Retrocon 2024

LGB Model Trains and Their Evolution In The 1980s

If you’re into model trains, you’ve probably already heard about LGB. The LGB (Lehmann Gross Bahn, or the ‘Lehmann Big Train’ in German) is the world’s best manufacturer of high-quality railroad model products.

The company was founded in 1881 and has been a great German toymaker ever since. They first introduced their model trains in 1968 and have been doing so for the last 4 decades. LGB trains were so popular that when they were first introduced in the United States, Americans found their love for model trains again.

History Of LGB Model Trains & Evolution Over The Years

O-scale Trains

Before LGB started manufacturing model trains, ‘O-scale trains’ were the most popular. O-scale trains come in various ratios–from 1:43.5 to 1:48–depending on the region.

Furthermore, most of the O-scale trains can use the same track and are also compatible with one another, which helps boost their popularity all around the world. In fact, O-scale trains were the most popular model railroad scale in the United States until the 1960s.

G-scale Trains

Now, LGB took a gamble when they introduced the first ‘G-scale’ model train. It’s worth noting that G-scale train sets are about twice the size of O-scale trains.

As mentioned above, the first model train introduced by LGB appeared in 1968. Their first model train was a small Austrian locomotive named ‘Stainz.’ The LGB Stainz 0-4-0 steam outline locomotive also appears in the brand’s logo and is still in production today.

It’s also worth mentioning that most of the model train enthusiasts around the world have at least one Stainz example in their collection, which shows the popularity of the LGB trains. Stainz models are robust and are also known for their good pulling power.

Large Scale Train Manufacturer

Although G-scale is twice the size of the O-scale, it’s not the largest model scale train in the world. There are even larger model trains than the ones manufactured by LGB. What sets LGB apart from other model train manufacturers is that their products are considered to be the most popular ‘large scale’ trains.

LGB is also the first model train manufacturer to introduce a model railroad that’s both suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Good For Indoor and Outdoor Use

All of their products are made from high-quality and weather-resistant materials. From the accessories, tracks, and locomotives, you can rest assured that they’ll all function indoors. Also, their products can even function even if it’s raining or snowing outside. This is why LGB trains are so popular because they can also be set up as an outdoor garden railroad.

LGB of America

By 1984, LGB launched their first model train in the United States, the Mogul steam locomotive. Despite the prices of their model trains, with prices starting at around $300 USD for the starter set, LGB sales soared even higher after entering the North American Market. Their sales grew at an enormous rate and became one of the most influential names in the toy industry in the 1980s.

As a result of their popularity and the large volume of sales in the North American region, the LGB of America was established in San Diego in 1987. The LGB of America aims to provide warranty and repair services to all LGB customers in the North American region.

Resurrects the Declining Market

The whole model railroad industry owes LGB for resurrecting the declining market. Before LGB came to the United States in the 1980s, the market was rapidly declining. But as soon as they introduced the Mogul steam locomotive in the region, the almost non-existing market rose from the ashes again. This is because they’ve changed the model railroad hobby by bringing a whole new scale. The popularity of LGB has been so immense that it immediately attracted imitators.

Manufactured More Model Trains

After having tremendous success when they entered the US market, LGB soon started introducing more model trains. They manufactured European and US steam locomotives as well as diesel and electric prototypes. LGB also manufactured a wide range of coaches, trucks, and other railroad accessories.

Allows Customization

LGB is also known for giving their customers plenty of options when it comes to design. For instance, LGB provides options for their customers to choose a different roof and body designs for their standard 4-wheel coach. This allows customers to customize their model trains however they like.

Final Thoughts

Model railroading is one of those hobbies that’ll never die. Aside from being fun, it’s also one of those hobbies that can teach you a lot of things. 

Model railroading helps develop your critical thinking, motor, and imaginative skills as you figure out how to lay the tracks. It also helps develop your creativity as you figure out how to create scenic views and vistas with your model railroad.
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