Was Tyco Really That Bad?

Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;

Four nights will quickly dream away the time;     

And then the moon, like to a silver bow

New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night

Of our solemnities.

I liken my circumstance to the Train Show thus.

After that digression, I shall now ask the question: were Tyco trains really as bad as their preceding reputation in the model railroad community makes them out to be- or were they in fact fair for their day?

To most model railroaders, these photographs surmise everything wrong with the brand (if you are not familiar with trains, this is a photograph of the prototype engine), and yes, the driving wheels are missing on the Tyco.

Yet does this mess-up typify and thus condemn the whole company production? I should say not, for a number of reasons, and I will also for the sake of a strong analysis focus upon the points most frequently (probably) criticized.

  1. The motors. Even from my personal experience, I recognize the motors and running qualities of the motive power to be terrible. That is, they only start on their own when the transformer control is turned a full three-quarters of the maximum running track voltage, and then when it does finally start it jackrabbits off and probably flies off the layout. However, this is a worst-case scenario, and bear in mind that Athearn trains at the time had rubber-band drive quite a bit of the time, which was obviously a crude, dubious and poor-running solution to the problem of power transmission. Really, their power system was about average.
  2. The finish. This includes detailing and painting and finishing. One of the most common complaints involving the range is that it’s badly-detailed, toylike crap.However, most of the fault lies in the painting, and once you strip that off, what’s underneath actually looks quite good. Sure, it has cast-on grab-irons, and oversize handrails that are usually plastic, and some of them have fantasy trucks, but virtually all period models had these faults, and they can be easily corrected if you are into model railroading enough to care. Also, most of the range was much truer to prototype, if not relating to the paint scheme, and though some of the details are a bit off, this was a universal occurrence regarding  the model train industry in the seventies. As regarding the paint schemes not relating to prototypical accuracy, bear in mind that children comprised a large portion of the market at the time, and in fact the fantasy paint schemes are in fact quite appealing, so long as the common paint overspray is nonexistent.

In summary, these were fair for their day and today have a fair amount of kitbashing potential, though they’re not something you should really pay that much money for, perhaps ten dollars at maximum depending on the model and the quality. With that, as to you who are incapable of understanding model railroading even in a very basic “I see the intrinsic fun in playing with trains” sense, refer to Willy Wonka.




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