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Simpson-Sears mail-order HO 1957-1984


by Keith Wills W


hen tinplate began to decline in 1955 HO became an alterna- tive, something better, more re-


alistic. HO scale entered 1950’s Montgomery Ward, Sears Roebuck and Canadian Simpson-Sears


catalogs.


Canadian Sears merged with the Simpson department store chain, circa 1953, and in 1957 began cataloging HO Christmas holiday trains, once the exclu- sive territory of Lionel, Marx and German Distler. It was British Triang OO/HO: a passenger set, Alco freight and Canadian Pacific freight, the latter cost- ing $25.98. By comparison, an O-27


Lionel was priced at $43.95 and a Marx freight, $34.95. It was Lionel’s last de- cent year, for in 1958 cheaper 2-4-2’s and Alco FA’s led sets with cheap Scout cars. HO cost less as long as one was prepared to accept Triang’s toy-like distortions. Simpson-Sears tried four lines in


1959: Revell, Triang, Marx, and a Lionel akin in price to its O-27 set. Marx steam- ers were now 2-4-2’s, further sign of tin- plate troubles. In 1960 Simpson-Sears had two Athearns, both of which under- cut two Lionels and Marx’s best set. In 1961 they were still below the best Marx. It appears there was rethinking what


would most appeal to children, either O- 27 toys or scale models for teens. Simpson-Sears also imported cheap Japanese HO battery toys costing $3.50 to $6.98, best suited for kiddies. With no HO models since the Athearns, Triang returned in 1966 along with two AHM freights, the most scale in appearance and seen one year. Tyco made an initial appearance in 1967 placing a toe in the water so to speak. Triang continued until 1970. Tyco became the major supplier from


1971 to 1979, with occasionally others popping up such as Cox from 1976 to 1979 and Bachmann, 1980. Sensitive to Canadians, Tyco made liveries in CP Rail, Canadian National, VIA Rail, British Columbia Railways and a few


1959 REVELL, TRIANG, MARX AND LIONEL


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DECEMBER 2011


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