Those trains now referred to as ‘New Marx’ or 'New Marx/Ameritrains' by collectors were first produced in 1993 by a company called Marx Trains. The company was founded by James and Debby Flynn under license from Jay Horowitz. Jim Flynn was a regular contributor to ‘Classic Toy Trains’ (CTT) magazine, his first article being published in the February 1990 issue. The December 1990 issue of CTT featured an interview conducted by Jim with Jay Horowitz, President of Miami-based American Plastics. Mr. Horowitz had purchased much of the old Louis Marx & Co. tooling, molds, records, etc. in 1982. In the article Mr. Horowitz states, “It wasn’t until 1988 that we were able to finalize control over the intellectual rights, patents, copyrights, and trademarks.” Keep this in mind as an extremely important development will be talked about later.
While Mr. Horowitz expressed interest in continuing toy and train production he made it clear that trains were not the first thing being considered for production but were being ‘studied’. In the early 1990s Marx Toys was formed by Jay Horowitz and many of the old Marx playsets released under that name. Long cherished and fondly remembered playsets like ‘Ft. Apache’, 'Alamo’, ‘Cape Canaveral’, ‘D-Day’ and many others were once again available to the toy buying public. During the period from 1990 to 1993 Jim Flynn’s relationship with Jay Horowitz culminated in an opportunity to once again produce tinplate trains under the Marx name. With the licensing agreement ‘in-hand’, the first new Marx trains began production in 1993 and one of the finest lines of tinplate trains to come along in many years enjoyed a good run.
In 2003 the name of the company was changed from Marx Trains to Ameritrains. The Marx Trains Advantage flyer Vol. 4 No. 4 states, “Formerly produced under the Marx brand it was felt that a new image would better compliment the product and customer tastes” and “Marx Trains Advantage will be suspended at the end of September 2003 and all existing Advantage points will expire 10/31/03.”
In 2004 Jim and Debby Flynn sold Marx Trains. In the introduction to the ‘MarxAmeritrains’ Yahoo Group site, Jim Flynn says, “We decided to sell the company in 2004, as we were not able to move the company forward at the pace we wanted.”
I guess all good things must come to an end and the first signs of trouble came in September 2005 when, after trying to place an order, Steve Eastman, owner/moderator of the ‘MarxAmeritrains’ Yahoo Group received the following reply from Ameritrains, “We regret to inform you that we are not accepting any new orders at this time. Due to serious problems we are ceasing production until further notice.” What followed was two years of speculation, rumor, and disappointment. At various times during those two years the Ameritrains website was reported to be down, then up, then down again. Finally, on December 19, 2007 the website went down for good. It was a sad end to a company that had breathed new life into the toy train industry and offered so many new and exciting products.
Today, 'New Marx/Ameritrains' trains and accessories are as popular as ever and command premium prices. Today as part of new Diner Dienstag series, Toys & Stuff takes a look at one of the diners offered by them. The diner was based on a Christmas themed boxcar seen in the excerpt from the Marx Trains Advantage Newsletter Vol. VI Number 6 2006: Enjoy The Berg's Last es euch gefallen :)
Here it's shown for the first time in the Marx Trains Advantage Newsletter Vol. VII Number 4 2007:
Essentially they took the body of the boxcar and attached it to a ramped base creating a diner. The following pictures were graciously provided by noted Marx trains collector Steve Eastman (Many Thanx Steve!!):
Both ends are the same.