The marketing of a model train line is an important aspect of understanding a manufacturer and its product aims and goals. This information and related materials are scarce pieces of model railroading’s history. The hobbyist’s hands-on experience with this area of a company’s output was generally limited to paging through an annual product catalog (many catalogs were produced to serve two audiences: the hobby dealer and end user). Any other exposure to marketing was seeing a print ad or a TV commercial.
By the 1970s, and following the line’s sale to Consolidated Foods, TYCO was a big business in HO-scale electric trains and slot cars. This interesting color publication, Tyco Power ‘72: Advertising & Merchandising, provides insight into how and where the company invested money in promotion. Now a half-century old, this vintage guide also shows us what avenues for promotion were attractive to TYCO (and other similar train set sellers) to get their message out to buyers. In addition to sharing pages from Tyco Power ‘72, I provide views from a special edition of the manufacturer’s 1973 catalog. That catalog was the introduction of and launching point for the “brown box” era, and the extra pages added to the regular version 1973 catalog highlight suggested arrangements and sales tools TYCO offered for its products.
ABOVE: TYCO’s Loco Display/Merchandiser (7065) is a collector’s treasure. I see these on occasion. A challenge in trying to obtain one is finding an example with no damage to its pressboard walls, signage, and other elements… then there’s the added challenge of trying to package and ship this 22 x 18-inch cabinet. While I had seen the display/merchandiser, I was surprised to see TYCO’s 33 x 13-inch Action Accessories Merchandiser and Lighted Buildings Merchandiser. These appear to be made of heavy cardboard sections, though I have never seen one and cannot confirm more details on these items.
Both of these publications were fun finds for my collection. As with any fishing trip, sometimes I buy a curiosity that seems to hold a promise of reveal-ing never-before-seen delights, and frequently I come up empty-handed with a “nothing special” edition of a regular catalog. If the price is attractive and you remain diligent in regularly searching eBay for catalogs and related materials, you can score some fun finds like these and often with only a modest investment…