails.  But I still have the Athearn hoppers.  They're still pretty cool.  

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 1,856 posts
Posted by peahrens on Sunday, September 10, 2017 5:02 PM

dknelson
$1.98 indeed, sir. That's when this became a rich man's hobby. Do you think money grows on trees?

Of course it does, at least my kids were convinced of that.  A modelling project?

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pLpEZJtNuNE/UmurSx5rr-I/AAAAAAAAANc/GbMKoVs9lPM/s1600/money_grow_trees.PNG

 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    December, 2015
  • 1,914 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, September 10, 2017 5:18 PM

I remember when my parents thought that Baltimore steamed crabs at $7 a dozen were too expensive.  Last night I could have bought a dozen mediums for $55

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Huntsville, AR
  • 849 posts
Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, September 10, 2017 5:39 PM

I can well remember the $1.98 freight cars. I also remember going to Sears, Roebuck & Co. and buying lots of AHM RTR freight cars for 98¢ and Athearn Hi-F Drive F-units for $1. Then there was a store called Taubmann's Hardware that sold Varney plastic kits for 99¢. I bought my first AHM Y-6b there for $19.98. Western Auto sold Varney & Marx most of the year for $1.25. Pretty steep prices for a kid!

oldline1

  • Member since
    September, 2002
  • From: North Carolina
  • 1,425 posts
Posted by csxns on Sunday, September 10, 2017 6:34 PM

Run Eight
They sure beat the $2.98 R-T-R AHM

Back in the day i can get the AHM ore cars for 99 cents and the covered hoppers for$1.50 vs the Tyco 50ft flat with two trailers for $3.50 but he was a full price toy store.

Russell

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 2,080 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Sunday, September 10, 2017 7:21 PM

Back in 1952 at 15 my main income was my paper route, 75¢ per week.  I also worked part time for Mr. John Henson at H&H Hobbies on Pershing Drive in El Paso Texas, that helped out on buying my HO goodies.  I never received a pay check from H&H, I had a running tab that was applied to HO stuff.
 
Best I can remember list was around $1.25 for a freight car kit.  I remember buying my first HO locomotive for $6.85, MDC 0-6-0 kit.  Atlas fiber tie strip was 55¢ for a 10 foot roll, steel rails were 5¢ each or 3 for 10¢.  A single section of 36” atlas flex track (stapled rails) was 65¢. But then minimum wage was 75¢ in 1952 and a Coke was 5¢.
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 7,450 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, September 10, 2017 10:08 PM

My first HO cars, in the '50s, were gifts, so I can't attest to their cost.  There were Athearn and Varney metal cars, Varney plastic hoppers and tank cars, a Roundhouse cast metal gondola and a cast metal depressed centre flatcar, from Authenticast.  Also included was an A-B-B-A set of Globe F-units and a Silver Streak caboose.
Except for the F-units, I still have them, most of them in use on the layout.
I do remember, in the '70s, at Hobbies For Men, Athearn boxcars, undecorated, at $1.50 apiece...

Most of those are gone, now, but I got eight of these Athearn boxcars (not originally exactly as shown Wink) for a buck or less each...

Wayne

  • Member since
    November, 2016
  • 166 posts
Posted by j. c. on Sunday, September 10, 2017 10:42 PM

a 1.98 kit in 1960  today would cost 16.54 today 

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • From: Duluth, MN
  • 169 posts
Posted by OT Dean on Monday, September 11, 2017 12:48 AM

Okay, somebody want to start a string on the price of Athearn diesels?  One of my first purchases, back in '56 when I first changed over from American Flyer based, "scale-ized" train equipment, I bought one of the new "Hi-F" rubber band drive F7s for $6.95--or was it $5.95?  The geared versions of those and the Geeps were only ten or eleven bucks.

Heck, when I opened Northrail Company, in the corner of my used paperback store, in 1980, the geared Fs and Geeps were still only $12.50.  Any kid with a big enough allowance or a paper route could start a model railroad in those days, but when I see F7 AB sets now, they're anywhere from $148 on up.  I saw MDC steam loco kits go from $48.50 to $89.50 in the few years I was in business.

On another note, I used to make up train sets of Athearn diesels, MDC and Athearn cars, Snap Track, and little MRC power packs from time to time--usually for 60-80 bucks--assuring the customers (usually dads and granddads) that it was a hobby one could expand to fit their budgets.

(BTW, I'm mostly scratchbuilding in O scale these last 20-odd years, and the price tags on that stuff is nearly enough to need the rescue squad when I see them.  How does $350 for a boxcar sound?)

Deano

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 15,773 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, September 11, 2017 5:28 AM

I can remember buying yellow box Athearn cars for $1.49 and that was three fourths of my weekly allowance! Being 10 years old that seem to be a lot of money.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

  • Member since
    January, 2008
  • From: Tampa, Florida
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by cedarwoodron on Monday, September 11, 2017 7:13 AM

When I was a kid in the suburban Twin Cities, winter brought a season full of snow shoveling moneymaking opportunities for a young teen.

Within a 5 block radius of my house there were dozens of elder residents who needed their front walk and sidewalks shoveled. At $5 each it was very easy to make $ 40 to 50 after each snowfall and maybe 4 hrs of light labor!

Now for the model railroading connection...armed with such a financial windfall, I seemed to spend more time at our LHS (Gagers or Woodcraft for my local Minnesotans) deciding what to buy than I did doing the shoveling!

Those $1.98 Athearn kits didn't really seem so expensive back then and I recall Atlas sectional track at 25 cents a piece. What a haul I made. I used to love to see a big snowfall and in Minnesota that was a regular event from November into April. The kits I really loved were the SP flat car with metal stakes and the New Haven modern box car with the big NH letters.

What those inexpensive kits did was to fuel my modeling interest in such a way that I am still in the hobby at age 63 today.

When you do an economic comparison between money values back then and now, that $ 1.98 may seem less significant in reality- especially to a hungry model railroad consumer like me!

Cedarwoodron

 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Nordonia Hills, OH
  • 1,382 posts
Posted by dti406 on Monday, September 11, 2017 7:16 AM

The $1.98 price was the going price in the mid to late 70's, I still have unoopened boxes of the undecorated kits on my shelves, and I know what years I purchased them from the code the hobby shop put on the box.

 

Rick Jesionowski

Rule 1: This is my railroad.

Rule 2: I make the rules.

Rule 3: Illuminating discussion of prototype history, equipment and operating practices is always welcome, but in the event of visitor-perceived anacronisms, detail descrepancies or operating errors, consult RULE 1!

  • Member since
    January, 2003
  • From: Ridgeville,South Carolina
  • 1,102 posts
Posted by willy6 on Monday, September 11, 2017 2:58 PM

I do remember when the 1/4oz. bottle of Testors hobby paint was 15 cents. I think it was labeled Testors "Pla".

trains
  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Sliver City,Mich.
  • 704 posts
Posted by Catt on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 12:09 PM

I still have two bottles of Testors Pla gloss yellow with the 10 cent price tag from Woolworths.The amazing thing both bottles are still usable.Surprise

Johnathan(Catt) Edwards 100 % Michigan Made
  • Member since
    November, 2016
  • 166 posts
Posted by j. c. on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 12:30 PM

don't have any 10 cent bottles of testors left but have several 10 cent bottles of pactra

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,504 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 4:53 PM

My favorite Athearn car was the pickle car.  The box has a price of $3.50.  I'm not sure when I bought it. 

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 7,450 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 10:56 PM

IRONROOSTER
My favorite Athearn car was the pickle car....

Athearn pickle car, back-dated with truss rods, and some finer details...

I don't recall the original price, but probably a couple of bucks.

Wayne

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • From: Duluth, MN
  • 169 posts
Posted by OT Dean on Thursday, September 14, 2017 12:57 AM

Hey, seeing the reply about Testors reminded me: remember when the "square" 1oz bottles of Floquil were 45 cents?

Deano

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,504 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, September 14, 2017 10:56 AM

doctorwayne

 

 
IRONROOSTER
My favorite Athearn car was the pickle car....

 

Athearn pickle car, back-dated with truss rods, and some finer details...

I don't recall the original price, but probably a couple of bucks.

Wayne

 

Love it.  Looks great.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 728 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, September 17, 2017 7:01 AM

I remember, when I was very young in the 1970s...

.

If my report cards were good, I got $10.00 on the 1st of the month. This was enough money to buy 4 HO scale freight car "kits" at the hobby shop on 13th street in Gainesville, Florida.

.

That was always a great day.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

Users Online

There are no community member online
ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook