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Tell me about IHC building kits and background about the company

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Tell me about IHC building kits and background about the company
Posted by NScale4x8 on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 8:26 PM

I gather that IHC is no longer in business. They seem to have offered a wide range of HO scale building kits.

  • What was their story?
  • Did anybody buy their business (Walthers?)
  • Did they make any N Scale kits? I didn't find any online in places like Amazon or eBay, but I may have overlooked something.
  • Some of the kits look familiar to me from way back when, but were they very popular in their time?

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Posted by NVSRR on Thursday, October 27, 2022 7:01 AM

As far as I know, they were strictly Ho.     Some of the rolling stock were rivarossi remakes.   The buildings were simple kits. And unique.  They made a series of row home kits that haven't been reproduced.   not sure how popular they were for the time.  No idea if they were bought out. Don't think they were.  I do see them pop up on eBay frequently

shane

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, October 27, 2022 7:50 AM

IHC had an interesting story and you can find it online. They were basicaly an importer.

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Posted by ndbprr on Thursday, October 27, 2022 8:01 AM

originally IHC which stood for International Hobby Corp. was AHM which was Associated Hobby Manufacturers.  AHM was revolutionary.  They imported Rivarossi and an Austrian source of full length passenger cars and detailed engines that were very state of the art.  AHM went bankrupt and I think they reorganized as IHC which also went bankrupt.  The quality and detail today is an offshoot of the leap over the standard when AHM introduced their line of trains.  I have 26 of their GG1s and all are smooth runners.  They also had a Y6b and a big  boy among other engines.  I bought my first engine in 1963. it has been a long time since they folded but as I recall while their offerings were superior to what else was out there they got surpassed by other manufacturers with time.  The same thing they did to Tyco, Mantua and Varney among others.

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Posted by chutton01 on Thursday, October 27, 2022 8:37 AM

Some of the kits look familiar to me from way back when, but were they very popular in their time?


The answer to this is not just yes, but heck yes at least regarding structure kits. Look at almost any decent sized HO layout in MR from the 1970s onward for a number of decades, there will be a AHM/IHC (or ten) building somewhere.  Good source of kitbashing material during the 1970s thru 1990s; one MR article from that era stands out in my mind where the modeler took several Aunt Millies house kits (and derivates thereof) and made 5 or 6 unique-looking houses to populate a suburban neighborhood block - the true definition of kit-bashing. 

I admit to still having 2 AHM kits, Ma's Place (kitbashed and repurposed) and the Machine Shop (chopped down to be used as a storage building for an auto-salvage yard).   AHM should not be confused with whoever brought the once also ubiquitious Revell structure line (meaning kits like the 2 bay engine house and passenger station - the engine house in particular lent its walls to many an industrial complex project).

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, October 27, 2022 9:02 AM

IHC wasn't a manufacturer but an importer of model railroad items made in Europe, so some of it's kits have been offered under several different brand names over the years, including the original European maker and other US companies. For example, their Rico (Colorado) station kit I believe was one of several IHC-branded kits made by Heljan in Denmark. It was also offered at one time by Tyco, and had been offered by AHM. Heljan also made kits for Con-Cor, so I wouldn't be surprised if some IHC kits were also sold under the Con-Cor name at one time or another. I suspect if you really study the kits of the various European manufacturers in the Walthers catalogue now, you'll find a number of the old IHC-imported buildings still being made.

As noted, the kits were good for the time, and if painted and weathered can still make a good finished building. However, most IHC-branded buildings were based on European buildings; some kits hide their background better than others. 

AHM and IHC were connected in the sense that the same guy, Bernard Paul, created both, but be aware they're not always the same product. I believe the locomotives offered under the AHM name were made for them by Rivarossi in Italy, while the IHC engines were made by Mehano in what was then Yugoslavia. Also, the HO passenger cars offered under the AHM name (yellow box) and later by Rivarossi directly (maroon box) are not the same as the later, somewhat similar IHC cars. 

Stix
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Posted by NorthsideChi on Thursday, October 27, 2022 11:22 AM

I love the row home kits.

I bought 3 sets of the 5 browstones, and 2 sets of the 5 victorians, and 5 of the society hill townhouse kits for a grand total of 30 structures to populate a neighborhood. They mix nicely with DPM kits and the composition has an East coast vibe to the architecture.  All were purchased off eBay the last few years without any difficulty.  They must have been very popular decades ago considering how commonly they show up for sale online...and for a cheap price

The kits have great details and are easy to assemble and paint 

They did make n scale kits but not the same versions of the HO models 

 

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, October 27, 2022 11:50 AM

I didn't think I had any, but it appears I do although perhaps (?) under different names.  I've got a couple of Victorians and Aunt Millie's House.  That one has seen better times.  There's an old wringer wash machine on the front porch.  Nice kits.

Even when I bought these, I must have been picking them up at train shows.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by azrail on Thursday, October 27, 2022 12:29 PM

Most of AHM's building kits in the 70s were made by Pola in Germany (many of them are still made today under the Pola brand). The reboxed former Revell building kits (Engine House/Superior Bakery/Weekly Herald) came from Heljan in Denmark. Most of the locos came from Rivarossi, with some coming from Mehano in Yugoslavia, and even Lima and Pocher. The same with their freight and passenger cars, while track came from Casadio of Italy. AHM's biggest customer was Woolworth and Woolco.

In the 80s it seems AHM was split up, the Rivarossi stuff went to IHC, and a new AHM brand owned by a company called Regal Way was formed. The "new" AHM seemed to go after the younger market...offering items such as kits for Burger King, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, and a 7UP plant. (and were to offer a 7-11 and a Holiday Inn-but those were never created-licensing?) Regal Way went out of business by the late 80s, and IHC picked up some of the items.

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Posted by chutton01 on Thursday, October 27, 2022 9:26 PM

azrail
IThe "new" AHM seemed to go after the younger market...offering items such as kits for Burger King, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, and a 7UP plant.

The 7-11 was iffered by Life-Like, and I thought I saw it still offered recently by some company, but not branded as a 7-11. The 7-up plant was indeed AHM, as was the Pizza Hut et. al.
This could be a somewhat helpful site, when it was independant it contained a lot more images of AHM offerings (as well as LifeLike, Tyco, etc) but still it may be of interest.  As I mentioned in a different recent thread, a fair number of the AHM structures were based off ones developed by E.L. Moore. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, October 28, 2022 1:18 AM

AHM also imported brass locomotives.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, October 29, 2022 11:48 AM

IHC was sort of AHM reborn but there were differences - the streamlined passenger cars for example.  And IHC also seemed to buy old tooling from companies such as Pemco which did not last long.  A GG1 and some steam locomotives come to mind.

Not so many years ago an outfit (from Texas maybe?) advertised itself as IHC but I think they were mostly selling off stuff with few if any new products.

Most of the IHC locomotives and rolling stock were essentially train set grade, some a bit higher than that, and not bad looking even when there was no prototype, such as their 4-6-4.  Some serious hobbyists did use those things as kitbash material.  But the deep flanges on some models became an issue over time.  

I would say the IHC structures were taken more seriously -- both for themselves and again for kitbash fodder -- than most of the rolling stock.  So were the AHM structures in their day.  Even the ones that were European had potential to be Americanized, often by changing the roofing material and window muntins.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by drgwcs on Saturday, October 29, 2022 1:15 PM

There is a lot to it- essentially IHC was a reorganization when AHM went bankrupt- both were owned by Bernie Paul. There were overlaps in what they imported (they did not manufacture) but there were quite a bit of differences. Added into that is the short lived Regal Way which seemed to have cleared out some of the leftover AHM stuff. (I remember getting some relabeled stuff at the hobby shop I worked at)

Locos: AHM imported their steam engines mainly from Rivarossi. (will be stamped Italy)  The diesels were mainly from Mehano in Yugoslavia. On the other hand IHC brought in steam from Mehano which was much better than their diesels. (Although they were still selling some Rivarossi initially) Some of these used body tooling from other projects- the 2-6-0 and 4-8-2 were Pemco boilers and the 2-8-0 and 0-8-0 used the old Tyco Chatanooga boiler- they were however entirely new (and much better) mecanisms. The USRA 4-6-2 and the 2-8-2 had both been imported earlier by Model Power and AHM (although AHM had also imported Rivasossi 4-6-2's and 2-8-2's but these were different prototypes and models) The IHC are pretty decent steam engines and run well.

Rolling stock: Passenger cars under AHM were made by Rivarrossi. Under IHC they started with some of these (leftovers??) but soon shifted to others (may have been Mehano- not sure) that were different- not quite as detailed and some had proportions slightly off. There were some AHM freight cars (a bit of a mixed bag on manufacturers) that were issued under IHC as well. One that was issued first under the IHC label was the old time worktrain cars. These appear to be ones that Bachmann has the tooling for now.

Building Kits- These could be divided up in three groups- most were made by Heljan.

Heljan made cary over kits- There were quite a few of these that were imported by several companies- Several of the most common were the Rico, Arlee, and freight stations, Ma's place (and a couple of variations on that) Several downtown buildings, a courthouse/church as well as several variations of houses. These were imported by Tyco, AHM, IHC, (and a few by Con Cor) and now many are under the Walthers line (as well as Heljan) These were basicly the same kit no matter who made them (although the newer Walthers ones appear to be moded in fewer colors.) Decent kits that assemble well and were a real staple of most modelers.

Snap together kits (Snap-eaze)- these were introduced maybe a year or two before AHM went under. These were also imported by IHC. These were simpler kits but still are not bad once painted and detailed. These included a Burger King and Pizza Hut as well as a wooden station, 1920's gas station, small enginehouse and a switch tower as well as a couple of operating accessories. These were briefly imported by Atlas a few years back and it appears that Walthers now has rights on these.

IHC introduced kits- Under the IHC label several lines of kits were introduced. (These may have been from a couple of manufacturers) They imported a line of San Francisco designed homes that reviews said were pretty nice. Then they introduced a line of brick colonial style rowhouses shortly after. Both of these lines appeared as nice kits. Shortly after that they imported some downtown row businesses that were mainly three story. I have only seen a couple of these and some of the floor/ window proportions are off. The doors and windows are 25% too large. (The MR review in Mar 87 shows the doors almost S scale but the floors are too short for S)  They also introduced a series of carnival rides that could be motorized. There were also a few others such as a stone warehouse that was a pretty nice kit. There was also a pier and a few structures with it in this line.

For more info on IHC- https://www.hoseeker.com/ihc.html

and AHM https://www.hoseeker.com/ahmmiscellaneous.html

Hope this helps

Jim

 

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, October 31, 2022 3:57 PM

drgwcs
Passenger cars under AHM were made by Rivarrossi. Under IHC they started with some of these (leftovers??) but soon shifted to others (may have been Mehano- not sure) that were different- not quite as detailed and some had proportions slightly off.

Those early "leftovers" might explain why so many folks think the IHC cars were the same as the Rivarossi cars AHM imported. My feelings were the same as yours, the IHC cars were less detailed and in my experience didn't roll as well. IHC cars did have modeller-added handrails instead of cast-on ones like the AHM cars, but the handrails were grossly oversized. The cast-on AHM/Rivarossi ones were actually closer to scale from what I could see.

BTW just to clarify something someone touched on earlier - AHM and IHC never owned Rivarossi. They imported Rivarossi products. Rivarossi was around before either of them, beginning (IIRC) in 1946. Besides US equipment, Rivarossi made cars and engines for just about every country in Europe's railroads - Italy, France, Germany, Britain, etc. 

Stix
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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 10:44 AM

wjstix

 

 
drgwcs
Passenger cars under AHM were made by Rivarrossi. Under IHC they started with some of these (leftovers??) but soon shifted to others (may have been Mehano- not sure) that were different- not quite as detailed and some had proportions slightly off.

 

Those early "leftovers" might explain why so many folks think the IHC cars were the same as the Rivarossi cars AHM imported. My feelings were the same as yours, the IHC cars were less detailed and in my experience didn't roll as well. IHC cars did have modeller-added handrails instead of cast-on ones like the AHM cars, but the handrails were grossly oversized. The cast-on AHM/Rivarossi ones were actually closer to scale from what I could see.

BTW just to clarify something someone touched on earlier - AHM and IHC never owned Rivarossi. They imported Rivarossi products. Rivarossi was around before either of them, beginning (IIRC) in 1946. Besides US equipment, Rivarossi made cars and engines for just about every country in Europe's railroads - Italy, France, Germany, Britain, etc. 

 

I am thinking that somewhere in this but can't remember exactly when that Rivarrossi also went through a reorganization/ Italian version of a chapter 11. (I know they went through one much more recently too.) As an importer AHM was certainly far bigger in volume than what IHC was. AHM sold a ton of equipment through Woolworth and Woolco probably far more than through hobby shops. I am sure as that channel dried up it had quite an effect. That timing would be about when AHM had issues. Not sure which caused which though. 

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Posted by azrail on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 2:36 PM

AHM's decline kind of occured the same time Woolworth shut down Woolco and reduced its toy/hobby offerings (KayBee Toy picked up a lot of AHM stuff at the same time, selling it at a discount at its stores). 

As for Rivarossi, it went through several ownership changes and is now a brand of Hornby-who also picked up Lima, Arnold (Rapido), and Electrotren.

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Posted by ripvanwnkl on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 8:38 PM

What's left of IHC:  http://www.ihc-hobby.com/

Dave

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Posted by jsanchez on Thursday, November 3, 2022 12:33 PM

To answer the  N scale question. IHC did have some N Scale products , the Victorian and colonial row home kits were an example. I believe they also had an N scale carousel kit and a coal bunker among a few others. The N scale kits were made by Pola and Heljan. I am actual about to build a couple of the row homes for my layout. They have been sitting around the last 30+ years still in the packaging!

James Sanchez

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Posted by azrail on Friday, November 4, 2022 3:00 PM

I picked up a November 1982 issue of MR (with the V&O as one of the layouts-RIP Allen) There was an ad for Kay-Bee Toys that had a big Rivarossi locomotive sale (liquidation?)that had RR locomotives for half price.-I picked up a pair of Krause-Maffei Rio Grande diesels there for around 36 bucks). So this may have been where a lot of AHM stock was sold off to.

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Posted by drgwcs on Friday, November 4, 2022 9:54 PM

I suspect this was some of the case. The 82 AHM catalog is listing only the Mehano steam locos. Rivarossi went through a bankruptcy about this same time. I suspect they had to clearance this out at that time.. The AHM offerings about this time switched to a silver box. I started working for Hobby Lobby (at that time about 13 stores) in 82. It was a little after that sometime but I can not remember exactly when but they bought a lot of this on closeout I assume that the sent to the stores. Some was relabled regal way. 

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Posted by IC_Tom on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 8:29 AM

ripvanwnkl

What's left of IHC:  http://www.ihc-hobby.com/

 

Yep and I've ordered from them a couple of times in the past year or two.  They're still in business, providing good service - at least for what they still have.  They also run an ebay seller account, too - "rrpj."

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