Thursday, February 28, 2013

Japanese Litho Train Sets 3 - Cragstan, Distler and Nomura

The Cragstan HO scale F3, made by Nomura.
I'm not very far into my postwar Japanese lithographed train sets databasing project, but I've already come upon something unusual.

I knew that Cragstan imported HO train sets made by Nomura under their own brand. There seem to be a few variations of them, but they're mostly cosmetic. The sets I've found so far have the same basic components:
  • HO scale Santa Fe diesel, modeled after the F3
  • 2 box/stock cars
  • 12 sections of HO sectional track, making an oval
  • a power pack powered by 2 batteries
Fig. 1: Rolling stock from two different Nomura sets.
The older of the two is on the bottom.
 I've so far found three variations on the rolling stock. The shape of the cars are unchanged -- just the lithography is different.
  • Tan Santa Fe stock car and silver Santa Fe refrigerator car (Fig. 1)
  • Burgundy  Mobilgas automobile car and green Santa Fe refrigerator car
  • 2 silver Santa Fe passenger cars (figure 2)
All of these were made by Nomura (trademarked "TN" on the ends of the cars). I recently ran across a set made by the German company Distler. It's from the early 1950's, and was made in West Germany for import by Cragstan. The set is identical to the Nomura passenger set. (figure 3).

Fig. 2: Nomura passenger cars. The bodies are the same
as the box cars in Fig. 1
The only difference is the lithography. The Nomura locomotives have a different number, and the details don't seem as crisp as they do the Distler version. And the passenger car lithography is different. But the set -- track, rolling stock, locomotive -- is virtually identical.

Since Cragstan imported both, I don't think it's likely that the Nomura set is a knock-off. The Distler box specifically states "made in Western Germany for Cragstan." I think Cragstan contracted with the German firm to make this toy, then took the dies and stampers back and shifted production to Japan.

Fig. 3: The Distler Santa Fe passenger set.
The Distler set. The Nomura versions have a "TN" logo
in place of the "Made in Western Germany," and the
number board is 2246 instead of 1234 on the locomotive.
So what's the real connection between Cragstan and Distler? Did Distler make other toys for the importer? I'm not sure, but I now know to look carefully at loose Cragstan HO gauge rolling stock and locomotives. There are probably differences in build quality, which should mean an appropriate difference in value.

No comments:

Post a Comment