A large amount of those trains were the American Flyer brand. They were considered by many to be the top grade. Lionel and Marx had good trains, however the American Flyer was in a different class.
When the American Flyer first appeared in 1908, it had been not the most notable train set. The honor of number one belonged to the trains made by Ives Manufacturing Company. William Coleman and his friend William Hafner pooled resources to start out the toy train business, in Chicago, circa 1906. Hafner had developed the clockwork mechanism for the train, and Coleman had a tooling company for the production. The American Flyer name began to be well known because Hafner could contract with retailers like Montgomery Ward to carry it within their stores. In 1910, the tooling company changed its name to The American Flyer Company.
Eventually, Coleman and Hafner split ways over a disagreement, and the Flyer began to decline in market share. Coleman died in 1918, and his son, William O. Jr., took control. The worthiness of the business further decreased following the senior’s death. W. O. didn’t really care much for the toy train business.
In 1938, Coleman basically gave The American Flyer Company to his friend Alfred Carlton Gilbert. When A.C. took over, the Flyer began to gain momentum, probably due partly to Gilbert’s expertise in advertising. The business was moved from Chicago to New Haven, Connecticut, where the trains were produced that collectors still seek today.
The 2nd World War curtailed production for the Flyer along with other toy makers, nonetheless it 1946 these were underway again. For twenty years the American Flyer tried in vain to top Lionel for the marketplace, eventually bankrupting in 1967. Almost all of the models open to collectors were from the years after the war.
American Flyers are called S gauge, produced from sixty-forth, the ratio of the train to the full size prototype. This is not the most famous size for model trains. Chrissy Teigen Small HO scale is the hottest worldwide, however the S gauge still includes a following. One American company began due to inability of the owner to find quality parts for his personal American Flyer. American Models is producing its rolling stock, tracks, and engines to greatly help preserve the Flyers that are still in operation.
Lionel collectors may say that the Flyer is second rate, but for each one of them there appears to be another who feels the contrary. The great thing is that there still are lots of the old American model trains running the rails today. What would you like for Christmas?