Mangold Buys Trix

The 1971 / 1972 Minitrix catalog is significant in several ways. Perhaps the greatest news was that Trix was now “TRIX - Mangold GmbH & Co.”. Sometime in 1971, Ernst Voelk had sold its Trix assets to the Mangold investment group.  The 1971 / 1972 catalog is also significant in that it apparently shows all of the assets of the Minitrix product line, Continental European, British and North American.  The catalog also shows a number of new locomotives, passenger cars and freight cars.  It should be noted that showing an item in the catalog is not the same as having the item being for sale in the marketplace, but still, the 1971 / 1972 Minitrix catalog was a bold statement.

This was not an inexpensive catalog. In addition to a larger number of pages, the 1971 / 1972 catalog also featured human models, which are more costly. While you can just go and drag a model train off of the shelf and stage it for photography, humans require more time, tighter scheduling and such.  In general, most model train catalogs simply show the trains and, sometimes, a completed model railroad to encourage the train buyer to create their own model railroad world.

Upon reflection, it is possible that the 1971 American Tortoise catalog jumped the gun a bit when it announced that Trix trains were a division of American Tortoise.  This would be understandable, since with the benefit of history we know that the Ernst Voelk ownership of Trix was in play. There may have been several prospective buyers for the Trix assets, including both Mangold and American Tortoise. Given the production deadlines for print catalogs, the management of American Tortoise may have been so confident that they were going to win the company that the catalog was authorized for print before it should have been.

Likewise, this situation also points to another issue, the actual ownership of the product tooling. It is too early in the research phase to comment authoritatively about this matter, but there have been several different observations from several different model railroad industry types that the entire range of the Minitrix tooling, the pieces necessary for manufacture, may not have been owned by the Trix company itself.  As such, Mangold showed every item that it considered to be the “Minitrix” product line, but that, in itself, did not constitute having title to ownership of the tooling.

Much of N-Scale in that era had been collaborative anyway. Atlas marketed items that were manufactured by Rivarossi and Roco.  More than a few items in the Minitrix product line, especially the freight cars, may actually been manufactured by Roco of Austria. In other cases, items were manufactured by one concern because of the funding for the project by another concern. This is apparently the case with Rivarossi, which has always had a complicated corporate structure according to at least two industry types. 

Since model railroader consumers only care about the finished product, it doesn’t really matter who paid for what as long as the finished item is on the store shelves. For a manufacturer, however, the view is financial.  How much will it cost to produce this item, how much can it be sold for and how will we pay for the initial tooling costs? Since the model train manufacturers are in it for the money, these things matter.  From that perspective, Minitrix is a complicated company.

This issue would be revisited again in the future. In 1997, when Märklin bought Trix from Schuco, many North American modelers eagerly awaited the reissue of the very popular American steam locomotives from the Minitrix product line. After much delay, the Company quietly dropped any discussion of a reissue of these locomotives, apparently because Trix did not have clear title to the tooling necessary to produce the engines.

That is far in the future. In 1971, Mangold showed promise for the Minitrix model train line.  There would be new items, there would be money for more development. Minitrix was on the move.

[Home] [Guide to Z-Scale] [Model Railroads] [Proto Railroads] [Collecting] [Rokal TT] [Arnold rapido] [Revell rapido] [Märklin mini-club] [Märklin Minex] [Märklin I] [Minitrix] [Röwa N-Scale] [Paul Moore] [Postage Stamp Bus] [Lionel H0] [Tenshodo Passenger Cars] [Ken Kidder Models] [Wesa TT] [Toys] [Miscellany] [Links]