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ARTICLE: What Ever Happened to the Single Train Car?

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#1 TheBrickster


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Posted 28 August 2008 - 04:18 AM

What Ever Happened to the Single Train Car: Rolling Stock Reluctance

- a Lego Trains & Town Article by TheBrickster

During the "hayday" of classic trains, Lego produced a number of very nice "stand-alone" train cars (aka as rolling stock).  These began during the 4.5/12 V era and continued to the 90s during the 9V era.  

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7818 Passenger Wagon - released 1980

In the early 2000s, Lego turned their train focus on the "My Own Train" collection and offered a few nicely designed stand-alone cars including the Open Freight Wagon (10013), Red Caboose (10014), Green Passenger Wagon (10015), Tanker (10016), and Hopper (10017).  These sets sold between $15 - $25 (USD), a nice reasonable price for a single train car.

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10015 Green Passenger Wagon - released 2001

We did not see another stand-alone train car until 2005 with the TTX Intermodal Double-Stack Car (10170); not counting cars like the Santa Fe Passenger sets that were add-ons to the Super Chief.  The High-Speed Train cares were another example of cars sold separately but part of a set.  Since then, Lego has not really offered a single train car.

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10170 Intermodal Double-Stack Car

Understanding that Lego is changing their train platform/system, why has Lego been reluctant to offer more stand-alone freight and passenger cars in recent years?  Lego Factory/Hobby Trains have given us a way to buy fan-created models, but what happened to the Lego designers?  Has Lego lost interest in creating reasonably priced single train car sets for its train fans.  Are they simply waiting for the new Train System?  Or does the Lego train market represent a more national "real-life" trend that is replacing rail travel with semi-trucks and airplanes?  

I don't believe that Lego has to create elaborate designed train cars that take a year to design and sell for $40 (USD) to appease train fans.  They could always go back to the Classics.

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4543 Railroad Tractor Flatbed - 1991

#2 Ricecracker


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Posted 28 August 2008 - 04:34 AM

i voted above average because i thought it was a great article, although i thought it was ended a bit too abruptly.

now, onto the article itself.

i totally agree with you on this! the lack of rolling stock (or even trains for that matter) is very unreasonable. i mean, is everyone who has a train in their city supposed to have the exact same train, down to the vehicle number and load? variety is the spice of life! as well, Lego could, as far as i know, fairly easily get a designer or two to make 2-3 moderately well designed cars a year, and that would/should shut us up  :tongue: . Lego, i'm not certain how well previous rolling stock has sold, but i'm fairly sure they would sell well now.

#3 JimBee


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Posted 28 August 2008 - 06:44 AM

Great article, Brickster. although I can't relate to the subject (never had a LEGO train set or was interested in them), your ideas were stated in a well-conceived manner. Although this article lacked a conclusion, it was great other than that. It was a pleasure reading, and I gave it an "Above Average Grade" because of the lacking ending.  :thumbup:

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#4 The Cobra

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 10:31 AM

I never owned a Lego train, because they were/are big and expensive. But I'd love to own a single car.
Plus, they would be a great add-on (just think of the old red/yellow train).
Your article is very good!
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#5 Lockt


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Posted 28 August 2008 - 11:05 AM

Your article is very interesting. On the comment made before, about the abrupt ending, I think it has something to do with a final point making (not needing to be elaborate and the final pic) after  you concluded it would be nice to have single train cars.

Anyway, I like the article and on its content:

I am the happy owner of 2 of those 80s sets, one Shell tanker and a Crane Car and I always very much liked it. I often use them in combination with an 80s train, but also on a 9V train. I like the compatability and the combinations possible. If I recall correctly those single train cars also have alternative models in the manual which is nice for variation.

Indeed it was a powerful concept in the past and I agree with you it still can be and would be a true addition

#6 Joebot


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Posted 28 August 2008 - 03:09 PM

That's a great question. There have been some terrific single-car sets in the past (in particular, the Metroliner observation car).

This is such a simple and obvious way to expand the Train line. I have no idea why TLC has moved away from this concept in the past few years. The only reasonable explanation I can think of is all the upheaval going on in the Train theme, as they move from 9V to remote control to ... whatever the heck comes next. Maybe they've been hesitant to put too much time and effort into the line until they settle on a format and a technology. I dunno, I'm just speculatin'.

I loved the way that TLC packaged and sold that white and green passenger train from a few years back. You could buy the whole train, complete with track and accessories. Or you could buy it piecemeal, with the engine and the cars sold separately. I'd like to see TLC do something like that again.

I also really liked the "My Own Train" sub-theme, but my impression is that it didn't sell very well. These sets were on deep clearance at Target within a few months.

#7 Freddie


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Posted 28 August 2008 - 04:20 PM

Hmm, I couldn't justify anything above "average", as I missed the conclusion. It's sort of a crucial bit because without it, the article feels incomplete.

It's an interesting question you're asking, though. I've been wondering about it myself. Personally, I would point towards the lack of success for the later trains, as they were quite expensive, and it's not easy getting a customer to part money for an accessory for something the customer doesn't have. Also, I'm guessing that LEGO are marketing and pricing their trains wrong, with the passenger trains, having accessories somewhat limited to extra passenger coaches and train stations, being the small and cheap starter set, while the freight train, being the more expensive set, is also more flexible in terms of what accessories are compatible, in terms of theme.

With few parents being willing to part the extra money for the expensive set, and even fewer willing to spend some more on extra train cars and such, it's no wonder if extras don't sell. I think if perhaps LEGO took the classic approach of making the freight train as the (cheap) entry set, and the passenger train the more expensive (and thus more fancy) set, parents will be more approachable about buying those extras.

Also, if LEGO started actively using the trains in advertising, not necessarily as the highlight, but perhaps in the background, standing next to the harbour being loaded by the harbour's cargo crane, people will become more aware of the existence of LEGO trains. You see, I think also the "isolationism" of LEGO's advertising, and I'm more looking at the brouchures and catalogs available to the public here, is a contributing factor to the lack of trains being sold -> lack of single train cars (and to an extent, single motorised locomotives).

Uhm, yeah. I think that's it.

#8 maiq the liar

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 10:44 PM

Perhaps this issue could be alleviated by the PF Line? (and hopefully there will be a adaptor for 9V/RC Trains.)
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#9 JopieK


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Posted 29 August 2008 - 06:51 PM

View Postmaiq the liar, on Aug 29 2008, 12:44 AM, said:

Perhaps this issue could be alleviated by the PF Line? (and hopefully there will be a adaptor for 9V/RC Trains.)

We had two of those cars on the last LEGO Event of the Dutch de Bouwsteen group in Hardenberg. It is strange that the other two cars that are in the set have red buffers and this additional car has black ones.

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#10 highlandcattle


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Posted 31 August 2008 - 10:44 AM

I think the mayor issue with the RC trains was that you would have a lot of batterylife loss. In 2007 LEGO suddenly sold out it's remaining stock of rolling stock: the TTX, green passenger car and World City cars. Were all sold quickly at half price.
Here is "evidence" to back up my statement, from the LEGO FAQ:
How many wagons can be added to the new RC trains?
7897 - Passenger Train
In this set we recommend 2 wagons.

7898 €“ Cargo Train Deluxe
In this set we recommend 4 wagons.

In general there is the possibility of adding more than the recommended number of wagons but it will affect the speed of the train and the battery life.

These number of wagons are actually the number included in the sets

I hope things will change with PF

View PostJopieK, on Aug 29 2008, 08:51 PM, said:

It is strange that the other two cars that are in the set have red buffers and this additional car has black ones.

The so called additional ones are much older then those in the set. the single car was released in 1980 and the other ones in 1984. They were never in the shop together

Edited by highlandcattle, 31 August 2008 - 10:39 AM.

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#11 BigDumbWookiee


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Posted 02 September 2008 - 07:02 PM

What I'd give for more rolling stock (or engines for the matter). I want some cool box cars, refrigerated cars, hoppers, gondolas...

I ended up buying six sets of the TTX intermodal cars to go with my BNSF engine. Slowly but surely buying the Santa Fe cars to go with my Santa Fe engine (still need two 10022 sets). Im going to start playing around and making my own cars and engines, but I still want official sets too! Either that, or expand the LEGO Factory/pickabrick to include more bricks so we can make better trains via Factory.

#12 MarcusV3


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Posted 07 May 2009 - 08:50 PM

I agree with you completely brickster, I think this definitely gave train fans a fun and easy way to customize their trains to their own personal interests. Come to think of it I can't come up with anything to justify why lego did this. I hope we'll see more stand alone cars in the future but I'm afraid that we won't  :sceptic: Oh well hope for the best prepare for the worst  :thumbup:

#13 DaCheese


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Posted 07 May 2009 - 09:25 PM

This article and its responses show what I feel has always been the problem with the Trains range. During my life at least there's not been enough of it, and having picked up those small Lego catalogues all the way through my pre-teen years I realise in retrospect that they always pushed Trains into a corner of the catalogues, as if they were ashamed of it. It's a bit difficult to argue that something isn't selling if you don't make the people who would buy it aware that it exists and ask a lot of money for the little you produce. I was tempted by Trains several times as possible birthday or Christmas presents, but a) I'm not keen on diesel and electric locos, just steam b) steam engines with the 9V motor underneath or tender drive are plain wrong and c) it was too damn expensive. Hopefully the introduction of PF trains will start a new age of the train. Take the Emerald Night; I reach 18 years old and finally the kind of train kit I've always wanted! It's still horribly expensive, but it's worth it for me because it's loco drive and looks like a proper model locomotive, just made from Lego. Actually, from a distance it doesn't look like Lego. Come on Lego, at the very least give us coach kits to give our Emerald Nights something to pull!

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