Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Japanese Litho Train Sets 5 - Yonezawa Continental Flyer

I'm still in the early stages of gathering information for the Japanese lithographed train sets database project, and still unearthing some surprises.

#167 Continental Flyer Train Set -- the original.
Yonezowa produced a battery-operated toy train set named the Continental Flyer. It's a set that turns up fairly often on eBay. The set box bears the number 167, which is how I cataloged it. The 167 set featured a steam locomotive and tender, a tin lithographed Shell tank car, and a tin lithographed red caboose.

But then I ran across a later Yonezowa set that bore the same catalog number. Also called the Continental Flyer, this one had a plastic steam locomotive and tender, a gray plastic undecorated tank car, and a red plastic undecorated caboose.

In the business, this is known as a "running change."

So how did I catalog this one? As 167b, since it's obviously a later production run. Japanese toy production transitioned from using primarily metal to all-plastic in the early 1960's. The original 167 set, judging by the box art, was probably produced around 1959-1960. Which also might explain why the set continued on with plastic cars instead of just being brought out as a completely new set.

#167b Continental Flyer Train Set. Note that the cover
art has been replaced by a clear plastic window.
Interestingly, the box of the 167b set has the illustration of the set cut out and replaced with a clear plastic window. If you look closely at the 167 box, you'll see why. The illustration shows the Shell livery on the tank car, and a caboose that has a significantly different profile.

Creating a die to cut out that picture costs some money. I wonder how many boxes they had sitting around to justify the expense of modifying them with a cutout and a cellophane window.

#167 metal lithographed cars.
Technically, the 167b set is beyond the scope of the database project, as it's a plastic rather than a tin lithographed toy. But it's still one I need to include, simply to document the evolution of this catalog item.

Was this running change unique, or a was it a common practice at Yonezowa? Only further research can answer that one.

#167b plastic undecorated cars.

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