Today on Fire Engine and Emergency Vehicle Friday Toys & Stuff presents the Marx Fire House plastic kit. We featured the later K-Line version last November so I guess it's about time we take a look at the original. The Marx Fire House was part of the Marxville line of plastic building kits marketed by Marx for its 3-rail O-gauge toy trains and marketed in the early 1950s. The Marxville kits were in direct competition to Bachmann's line of Plasticville structures. While they were in competition, the types of buildings offered were often times very different and, unlike many other toys of the era, there were no direct copies or rip-offs of each others products. For example, while Marx and Bachmann both produced fire houses, the two were totally different in design and appearance. The one thing they both shared in common was their relative size. Technically the structures are better suited to S-gauge trains but were freely used with O-gauge. And, as I've said before, it doesn't really matter as they're just toys after all.
The set includes five cream colored, soft plastic figures:
- Fire Chief with upraised arm
- Fireman running with ax
- Fireman with hose
- Small boy wearing fireman's helmet and carrying boots. This figure is often listed mistakenly as a man. It is not a man - it is a small boy.
- Dog, probably meant to be a Dalmatian. Although the dog could represent any breed, it would make sense that, given the tradition and sensibilities of the time (early 1950s), a Dalmatian would be portrayed as the typical fire house mascot.
A hard plastic fire truck rounds out the accessories. When I took these photos, the fire truck which came with the Fire House had a broken windshield and so the photos reflect that. Since then I've been able to acquire intact trucks. Perhaps in the future I'll do a photo spread of the intact truck. The photos were taken a couple of years ago for another project and really deserve to be re-done. For now though - Enjoy!
You'll notice the dog is a light green color. A complete set of figures for this set is difficult to come by, and the dog is the hardest as it is so small and was easily lost. The green dog is actually from a set of Marx Canadian production figures. While the Marxville line of railroad figures offered for sale in the U.S. were always a cream soft plastic, Canadian production accounted for several different color variations.
Marx plastic sometimes discolors into another color entirely. The Fire House originally came with gray roof, doors, and windows. Many times, the gray discolors into a cream color. At first I had believed this to be a different variation until I came across a sample which clearly showed the discoloration process in progress as some parts were clearly the light gray with adjoining areas having already turned color.