New Product Previews!

8 09 2014

In lieu of putting the spotlight on one new upcoming product, this week we thought you’d enjoy a look behind the scenes at some of the pre-production samples that have come through our offices in the past few weeks.

Please note that all of the photos shown here are of pre-production models. There could be some differences between these and final production. Some are a little further along in the process than others, but we know you’re anxious to see what’s coming. Check our shipping schedules for delivery updates and look for these new trains at your favorite dealer in the near future.


Let’s start with our Dealer Exclusive train sets! We have four decorated samples to share, starting with the 6-81029 C&WN Windy City Freight Set.


The 6-81028 Marquette Freight Set features bold colors.


The 6-81030 UP Gold Coast Flyer Set has classic style.


The 6-81025 Pocono Berkshire Set rounds out our sampling of these great train sets.

PM 1225

Scale steam fans should look forward to the arrival of the Berkshires. This is a deco sample of PM 1225. The locomotive performs and sounds amazing on our test track!


A little further out, but just as exciting, the new Heavy Mikado is taking shape. This is a pre-production test sample.


Here’s a first look at the all-new GLa hopper for our Pennsy fans. Also a pre-production sample, these models pack a lot of detail into a small car.


From one extreme to the other – here’s a pre-production sample of the new 4-door 86′ high cube boxcar. The black plastic makes it hard to capture the fine rivet detail and other features of these fine freight cars.

New Product Spotlight – American Flyer Diesel Sounds Boxcars

25 08 2014

Are some of your American Flyer locomotives sounding a bit too quiet? Now you can add realistic diesel RailSounds to any American Flyer train simply by coupling up to one of the new RailSounds boxcars!

6-48870 Great Northern - Steam

6-48870 Great Northern – Steam

These boxcars feature the same great RailSounds you’ll find in our new diesels and steam locomotives. Simply couple the boxcar behind your locomotive and enjoy the same rich sounds you’ll get from our current releases in a train from any era. Diesel engine / steam chuff sounds are in sync with the speed of the train and the horn / whistle and bell is controllable by your conventional transformer.

6-48871 Erie - Steam

6-48871 Erie – Steam

Boxcars feature a holder for a 9 volt battery. Installing a battery will allow your sounds to continue even as you pass over switches, crossings or dirty track. A volume control knob is also included in the car so you can adjust the sound to your taste.

6-49064 New Haven - Diesel

6-49064 New Haven – Diesel

The diesel boxcars are available in New Haven and Union Pacific. Steam sounds cars come decorated for Erie and Great Northern. All feature metal frames, opening doors, and die-cast metal trucks with operating couplers and will negotiate an S-36 curve. Cars retail for $169.99. See your favorite American Flyer dealer to order yours today!

6-49065 Union Pacific - Diesel

6-49065 Union Pacific – Diesel

New Product Spotlight – LEGACY SD70MAC

18 08 2014

As AC traction motor technology improved in the 1990s, the SD70MAC emerged as ideal power for heavy trains.

Prototype Background

6-81134 Burlington Northern

6-81134 Burlington Northern

Billed as the biggest technological development since the switch from steam to diesel, improvements in AC traction motor technology promised major changes in how railroads ran trains and assigned power.

Diesels with conventional DC traction motors can develop a lot of power at low speed, but only for a short period of time before the motors will overheat. AC traction motors on the other hand can run at full power without overheating for a long time. This gives AC motored locomotives an advantage in hauling heavy drag freights like coal trains. After testing EMD’s SD60MAC prototypes, Burlington Northern determined they could replace five aging SD40-2 and C30-7 locomotives with just three new SD70MACs on their Powder River Basin coal trains. Burlington Northern’s initial order for 350 SD70MACs brought AC traction to the spotlight in a big way.

6-81138 BNSF

6-81138 BNSF

Along with the AC motors, the SD70MAC featured improved anti-slip control which greatly improved the locomotives’ adhesion. In other words, the SD70MAC didn’t pull more because it was more powerful, it pulled more because it made better use of the power it produced. The SD70MACs could dig in and pull when conventional locomotives just spun their wheels. It wasn’t long before other railroads were trying out AC as well.

6-81141 Conrail

6-81141 Conrail

While Burlington Northern and most of the other railroads which purchased the SD70MAC did so for coal and other heavy drag freight trains, the locomotives often wander into other service corridors as well. Unit grain trains and general merchandise are common assignments. Perhaps most unusual are those on the Alaska Railroad which sometimes find themselves pulling passengers.

Lionel’s Model

Our latest release brings the model up to date with today’s LEGACY control and other great features, including:

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional control layouts
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On / Off switch
  • LEGACYRailSounds including
    • CrewTalk andTowerCom dialog

      6-81153 CSX

      6-81153 CSX

    • 6 Official railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn
    • Bell (single hit and continuous)
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
    • Refueling sounds
  • Dual maintenance-free motors
  • Traction Tires
  • Refined Conventional Control mode with lower starting speeds
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Fan-driven smoke with adjustable output
  • ARR

    6-81153 Alaska

    IR Transmitter (works with the new SensorTrack)

  • Directional lighting
  • Marker Lights
  • Lighted cab interior with crew
  • Many separately applied metal detail parts
  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • Minimum Curve – O31

Another notable improvement over previous SD70MAC runs, we’ve lowered the fuel tank to a more realistic appearance.

The SD70MAC is being built to order. They were presented in two road numbers for Alaska, Burlington Northern, BNSF, CSX, and Kansas City Southern (one in the gray and one in the Southern Belle scheme). A Conrail SD70MAC is available as part of the Big Blue Auto Parts Boxcar Set and as a single number for separate sale. Look to see them later this year at your local Lionel dealer with a suggested retail price of $549.99.

New Product Spotlight – 86′ High Cube Boxcars

11 08 2014

After Lionel released our 89′ enclosed autoracks in 2013, it wasn’t long at all before the requests started coming in for an 86′ high cube auto parts boxcar to go with them. Bright, colorful and big, these boxcars are sure to make a statement on any O Gauge layout.

Santa Fe

Big boxcars provided ample room for big logos – roads like the Santa Fe certainly took advantage!

We’ve already covered auto parts cars here on the blog, and we’ll look at the Pullman Standard prototypes for our models in greater detail later this week with our next Freight Car Friday article. Rest assured you don’t need to model a sprawling auto assembly plant to enjoy these big cars on your layout. They can be found mixed in with smaller boxcars and autoracks in mixed freight trains or dedicated trains serving the assembly plants. You’ll also find the cars in appliance service and more recently some have even been put to work hauling trash.


Conrail had the largest fleet of 86′ boxcars. The set and 2-pack each include 2 of their most common paint scheme variations.

Common since the late 1960s, you’ll find these cars in an amazing variety of color and lettering schemes. This year’s catalog offerings are only the beginning of the roadname possibilities! The bold graphics of the 1970s, combined with the huge canvas of the boxcars’ sides quickly made these some of the most impactful cars on the rails. Even with today’s more subdued colors and graphics, the cars remain impressive.

draft gear

The cars will come with a separate draft gear box for realistic conversion to scale couplers.

Lionel’s 86′ boxcars come from all new tooling. Like the 89′ autoracks, these cars feature our kinematic couplers which allow the behemoths to negotiate an O54 curve while coupled to other cars or the locomotive yet still maintaining a normal coupler spacing on straight track.

In addition to the operating kinematic couplers, these cars will come with a provision for conversion to scale couplers as well. Each car will come with a pair of cushioned draft gear details which hold the couplers and replicate the prototypes extensions. Simply unscrew and remove the kinematic couplers and the new pockets will key into the floor of the car easily. Note that the cars will not stay coupled on an O54 curve with the scale couplers mounted to the floor.

Another plus for modelers, based on the many requests we’ve received, is that the bold graphics on the sides of these cars won’t include a “Built by Lionel” date. Those have been moved to the underside of the car leaving only the prototypical markings which were carefully researched from prototype photos – right down to correct “heritage” numbers in the corner of the Conrail models.


Bright colors and classic paint schemes are part of the charm of these big cars.

Although the sides of the cars seem rather plain from a distance, there are plenty of details to capture. Ladders, door hangers, grab irons and end platforms and many underbody details are all separately applied metal parts.

The cars will also feature sprung die-cast trucks with rotating roller bearing caps for reliable performance and that extra touch of realism.

The new cars will be available in 2-packs, as single cars and as part of the Big Blue High Cube Boxcar Set. Available roadnames include:

  • Santa Fe (6-81703 2-pack, 6-81708 single car)
  • Conrail (6-81095 2-pack and two in the 6-81094 Big Blue High Cube Boxcar Set. Both the two pack and the set feature one car each in the large and medium-sized logo schemes.)


    Maximize your fun with the Big Blue High Cube Set, including a special paint scheme and working EOT.

  • Grand Trunk Western (6-81704 2 pack and in the 6-81094 Set)
  • Milwaukee Road (6-81705 2-pack, 6-81710 single car)
  • New York Central (6-81707 2-pack, 6-81712 single car)
  • Norfolk Southern (6-81090 2-pack and a special “Thoroughbred” single car in the 6-81094 set)
  • Frisco (6-81706 2-pack, 6-81711 single car)

The boxcar set includes a new working EOT mounted to the coupler. (3-D printed, preproduction sample shown.)

Single cars have a suggested retail of $94.99, 2-packs a retail of $189.99. The Big Blue High Cube Boxcar set includes four of these cars including one with a newly tooled working EOT device mounted on the coupler of the last car and a Conrail LEGACY SD70MAC. Retail price on the set is $969.99. See your Lionel dealer to order yours today!