German model trains
The following list of model train supplies is focussed on German model train companies for 2 reasons: I´m living here; and model railroading has a long tradition in Germany, starting with Märklin producing wind-up trains at the end of the 19th century. Other German manufacturers like Arnold, Trix or Fleischmann are also worldwide known. List will be continued!
Some German model train brands
Hard times for model train manufacturers
When talking about model train companies, it is necessary to make a difference between the "brand name" and the real owner. In the last decades many model train producer had to face severe economical problems. Some were sold or taken over by other companies, others became part of holdings. The intention here is not to describe each latest update in detail, but just to give a short survey on model train supplies in Germany by listing the "name" which is usually known by hobbyists and modellers.
Model train supplies: Companies in Germany
Göppingen is a little town near Stuttgart, situated in a nice hilly region called "Schwäbische Alb". Some say, the history of model trains had to start here, because everything in this region looks like model railroad in 1:1 scale: nice little rocks, nice little tunnels, nice little bridgeworks, and nice little half timbered houses, with Märklin headquarters located right in the heart of this region. If you visit Germany, don´t miss to see the Swabian Jura and the Märklin Museum in Göppingen. It´s really worth to see!
Of course, history did not (only) start here. But Märklin was one of the first model train producer at all, and is still famous all over the world. Founded in the middle of the 19th century, the company started with ship models and doll´s kitchen, followed later by model trains. In the 1930ies the company came up with smaller scales like the H0-scale. The "H" stands for "half", because H0-scale (1:87) is half the size of 0-scale. More about Märklin´s 3-rail system and the correct spelling (Marklin? Märklin?) here: HO model trains. In the 1970ies followed Z-scale, also known as Märklin Mini Club (1:220). Today old Märklin models are highly desired collectibles for fans of vintage model trains.
I cant´t say, why Arnold is my favorite in N scale. For me Arnold products always had a certain flair, especially model train accessories and kits like the roundhouse. Used Arnold supply is still highly sought after on model train auctions. Arnold was the first manufacturer at all producing N scale as Arnold Rapido in the early 1960ies; and the product line included rolling stock as well as model train supplies. In 1997 the company was taken over by Rivarossi, later by Hornby.
Like Märklin, Fleischmann has a long tradition too, starting with tin toys like ships and airplane models, and later on with 0-scale model trains. The HO scale product-line came up in the early 1950ies as a DC (direct current) 2-rail system in rivalry to Märklin´s 3-rail system. In the late 1960ies Fleischmann also offered N scale model railways, known as Fleischmann piccolo. More: Fleischmann Webpage
Trix & Minitrix
Trix is also a German model train manufacturer with a long tradition. Like Märklin und Fleischmann, the company started in the 19th century with tin toys. In 1935 Trix Express was presented; in the 1960ies followed a N scale product line called Minitrix. In 1997 Trix was taken over by Märklin. More:
Brawa produces rolling stocks as well as model train accessories. Well known are the lamps, a ropeway, and a traverser. More: Brawa
LGB stands for "Lehmann Gross Bahn", sometimes also called "Lehmann-Garten-Bahn", because the company is most of all known for G scale, which is very popular size for outdoor and garden model trains. In 2007 it was taken over by Märklin. More:
Bemo is a small manufacturer focused on Swiss model trains and narrow gauge. More:
PIKO was an East German socialist VEB company, after the reunification renamed as PIKO GmbH. The product line includes N, TT, H0 and G-Scale supplies. More:
PIKO; also see www.piko-america.com
Hobbytrain is label owned by Lemke. Hobbytrains engines are available in N scale or HO. Lemke is also well known for realistic N scale vehicles ("Lemke Minis"). Some of them are a good choice for international railroad modellers, like a VW Bus in "Flower Power Hippie Bulli style". More:
Model trains for beginners
European model trains
Manufacturers & companies
Märklin, Arnold, Fleischmann
How to make a model train
Peco, Bachmann, Hornby, Lionel, Kato
Model train layouts
Digital command control