Friday, December 10, 2010

Road Champs 1912 Christie Front Drive Steamer

Up until now on Fire Truck (or Fire Engine) and Emergency Vehicle Friday, we've been highlighting vintage plastic toys from the 1940s and 1950s.  Many of these were simple one-piece castings or had very few parts and were not made to any particular scale, a consideration that wouldn't become important in the toy industry until many years later.  Today we bring a nicely detailed 1/43 scale replica of an early motorized steamer fire engine.

The History: Born in 1865 J. Walter Christie was an engineer who, after doing some work on early submarine and Naval designs, turned his attention to front-wheel drive vehicles and was the first American to compete in the French Grand Prix.  In 1912 Christie began producing a line of front wheel drive tractors which could be attached to any trailer the customer wanted.  Many of these tractors were utilized by fire departments across the country.  This let the various fire departments keep their expensive steam pumps which had been attached to frames and pulled by teams of horses.  As was the custom for many decades, the fire engines sported beautiful artwork and intricate gold filigree striping and detailing.

The Toy:  Made in 1999 by Road Champs, this is a nicely done 1/43 scale representation of the 1912 Christie tractor shown attached to an 1899 Ahrens-Fox steam powered pumper and was a limited edition of 10,000.  The fire engine is red plastic with chrome plated tank and auxiliary parts, and gold filigree striping and decorative details.  Whether you enjoy fire trucks, or just want something cool to put on your O-gauge train layout this is a terrific little toy.Bettina & Fritz Berg  :)  Enjoy!