Karl Arnold founded his toy company in 1906 at Nürnberg, a major center of toy production in Germany. Their product line was an extensive one of tinplate toys, ships, doll house items and such. After World War II, Arnold renewed production of their line of tin toys, but also began planning a new line of model trains. These trains would be significantly smaller than any electric train commercially manufactured before. And, Arnold would also make a significant contribution to the model railroad hobby by allowing the free use of their Rapido coupler design, an act which would bring N-Scale into the circle of popular model railroad scales.
The introduction of Arnold rapido was from scratch because nothing like this had been done before. Arnold was literally establishing what would become N-Scale. This is not to say that it was the sole developer of N, since across town in Nürnberg, Trix was also in the process of developing its Minitrix line of trains in the same general scale. How the Arnold rapido product line came to the model train marketplace is an interesting one. These pages detail the first ten years of this company’s production.
It should be noted that these pages are written from a North American perspective and thus may not be the complete story about Arnold. I have relied upon my collection of Arnold catalogs, my conversations with others in the model railroad business and my research of other sources. Every effort has been made to assure accuracy, but if you find a gap here or there, that can only be explained as a result of my lack of complete information. You may find an occasional vague reference to dates of production, for instance. My apologies for any inconvenience.