Thursday, June 12, 2014

Collecting -- and collecting information 15

My most recent acquisition -- and newest mystery.
A recent impulse purchase led to some more answers -- and questions -- to the nebulous subject of postwar Japanese toy manufacture. I found this box car (at right) sitting on a table a recent toy train meet (click on images to enlarge). It looked very close to the Nomura pieces I already owned, but there were puzzling differences. But it was also only $4.00, so I took a chance.

Sure enough, when I got home and did a side-by-side comparison, there were differences an similarities.

Nomura box car (left), and Rosko
mystery car (right)
  1. The Nomura Santa Fe car was marked with the company's logo -- "TN" in a diamond. The Boston and Maine (BM) myster car only said "Made in Japan" with no maker's mark. 
  2. The Nomrua car body was made of flat metal with a curved roof. The mystery piece had stamped detail, and creases in the metal to make a slanted roof with a catwalk. 
  3. The Nomura couplers had a hook and a flat hoop on one truck, and just a hoop on the other. The mystery piece had a hook with a thick hoop on both trucks. 
  4. The Rosko coupler could be
    easily disengaged mechanically.
  5. 4) The Nomura coupler made a simple connection. The mystery couplers had a curved tail hanging down that, when pushed up, lifted the coupler. It suggested a mechanical uncoupler of some kind.
  1. Both seemed to use the same frame design - and both frames were silver.
  2. Both had plastic trucks, and those trucks were almost identical in construction.
  3. Both truck frames were identical.
Rosko cattle car (top) and Nomura box car (bottom).
There does seem to be a strong family resemblance.
So was this a Nomura piece? The answer, as it turns out, is no -- and perhaps yes. Members of the Sakai and Seki Toy Train Discussion Group (specializing in Japanese tinplate) had the answers. The piece I had was part of a Rosko Tested train set. The De-Lux Electric Train Set with Whistle, to be precise.

This set featured a center-cab diesel locomotive, the mystery cattle car, a tank car, and a crane. Interestingly, the set came in two versions: one with a red color scheme, the other with a blue.

So that explains the differences. But what about the similarities? Well, it turns out that many of these companies subcontracted to each other, making for a certain mixing and matching of parts.

Mystery solved. My cattle car is part of a Rosko 1001 train set.
Available in blue, too.
 As one of the members of the forum explained,
[Rosko was] tied into AHI somehow. [AHI was Azrak Hamway International, Inc. an American import company founded in 1964 and bought by Remco in 1974]. Some Rosko boxed sets were made up of AHI components like the C156 engine and tender, Shell tank car and standard red caboose. I found another Rosko ho plastic battery set that used the TN/Nomura battery tower, and the consist appeared to be Bandai H0 pieces with different trucks. Makes it tough to keep some of these Japanese manufacturers straight.
So it's possible that the reason I noticed similarities with some features of the two items is because those parts were made by the same company. Was it Nomura, Rosko, or perhaps another company? My forum answer has lead to more questions...

My new Rosko piece added to a Nomura/Cragstan set. OK, it's not
authentic, but you have to admit it looks pretty good.

No comments:

Post a Comment