Wednesday, October 26, 2011

High Marx - the 416 Twin Floodlight Tower

Yesterday I wrote in detail about the Louis Marx Co. 413a Switchman Tower I purchased for my O-gauge Zen garden. At the TCA meet in York I also found a Marx 416 twin floodlight tower.

Now I've already written about why I wanted these accessories. But I'd like discuss the what, and take a closer look at the piece itself.

Marx made many low-cost toy train accessories, both before and after World War II. This floodlight was one of them. It featured two bulbs in sockets that rotated both side-to-side and up-and-down, so you could position the lights however you chose.

The interesting thing about this piece is how Marx economized to keep the cost down, yet still put out a durable -- and useful -- toy train accessory.

See the similarities?
It even has  the same red paint!
Take a close look at the image at left. The tower can be divided into four distinct parts: the black base, the red square pillar, the red lattice-work tower, and the black platform on top.

The base was used for several different accessories, such as the 413a switchman's tower I also purchased at the meet. That pillar (and base) was also used for street lamps, searchlight bases and other accessories.

And look closely at that girder column. It's the same one used in the 413a switchman's tower (and a few other things besides). Need I say that the light assembly also shows up in different pieces.

Marx recycled as many components as they could to make new and different toys. In the end, they could produce attractive and good quality products at a price that made them more than competitive. Dime stores like Woolworth's and catalog retailers like Sears (the 1930's equivalents of Wal-Mart and Amazon) would often have a low-end item or two from Lionel and American Flyer, and a plethora of products from Marx.

  One thing about exposed bulbs -- they can
put out a lot of light!
The 416 floodlight tower, although manufactured in the late 1930's isn't rare by any means -- there are thousands of them floating around. And they're desirable, but not overly so. This one cost me $10, and that was fine. It's meant to go on the layout, and that's where it is today, illuminating a siding that was sitting in the shadows.

And because it's made of metal, it actually looks a little more realistic than you might think, especially when the room lights are dimmed. Marx toys may be cheap and simple, but examine them carefully, and you'll discover excellent examples of American ingenuity!
Positional instead of fixed position lights.
Marx added value where it counted.

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