Strombecker Santa Fe Chief 40' Reefer Car Wood Paper Vintage Circa 1947 Ho Rare

Strombecker Santa Fe Chief 40' Reefer Car Wood Paper Vintage Circa 1947 Ho Rare

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Strombecker Santa Fe Chief 40' Reefer Car Wood Paper Vintage Circa 1947 Ho Rare:

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1 -Strombecker Santa Fe Chief 40' Reefer Car Wood PaperContruction Road Number 35054 Vintage Circa 1947HO Scale / Gauge

ThisStrombecker Reefer Caris made basically of Wood and Paper. The Sides , Ends, Roof , Roof Walk Floor and Frame and are Wood covered with Printed / litho'ed Paper. It has Thumbtacks & Wire for the Couplers ! Two Brass Nuts serve as the bolster's and hasLater / Newer plastic trucks and wheels.Photo's 7 & 8 are copies of the Strombeckers Instructions(not included)page's 1 &2 for your reference.More history and info below.

.*~* A Beautiful Collector's Piece of Model Railroading Historyfor your Layout orCollection to Display *~*


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A Very Rare display piece of Memorabilia & Collectible. With a Extremely low opening offer ,EXPEDITED SHIPPING 5.95 S&H




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Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch From Wikipedia, An ice-cooled reefer of the Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch "Bulk Fruit Express" c. 1894. There is disagreement among historians
as to the color of these cars: white, ivory, light gray, or canary yellow.The Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch (reporting mark SFRD) was a railroad refrigerator car line established as a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1884 to carry perishable commodities. Though the line started out with a mere 25 ventilated fruit cars and 8 ice-cooled refrigerator cars, by 1910 its roster had swollen to 6,055 total units (compared to the 8,100 units its largest competitor, the Pacific Fruit Express, operated).As of 1929 the line was carrying some 43 percent of California's citrus crop, most of which travelled aboard its "Green Fruit Express" refrigerator car special. Some 100,000 produce loads were shipped from the fields of Arizona and California to East Coast markets each growing season.
Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch Roster, 1890–1970:
1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970
496 1,032 6,055 9,899 18,291 14,514 14,514 13,512 10,288
The Great Yellow Fleet

Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway From Wikipedia, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Reporting mark ATSF Locale Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas Dates of operation 1859–1996 Successor BNSF Track gauge 4 ft 8 1/2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge) Headquarters Chicago, Illinois The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (reporting mark ATSF), often abbreviated as Santa Fe, was one of the larger railroads in the United States, chartered in February 1859. Despite the name its main line never served Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the terrain was too difficult (Santa Fe was ultimately reached by a branch line from Lamy). The Santa Fe's tracks reached the Kansas/Colorado state line in 1873 and Pueblo, Colorado in 1876. Santa Fe set up real estate offices and sold farm land from the land grants that the railroad was awarded by Congress; these farms would create a demand for transportation (both freight and passenger) by Santa Fe.Ever the innovator, Santa Fe was one of the pioneers in intermodal freight service, an enterprise that (at one time or another) included a tugboat fleet and an airline (the short-lived Santa Fe Skyway). A bus line allowed the company to extend passenger transportation service to areas not accessible by rail, and ferry boats on the San Francisco Bay allowed travelers to complete their westward journeys all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway ceased operations on December 31, 1996 when it merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway or BNSF Railway.At the end of 1970 AT&SF operated 12,881 miles of road on 21,472 miles of track.Contents 1 History 1.1 Startup and initial growth1.2 Crossing the Rockies1.3 Facing the competition1.4 Expansion through mergers 1.4.1 Predecessors, subsidiary railroads, and leased lines 1.5 SPSF Merger1.6 Merger into BNSF2 Company officers3 Passenger train service 3.1 Regular revenue trains3.2 One-time and special trains4 Paint schemes and markings 4.1 Steam locomotives 4.2 Diesel locomotives, passenger4.3 Diesel locomotives, freight5 Ferry service6 Inspiration for Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged History Cyrus K. Holliday, the first president of the railroad.[edit] Startup and initial growthThe railroad's charter, written single-handedly by Cyrus K. Holliday in January 1859, was approved by the Kansas' territorial governor on February 11 of that year as the Atchison and Topeka Railroad Company that was to build a rail line from Atchison, Kansas to Topeka, Kansas to Santa Fe, New Mexico. On May 3, 1863, two years after Kansas gained statehood, the railroad changed names to match the aspirations of its founder to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The railroad broke ground in Topeka on October 30, 1868 and started building westward, where one of the first construction tasks was to cross the Kaw River. The first section of track opened on April 26, 1869 (less than a month prior to completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad) with special trains between Topeka and Pauline. The distance was only 6 miles (10 km), but the Wakarusa Creek Picnic Special train took passengers over the route for celebration in Pauline.The Santa Fe trademark in the late 19th century incorporated the British lion out of respect for the country's financial assistance in building the railroad to California.Crews continued westward, reaching Dodge City on September 5, 1872. With this connection, the Santa Fe was able to compete for cattle transportation with the Kansas Pacific Railway. Construction continued, and the Santa Fe opened the last section of track between Topeka and the Colorado/Kansas border on December 23, 1873. Tracks reached Pueblo, Colorado on March 1, 1876; the railroad could now haul coal east from Colorado.(Early history)[1] Building across Kansas and Eastern Colorado was simple, with few large natural obstacles (certainly fewer than the railroad was to encounter further west), but the Santa Fe found it almost economically impossible because of the sparse population. The Santa Fe set up real estate offices in the area and promoted settlement across Kansas on the land that was granted to the railroad by the Congress in 1863. It offered discounted fares to anyone who traveled west on the railroad to inspect the land; if the land was subsequently purchased by the traveler, the railroad applied the passenger's ticket price toward the sale of the land. Now that the railroad had built across the plains and had a customer base providing income for the firm, it was time to turn its attention toward the difficult terrain of the Rocky Mountains.Crossing the Rockies The DRGW mainline through the Royal Gorge in 1881.Leadville was the most productive of all of the Colorado mining regions. Mining in the area began in 1859, first for gold and then (two decades later) for silver. Several of the Santa Fe's board of directors (along with President Strong) sought to capitalize on the need to supply the mining towns of Colorado and northern New Mexico with food, equipment and other supplies. To that end, Santa Fe sought to extend its route westward from Pueblo along the Arkansas River, and through the Royal Gorge in 1877. The Royal Gorge was a bottleneck along the Arkansas too narrow for both the Santa Fe and the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad to pass through, and there was no other reasonable access to the South Park area; thus, a race ensued to build trackage through the Gorge. Physical confrontations led to two years of armed conflict, essentially low-level guerrilla warfare between the two companies that came to be known as the Royal Gorge Railroad War. Federal intervention prompted an out-of-court settlement on February 2, 1880, in the form of the so-called "Treaty of Boston", wherein the DRGW was allowed to complete its line and lease it for use by the Santa Fe. The DRGW paid an estimated $1.4 million to Santa Fe for its work within the Gorge and agreed not to extend its line to Santa Fe, while the ATSF agreed to forego its planned routes to Denver and Leadville.
Also looking to the south, an initial outlay of $20,000 was authorized on February 26, 1878 for the construction of a rail line south from Trinidad in order to "..seize and hold Raton Pass." The location of the route was nearly as crucial to the venture's success as was the actual track construction. W. R. "Ray" Morley, a former civil engineer for the (D&RG) hired by the ATSF in 1877, was given his first assignment: to secretly plot a route through the pass (it was feared that any activity in the area would lead the D&RG to construct a narrow gauge line over the Pass). Additionally, Strong learned that the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) had introduced legislation to block the Santa Fe's entry into New Mexico. Undaunted, Strong obtained a charter for the New Mexico and Southern Pacific Railroad Company and immediately sent A. A. Robinson to Raton Pass. From February to December, 1878, work crews struggled to build the line between La Junta and Raton, and the first Santa Fe train entered New Mexico on December 7. Facing the competition This section requires expansion. (May 2008) An AT&SF passenger train in operation, circa 1895.While construction over the Rockies was slow due to the logistics involved, in some instances armed conflicts with competitors arose (such as with the D&RG in Colorado and New Mexico, and — after capturing the Raton Pass — the SP in Arizona and California, as exemplified in the "frog war" between SP and Santa Fe subsidiary California Southern Railroad at Colton, California in September, 1883). The troubles for the railroad went beyond skirmishes with rival railroads, however. In the late 1880s George C. Magoun, who had worked his way to become Chairman of the Board of Directors for the railroad, was losing his own health. In 1889 the railroad's stock price, which was closely linked in the public's eye with the successes of the railroad's Chairman, fell from nearly $140 per share to around $20 per share. Magoun's health continued to deteriorate along with the stock price and he died on December 20, 1893. The Santa Fe entered receivership three days later, on December 23, 1893, an event associated with the Panic of 1893, and J. W. Reinhart, John J. McCook and Joseph C. Wilson were appointed as receivers for the railroad. Union Pacific was another rival, but not much of one: Union Pacific, or UP, was also in the western expansion with a route north of the Rocky Mountains.The nation's second transcontinental railroad had been completed in 1881 when Santa Fe connected at Deming, NM to Southern Pacific's line from El Paso to Los Angeles and beyond. In 1883 the Atlantic & Pacific completed its line from Albuquerque to Needles, on the Colorado River, where it connected to the line Southern Pacific had just built east from Mojave on its line north from Los Angeles. A few years later California Southern completed its line from San Bernardino over Cajon Pass to Barstow and by the end of the 1880s the future Santa Fe main line from Chicago to Los Angeles was complete, under several ownerships.Expansion through mergers By 1886 William B. Strong was looking for other expansion opportunities. The financially troubled Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company, a Texas line with nearly 700 miles (1,100 km) of track, provided such an opportunity. The GC&SF was required, as part of a merger agreement, to construct a 171-mile (275 km) line from Fort Worth to Purcell, in the Indian Territory, where AT&SF had a railhead. The connection was completed and the merger became official on April 27, 1887. GC&SF continued to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary until merged into ATSF in 1965, when it had about 1,800 miles (2,900 km) of road.Some figures show how the railroad grew: 1870 1945 Gross operating revenue $182,580 $528,080,530 Total track length 62 miles (100 km) 13,115 miles (21,107 km) Freight carried 98,920 tons 59,565,100 tons Passengers carried 33,630 11,264,000 Locomotives owned 6 1,759 Unpowered rolling stock owned 141 81,974 freight cars 1,436 passenger cars Source: Santa Fe Railroad (1945), Along Your Way, Rand McNally, Chicago, Illinois.Revenue Freight Ton-Miles (Millions) ATSF/GC&SF/P&SF Oklahoma City-Ada-Atoka FtWorth & Rio Grande KCM&O/KCM&O of Texas Clinton & Oklahoma Western New Mexico Central 1925 13862 14 42 330 2 1 1933 8712 12 18 (incl P&SF) (incl P&SF) (incl ATSF) 1944 37603 45 (incl GC&SF) 1960 36635 20 1970 48328 (merged) Revenue Passenger-Miles (Millions) ATSF/GC&SF/P&SF Oklahoma City-Ada-Atoka FtWorth & Rio Grande KCM&O/KCM&O of Texas Clinton & Oklahoma Western New Mexico Central 1925 1410 5 6 8 0.1 0.1 1933 555 0.1 0.8 (incl P&SF) (incl P&SF) (incl ATSF) 1944 6250 0.2 (incl GC&SF) 1960 1689 0 1970 727 (merged) Predecessors, subsidiary railroads, and leased lines Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway (1887–1965) — an operating subsidiary of ATSF California, Arizona and Santa Fe Railway (1911–1963) — a non-operating subsidiary of the ATSF Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway (1892–1911) Arizona and California Railway (1903–1905) - a subsidiary railroad between Arizona and Cadiz, California through Parker, Arizona.Bradshaw Mountain Railroad (1902–1912) — a non-operating subsidiary California Southern Railroad (1914–1942) — operates out of the Arizona and California railway to Blythe, California. Not the same as the older one. Became a non-operating subsidiary in 1921. Prescott and Eastern Railroad (1897–1911) Phoenix and Eastern Railroad (1895–1908) California Southern Railroad (1880–1906) — a subsidiary railroad chartered to build a rail connection between what has become the city of Barstow and San Diego, California Grand Canyon Railway (1901–1942) — became an operating subsidiary of the ATSF in 1902 and a non-operating subsidiary in 1924 Santa Fe and Grand Canyon Railroad (1897–1901) Minkler Southern Railway Company (1913–1992?) — a subsidiary created to build the Porterville-Orosi District (Minkler to Ducor, California) New Mexico and Arizona Railroad (1882–1897) — ATSF subsidiary; (1897–1934) non-operating SP subsidiary New Mexico and Southern Pacific Railroad Company (1878–?) — a subsidiary created to lay track across the Raton Pass into New Mexico San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railway Santa Fe Pacific Railroad (1897–1902) Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (1880–1897) Sonora Railway — became an operating subsidiary of the ATSF in 1879 Verde Valley Railway (1913–1942) — an ATSF "paper railroad" at Clarkdale, Arizona Western Arizona Railway (1906–1933) — an ATSF subsidiary (Kingman – Chloride) Arizona and Utah Railway (1899–1933) [2] SPSF Merger Main article: Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroad trains meet at Walong siding on the Tehachapi Loop in the late 1980s.The Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad (SPSF) was a proposed merger between the parent companies of the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railroad announced on December 23, 1983. As part of the joining of the two firms, all of the rail and non-rail assets owned by Santa Fe Industries and the Southern Pacific Transportation Company were placed under the control of a holding company: the Santa Fe–Southern Pacific Corporation. The merger was subsequently denied by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) on the basis that it would create too many duplicate routes.[3]The companies were so confident that the merger would be approved they began repainting locomotives and non-revenue rolling stock in a new unified paint scheme. After the ICC's denial, railfans joked that SPSF really stood for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast." While the Southern Pacific was sold off, all of the California real estate holdings were consolidated in a new company, Catellus Development Corporation, making it the state's largest private landowner. Some time later, Catellus would purchase the Union Pacific Railroad's interest in the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT).The paint scheme that would never be completed is called Kodachrome. Few locomotives were painted in this scheme, it is highly sought after by many model railroaders. Several model companies, including Atlas and Kato, have produced locomotives and rolling stock in this livery.Merger into BNSF Main article: BNSF Railway On September 21, 1995, the ATSF merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. Some of the challenges resulting from the joining of the two companies included the establishment of a common dispatching system, the unionization of Santa Fe's non-union dispatchers, and incorporating the Santa Fe's train identification codes throughout. Therefore, the two lines maintained separate operations until December 31, 1996.The merged railroads are now known as BNSF. There are multiple paint schemes bearing the BNSF logo. The most modern is the BNSF "Swoosh" scheme. This features an orange body with black letters and numbers. The logo has BNSF above a big triangle, or "swoosh".Company officers Presidents of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway:[4] William Barstow Strong, president 1881–1889.Cyrus K. Holliday: 1860–1863 Samuel C. Pomeroy: 1863–1868 William F. Nast: September 1868 Henry C. Lord: 1868–1869 Henry Keyes: 1869–1870 Ginery Twichell: 1870–1873 Henry Strong: 1873–1874 Thomas Nickerson: 1874–1880 T. Jefferson Coolidge: 1880–1881 William Barstow Strong: 1881–1889 Allen Manvel: 1889–1893 Joseph Reinhart: 1893–1894 Aldace F. Walker: 1894–1895 Edward Payson Ripley: 1896–1920 William Benson Storey: 1920–1933 Samuel T. Bledsoe: 1933–1939 Edward J. Engel: 1939–1944 Fred G. Gurley: 1944–1958 Ernest S. Marsh: 1958–1967 John Shedd Reed: 1967–1986[5] W. John Swartz: 1986–1988 Mike Haverty: 1989–1991 Robert Krebs: 1991–1995 Passenger train service The cover of the railroad's November 29, 1942, passenger timetable. Vignettes of the American Southwest and Native American people were common in Santa Fe advertising.The Santa Fe was widely known for its passenger train service in the first half of the 20th century. The Santa Fe introduced many innovations in passenger rail travel, among these the "Pleasure Domes" of the Super Chief (billed as the "...only dome car[s] between Chicago and Los Angeles" when they were introduced in 1951) and the "Big Dome" Lounge cars and double-decker "Hi-Level" cars of the El Capitan, which entered revenue service in 1954. The Santa Fe was among the first railroads to add dining cars to its passenger train consists, in 1891, following the examples of the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific. Dining along the Santa Fe was often a memorable experience, whether it be on board in a dining car or at one of the many Harvey House restaurants that were strategically located throughout the system.In general, the same train name was used for both directions of a particular train. The exceptions to this rule included the Chicagoan and Kansas Cityan trains (both names referred to the same service, but the Chicagoan was the eastbound version, while the Kansas Cityan was the westbound version), and the Eastern Express and West Texas Express. All of the Santa Fe's trains that terminated in Chicago did so at Dearborn Station. Trains terminating in Los Angeles arrived at Santa Fe's La Grande Station until May, 1939, when the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) was opened.Scene from the filming of The Harvey Girls featuring a Santa Fe train of that era.To reach smaller communities, the railroad often operated Rail Diesel Cars (RDC's) for communities on the railroad, and bus connections were provided throughout the system via Santa Fe Trailways buses to other locations. These smaller trains generally were not named; only the train numbers were used to differentiate services.The ubiquitous passenger service inspired the title of the 1946 Academy-Award-winning Johnny Mercer tune "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." The song was written in 1945 for the film The Harvey Girls, a story about the waitresses of the Fred Harvey Company's restaurants. It was sung in the film by Judy Garland and recorded by many other singers, including Bing Crosby. In the 1970s, the ATSF used Crosby's version in a commercial.Regular revenue trains An Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway ticket from 1923The Santa Fe operated the following named trains on regular schedules:The Angel: San Francisco, California — Los Angeles, California — San Diego, California (this was the southbound version of the Saint) The Angelo: San Angelo, Texas — Fort Worth, Texas (on the GC&SF)The Antelope: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — Kansas City, Missouri Atlantic Express: Los Angeles, California — Kansas City, Missouri (this was the eastbound version of the Los Angeles Express).California Express: Chicago, Illinois — Kansas City, Missouri — Los Angeles, California California Fast Mail: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California — San Francisco, California California Limited: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California California Special: Los Angeles, California — Houston, Texas Cavern: Clovis, New Mexico — Carlsbad, New Mexico (connected with the Scout). Centennial State: Denver, Colorado — Chicago, Illinois Central Texas Express: Sweetwater, Texas — Lubbock, Texas Chicagoan: Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois (this was the eastbound version of the Kansas Cityan passenger train).Chicago Express: Newton, Kansas — Chicago, Illinois Chicago Fast Mail: San Francisco, California — Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois Chicago-Kansas City Flyer: Chicago, Illinois — Kansas City, Missouri The Chief: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California Eastern Express: Lubbock, Texas — Amarillo, Texas (this was the eastbound version of the West Texas Express).An advertisement for the El Capitan on the side of a Santa Fe boxcar seen in San Bernardino, California, in March 1943.El Capitan: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California El Pasoan: El Paso, Texas — Albuquerque, New Mexico El Tovar: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois (via Belen) Fargo Fast Mail/Express: Belen, New Mexico — Amarillo, Texas — Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois Fast Fifteen: Newton, Kansas — Galveston, Texas Fast Mail Express: San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles) — Chicago, Illinois Golden Gate: Oakland, California — Bakersfield, California with coordinated connecting bus service to Los Angeles and San Francisco Grand Canyon Limited: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California The Hopi: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois Kansas Cityan: Chicago, Illinois — Kansas City, Missouri (this was the westbound version of the Chicagoan passenger train). Kansas City Chief: Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois Los Angeles Express: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California (this was the westbound version of the Atlantic Express).The Missionary: San Francisco, California — Belen, New Mexico — Amarillo, Texas — Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois Navajo: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles) Oil Flyer: Kansas City, Missouri — Tulsa, Oklahoma with through sleepers to Chicago via other trains Overland Limited: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California Phoenix Express: Los Angeles, California — Phoenix, Arizona The Ranger: Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois The Saint: San Diego, California — Los Angeles, California — San Francisco, California (this was the northbound version of the "Angel") San Diegan: Los Angeles, California — San Diego, California San Francisco Chief San Francisco Chief: San Francisco, California — Chicago, Illinois San Francisco Express: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles)
Santa Fe de Luxe: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California — San Francisco, California Santa Fe Eight: Belen, New Mexico — Amarillo, Texas — Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois
The Scout: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles) South Plains Express: Sweetwater, Texas — Lubbock, Texas Super Chief: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California
The Texan: Houston, Texas — New Orleans, Louisiana (on the GC&SF between Galveston and Houston, then via the Missouri Pacific Railroad between Houston and New Orleans). Texas Chief: Galveston, Texas (on the GC&SF) — Chicago, Illinois Tourist Flyer: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles) The Tulsan: Tulsa, Oklahoma — Kansas City, Mo. with through coaches to Chicago, Illinois via other trains (initially the Chicagoan/Kansas Cityan) Valley Flyer: Oakland, California — Bakersfield, California West Texas Express: Amarillo, Texas — Lubbock, Texas (this was the westbound version of the Eastern Express).One-time and special trains Occasionally, a special train was chartered to make a high-profile run over the Santa Fe's track. These specials were not included in the railroad's regular revenue service lineup, but were intended as one-time (and usually one-way) traversals of the railroad. Some of the more notable specials include: Cheney Special: Colton, California — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1895 on behalf of B.P. Cheney, a director of the Santa Fe). Clark Special: Winslow, Arizona — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1904 on behalf of Charles W. Clarke, the son of then-Arizona senator William Andrew Clarke).A promotional brochure for the Santa Fe Railway's Scott Special passenger train.David B. Jones Special: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois and on to Lake Forest, Illinois (a one-time, record-breaking train that ran between May 5 to 8, 1923, on behalf of the president of the Mineral Point Zinc Company).
Huntington Special: Argentine, Kansas — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1899 on behalf of Collis P. Huntington). H.P. Lowe Special: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California (a one-time, record-breaking train that ran in 1903 on behalf of the president of the Engineering Company of America). Miss Nellie Bly Special: San Francisco, California — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time, record-breaking train that ran in 1890 on behalf of Nellie Bly, a reporter for the New York World newspaper).Peacock Special: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1900 on behalf of A.R. Peacock, vice-president of the Carnegie Steel and Iron Company).Scott Special: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois (the most well-known of Santa Fe's "specials," also known as the Coyote Special, the Death Valley Coyote, and the Death Valley Scotty Special: a one-time, record-breaking train that ran in 1905, essentially as a publicity stunt).Wakarusa Creek Picnic Special: Topeka, Kansas — Pauline, Kansas (a one-time train that took picnickers on a 30-minute trip, at a speed of 14 miles-per-hour, to celebrate the official opening of the line on April 26, 1869). Paint schemes and markings Steam locomotives ATSF #1129, a 2-6-2 made by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1902. It has resided in Las Vegas, New Mexico, since April 25, 1956The Santa Fe operated a large and varying fleet of steam locomotives. The most notable was the 2-10-2 "Santa Fe", originally built for the railroad by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1903. The AT&SF would ultimately end-up with the largest fleet of them, at over 300.[citation needed] Aside from the 2-10-2, the Santa Fe rostered virtually every type of steam locomotive imaginable, including 4-4-2 Atlantics, 2-6-0 Moguls, 2-8-0 Consolidations, 2-8-2 Mikados (or "Mikes"), 2-10-0 Decapods, 2-6-2 Prairies, 4-8-4 | Northerns, 4-6-4 Hudsons, 4-6-2 Pacifics, 4-8-2 Mountains, 2-8-4 Berkshires, and 2-10-4 Texas. The railroad also operated a fleet of heavy articulated steam locomotives including 1158 class 2-6-6-2s, 2-8-8-0s, 2-10-10-2s, 2-8-8-2s, and the rare 4-4-6-2 Mallet type.The BNSF operates occasional steam-powered passenger excursion specials for corporate promotional purposes, using Santa Fe 4-8-4 "Northern"-type locomotive #3751, delivered by Baldwin in 1927 and based near San Bernardino, California. More-modern Santa Fe 4-8-4 #2926, delivered by Baldwin in 1944 and based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is being restored by the New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Rail Historical Society of Albuquerque, which has expended 55,000 man-hours and $700,000 in donated funds on her restoration since 2000. It is hoped that this locomotive will haul regular steam-powered excursion trains over the 243-mile former AT&SF main line between Albuquerque and Raton, New Mexico, once restoration is complete. This route was temporarly owned by the State of New Mexico, however after a state financial debacle it reverted back to the BNSF Railway. However no regular freight traffic traverses the route but Amtrak still performs daily service east and west over it between Chicago and Los Angeles. Amtrak's stops include East to West, Raton, NM / Las Vegas, NM / Lamy, NM(Santa Fe)/ and Albuquerque, NM. Diesel locomotives, passenger The 1926 Chief "drumhead" logo.Santa Fe's first set of diesel-electric passenger locomotives was placed in service on the Super Chief in 1936, and consisted of a pair of blunt-nosed units (EMC 1800 hp B-B) designated as Nos. 1 and 1A. The upper portion of the sides and ends of the units were painted gold, while the lower section was a dark olive green color; an olive stripe also ran along the sides and widened as it crossed the front of the locomotive.Riveted to the sides of the units were metal plaques bearing a large "Indian Head" logo, which owed its origin to the 1926 Chief "drumhead" logo. "Super Chief" was emblazoned on a plaque located on the front. The rooftop was light slate gray, rimmed by a red pinstripe. This unique combination of colors was referred to as the Golden Olive paint scheme.[6][7] Before entering service, Sterling McDonald's General Motors Styling Department augmented the look with the addition of red and blue striping along both the sides and ends of the units in order to enhance their appearance.In a little over a year, the EMC E1 (a new and improved streamlined locomotive) would be pulling the Super Chief and other passenger consists, resplendent in the now-famous Warbonnet paint scheme devised by Leland Knickerbocker of the GM Art and Color Section. Its design is protected under U.S. Patent D106,920, granted on November 9, 1937. It is reminiscent of a Native American ceremonial headdress. The scheme consisted of a red "bonnet" which wrapped around the front of the unit and was bordered by a yellow stripe and black pinstripe. The extent of the bonnet varied according to the locomotive model, and was largely determined by the shape and length of the carbody. The remainder of the unit was either painted silver or was composed of stainless-steel panels.All units wore a nose emblem consisting of an elongated yellow "Circle and Cross" emblem with integral "tabs" on the nose and the sides, outlined and accented with black pinstripes, with variances according to the locomotive model. "SANTA FE" was displayed on the horizontal limb of the cross in black, Art Deco-style lettering. This emblem has come to be known as the "cigar band" due to its uncanny resemblance to the same. On all but the "Erie-built" units (which were essentially run as a demonstrator set), U28CGs, U30CGs, and FP45s, a three-part yellow and black stripe ran up the nose behind the band.A "Circle and Cross" motif (consisting of a yellow field, with red quadrants, outlined in black) was painted around the side windows on "as-delivered" E1 units. Similar designs were added to E3s, E6s, the DL109/110 locomotive set, and ATSF 1A after it was rebuilt and repainted. The sides of the units typically bore the words "SANTA FE" in black, 5"– or 9"–high extra extended Railroad Roman letters, as well as the "Indian Head" logo,[8][9] with a few notable exceptions. Railway identity on diesel locomotives in passenger service: Locomotive Type "Indian Head" "Circle and Cross" "Santa Fe" Logotype Starting Year Comments ATSF 1 Yes Yes* Yes No 1937 "Circle and Cross" added to No. 1 after rebuild in May 1938 EMC E1, E3, & E6 Yes* Yes Yes No 1937 "Indian Head" added to B units at a later date ALCO DL109/110 Yes* Yes Yes No 1941 No "Indian Head" on B unit EMD FT Yes* No Yes No 1945 "Indian Head" added to B units at a later date ALCO PA / PB Yes* No Yes No 1946 "Indian Head" added to B units at a later date EMD F3 Yes* No Yes No 1946 "Indian Head" on B units only FM Erie-built Yes* No Yes* No 1947 "Indian Head" and "SANTA FE" on A units only EMD F7 Yes* No Yes* No 1949 "Indian Head" on B units only; "SANTA FE" added in 1954 EMD E8 Yes* No Yes No 1952 "Indian Head" on B units only GE U28CG No No No Yes 1966 "Santa Fe" logotype in large, red "billboard"-style letters GE U30CG No No Yes* No 1967 5"–high non-extended "SANTA FE" letters EMD FP45 No No Yes* No 1967 9"–high "SANTA FE" letters Source: Pelouze, Richard W. (1997). Trademarks of the Santa Fe Railway. The Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society, Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colorado pp. 47–50.
In later years, Santa Fe adapted the scheme to its gas-electric "doodlebug" units.[10] The standard for all of Santa Fe's passenger locomotives, the Warbonnet is considered by many to be the most recognized corporate logo in the railroad industry. Early in the Amtrak Era, Santa Fe embarked on a program to paint over the red bonnet on its F units that were still engaged in hauling passenger consists with yellow (also called Yellowbonnets) or dark blue (nicknamed Bluebonnets), as it no longer wanted to project the image of a passenger carrier.A GE U28CG displays a variation in the standard Warbonnet passenger scheme. Note that the "Santa Fe" logotype is displayed in large, red "billboard"-style letters and the lack of yellow and black striping. Diesel locomotives, freight Santa Fe's blue and white "box" logo adorned many of the railroads early diesel locomotives. A dark blue logo on a yellow background was adopted in 1960 and retained until 1974.Diesel locomotives used as switchers between 1935 and 1960 were painted black, with just a thin white or silver horizontal accent stripe (the sills were painted similarly). The letters "A.T.& S.F." were applied in a small font centered on the sides of the unit, as was the standard blue and white "Santa Fe" box logo. After World War II, diagonal white or silver stripes were added to the ends and cab sides to increase the visibility at grade crossings (typically referred to as the Zebra Stripe scheme). "A.T.& S.F." was now placed along the sides of the unit just above the accent stripe, with the blue and white "Santa Fe" box logo below. Due to the lack of abundant water sources in the American desert, the Santa Fe was among the first railroads to receive large numbers of streamlined diesel locomotives for use in freight service, in the form of the EMD FT. For the first group of FTs, delivered between December, 1940 and March, 1943 (#100–#119) the railroad selected a color scheme consisting of dark blue accented by a pale yellow stripe up the nose, and pale yellow highlights around the cab and along the mesh and framing of openings in the sides of the engine compartment; a thin, red stripe separated the blue areas from the yellow. Because of a labor dispute with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, who insisted that every cab in a diesel-electric locomotive consist must be manned, FT sets #101-#105 were delivered in A-B-B-B sets, instead of the A-B-B-A sets used by the rest of the Santa Fe's FT's. The Santa Fe quickly prevailed in this labor dispute, and FT sets from #106-on were delivered as A-B-B-A sets.The words "SANTA FE" were applied in yellow in a 5"–high extended font, and centered on the nose was the "Santa Fe" box logo (initially consisting of a blue cross, circle, and square painted on a solid bronze sheet, but subsequently changed to baked steel sheets painted bronze with the blue identifying elements applied on top). Three thin, pale yellow stripes (known as Cat Whiskers) extended from the nose logo around the cab sides. In January, 1951, Santa Fe revised the scheme to consist of three yellow stripes running up the nose, with the addition of a blue and yellow Cigar Band (similar in size and shape to that applied to passenger units); the blue background and elongated yellow "SANTA FE" lettering were retained.The years 1960 to 1972 saw non-streamlined freight locomotives sporting the Billboard color scheme (sometimes referred to as the Bookends, or Pinstripe scheme), wherein the units were predominantly dark blue with yellow ends and trim, with a single yellow accent pinstripe. The words "Santa Fe" were applied in yellow in a large serif Cooper Black font (logotype) to the sides of the locomotive below the accent stripe (save for yard switchers which displayed the "SANTA FE" in small yellow letters above the accent stripe, somewhat akin to the Zebra Stripe arrangement).A museum restoration of Kennecott Copper Corporation #103 (an Alco model RS-2) now bears the #2098 and the ATSF Zebra Stripe paint scheme. Santa Fe #103, and EMD FT unit decorated in the Cat Whiskers scheme, receives service during World War II.From 1972 to 1996, and even on into the BNSF era, the company adopted a new paint scheme often known among railfans as the Yellowbonnet, which placed more yellow on the locomotives (reminiscent of the company's retired Warbonnet scheme); the goal again was to ensure higher visibility at grade crossings. The truck assemblies, previously colored black, now received silver paint.In June, 1989, Santa Fe resurrected the Warbonnet and applied the scheme in a modified fashion to two EMD FP45 units, #5992 and #5998 (this time, displaying "Santa Fe" in large, "billboard"-style red letters across the side). The units were re-designated as #101 and #102 and reentered service on July 4, 1989 as part of the new "Super Fleet" (the first Santa Fe units to be so decorated for freight service). The six remaining FP45 units were thereafter similarly repainted and renumbered. From that point forward, all new locomotives wore red and silver, and many retained this scheme after the Burlington Northern Santa Fe merger: some with "BNSF" displayed across their sides.For the initial deliveries of factory-new "Super Fleet" equipment, the Santa Fe took delivery of the EMD GP60M, GP60B and General Electric B40-8W, which made the Santa Fe the only US Class I railroad to operate new 4-axle (B-B) freight locomotives equipped with the North American Safety Cab. These units were intended for high-speed intermodal service, but, toward the final days of the Santa Fe, could be found working local trains and branchline assignments.Santa Fe #681 in Sealy Texas, June 2001 The L.A.-bound Super Chief gets its 5-minute pit-stop service in Albuquerque, 1943 Several experimental and commemorative paint schemes emerged during the Santa Fe's diesel era. One combination was developed and partially implemented in anticipation of a merger between the parent companies of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific (SP) railroads in 1984. The red, yellow, and black paint scheme (with large red block letters "SF" on the sides and ends of the units) of the proposed Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad (SPSF) has come to be somewhat derisively known among railfans as the Kodachrome livery, due to the similarity in colors to the boxes containing slide film sold by the Eastman Kodak Company under the same name (Kodachrome film was one of the preferred brands in use by railfans). A common joke among railfans is that "SPSF" really stands for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast." Though the merger application was subsequently denied by the ICC, locomotives bearing this color scheme can still be found occasionally in lease service. Ferry service The Santa Fe maintained and operated a fleet of three passenger ferry boats (the San Pablo, the San Pedro, and the Ocean Wave) that connected Richmond, California with San Francisco by water. The ships traveled the eight miles between the San Francisco Ferry Terminal and the railroad's Point Richmond terminal across San Francisco Bay. The service was originally established as a continuation of the company's named passenger train runs such as the Angel and the Saint. The larger two ships (the San Pablo and the San Pedro) carried Fred Harvey Company dining facilities.The rival Southern Pacific Railroad owned the world's largest ferry fleet (which was subsidized by other railroad activities), at its peak carrying 40 million passengers and 60 million vehicles annually aboard 43 vessels. Santa Fe discontinued ferry service in 1933 due to the effects of the Great Depression and routed their trains to Southern Pacific's ferry terminal in Oakland. The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge opened in 1936, initiated a slow decline in demand for SP's ferry service, which was eventually discontinued circa 1958; starting in 1938, Santa Fe passenger trains terminated near San Pablo Avenue in Oakland/Emeryville, with passengers for San Francisco boarding buses that used the new bridge. See also Ferries of San Francisco Bay.Inspiration for Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged In 1946 the writer Ayn Rand met with Lee Lyles, assistant to the president of the Santa Fe, is part of her research for the novel Atlas Shrugged whose plot takes place in a big railway company.The Journals of Ayn Rand, published in 1997 on the basis of notes left after her death, preserve a list of detailed questions which Rand put to Lyles about the company's administrative structure and its practices in various situations and conditions. Later notes in the same journals show that Rand assigned to various characters in her book administrative titles in the book's fictional railway company modeled on those in the Santa Fe, and adjusted the actions which they are depicted as taking in various situations on the basis of what Lyles told her would be plausible acts for railway executives in similar situations.[11]See also Railways portal ATSF 3460 class Beep (SWBLW) BNSF Railway – The merged company that replaced ATSF Railway. California and the railroads CF7 Corwith Yards, Chicago David L. Gunn Defunct railroads of North America Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad Hutchinson County Historical Museum in Borger, Texas Santa Fe 2926 Santa Fe 3415 – A restored Pacific type steam locomotive currently operating on the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad Santa Fe 3751 — A restored 4-8-4 steam locomotive
Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch SD26 Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad Super C EMD SDP40F "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe", an Academy Award-winning song which refers to the railroad, sung by Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls

THE STROMBECK-BECKER MANUFACTURING COMPANY STORY by Steve Remington, CollectAir © All Content Note: Part One covers the history of the Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Co. through World War II. Postwar history, Part Two, may be opened by Clicking Here. This link is repeated at the bottom of the page and in the left hand column.
StromBecKer brand pre-carved, solid model wood kits from the 1930s through the 1950s are sought after collector items today and represent what some aviation enthusiasts might consider to be the essence of that company. In fact, the Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company, and its array of products and personalities, has a history that is vastly more complex and diverse - and interesting. The emphasis here will be on the wood products but the plastic era will be mentioned also. Extensive lists of all kits are not included in this article as that is not the purpose, but examples of many of their products are pictured. Please note that I will refer to all kit numbers without dashes - StromBecKer was inconsistent in their use. I was introduced to modeling through StromBecKer kits in the 1930s, just as thousands of depression era youths tasted the "Golden Age of Aviation" by building and flying inexpensive model airplane kits such as the dime-scales, constructing solid models from kits, joining in competition with rubber-powered flyers such as the Jimmie Allens and, if lucky enough to find a few odd jobs, becoming part of the "gassie" scene. Now, as we browse those old, nicely pre-carved western pine model kits by StromBecKer, with their smoothly shaped parts, sandpaper, Casco glue and wood filler, it's enjoyable to handle the parts and imagine how it was building it the instant Dad brought it home from the dime-store. But the story behind those models and their genesis will add to the nostalgic value that we perceive - that is the purpose of this article. This StromBecKer story relies on material from many sources; a number of individual historians and collectors, the kits, magazine articles, trade journals, newspapers, model organizations, advertisements, brochures, catalogs, and sources that will probably surprise you as you read this. Oddly, I have not run across any single document that has outlined all of the varied aspects of this closely-held company. Certainly this website is not an attempt at a definitive history, but at the same time, I can't be accused of brevity as there is much to say and show about this remarkable organization which grew out of the Swedish immigrant community of Moline, Illinois. With a beginning in 1911, the history of Strombeck-Becker and its founders, J.F. Strombeck and R.D. Becker, is entwined with wood products, toys, Christian salvation , corporate changes, family, and finally, plastics and divestment of the toy line to a company that actually has a longer history than Strombeck-Becker. All that when you remove the lid of that treasured StromBecKer kit!
I am particularly indebted to Rodney D. "Bud" Becker son of founder R.D. Becker, for his kind permission to use a document written by his father which outlines the corporate history of the company. In addition to being a witness to his father's involvement with Strombeck-Becker, Bud Becker also started working for the company on July 20, 1948 and continued to work there every summer and Christmas vacation until 1953. R.D. Becker's history document covers more corporate records in detail than is essential to the telling of this story; however, much of the history is germane to the modeling emphasis of this article and will be quoted where relevant. Company employees, time-lines, dates of significant events, corporate decisions, products, marketing, and problems are all items of great interest to anyone following this well known name in the model kit and toy business. In addition, the inclusion of R.D. Becker's history allows us to view the sequence of events with first-hand accuracy assurance.
THE EARLY YEARS - By the 1950s, over a million Swedes had emigrated to the United States including my mother who landed in Minnesota at an early age with her parents. Illinois was a popular Swedish settlement area. The first Swedes came to Moline, Illinois in 1847 when Moline was barely a river-side hamlet. In the following year, John Deere, along with his business partners, began to make plows in Moline. The plow factory, along with other wood products and machinery factories, attracted Swedish immigrants to these new jobs. Other recognizable names began businesses in Moline such as Charles Borg who came to Moline in 1881 (Borg-Warner Corporation). John Strombeck was born in Nöbbelöv, Skåne, Sweden in 1851 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1868 eventually landing in Moline and joining the Mission Covenant Church;in 1890 he was instrumental in forming the Evangelical Free Church in Moline - the Swedish language was used exclusively in the services. John was a shoemaker in Moline until he died. The First Covenant Church records show John's children to be George Mauritz, born 1880, Johan Fredrik, born in 1881, Ann Adelia, 1884, and Bertha Chistina, born in 1890. By 1910, one-third of Moline's residents were Swedish.Johan Fredrik Strombeck, or J.F. Strombeck, more commonly known to his family as as "Fred", worked as a youth in the shipping department of D.M. Sechler Carriage Company where he became expert enough in freight shipment classification that he resigned and began his own freight auditing business. In 1907 he sold the auditing business and entered Northwestern University and graduated in 1911 with a Phi Beta Kappa key. That same year he married Miss Theckla Klint of Rockford, Illinois. His brother George went to the University of Illinois engineering school. Fred had eyed the wood scraps thrown out at the John Deere plant while engaged in his freight auditing business, thinking that constructive use could be made of the waste material and on September 1,1911 began a small operation to turn the scraps into tool handles and the like. In a 1953 interview, J.F. said, "Our first shop was small, only 20 by 40 feet, with an 8 ft. ceiling too low to properly accomodate our machinery." Other sources describe the shop as a "decrepit shack" located in the rear of the John Deere plant! Actually, the $20 per month "shack" was next to Dimock, Gould & Company. R.D. Becker, described as a "kid", joined Strombeck on October 15, 1911 and became superintendent of production while Fred (J.F.) handled sales according to reports - in essence, the two men were the company and did everything necessary to run the company. J.F. was teaching Sunday school and met R.D. Becker as one of his students; R.D. was a high school valedictorian. The two men incorporated as Strombeck-Becker Mfg. Co. in 1913; Becker became vice-president and production superintendent. They soon discovered that scrap lumber was not a good raw material and purchased their own logs. Becker colorfully describes the early days of their incorporation with J.F. holding a majority of the stock: "The rest of the stock was held by men in the Company employ and by local residents who had faith in the future prospects of the Company. There were times when this faith became somewhat weak even in the hearts of those most interested in the success of the Company. I can well remember when Mr. Strombeck and I were working on a machine, and we paused long enough to take a look at the mail which had just been delivered. After opening the mail, Mr. Strombeck showed me an order, and told me that that very morning he had made the decision that if no order came in the mail, he was going to abandon the whole project; but on the strength of the order just received, he was going to continue."
Mr. Becker further describes their early days: "We were without the benefits of a shavings and sawdust collection system, and in the milder weather it was necessary to shovel all the shavings through one of the windows into a wagon placed there by the courtesy of Dimock, Gould & Company, and then burned by them. In cold weather the shavings and saw-dust were burned in a large pot-belly furnace used to heat the building, and, in looking back, the miracle of the whole thing is that we did not burn up the place before we got a good start."T.H. Becker, a brother of R.D. Becker, joined the firm on February 18, 1915; he later was to take charge of assembly work on a large government order (100,000) for shelter-tent poles in WWI. T.H. became Treasurer and stayed with the Company until his retirement in 1959. Strombeck-Becker purchased a square city block "located between 50th and 51st Street and between 4th and 2nd Avenue, in the east end of the city of Moline, for a consideration of $1,570.00" in 1917. A two-story brick building was built and occupied by early 1918. Fred's brother George Maurice Strombeck, a graduate engineer, joined the company on April 1, 1917 and received 10% of the corporation stock; he had left his position as a designing engineer with the Root A. Vander Voort Engineering Company. George used his engineering talents to design high-speed machinery that would improve production. The company had it's own sawmill and also purchased lumber - large kilns were used to dry the green wood. The factory employed many Swedes. Two additional stories were added to the factory in 1921, doubling the production facilities and another one-story building was added in 1922. THE GENESIS OF PRE-CARVED ASSEMBLY KITS - R.D. Becker states that, "The first indication of toys appeared during the year 1919, when a set of tenpins was produced. However, due to insufficient sales facilities and the fact that we had but one toy item to offer, it did not sell well, and the item was discontinued." (note: The ten pin set was reissued in a different box around 1928.) StromBecKer Ten Pins box label - 1919. Click on the image for a full size label.The StromBecKer Ten Pins set, initially made for one year only, is the most significant Strombeck-Becker Mfg. Co. artifact in CollectAir's collection of StromBecKer items. This set is the origin of the wood toy line by this company. Additional photos of this set are shown below - about 90 years old.The full set of ten pins and three balls. The pins are 8 inches in height. A ten pin and ball. Instructions on inside of box lid. Strombeck-Becker's fortunes began to change in 1922 - a year of severe business depression although the Company had increased their sales by 20% - as they searched for new products (Bakelite started to cut into their business) and elected to manufacture wooden toys. Becker comments that, "At about this time in the history of the Company, it was deemed advisable to diversify our production, rather than depend entirely upon the wood turning and handle line. We felt that wooden toys would fit into our type of equipment better than anything else, and consequently some cautious steps along this line were taken, starting with an item called 'Chatter-Chix' in 1924. However, sales were not good, and it was discontinued. At about the same time, two sets of educational design blocks, known as Hexablox and Diamoblox, were introduced, and met with a fair amount of success. Sales of these items tapered off as time went on, and these items were discontinued in about 1929." Blocks, the Junior Craft Blox, BuildoBlox, Diamo Blox and Hexo blocks became mainstays; the ad below is from the September 1926 issue of Junior Home Magazine. Of interest, note the subtle separation between "Strom" and "BecKer" which later disappeared. PlayThings became the key term.The BUILDOBLOX set came out in 1926; it consisted of two packed layers of blocks and wood pieces. The instruction book rear cover showed the method of carefully repacking the blocks after use. I suspect that no child ever repacked the set according to instructions! The "Helpful Guide" cover is shown below. Click on this cover for a large, printable version along with two sample pages from the guide. Use the back arrow to return.From the guide: "Put your time to good use. Boys and girls often ask, 'What shall I do now? There is no place to go, and there is nothing that I would like to do.' Many fathers and mothers are made unhappy because their boys and girls have idle time that they do not know how to use in any enjoyable and worth while way. With BUILDOBLOX, you will always be able to use your time in an enjoyable way. There is no end of objects that you can make with the blocks, and after you make the various things that are shown you in this Guide it will be good for you to think up new things...."Becker: "In 1928, 3-inch and 8-inch candlesticks were added, as well as some 10-inch electric lamps. A set of toys known as 'Tumbling Triplets,' as well as a set of indoor croquet, was also added with modest success. A photo of the Indoor Croquet, dated 1926, is shown below. Indoor Croquet set - 1926. Is this the StromBecKer toy airplane? It would match the time frame as this craft is certainly patterned after Lindbergh's 1927 "Spirit of St. Louis." However, in 1928, a 10-cent toy airplane for the Woolworth trade was introduced and met with immediate success. About a half-million of these were sold in 1929 and continued in good volume." Strombeck-Becker factory in the 1920s; photo courtesy of Bud Becker.Additional factory space was added by 1930. Also, a full-time salesman for the toy line, Charles E. Rowell, was hired in 1928 - he continued in the sales position until his retirement in 1959.Ten-year-old Fred Jr. was given credit by his father, J.F., for coming up with the idea of toy trains - whether this attribution is apocryphal or not is beside the point - Strombeck-Becker started making ten-cent, durable, wooden toy trains by 1929, designed by Andrew Bergstrand who joined the company in 1922. Eight freight cars were sold as individual pieces or in sets. During 1929 more than 1,500,000 of these cars were sold as individual pieces, plus over 200,000 pieces sold in sets. The October 1936 issue of Railroad Stories, in an article entitle "Two Million Locomotive Models", states that Mr. Becker got the idea for trains as he waited for a train to pass at a crossing. Whatever the reason, the toy trains were the genesis of the Strombeck-Becker line of train assembly kits which then spilled over to airplanes, ships and military weapons. Although the initial trains were simple and inexpensive assembled toys, kits came soon afterwards. The National Fast Freight toy set from around 1929. Similar sets labeled as "National Fast Freight" were sold through at least 1948 (see Part Two for a post-war set and compare to this one).StromBecKer didn't invent the wooden toy train or wood kits to build locomotives and cars, but they were one of the successful manufacturers to exploit the marketplace for wooden toys. Predating StromBecKer's effort, the A. Schoenhut Co. of Philadelphia came out with wood "kits" which were suitable for youngsters to build crude automobiles and trains by 1926. One example would be the Schoenhut's "All Wood Train to Build," Item number 04/2; this kit consisted of precut, boxed wood parts which could be easily assembled into a toy locomotive and train cars.Other toys also became staples of the company along with doll houses and furniture which were added in 1931; games were big items and the "Bill Ding" interlocking wooden figures became one of the all-time best sellers for the company."Bill Ding" interlocking wooden figures.The Chicago Century of Progress Exposition in the early 1930s spurred the train line for Strombeck-Becker and was instrumental in developing the kit products that we cherish and collect today.The postcard, shown below, was printed by Burlington for the A Century of Progress exhibit. The reverse side of the card states, "This card furnished for mailing in the Postal Car on the Burlington's World's Fair Exhibition Train."The chief toy designer, Andrew Bergstrand (another Swede), was directed by J.F. to attend the "Wings of a Century" pageant at the Chicago world's Fair where many historic locomotives had been placed on exhibit; he sketched and measured the old trains. J.F. was hesitant about making scale model trains because of the price that they would have to charge - the idea to put out inexpensive assembly kits was the answer and Bergstrand's designs became the first six model kits of locomotives with pre-shaped wooden (pine) parts. Although these kits were just sort-of-scale toys, they were simple in order to achieve what Strombeck-Becker always maintained - that a youngster could assemble the toy kit "as is" or a more skilled craftsman could sand and paint the kit to make a more perfect and authentic scale model. "Seven to Seventy" was the motto that was always kept. An example of the first "Century of Progress in Locomotives" kit series is shown below. The first six kits (no kit numbers) were the De Witt Clinton 1831 , Modern Locomotive 1934 (4-6-0) (shown - note that there are no coupling rods), Pioneer 1851, C.P. Huntington 1863, Empire State Express 1893, and the Tom Thumb 1830.A "built", unpainted DeWitt Clinton 1831 .The back of the box reads: "StromBecKer PLAYTHINGS - this set of six historic models of steam locomotives represent the progress of a Century of American Railroad Transportation from the Tom Thumb, the first locomotive (built by Peter Cooper) to a modern steam passenger locomotive. Any boy from seven to seventy will enjoy assembling and painting these models. When finished the series of six will be a fine exhibit of railroad progress. Fathers will enjoy working with their boys on these models or assembling them as toys for boys too small to help with the work. STROMBECK-BECKER MANUFACTURING CO., MOLINE, ILL." Keep in mind that these first kits were little more than toys - although undated, these 25¢ kits are from 1934 according to R.D. Becker. In keeping with the suggestion that fathers build these kits, I have very fond memories of the Tom Thumb, DeWitt Clinton and the C.P. Huntington which my father built for me when I was a tender age - he had painted them exactly as the kit suggested, black with silver trim. I remember playing with them for years (durable!). He may have gotten the idea from the World's Fair as I was taken there as an infant when we lived in Chicago. As you can guess, the StromBecKer line racks my feeble brain with nostalgia!Out-of-box built C.P. Huntington 1863.It is reported that they sold two million of the kits in a single year! A second set of six engines, along with cars, hit the market soon afterwards - these were somewhat better kits as shown below. The early train kits were kept in the StromBecKer line and given kit numbers; by 1936, larger and more complete train model kits, quite scale, were brought out, including the two-foot long Hudson (beautiful) that was priced at a whopping two dollars. The success of the trains convinced J.F. that pre-carved model kits were part of the future.
NYC Hudson Type Locomotive Kit - 1931K - 1936. This large, 1:48 scale kit was the "queen" of all the StromBecKer train kits. The incredible box of wood parts (see below) was sold in 1936 for $2.00 - the box is 5 1/2" x 12" x 2 3/4" deep and must have the highest part count of any StromBecKer wood kit - maybe the A75 Light Tank could compete on part count if the individual track pieces are counted. This kit is quite scarce and is one of the finest of the StromBecKer collectible kits. The two side views are from the "Simple Assembly Instructions." The plan states that the Hudson was "Built by American Locomotive Co., June, 1931." The complete line of StromBecKer Historical Locomotive Models is shown in a centerfold catalog in the 1936 publication, Historical Locomotives by Paul T. Warner; this 32-page, soft cover booklet was published by Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company to promote their line of locomotive kits - a very clever advertising device. The booklet is devoted to a history and theory of steam locomotives, from the beginnings to the latest oil burning types such as the 4-8-8-2 articulated type. The last paragraph reads, "Our story is finished, and we hope that you have found it interesting. Some people believe that the day of the steam locomotive is nearly over, but we do not think so. New designs will appear - better, faster and more powerful locomotives than those now in service to make railroad history in generations to come."Note that the orignal six kits in 1934 are labelled as "Not Strictly Scale Models", but that the next six kits, from the 1831A B&O York to the 1933F N.Y.C. Commodore Vanderbilt, are "Strictly Scale Models" as are all of the following series which include two scales, 3/16" and 1/4", of the 1931K N.Y.C. Hudson Type Locomotive. The 33 1/4" length 1922HT Modern Freight Train in 5/32" = 1" scale is priced at only $1.00! StromBecKer kit for the William Galloway (Lafayette) B.& O., kit 1837BT dated 1936. As the Hudson 1931K, this kit is in 1:48 scale. Consisting of the locomotive, tender and two "flour barrel cars" (freight cars) - the William Galloway was the first American freight train, built by William Morris & Co. in Philadelphia in 1837. Imagine how exciting it must have been for the young recipient of this kit to dump out this stack of parts and contemplate the assembly! DeWitt Clinton rescued by Joe Rosenthal.The N.P. Minnetonka 1870-D kit is one of the second "scale" series from 1936. Northern Pacific. This legendary railroad ran from Tacoma to St. Paul MN from the 1870s until merging with the Great Northern in 1970. Labeled as #1, The Minnetonka was the NP's first locomotive. It was built in Pittsburgh PA in 1870, and was purchased by the NP in 1871. Records indicate the locomotive was sold to a logging company in 1886, which ultimately retired the unit in the late 1920s. A few years later, the NP found the unit sitting in the woods and traded it for a working locomotive. #1 was still operational, and served the NP as an exhibition piece for many years. Today The Minnetonka is displayed at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth MN, alongside The William Crooks, first steam locomotive in Minnesota. The photos below show the original Minnetonka locomotive and tender, 0-4-0T, and a nicely made built-up of the StromBecKer kit aloong with its box from 1936.A "built" kit of the 1922E Mikado Type in 1/8" scale, as shown in the 1936 catalog, is pictured sitting in front of a box for the postwar (1948) version, Kit R-1, in HO scale which has greater detail and more parts.An advertisement on page 15 encourages youth to "Assemble your own autthentic scale locomotive models. Make leisure hours pleasure hours with this new, entertaining, instructive hobby. Learn about the most important locomotives in railroading as you have fun assembling these wooden Authentic Scale StromBecKer Models. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, boys and girls are assembling them for competitive handicraft exhibits - as decorative pieces for studios, dens, and offices - as playthings with real historical interest. They cost little, but are 'priceless' when asembled. Start with one model - learn how fascinating it is to put together the finished parts - then make a complete collection."Each page of the booklet has locomotive photographs; an example is shown below.And, another picture of the terrific Hudson locomotive in 1/4" scale.The 1939/1940 New York World's Fair featured a huge stage spectacle, Railroads on Parade. A cast of 250, 20 locomotives and 50 horses paraded on the "world's largest stage". Information on this spectacle can be found on the web - an amazing show by today's standards. Six StromBecKer rail kits were issued which featured some of the locomotives used in the stage production. These kits carried the logo of "Railroads on Parade" on the kit box. The kits were: 1869C Ross Winans Camel-back, 1861C Wm. Crooks Great Northern, 1875C J.W. Bowker mining, 1837C Wm. Galloway, 1830C Best Friend of Charleston, and 1831C De Witt Clinton. See photos below. StromBecKer ad from 1940. The StromBecKer Kit No. 1937A, the Southern Pacific "Daylight," is one of the nicest of the locomotive kits made by the company during the pre-WW2 period; the brightly colored steam locomotive, with its streamlined 4-8-4 design, and its matching tender, is certainly eye catching. Renown artist, William Phillips, has effectively captured the "Daylight" in the two paintings shown below: Chasing the Daylight and I'll Hold You in my Dreams. The depot pictured is the Santa Barbara station in 1944 and it currently appears the same in its restored and functional state.The photos below show the "Daylight" kit; several pieces have been loosely joined to give an idea of the locomotive's shape. The complete plan can be viewed and printed by clicking here. Both of the printed card sheets are displayed below. StromBecKer enthusiast Dave Tunison has posted photos of a number of nifty, built locomotive kits which you can view by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return. AIRPLANES, SHIPS, ARTILLERY, & A TANK The first airplane kit produced by Strombeck-Becker was the China Clipper, Kit A51, which came out in 1936 according to R.D. Becker (the first commercial flight of the Martin M-130 Clipper on November 22, 1935 is noted on the A51 plan). Sales of this kit exceeded one million. Price for this kit was 25-cents. The pre-war (pre-1942) StromBecKer airplane, ship and military weapon kits were mostly a "fit the box" scale, almost none of them in the same scale. Kit boxes for some of the pre-WWII kits are shown below.
Some of the more unusual StromBecKer pre-war kits included several artillery pieces (155mm Gun and Carriage, 75 mm Gun and Carriage, and 3" Anti-aircraft Gun) and a U.S. Army Light tank. The 155mm Gun is a very elaborate, large piece with many parts - a picture of the kit contents and a built 155mm are shown below along with a tank ad and picture of the kit contents. Polk's Model Craft Hobbies ad, December 1942 "Air Trails". U.S. Army Light Tank Kit No. A75; courtesy of Walt Grigg. A75 M2A2 Light Tank Kit. Cover of "Toy Soldier Review," issue No. 38, featuring a StromBecKer M2A2 tank model restored by Roger Johnson and box belonging to Ed Poole. Cover courtesy of Don Chalmens. The tank kit appeared in the 1940 and 1941 StromBecKer catalogs.Built Light Tank. From 1940/41 Comet catalog, page 41. Kit contents for 3" Anti-Aircraft Gun, Kit A74.The pre-war StromBecKer kits, particularly the airplanes and artillery, are relatively scarce and command a premium price on the collector market. For the most part, these pre-war kits are simple renditions - the overall configurations are reasonably accurate but represent little more than a nice toy. Because they only required simple assembly, most kits were probably "started" by their youthful owner - for that reason many "built" kits show up as sturdy survivors, unlike the original kit and box. Note that the plan general instructions stated that "This kit contains all parts for making an authentic scale model..." When thinking of StromBecKer, keep in mind that these pre-war kits were designed and sold primarily as toys. An enlightening statement was made by Vernon Strombeck (George Maurice's son who became company president in 1972 upon the death of Fred Jr.) in a 1986 interview for Lilly Setterdahl's 2002 book, Swedes in Moline, Illinois, concerning Strombeck-Becker: "We made handles by the million. Sold all over the country. Employed 235 at one time. Got into toy furniture that sold in department stores. We made toy airplanes."
An out-of-the-box, Martin M-130 "China Clipper" (less struts), typical of youth-built StromBecKer airplanes which have survived. 1:128 scale. Minimal sanding and usually not painted. The kit plan recommended that the model be naturally finished.with clear varnish. - the first airplane kit by StromBecKer. The 2-page original plan for the China Clipper can be viewed and printed out by Clicking Here.
An illustration from the November, 1938 issue of the British magazine, "The Aero-Modeller," on page 627. This picture of the StromBecKer China Clipper accompanies a short trade article concerning the "Handee" electric hand tool, shown here being used to chop up an M-130 wing. The article states, "At first sight the tool might seem beyond the means of the average aero-modellist, approximating in price that of a petrol engine..."StromBecKer China Clipper kit No. A51 showing all the contents and the box flap. This first airplane kit of 1936 is a rather simple structure, but elegant in its execution and the minimalist approach to its elements.Correspondent Jim Hensley finished the China Clipper A51 kit,as shown below, which started as an unfinished, "built" model. The finished product exactly matches the plan; no attempt was made to "correct" the errors of planform. The PBY kit plan, C8, can be viewed by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return. The excellent, massive book, Pacific Pioneers - The Rest of the Story, by Jon Krupnick, tells the history of Pan Am's Pacific first flights from 1935 to 1946 using souvenir flight covers and many photographs. The book describes an interesting connection to StromBecKer on page 261. Captain Edwin Musick piloted a Pan Am survey flight to New Zealand which left Alameda on March 17, 1937 and arrived in Auckland on March 29th. The flight's First Officer, Frank Briggs, brought a StromBecKer M-130 China Clipper, Kit A51, model with him on the flying boat (although the flight was made in a Sikorsky S-42) as a souvenir which he then had signed by Harold Gatty (a Pan Am representative) and four crew members. The photo below is from the book - note the modern stand on the model.StromBecKer Boeing 314 Super Clipper Kit C6. The Douglas DC-2 was an early StromBecKer kit from 1937. This is a nicely constructed DC-2 from the prewar kit number C1, the Douglas Flagship. The DC-3 kit number C35 did not follow until after WW2.Collector and kit guru Walt Grigg mentions that he has a 1935 Simmons Hardware wholesale catalog that lists two StromBecKer trains, the 1A National Fast Freight and the 217 American Fast Freight - these are assembled toys, not kits, and were sold by the dozen. Strombeck-Becker did very little pre-war retail advertising, preferring to sell wholesale; their airplane, ship and artillery line was carried in the catalogs of Cleveland, Megow and Comet in the late 1930s and early 1940s.Megow's catalog No. 6 from Fall-Winter 1938. Note that the name "StromBecKer" does not appear and that all the airplane and ship kits are listed with Megow's "M" numbers - train kits were ordered by their name, no catalog number.The Boeing Stratoliner kit number C30 was in 3/32 inch to 1-foot scale and is a fairly accurate model of the famous airliner. Click on the markings sheet from the kit, as shown below, and view the two-page plan of the model.Stratoliner "built" model restored by Jim Hensley. Stratoliner Transcontinental "built" model restored by Joe Rosenthal. StromBecKer fan Wayne Moyer created the "modified" 307 pictured below. Wayne wrote:"I've re-finished a built Strombecker Boeing 307 model a little differently, adding the prominent wing fillets, carving out the gear wells for an in-flight gear-up pose with plastic disk props, added the big fowler flap tracks used only on the TWA airplanes, and added the engine exhausts. After a LOT of coats of primer it was finished with several shades of AlClad II, with decals made to match the original paper ones. When I got it it was right out of the box-- square leading and trailing edges, flat tail surfaces, etc. and had "1941" written on the belly." Wayne's enhanced Boeing 307. StromBecKer came out with a model of the one-off prototype Douglas DC-4E in 1:154 scale, Kit No. C4. Kit contents are shown below, but the "insignia" sheet is missing which has a paper cutout of "Super-Mainliner." A copy of the assembly imstructions for the "Douglas DC-4" can be viewed by clicking here. Also, a nice three-view plan of the Douglas DC-4 is available from the September 1937 MAN.DC-4 box. This kit is marked "Granger," the Canadian distributor of StromBecKer kits. The box photo is courtesy of the Strong National Museum of Play.A "built" and painted Bell XFM-1 Airacuda, Kit C5, 1:85 scale. The original plan for the kit may be viewed and printed out. Click here for page 1, and Click here for page 2 of plan.
A "built" Lockheed 14. Walt Grigg says that this was constructed in 1942 and was given to him by the builder's brother. The StromBecKer Lockheed 14 kit. Did the builder of the completed model add the turret and guns to make a Hudson, or was it a separate kit? For a printable copy of the StromBecKer plan for Kit C9, click here. Joe Rosenthal's version of the Lockheed 14. Curtiss Attack A-18, Kit. No. C7 built out-of--the-box with no sanding. A full size plan for Kit C7 can be viewed and printed out by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return to this page. Strombeck-Becker wisely began a "Model Maker's Club" which rewarded young builders with badges which denoted skill levels based on the number of kits built. Each kit had an insert to be mailed in to the company - this "club" practice followed the popular radio clubs such as Captain Midnight's Secret Squadron's, Jimmie Allen's Cadets, and other breakfast cereal "secret" code rings. Belonging and certifying one's skills was important to the 1930s youngster. Chapters could be formed with six members and receive a "Charter" from StromBecKer - each member had a secret number and a "Secret Code Book and Manual". Chapter No.1 was in Moline. This club idea was updated following WW2 and featured Captain Jet with a modernized wings pin. The pre-WW2 "Model Makers' Club" Apprentice pin. Club card to go with pin. The application form says, "Here is the Official Membership Badge which Jack Becker sends you to wear every day and show your friends and playmates."Note the name Jack Becker in the caption above. There was no "Jack". Young Rodney "Bud" Becker, son of R.D. , was the "model" used for "Jack"; the name Rodney was deemed inappropriate so the moniker of "Jack" was established. He appeared in a 3-D, 35 mm film by "TruView"(sp?) as a young "Jack" Becker running a model club. Club mailer with secret number. Opened, this piece has seven photos of "World-famous Members of Your Club" which include airline and railroad pilots and engineers including Capt. "Eddie" Rickenbacker. "They greet you and salute you as fellow members!"What is in a pre-war kit? StromBecKer kits emphasized that "All parts ready shaped" and that "No carving tools needed!". The airplane kits were made from "western pine"; the fuselage was nicely shaped and sanded. The wing was airfoil shaped with rounded tips - cutouts were made for nacelles on multi-engine ships (the reverse, a cutout nacelle also appeared). The tail surfaces were precut to outline shape. Cutouts or grooves were made in the fuselage to accept the wing - same for tail. A sanding tool consisted of a strip of wood and two pieces (course and fine garnet) of sandpaper to glue to the stick used to "...sanding the pilot's cabin, wing, and tailpieces to the right shape." as mentioned on the YB-17 plan. A packet of "Casco" casein glue and a packet of filler were included. A small paper envelope, stamped with the aircraft type and kit number, held rubber wheels, pre-formed wire for landing gear, perhaps some miscellaneous small parts, and a stamped-metal prop(s) and a nail(s) for installation. No water-slide decals in the pre-war kits; each kit had a paper sheet with color markings and features such as windows which were to be cutout and glued to the model prior to finishing with clear varnish or lacquer. The one-sheet plan was printed with a half-size three-view and some full-size templates and parts drawings where necessary. The plan has a coupon to send in for any missing parts (glue coupon to one-penny postcard). General instructions for assembling were printed on the reverse. Most of the pre-war kit plans are not dated (see below). Also, the "Model Maker's Club" was promoted with an insert which included a club card, information and a mail-in coupon for the free club badge.Shown in the photos of the kit box above, a separate kit, C10, provided an "Airplane Model Stand", a teardrop shaped wood base with a red vertical dowel - this stand was provided in some of the later kits, but is obviously for the first six airplane kits in this kit form. A retail counter display cabinet from 1940 showing a battleship kit - note that this superb kit cost only 25-cents! USS California. Model restored by Joe Rosenthal. The StromBecKer kit C2, the YB-17 Flying Fortress (also variously referred to as the Y1B-17 which is actually the correct designation in 1938 - the 1936 contract at first used YB-17 but was later changed before the first flight of the Y1B-17), scale 7/64" = 1', plan states the following: "THE FLYING FORTRESS (Boeing YB-17) INTERESTING INFORMATION, January 1938, The pride of the United States Air Corps is America's largest landplane now in service. It is the Boeing YB-17 four-engined bomber, popularly known as the 'Flying Fortress', manufactured by Boeing Aircraft Co., Seattle, Wash.....etc." Most of the pre-war plans do not carry a date such as this one, although this kit also appeared without the date on the same comments. Detail of portion of plan C2 shown below along with the kit parts. From 1940/41 Comet catalog. Also appears on back of kit box. A delightful two-page plan of the Boeing Model 299 Flying Fortress, taken from the November 1935 issue of Model Airplane News, can be viewed full size by clicking here.All this kit business (various construction sets) was successful during America's severe depression of the 1930s. Strombeck-Becker advertised their line as "First in Solid Models" - they were the first company to offer kits made up of preshaped parts. J.F. was quoted in 1953, "We feel that the satisfaction and pleasure of accomplishment is the main purpose in model building." Headline of 1938 doll furniture ad. Typical StromBecKer doll house furniture from post-war period; the green couch measures 8 1/2" across. The complete doll furniture line for 8" to 10" dolls,from 1957, can be viewed on the Strombeck-Becker Page Two. A thorough exposition of the StromBecKer doll house and furniture line can be found by clicking here. The StromBecKer Playthings Grand Piano, 701CD, pictured below, can be identified as a prewar item because of the "Playthings" logo (although used postwar also); it would be part of the doll house furniture line. The piano came out in 1937 and was available as a wood item only or with a Swiss movement that sounded like a player piano. This piano with the Swiss movement sold for a whopping $5.00! Many other hobby toys, playsets, doll furniture and games were manufactured by Strombeck-Becker during the depression years, proving that children were to be accomodated by parents regardless of economic conditions."STROMBECKER SPECIAL" wood "bus" toy. Add couplings, the bus becomes a diesel engine below.Example of toy train set measuring only 11" overall for toddlers.The "Burlington Zephr" toy train, pictured below, is probably a pre-WWII toy, but is not commonly listed. This elegant train was also in use following WWII so the actual vintage of this "StromBecKer Playthings" toy is not known to this writer.StromBecKer model kits listed in Comet catalog, about 1939/40.Around twenty-one total of airplane, artillery, tank and ship kits came out prior to 1942, of which about eleven were airplanes. There were additional variations of basically the same kit. It is reported that kits were sold in Canada under the name Granger and perhaps some of these embodied changes for the folks up north. The queens of the warship kits were the Battleships California and Texas and the Cruiser Brooklyn which came out in 1940. A portion of the plan for the USS California, C16, is shown below.The Cruiser Brooklyn, Kit SC91, in 1/32" = 1' scale, is shown below in a Megow catalog ad from 1941.Built Cruiser Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Jim Hensley.The fact that these U.S.-made kits were sold for twenty-five cents is astounding when viewed from the realities of today's economy. The U.S. Navy destroyer, the U.S.S. Warrington, is shown below in a completed model. This kit C14 from 1940 also appeared in the Megow catalog as kit SC62 for fifty-cents when a base and paints were also furnished.A built Kit C14 from 1940, the USS Warrington, DD383, a Somers Class destroyer. This 1850 ton ship measured 371 feet on the waterline and was launched on May 15, 1937. The Somers class was designed in the 1934-35 era and carried eight 5-inch 38-cal. guns.Submarine Nautilus, Kit. No. C15, 1940. For a view of the plan, please click here.The StromBecKer plan of the U.S.S. Indianapolis Cruiser Model, kit number C11, can be viewed by clicking here.Of course train kits were a big item with dozens of locomotives and rail cars (typical prewar box shown below) in many different scales being offered.The diesel engines and rail cars and passenger cars usually featured shaped wood, built-up structures that were then covered with colorful, pre-printed cardstock for finishing. The best kit of the lot was the NYC Hudson Type Locomotive (4-6-4) in 1:48 scale, 1931K, which measured 23 1/4" in length. A smaller version, kit 1931J, was in 1:64 (3/16"=1') scale.During this period, Strombeck-Becker was growing. R.D. Becker states that, "In order to cope with our rapidly expanding business, we purchased a brick building, formerly occupied by the Abraham Candy Company of Moline, and located at 20th Street and 2nd Avenue, in Moline. About half of the building was two stories high, and the other half four stories. This was used for many years as a packaging plant, warehouse, and shipping point for model kits and toys. In addition to this building, generally known to our personnel as Plant #2, it became necessary at various times to rent additional space in other buildings in the area for storage or toys and kits."We'll leave this pre-WWII era with Becker's comment about their product line of kits started in 1934 , "..was destined to become the most popular, as well as the most lucrative, item in our line, namely our very accurately scaled solid model kits."THE WAR YEARS - During WWII, the Strombeck-Becker company drastically cut back on model kits and was heavily involved in war production of wooden items for the government. They made pedestals for the Browning automatic rifle, "grease gun" handles, stocks for shotguns, pistol grips, signal flare parts, gun plugs, and resting pads for hand grenades.The Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics began a program for high schools in early 1942 to construct recognition or "ID" models in wood in 1:72 scale as an interim measure until the manufacture of plastic recognition models by Cruver of Chicago could begin introducing the high production training aids to military units. The original plans and templates in 1:72 scale were drawn by Comet Models and were distributed to schools throughout the country by March, 1942. Several model airplane companies such as Comet and Megow produced simple kits for the recognition models for the retail market - these kits were merely the Navy's plan and template sheet (title block altered) and several blocks of pine wood. The wood recognition models were devoid of any extra parts not assisting in visual training such as landing gear, propellers, antenna etc. The High School Model Building Program continued for several years although the output was for patriotic and "home front" encouragement reasons primarily; the Navy wanted to abandon the effort soon after it started but was swayed by the fact that students were enthusiastic about building the models - and they were learning recognition which would serve them as many were inducted into military service.StromBecKer began their "Spotter Series" during WWII; these models were pre-carved pine kits and did not have the usual metal propeller(s) and landing gear. The models were in 1:72 scale to correspond to the military training scale. These kits using machine carved parts were not made for the government but it is reported that they were distributed or made available to military units through recreational services or the Red Cross and USO. Correspondent Bryan Brown has kindly provided a photo of a StromBecKer B-24 kit S-101 with a Red Cross sticker. I would like to think that these kits were assembled by G.I.s in rehabilitation hospitals and recreational facilities. I would like to hear from anyone who had experience with these models distributed by the Red Cross.Only six kits were produced in the Spotter Series, each in a red, white and blue box with a three-view silhouette (advised to cut-out) and specifications on the box front. The kits (with StromBecKer kit number) were: S26 Curtiss P-40E, S50 Martin B-26C Marauder, S51 Douglas A-20A Boston/Havoc, S100 Boeing B-17E, S101 Consolidated B-24D (had round nacelles per the government drawings - post-war B-24J kit had the correct "oval" shaped nacelles) and, inexplicably, the Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver, kit number S25 of this obsolete biplane (the only biplane that StromBecKer made. The wartime plan of the SBC-4 may be viewed by clicking here.). The same kits were also produced as a Boy Scout series. A StromBecKer SBC-4, rebuilt from a roughly assembled example, is pictured below; the model was finished by enthusiast Jim Hensley - the markings have been made from the original markings sheet with the exception of the early insignia with a red center.Frequent photo and article contributor, Jim Larsen, authored a delightful one-page story, "Forgotten Spotter Models of World War Two," in the Volume 45 Number 6 issue of Air Classics, which spotlights the spotter model kits made by StromBecKer during the Second World War. You can enjoy reading this tribute to StromBecKer's wartime kits by by clicking here.An example of the StromBecKer S100 wartime kit is pictured below.Correspondent and StromBecKer collector/builder Joe Rosenthal submitted the photo below of "rescued" models of the B-26 Marauder.Contributor Tom Sanders refurbished the B-26 model shown below; Tom's comments and description of the model are captioned.The model originally came out of Omaha, NE where the second Martin Aircraft plant was located and they built the B-26C. After doing some forensics, I found that there was silver paint under a thin layer of black. Strombecker used the original short fin, short wing design when they manufactured their B-26 Spotter Model. Knowing all this information helped me make the choice as to how how I should re-finish the model. The model in the picture now represents the first B-26 to fly November 20, 1940. The full-scale airplane received lots of press and I slowly collected images that reflected this new bomber for the US Army Air Corp. Besides the overhauled vintage Strombecker B-26, I have a vintage Martin Aircraft advertisement that featured a Charles Hubbell painting, a copy of Model Airplane News (1941), a vintage color postcard and an original B-26 Spotter model box from Strombecker. Tom Sanders The photos below represent some of the flavor of that wartime era. The Flying Aces magazine cover featuring the P-40E is from June 1942. The sell-sheet for Strombeck-Becker's line of spotter kits is shown; the text includes, "Wartime conditions make it impossible to predict when StromBecKer Model Kits will again be unlimited in quantity. Military demands on our production facilities coupled with shortages of labor and materials, often force us to say 'Sorry!' to many we should like to serve as customers." The reverse side of this sheet shows the breakdown of parts for the B-17E kit made from "clean western pine". The kit box for S26 P-40E is shown along with a built model from this kit including the stand which is part of the kit. The B-17E Spotter Series kit was issued, along with the other spotter models, as an "Official Air Scout Spotter Series." The box photos below show the B-17E kit which is labeled as Catalog No. 1896, the special numbering system given to the Boy Scout kits by the Boy Scouts of America National Supply Service. These Air Scout kits did not carry the StromBecKer logo, only a mention that they were "Made in the United States of America by Stromveck-Becker Mfg. Co., Moline, Ill." The B-24D kit, also shown below, is Catalog No. 1897. Wartime strategic materials restrictions on the use of metal and rubber in model kits required a few changes for kits manufactured during the emergency. The metal props were replaced with die-cut card propellers and wheels were wood with wood struts - a collector may be assured that these substitutions were appropriate for the 1942-44 kits. Wartime sell sheet for StromBecKer ship model kits.Note that StromBecKer came out with one other new wartime kit, C31 of the P-39 Airacobra, which did not include a metal propeller (dated 2-17-42) and which preceded the spotter series; also it was the only wood StromBecKer airplane in 1/4" equal 1-foot scale up to that time and was the first single-engine airplane kit to be produced by Strombeck-Becker - all of the earlier airplane kits were either two or four engine aircraft. This kit, shown below, cost 29¢. If you would like to view the P-39 plan and print to original size then Click here for P-39 .pdf file. The file size is 1.07 mB. P-39 built exactly to C31 kit plan using kit provided items only (9/04).WARTIME STROMBECKER MODELS IN TRU-VUE STEREO SCOPE FILM - The Tru-Vue Stereoscope viewer was manufactured in Rock Island, Illinois by Tru-Vue, Inc. During WW2, a stereo film Number 231, "Keep 'Em Flying," featured black & white stereo photos of models which were to be used for recognition training purposes by civilians. The Tru-Vue film strips were basically 35 mm film about 32 inches in length with each picture duplicated for stereo viewing purposes; the film was tightly rolled and could be easily inserted into the viewer. Each film strip was sold for $1.00 in an individual box marked with the title. Although hundreds of films were produced, this was the only film dedicated to recognition. It has been estimated that Tru-Vue sold over one million reels in 1949. Tru-Vue, Inc. was founded in 1931 and made a showing at the 1933 Chicago "Century of Progress Exposition," the same fair that sparked StromBecKer's interest in railroad models. The company flourished up to 1952 at which time the company was acquired by Sawyers View-Master of Beaverton, Oregon. Color was introduced by Tru-Vue in 1950 to compete with the Sawyer's View-Master reels. The Stereoscope was continued by Sawyer but changed from film strip to cards featuring 7 stereo views instead of the 14 on the original film. The last cards were made in the 1960s. Why this one reel of recognition models and how did StromBecKer get incolved? We may never know but a few things point the way. Rock Island, Illinois and Moline, Illinois (home of StromBecKer) are sister cities, so it is entirely likely that contact between the two companies occurred. StromBecKer may have offered the models in exchange for the publicity. The models featured on the film are the P-39, Boeing 307 Stratoliner, Hudson, B-17, Sikorsky S-43, Martin B-26, Boeing 314 Clipper, SB2C-4 Helldiver, PBY-5 Catalina, Douglas A20A, and inexplicably, the Brewster SB2A-1. Although the reel states that these are all StromBecKer models, the Brewster was never offered by StromBecKer, so it may have been a test model or one that they elected to not produce - or possibly one built to the Navy wood model program just to fill out the reel. Some of the models have plastic discs to replace the propellers and most have a camouFlage finish.Pardon the quality of the following photos from the film reel; they were taken through one lens of the Stereoscope. The P-39 is featured in several frames. The stereo effect of the Airacobra peeling off the formation is quite effective. Note that this wartime kit was the first of the 1:48 scale single engine airplane models made by StromBecKer; a built model from the P-39 kit is shown on this page.
Strombeck-Becker participated in a government War Bond effort involving the use of models for display. The following small leaflet was included in the kits sold during the war years - this particular leaflet came from a 3" Anti-Aircraft Gun kit A74.Several management changes occured during WWII. J.F.'s son, F.K. "Freddie" Strombeck, joined the company in 1943. George M. Strombeck retired on July 20, 1943 and concurrently F.K. "Freddie" was elected Vice-President.At the conclusion of WW2, Strombeck-Becker embarked on an aggressive strategy to come out with a full line of new and up-dated assembly kits as well as move into other areas of the toy business. I suspect that they had been designing these kits near the war's end to be ready for the peacetime market.

THE STROMBECK-BECKER MANUFACTURING COMPANY STORY by Steve Remington, CollectAir © All Content Note: Part Two covers the history of the Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Co. in the postwar era. The history through World War II, Part One, may be opened by Clicking Here. This link is repeated at the bottom of the page and in the left hand column. VJ-DAY THROUGH 1961 Many new kits were issued by StromBecKer as the decade of the forties moved to a conclusion. The first ones after the war were of improved design though didn't incorporate much in the way of extra detailed parts on the smaller model types. Several pre-war kits were in the 1947 catalog according to Walt Grigg (see below) - the PBY and the Boeing 314. The Lockheed P-80 kit , C32, (later changed to F-80) continued the 1:72 scale size that started with the wartime spotter kits. The P-80 had a clear plastic bubble canopy (the only plastic part) and this type canopy became standard for additional fighters in the 1:72 series. This model had no landing gear but a wood and wire stand was provided, becoming standard for the jet kits. Wood parts such as tip tanks were nicely turned. The biggest improvement was the incorporation of water-release decals for markings and details. The P-80 insignia were printed in the pre-1947 style. The 1:72 scale B-29, Kit No. C250, and the P-61, Kit. No. C33, also appeared in the early postwar period. The photo below shows a Strombecker display booth at a model trade show in about 1946; the show is probably in Chicago. Of particular interest is the fact that all six of the wartime recognition model kits are on display along with black built-ups. The B-29 kit is the featured item and Charles "Chuck" Rowell, Sales Manager for the east coast, is holding a P-61.Charles "Chuck" Rowell One clue as to which kits StromBecKer was offering immediately following WW2 can be seen in the kit listing below; this is from the National Model Distributors (Chicago) catalog from around 1946. Note that the C6 Boeing Clipper and the C8 Flying Boat (PBY) are listed right along with the C250 B-29. Also note that the spotter models, S25 Curtiss SBC4 and S26 Curtiss P40E, are also offered for sale by this distributor. Were these leftovers? It is evident that some of the preWW2 kits were being sold to dealers after the conflict. This is a rare listing of these rather diverse era kits from StromBecKer.Train kits were carried over and new kits in HO gauge were issued throughout the 1950s. The Rock Island Rocket, Kit 1937, was typical of the 1930s kits that continued to sell after the war. A full line of railroad kits were developed; the HO gauge Katy (M.K.T.) Box Car, Kit No. R-12, from 1948 is pictured below along with the printed cardboard side ("Authentic Trim Panels") typically used with the rr kits.The first of the post-war train kits was the 2-8-2 Mikado in HO guage or 3.5mm=1 foot, Kit No. R1. This makes up into a very handsome locomotive and tender which is then the motive for all the railcar kits that followed. Metal couplers, trucks and wheels were not in the kit but had to be obtained if the locomotive was to be used for rolling stock. Wood trucks and wheels sufficed for display purposes and are included in the kit. The plan is dated 1948.The same Mikado was used for the R-100 Freight Train kit which also included four cars in addition; the Tank Car, Refrigerator Car, Box Car and Caboose. The kit contents are shown below.From the 1953 Dealer's catalog.The StromBecKer kit number R210, shown below, is the Baltimore & Ohio "New Columbian" Streamliner in HO scale, a four-unit train including the power unit, diner and coach - a total of 44-inches in length.A kit of the Baltimore & Ohio streamliner coach "Akron" is shown below; this kit number R213 is in HO gauge and is dated 1949. This kit was still available in 1958.Kit R200 "Streamliner" is the "City of San Francisco," a four unit train, similar to the R210 shown above.The StromBecKer Kit number 1831-GT of the DeWitt Clinton Train in "0" gage is a postwar version of the 1936 kit; the kit plan is copyrighted 1948. This four unit, 1:48 scale train measures 14" in length. Check out the number of individually cut wood parts, and all for $1.19 in the 1950s.It is difficult to place the date of original issue for most of the kits as only a few have a copyright date printed on the plan and many were sold for two decades. Decal sheets usually carry a date on the back but that can be a reissue or reorder date since StromBecKer did not make their own decals. The 1:72 scale was adopted for most of the military aircraft models. The B24J, kit C76, and the B-29, kit C250, were 1:72 scale, 4-engine bombers These are superior kits with all the detail parts made of wood (including the landing gear struts for the B-29) with the single exception of the propellers which are plastic in these kits. The Northrop P-61 Black Widow, kit C33, is also a beautifully crafted kit with all wood parts except the plastic propellers. Both the B-24J and the B-29 kits came with small booklets from "The StromBecKer library of famous models." These booklets are copyrighted 1946. I would assume that the B-24J and B-29 kits hit the market in 1946 to be competitive with Testors who also had a 1:72 scale B-29 pine kit (and a B-17) on the market although the Testors were inferior in quality and detail to the StromBecKer models. Walt Grigg informs that the 1947 catalog includes the B-24 and B-29. The centerfold from the 1946 B-24J booklet is shown below along with a view of the kit. The photos below show a handsome "built" B-24 which StromBecKer enthusiast Joe Rosenthal restored from a child-constructed model; disassembling the old models for rebuild can be difficult!Joe Rosenthal's B-24J, kit C76, rebuilt from child's effort. 1949 catalog sheet from Kern's Hobbies, Binghamton, NY. It is instructive to see who the people were that Strombeck-Becker considered to be their potential customers. Some, but very little, advertising was done in aviation and modeling publications and ads were also carried in Parent, Children's Activities and a Life toy ad . The full page ad below was carried in a November 1945 women's magazine - read that copy! Strombeck-Becker's photo budget must have been pretty low as the boy and his B-24 is the same as in the B-24 booklet. Not exactly a "turn on" for the potential adult hobbyist buyer is it?. However, Strombeck-Becker knew their market and sold wood kits when many others were going under.Copy below picture: "Mother, you will help your son in a real creative way if you encourage him in the hobby of modelbuilding. Fingers grow nimbler, imaginations keener. He learns to be more patient. He plans big, creative things for Peacetime America as he builds...Your son will "go for" StromBecKer solid wood model kits...trains and planes...because they're authentic in detail, just like the real thing! You'll approve of them, too, because the parts come cut and shaped ready to assemble. No knives to cut his fingers. No messy chips or shavings. No assembly delay...Choose StromBecKer famous kits...for more fun for Christmas, and after! "The Toy Yearbook for 1949, shown below, displayed toys that ranged from infants to "advanced childhood, 10 years, upwards," and made recommendations as to which toys were "The right toy for the right age." The StromBecKer B-24 and other model kits were cataloged on page 52. The StromBecKer model kits were aimed at youngsters and oldsters alike, "seven to seventy."Strombeck-Becker offered a number of dealer promotional items such as built-up models, mats, literature, posters, streamers and model kit displays which displayed all the kit parts along with a completed model and the box - an additional airplane model was usually mounted on top as the photo below shows a 1948 counter cabinet (KD4) featuring the "Pioneer."Pioneer train by StomBecKer enthusiast Joe Rosenthal. Some of the prewar ship models were retained in the catalog of postwar StromBecKer along with several new models. The frigate, U.S.S. Tacoma, kit number C17, was issued in 1949. The plan for this frigate may be viewed by clicking here. Use theback arrow to return.
Some lightplanes in 1:48 scale (Swift 125, Swift 125 Seaplane, Piper Cub Super Cruiser and Seascout, Bonanza) were included in the early post-WW2 product lineup along with some civil airliners such as the Convair Flagship, C38, DC-3, C35, (1947) and the American DC-6, C36 (copyrighted 1947); these were all-wood kits with wire landing gear struts and stamped metal props. The Boeing B-47, kit C45, (1952) joined more of the early 1950s jet line-up with additional 1:72 scale fighters, the Chance Vought Cutlass, C49, the Sabre Jet F-86, C44, the FJ-2 Fury, C46, the Lockheed F-94, C43, and the Republic F-84, C47. One experimental airplane, the Douglas Skyrocket D558, kit C42, was isssued. Joe Rosenthal's Swifts and Cubs rescued from prebuilts.Another "rescue" by Joe Rosenthal of a prebuilt Convair. DC-3 kit number C-35, first issued in 1947.An interesting and rare use of the StromBecKer DC-3 kit is shown below. StromBecKer kits were occasionally used as promotional items or premiums and packaged in special boxes which in some cases included special items particular to the advertised agency or company. The James H Franklin & Associates organization of Atlanta was involved in promotional material, particularly airplanes; mention is made of this group in association with plastic airliner model kits in mailer boxes in the 2003 John Burns compilation, Plastic Aircraft Kits of the Twentieth Century (and Beyond). John writes, "Sometime in the mid-1950's, this firm marketed airliner kits in plain brown, one-piece mailer-type boxes with decals. These could have been airline promotional items or gifts but nothing more is known at this time. Only one kit has been confirmed thus far, the ex-Hawk 1/126 Convairliner with Braniff decals. Value is 125-up." The StromBecKer Bonanza Airlines version has the standard StromBecKer DC-3 kit contents, including the plan showing American Airlines, but has a special Bonanza Airlines decal, dated on the back with "3-55." The mailer box and the special decal are pictured below. Bonanza Airlines operated DC-3s from 1949 to 1960.Joe Rosenthal's interesting C-47.Tom Kalina is a professional pilot and an Artist Member of the American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA); Tom specializes in oil paintings of 50s airliners and his work is outstanding and has won many awards. Tom built the 1947 StromBecKer kit No. C36 of the Douglas DC-6 and this beautiful effort is shown in the photo below. He added the prop discs which create a dynamic mode.Another model built from the StromBecKer DC-6 kit is pictured below; note that the vintage of this model predates Tom Kalina's by over 60 years! One proud lad! Aviation artist Mike Keville, a member of the American Society of Aviation Artist, is shown in 1950 as he took first prize in a kid's solid scale model contest in Audubon, New Jersey. Mike is holding his winning model, a StromBecKer DC-6 from kit C36, and displaying his prized trophy. Mike says that he still has the coveted memento.
Photo that ran on the cover of the July 1953 issue of "The Hobby Merchandiser". Caption reads, "R.D. Becker, F.K. and J.F. Strombeck compare their first and latest plane models."
The Hobby Merchandiser ran a 4-page article on Strombeck-Becker. The club program is explained as follows by a company executive: "The recently renewed Captain Jet and Strombecker Model Makers Club 'is cleverly planned to make every boy who builds Strombecker sell his pals and bring them into your store,' explains Charles Rowell, manager of the playthings division." (July 1953).
StromBecKer Model-Makers Club Official Badge - 1953.The counter display shown below is from the same period.The photo below is taken from a newspaper in the early 1950s and pictures two of the early principal executives of Strombeck-Becker, R.D. Becker and George Strombeck, the enginering genius of the company.R.D. Becker, at left, presents a plaque to George M. Strombeck in honor of completing 50 years as a teacher of the Men's Fellowship Bible class of the Evangelical Free Church, Moline, Illinois. Photo courtesy of "Bud" Becker. George Strombeck had retired from the company in mid-1943.
The Captain "Jet" promotion for the StromBecKer Model-Makers Club was the subject of a 1953 comic book-style handout available at kit dealers. The story line is shown below - note that some adults are shown on the cover, but the story centers only on the target youth who, in the end, receives the approbation of his father and "Mr. Jones at the bank." The center six pages are a catalog of models which is not reproduced below. Note that there are no girls in this piece.Advertisement for Captain Jet. The "Captain" badge and mailer from StromBecKer's Captain Jet. Photo courtesy of Joe Rosenthal. There is a B-47 featured in the first panel of Captain "jet" (on his table). Kit C45 is a very nice model of the Boeing Stratojet in a large 1/9"=1' scale; the kit came out in 1952. The B-47 box is shown below along with two photos of the StromBecKer dealer promotional model.B-47 display in the Jim Larsen collection. Jim Larsen photos.Three gift box sets were issued, each having four small kits. Number 702, pictured above, had all jets, the FJ-2, F-94, Skyrocket and the F-86. The four standard kits were packaged in an open box and cello wrapped.The Douglas Super-6 Clipper , kit C48, represents the DC-6B of Pan American, the "Clipper Priscilla Alden." This kit featured plastic props. An updated "China Clipper", kit C51, of 1955 kept the nostalgic "first airplane kit" of StromBecKer's in stock with updated shaped wood parts and with the addition of plastic props and of course, the water-slide decals which featured Pan American Airways markings. The kit is also shown in detail below.Dealer's sell sheet for the updated "China Clipper", Kit C51, circa 1955. Note that the back side shows the line which includes the all-plastic D25 Sea Dart.The China Clipper Kit C51 was dated 1955. The kit was a complete change from the original A51 kit. The fuselage is one piece and has corrugations and the hull is stepped; the wing is properly shaped and the nacelles are finer. The two-sided plan is a finely detailed rendition of the airplane. The photos below show the revised parts of the C51 kit on top and the original A51 kit on the bottom. This kit has proven to be difficult to find - perhaps fewer were manufactured as the wood kit business slowed down by 1955 - note that the China Clipper kit in plastic, and in the same scale, came out only two years later so it is doubtful that this C51 kit was produced for more than a year or so.
StromBecker fan, Joe Rosenthal's China Clipper.Typical small ad in "Model Airplane News", December, 1949.Small ad in "Air Trails", October, 1951.This StromBecKer kit of the Cutlass F7U-3 is in 1:72 scale and features a clear canopy and a wire stand - it was issued in 1953 as the last of their jet line. Click on the F7U Cutlass picture below and view the StromBecKer sell sheet for the "new" kit from 1953.StromBecKer sold Counter Displays (CD) for many of their kits; the display would consist of a built and painted model, a base, and a display card which fit into the painted base. One display is shown on this page for the B-47 kit. A counter display for the F7U Cutlass, Kit C49, is pictured below along with the box that it was packed in. Some larger window displays which showed airplanes, trains and various parts could be rented from StromBecKer - a traveling window display for special promotions.The kit box shown below is sort of a StromBecKer oddity, the first of this sort that I've run across. An "Official Construction Kit" of the Boy Scouts of America, this kit of the Cutlass F7U-3 is specially numbered 1679-G. The fanciful box top shows the entire StromBecKer jet fighter fleet, including the Douglas Skyrocket, in an air race, complete with checkered Flag, pylon and grandstand. Since the F7U-3 kit came out in 1953, this Boy Scout kit came after that date. The contents are the standard Cutlass kit.
The entire StromBecKer wood airplane kit line for 1953 may be viewed by clicking the B-29, C-250, below.Joe Rosenthal built the B-29 shown below from a "wreck." The model is finished in the "out of the box" style using StromBecKer components, including decals, from the kit.The playthings division created numerous new toys during this period; mentioned in 1953 was the new hobby-toy, the "Tug-Apart", previewed at that years MIA Toy Fair along with the newly introduced B-47 kit. At one point in the late 1940s, the company produced toys for the Duncan Toy Co. and sometime later, the Duncan yo-yo. A complete line of toy trains (for tots and youngsters) was continued from the pre-war period. The pictures below show a typical toy, Engine Number "999" of the "StromBecKer LINES" railroad, and a pre-school learning toy train, a recurring theme for StromBecKer. Later toy trains, by 1955, featured plastic wheels.As mentioned above, plastic wheels and redesigned toy trains appeared in the later 1950s. A portion of a StromBecKer brochure, "All Aboard! for the biggest train value in railroading history! It's Strombecker's brand new PLAY TRAIN PACKAGE," is shown below along with the StromBecKer logo for their toy line. Five different "Playtrains" were offered. Toy helicopter "Whirly-Bird" with plastic parts. Here are several more StromBecKer whimsical wood toys from the 1950s aimed at the preschooler. Pull-a-Tug Number 412-100 Eggberts Racer #16 Number 521 StromBecKer Zoo-Apart. An off-shoot of the Circus Train. StromBecKer toys advertised in the 1956 Modelbuilder's Hobbycraft Cyclopedia. The photos below depict a phonograph player which uses the 45 RPM records. The nameplate on the portable player reads, "Strombeck Becker Model 6010." This is a post WW2 piece, yet the logo or manufacturer's name of Strombeck Becker was not normally used at the time 45 RPM records were fashionable. I have not found any contemporary advertising or catalog information for this item but it must have been manufactured for StromBecKer. The photos are from an offering. Any information on this player would be appreciated and comments added here.In the mid-1950s, Strombeck-Becker began incorporating more injection-molded plastic parts in their new airplane kits. The all-plastic "solid" kit market was expanding rapidly and the StromBecKer all-wood kits probably began to be less competitive, both from an appearance and price standpoint when compared to all-plastic kits which were gaining a foothold. Hawk, Monogram, Comet and others were switching from wood to plastic. Monogram went through the same mid-1950s experiment with wood and plastic in their line of Super Kits. StromBecKer made two small missile kits (Regulus and Matador) using plastic for lifting and control surfaces and nose cones; these two kits had no plan - the back of the box showed the assembly.A simple, "built" Regulus I, kit no. M1, with an unauthentic color scheme. Oddly, this was the only model kit produced by any company of the Regulus I missile although numerous plastic kits were made for the Regulus II which was never operational. This odd colored Regulus is one of the StromBecKer pre-built models sold in packs of two, one Regulus and one Matador, with two color versions. The display pack is shown below. Sales leaflet for kits M1 and M2.The Lockheed XFV-1 V.T.O., kit C50, appeared in 1954. This is a particularly nice kit with a lifting-lid box and which has about one-half of it's parts made from plastic and represents the interim period before StromBecKer jumped into the all-plastic kit hobby field. Note that the box proclaims, "Plastic-Wood Solid Model." Also, it was in this time frame that the capitalization of "BecKer" was omitted in the logo and changed to "Strombecker" - this alteration may have been to de-emphasize R.D. Becker's role in the company as will be noted later in this story. R.D. Becker comments on the kit business during the crucial 1952 through 1955 years. "The model kit business continued with ever-increasing sales, with a peak sales record of over three million kits sold during the year 1952. Our regular line of toys continued with moderate success, but did not keep pace with the accelerated sales of model kits". This trend did not continue however, as he further states, "During the years 1953 and 1954, the trend away from wooden model kits and the increasing popularity of plastic kits became quite apparent, with an accompanying loss of total sales. During the years of the wooden model kits their sales appeal had increased to the point that their sales accounted for more than 50% of our total production. During the years 1953 and 1954, sales on model kits practically passed out, and it was evident that in order to maintain our leadership in the model kit industry, we would be compelled to enter the highly competitive plastic model kit field."At the stockholders' meeting of April 21, 1955, it was reported that the year 1954 had been the most difficult one in more than thirty-five years. The plastic kits made by competitive companies were now available in large volume and at competitive prices, and had caused a loss of 75% of the model kit business since 1952. This had caused a substantial loss, the first in thirty-seven consecutive years, and in the light of this, a decision was made to add plastic production to our facilities. The necessary equipment was purchased and installed, and some of the kits we produced were quite well received. Tooling costs for plastic kits proved to be very high, and in order to properly amortize the heavy die cost, it was necessary to attain a very high level of sales on each item for which we tooled. We also found ourselves in a highly competitive field in which we were the newcomers, without the years of know-how. Consequently, in spite of a fair volume of sales, the years spent in the plastic field were not successful when measured in profits, and we find the President's report of 1959 showing a deficit of $85,394.44."The B-17F kit, C77, came out in around 1955 and was advertised as a "great new plastic and wood kit." No idea why they chose the "F" model since all of the parts are different than the wartime spotter B-17E - therefore the tooling must have been different. A number of plastic parts were incorporated such as cockpit windows, crew canopy, turrets, nose, landing gear struts, engines and propellers. This must have been the "last hurrah" for the wood/plastic kits as subsequent new ones were all-plastic. A "window" was in the lid so that the detailed plastic parts could be seen - a pretty good indication that wood use was on the way out and plastic was being emphasized - or at least promoted. A very nicely drawn and detailed, two-sided plan. The decal photo below shows that the decal sheet for this kit of the "Yankee Doodle" features the post-1947 insignia for this WW2 airplane! Details of the C77 kit are shown below. Box is a large 16 3/8" x 6 3/16" x 1 1/2". Dealer's sell sheet from around 1955 showing the two "Plastic and Wood" kits, C50 and C77.The StromBecKer Model Makers Club was promoted on the 1955 B-17 plan. Note the age group of the "President."A very nice built B-17 model from the C77 kit by collector Jim Hensley is shown below. In my opinion, that model is just as visually satisfying as any of today's plastic kits. THE ALL-PLASTIC ERA BEGINS - Succumbing to the plastic boom, as mentioned,the first all-plastic StromBecKer kit was the Navy XF2Y-1 Sea Dart, kit no. D25, which came out in 1955. On the original kit plan, StromBecKer has the following comment: "Another 'first' faithfully reproduced in the Strombecker model, this time in plastic." The kit is very simple as the plan shown below indicates. Note, for example, that there is no "glass" in the cockpit windows. The scale is 1:60. An historic kit because of it's "first" status, the original Sea Dart kit brings a fairly high price - the die for the Sea Dart was secured by Rare-Plane Detective in the 1980s and a limited number were reissued in a plain box. Dealer's sell sheet for the Sea Dart. Note New York advertising address.A late 1950s catalog, The Hobby Guide, carried the phrase, "A happy family is a hobby family," on the front cover. A variety of hobby toys, kits, games etc. were included along with the page shown below which features the StromBecKer Sea Dart. Note that the picture of the Sea Dart shows cockpit "glass" whereas the kit does not include cockpit glazing. Also on this page are two StromBecKer items, the "Bill Ding" clowns and a "Fit'n Fun Shapes" set for the "wee members of the family." StromBecKer had all the bases covered.Note that the STROMBECKER logo changed sometime between 1957 and 1958 - compare the box logo of the Sea Dart with the logo on the TT-1 box below. It was at this time that StromBecKer continued to attempt marketing the wood kits (probably from inventory) by adding new packaging by placing the kit contents in plastic bags which could be easily displayed on hanging boards. A F-86, Kit No. WB44, is pictured below with the later logo which dates the kit as being 1957 or so; the price remained at the original 69-cents. These bagged kits are seldom seen.The 1957 edition of the Modelbuilder's HOBBYCRAFT Cyclopedia carried a full page listing of STROMBECKER (new logo) wood airplane kits, 22 of them. You can view this page by clicking here. This page of models would give you a complete collection for the 1957 production year.
The plastic kits became more sophisticated as demonstrated by this 1958 kit of the Temco TT-1, kit D36, in the "Pin-Up Box Cover" - the graphic of the airplane on the lid could be easily removed and a clear plastic shield underneath retained the kit parts. A quality kit in 1:42 scale that later was made by Aurora from leased molds in 1962. The 1958 dealer sell sheet for the Temco TT-1, "Newest in a great bull's-eye line," can be viewed, and printed out, by clicking here. The "China Clipper", Martin M-130, which had been the first wood airplane kit, A51, and a post-war updated wood version, C51, was issued in a plastic kit version, D31, in about 1957 and for some reason, the same scale of 3/32"=1' was retained (nostalgia?). The plastic D31 kit is shown below. A full-size StromBecKer plan of the "China Clipper" can be viewed by clicking here.The advertisement for the D31 "China Clipper," shown below, is from the reverse side of a sales sheet for the Temco TT-1 kit D36. Click on this ad for a view of the entire "All-plastic assembly kits" offered by StromBecKer around 1958.Click on the above ad for a view of the 1958 plastic line of kits.StromBecKer introduced a line of scale, rubber-powered plastic flying models made from vac-u-formed thin styrene in an appropriate color for the airplane. The de Havilland U1-A Otter, kit FM-24, had a wingspan of 14 3/4" or 1:48 scale and came out in 1957 (shown below). About sixteen kits were in this 1957-1958 flying series, some rubber, some gliders (jets). Two full-page ads from Flying Models, an introductory ad in August 1957 and another ad in August 1958, are available in PDF form by Clicking Here. Sling Launched F-102A, Kit SM51, 1957.Spirit of St. Louis, Kit FM-2 in 1:24 scale.The first of the polystyrene flying models was the Piper Pacer, kit FM-1, dated 1956. Counter displays were offered by SromBecKer for many of the flying models. The display consisted of a built-up model from the kit along with advertising banners. A boxed counter display for the Piper Pacer Kit FM-1 is shown below; note the the printed information on the box mislabels the kit as "MF-1." The model is nicely built.The polystyrene, vac-u-formed Piper Pacer Kit FM-1 is displayed below. This flying model is in 1:24 scale with a 14 1/2 inch wing span. The box art for this kit was painted by the well known illustrator, author and model airplane designer, Cal Smith.The Strombecker trademark, 1957. Doll house furniture continued to play a part in StromBecKer's toy production, well into the final years of their wood toy and kit line. The photo below shows the catalog for their doll house furniture line; the logo is that which was used after 1957, thereby dating this publication. Correspondent Barry A. Smith has a terrific collection of furniture from this catalog - you can view photos of his outstanding display by clicking on the photo. Use the back arrow to return to this page.Starting in 1957, StromBecKer issued the first kits from the popular Disney productions "Man In Space" and "Mars And Beyond", plus the TWA Moonliner that appeared at the Los Angeles Disneyland until 1962 (Viewmaster reel set #855 "Tomorrowland" has stereo pictures of the defunct TWA ship.) The Disney kits were very successful products for StromBecKer. They followed these with three more space kits based upon Krafft Ehricke designs developed for Convair: the Convair Manned Lunar Recon Vehicle (D37); the Convair Manned Nuclear Interplanetary Vehicle (D38); and the Convair Manned Observation Satellite (D39), from 1959. Walt Disney's Man-In-Space Model Kit, D26-100, was issued in 1957. Designed by Wernher von Braun, the fourth stage is in a delta wing configuration. There is an excellent full page color photo of Heinz Haber with the Disney XR-1 studio model this kit is based upon on page 270 of the August 1955 issue of National Geographic. Von Braun's ship is a true classic of '50s spacecraft engineering. The first issue of StromBecKer's kit was in bright yellow styrene plastic. The second issue, D-26A was gray-green styrene plastic. Issued in the UK as "Spaceship," Selcol kit #500. Decals and instructions for StromBecKer D26 incorrectly show the wing markings as "RX-1" instead of the correct "XR-1." Kit photos shown below along with a built model.What great publicity for the XR-1! Walt Disney standing with Werhner von Braun holding a model of the XR-1.Five StromBecKer models on Walt Disney's desk: The D35 Satellite Launcher, D32 Space Station, D27 TWA Moon Liner, D34 RM-1 Rocket Ship and D26 Man-In-Space Ship. The large XR-1 studio model is located behind him. Fourth Stage Cabin "RX-1" with a wingspan of 7.1 cm. First issue of Man In Space built around 50-years ago - complete, but the decals are a little aged.The front side of the instructions for D26/D26A unfold into a wall poster (see above for portion). The D26 kit has a full color box as seen above. Walt Disney's Disneyland Rocket To The Moon Model Kit, D27-100 was used as a Disneyland theme park attraction for Tomorrowland. This passenger carrying rocket is marginal in terms of being a true aerospace design. The first issue of this kit is in a purple and yellow "monochrome" box. The second issue, D27A, was renamed "TWA Moonliner" and had a full color box. British Selcol kits; each of these boxes is imprinted with "Made in England under license by Selcol." These box pictures, along with others in this section, are provided by Christian Bryan. Does anyone know how much of this kit was made in England? Walt Disney's Space Station Model Kit, D32-100. Designed by Wernher von Braun. This doughnut-shaped station utilizes nuclear energy for on-board power. The kit cleverly duplicates the supporting guy wires by including a small spool of thread to string between the hub and the outer ring. Walt Disney's RM-1 Rocket Ship Model, kit number D34-100 was issued in 1957. Designed by Wernher von Braun. This was planned as an orbital recycling job, built around the fourth stage of the "Man-In-Space Ship." The ship was intended to carry a crew of four, was propelled by chemical engines burning hydrazine and nitric acid, and had a lance-like extension at the front of the ship containing a nuclear reactor for onboard power. Included with the kit is a detachable "bottle" spacesuit with a figure. RM-1 built from Glencoe reissue of kit D34-100.Some toys were made for Walt Disney Entertainment and plastic kits of space ships were introduced which were based on the Disney movie "Man in Space." The kit pictured below is the Satellite Launcher, kit D35, which was also designed by the German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun. Kit number D35-100 came out in 1958. This ship was intended as an alternate use of the "Man In Space Ship" launch vehicle, designed for lofting satellites and putting cargo into orbit. In the "Man In Space" film, it is seen with "CR-1" markings on the top stage. What's unusual about this kit is that it is done in clear acrylic plastic, and has paper cut-out inserts to represent the arrangement of internal fuel tanks. It includes a small Sputnik-like satellite and a removable nose cone. A D35A kit version was issued in 1959.Many of the StromBecKer kits feature box art by Cal Smith. Three gift sets using StromBecKer space kits were issued. These are cellophane wrapped with a printed banner. Each includes three kits. No. 713 contains D26A, D27A, and D34; No. 714 contains D32, D34, and D35A; and No. 715 contains D37, D38, and D39. All are extremely rare. All of these space kits are valuable collector items today and demand prices in the hundreds when complete. Glencoe now owns the StromBecKer molds for the space line and began reissuing them as part of Glencoe's "Blueprint for the Future" series. Cover page of a ten-page, fold-out catalog from around 1958. Each page featuring a genre of kits, both wood and plastic. For wood kits: "Combat Jets", "Famous Aircraft","World War II Fame", "Commercial Planes", "Private Planes", "Fighting Ships", "Famous Trains", and for plastic: "Plastic Flying Models" and "Plastic Models" showing the Sea Dart, X1B, Man in Space Ship and TWA Disneyland Rocket.Bell X-1B Kit D30.Bell X-1B, kit D30A, featuring a bust of Chuck Yeager.Strombeck-Becker had an exhibit of space kits and flying models at the Hobby Industry Trade Show and Convention in Chicago in February, 1958. In attendance at their booth 58-59 were Charles Rowell, Ray Carlson, Ed McKelvey and Larry Sandberg.Also in 1958, the "Modelbuilders' Hobbycraft Cyclopedia," an accumulation of product lines from just about every hobby manufacturer, has a page devoted to Strombecker wood kits with the title, "Solid Wood Kits Develop Skill and Craftmanship." This one page has a complete listing of every Strombecker wood airplane kit available in 1958. You can view this catalog page by clicking here. Additionally, in the same catalog, there is a listing of Strombecker rail kits as shown below. Catalog pages are also devoted to Strombecker plastic kits and plastic flying models. 1902 RAMBLER TWO-SEAT RUNABOUT Some plastic automobile kits were made by StromBecKer that weren't motorized nor would be uasable with the slot car track; these kits made into a display-shelf model only. The T-1 1909 Hupmobile and the T-2 1902 Rambler were the only kits in the "T" line that I can identify. The T-2 kit, shown below, is undated but probably from around 1958-59 in the same time frame as the race car kits. STROMBECKER SLOT CARS - StromBecKer hit the plastic model car kit market in 1959 with a line of 1/24 scale, injection-molded plastic cars which had the option of being equipped with an electric motor; the motorized car came with an onboard battery box so it could be run free style using a ratchet-held steering arrangement. The motorized version was also recommended to be used on a tether (with slip ring) which allowed the car to rotate around a pylon containing larger "D" cells (Pylon Kit No. D48) which powered the car in lieu of the onboard batteries. The 1/24 scale cars were listed in a 1959 catalog; it is possible that they were introduced earlier, yet I have not found any information to confirm that and, most telling, is the fact that the 1958 Dealer's Price Sheet does not show any car kits to be available. Note, below, that some of the cars were based on the 1959 model year.With extensive molds and tooling dies, the car kits must have taken many months to develop. The car kit line in 1/24 scale included; D40, the W196 Mercedes-Benz 1955 Formula 1 #6 Racer; D42, 250F Maserati Racer #34; D44, Jaguar 1953 D-Typekwith motor, D45 without; D46, '32 Ford Hot Rod Roadster; D51, Go-Kart; D52, D50 Lancia-Ferrari 1956; D54, MG-A 1959; D56, Austin-Healey 1959; D62, Scarab 1959; and D64, Aston-Martin 1959. All of these kits were also issued without the motor and gears; the Racer Motor and Gear Set, D49, could be purchased separately to convert the no-motor kits. The motor was made by the Japanese firm of Mabuchi Motors and was reported to be of higher power than the competitor's Scalextric.The Maserati kit D42 is shown below along with the D48 Power Pylon kit. Kit No. D58-149. The D42 kit was also packaged in a small mailer box, 4" x 6 1/2" x 1 1/2", and used by the Autolite company as a premium; the box reads, "Here is your Grand Prix Racer Kit from Autolite." The same D42 StromBecKer plan is included. D-Jaguar Kit Number D45-100, the racing car without motor which had to be purchased separately. 1:24 scale. From the box, "This is an authentic scale model of England's Championship Racer." This racer appears in the "H2" slotcar set shown below.
The June 1959 issue of American Modeler carried an article on the annual hobby-models industry trade show held in Chicago and had this to say about StromBecKer's exhibit: "Strombecker almost stole the show with their beautifully detailed, electric powered race cars. The first two released will be the Mercedes-Benz and Maserati. These kits will come with electric drive unit and without electric drive unit and are set up to run on a tether in a circle." At this point, the StromBecKer race cars were not slot cars, but they were soon to be incorporated into the new sensation, Model Electric Road Racing, or slot cars.
The British firm of Tri-ang Scalextric brought out a true slot car set by mid 1957; Bertram "Fred" Francis of MiniModels (Tri-ang)created a Maserati 2 1/2 Litre and a Ferrari which were shown in January 1957 at the Harrogate International Toy Fair. The December 1957 issue of Sports Cars Illustrated published an article about a Scalextric/Triang slot car set that author Bob Coogan had found at Polks Hobby Shop in New York City. This was the first use of the slotted track; Lionel had previously sold rail cars which used a single, raised track. The first StromBecKer slot car sets were probably marketed around the end of 1959 or early 1960 and they were the first U.S. manufactured slot car sets. The set incorporated a 7-inch wide, 2-track arrangement using dual brass strips arranged adjacent to the "slot." The cars were the same 1/24 scale kits as detailed above but which had an added, clever nylon guide shoe attached to the steering mechanism with a 2-pole brass pickup to feed the Japanese motor. These first sets were the "H" series - the number following the "H" pertaining to the number of race cars included in the set. By the end of 1960, there were many manufacturers jumping into the slot car market begun by Scalextric in 1957.The "H" sets used various combinations of the "D" series 1/24 scale cars mentioned above. No new 1/24 scale cars were brought out following the introduction of the "H" sets, with the exception, perhaps, of the Scarab and Aston-Martin. Interestingly, the cars used in the sets were simply the basic car kit which had been previously been sold as the tether car; each car came with the same instruction sheet that was used in the single car kits. However, the set had a thorough Model Electric Road Racing Instruction Guide which detailed how to assemble the cars and adapting them to track racing.You can view and print out the complete guide to set H2 by by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return.A portion of the instruction sheet for the D Jaguar, D44, found in set H2, can be viewed by clicking here.Photos are presented below of an H2 "Model Electric Road Racing Set" which has been well used by youthful race car drivers but adequately preserved for our inspection over 50 years later. The race cars have had a few off track experiences but all the parts and pieces of the original kit are included along with a number of spare parts. This is a genuine, first generation StromBecKer slot car set; the true StromBecKer-manufactured slot car sets will carry the Moline, Illinois address. Also, note that the handgrip control is a wood turning - appropriate for Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing.
Some of the set's race cars are pictured below. Obviously, there is some major restoration work to do before these beauties get back in action. The front ends of the StromBecKer cars were a weak point, but fortunately many spare parts were made available. A new body shell is shown for the D Jaguar. StromBecKer also sold accessories and repair parts for the cars (much needed following rough "driving"). The accessory item, H12, Lo Volt Motor Brushes, was sold in a blister pack and is pictured bleow, as new. The back of the pack shows pictures of eight racing car kits and installation instructions for the brushes.Gear Assortment H18 pack provided two sets of drive gears. Slot cars became popular in the 1960s and commercial tracks (usually in hobby shops) sprouted up all over the country - it is estimated that there were 3,000 to 5,000 commercial tracks. At its peak, the slot car business was a $350 million dollar industry. This popularity ebbed in the 1970s and many of the companies went out of the slot car business and most tracks folded.As outlined near the end of this web page, the Strombeck-Becker Company was experiencing severe financial problems by 1960 as the wood kit business fell off to nearly nothing precipitated by the heavy competition of the plastic kit industry. StromBecKer's entry into the plastics business was unsound as competition had much better marketing abilities and a broader line of product. At the Strombeck-Becker directors meeting of October 24, 1960, it was decided to sell the toy and kit line as a going business, and by March 17, 1961, the tooling, including the road-racing sets, was sold to the Dowst Manufacturing Company of Chicago along with the trade name, "Strombecker." These corporate decisions are important when viewing the slot car business of StromBecKer during the same time frame. While strategizing to sell off the slot car line, Strombeck-Becker was busy developing a follow-on line of 1/32 slot car sets. The Moline-manufactured, 1:32 scale Strombecker slot cars have eluded the collecting prowess of CollectAir. Fortunately, slot car historian and collector, Philippe de Lespinay, has kindly provided some photos and information concerning the 1/32 cars and the late-in-the-game development of Strombecker's racing sets just prior to the takeover of that product line by Dowst in 1961. Philippe is authoring a book on slot car history which should be of great interest to any collector of these sets and cars. You can explore Philippe's massive model car collection by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return to this page. A huge compendium of slot car information may be obtained at the Slot Car Museum by visiting the museum. This Los Angeles museum is owned by slot car enthusiast Scott Bader and Phillipe is the curator and historian.Strombecker's first 1/32 racing set from Moline was designed using two 1955 Jaguar "D" Type cars; the car was molded with a one-piece body of white plastic which fit onto a universal chassis equipped with the same Mabuchi 3-volt motor that had been mounted in the 1:24 scale cars. These initial "D" Types were plain with no windshields or headlight covers and were packaged in simple boxes. Later, the cars were molded in red or pale blue, equipped with clear plastic parts and the packaging was changed to illustrated boxes. The Strombecker ad shown below appeared in the October 1960 issue of "American Modeler" magazine. Note that the factory is listed as being in Moline, Illinois and that this ad ran concurrently with Strombeck-Becker's corporate decision of October 24, 1960 to divest itself of the toy line! The ad mentions that the cars are "1/32 scale" and are powered with a "6-volt power pack" which suggests that Strombecker engineers were "boosting" the 3-volt motor a bit. The same issue of the magazine shows the Strombecker 1/32 set alongside a competing set from Aurora - Strombecker was experiencing competition as the article states that, "the model race car field, especially electric powered 'tracked' autos, is busting out all over."The first 1/32 Jaguar "D" Type model is pictured below, courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay.Although slot car experts may not recognize early versions of electric race tracks because the tracks did not have actual "slots" to hold the cars, the 1930s did produce some interesting race sets. The Märklin Autorennbahn of 1934 track may be seen in action. Of American interest, the famous Louis Marx & Co. came out with a two car Marx Streamline Electric Speedway in the 1930s. The set consisted of a double track, including a bridge, a transformer and rheostat speed control for the electric Shooting Star cars. This set is quite rare. I'm not certain how the cars picked up the current but it appears that there are two "rails" in which the car runs. In any case, this set certainly predates by many years the late 1950s "invention" of the slot car. The Marx set came with an instruction manual entitled, "Electric Double Track Speedway With Rheostat." Some photos gleaned from recent sales are shown below.
Set advertised in "Antique Toy World" 41-11 for $1275. Box is 22".I have a most interesting Louis Marx "toy" from the 1930s which is a blatant, but cheapened, knockoff of the British FROG Mark IV Interceptor flying model. Although the box for the "ROGA" model has the Marx label and address, the model itself, along with two instruction sheets, have no reference to Marx, only to "The Manufacturer." The name "ROGA" stand for "Rising Off Ground Aeroplane", also a knockoff of the "Flies Right Off Ground" FROG logo. The aluminum body of the ROGA is similar to the FROG, only cheapened by not cutting out the cockpit as on the Interceptor. There is no winding mechanism for the ROGA and the instructions say to wind 258 turns by hand winding. This Marx copy of the FROG Interceptor is also quite rare and doesn't show up in lists of Marx toys. Perhaps there was a patent problem somewhere along the line.Following the sale of the toy line and the Strombecker trade name to Dowst in March 1961, the American Modeler magazine, in December 1961, carried an article on the history of slot racing (as opposed to track racing) sets showing Strombecker as a division of Dowst Mfg. By the end of 1961 there were about a dozen manufacturers in the crowded slot racing arena. Polks Modelcraft Hobbies imported the English Tri-Ang Scalextric line in 1957 and Strombecker then followed soon after. The Aurora and Minic line were in HO scale, but the Scalextric, Strombecker, Hawk, ITC (Ideal), Marx and others were in larger sizes, mostly 1/24 scale. Some, including Aurora, used the small HO scale as early as mid-1960 in a set called "Highways". The slot cars were the single most important toy product for Strombecker at the time of the sale of the toy line and it was this concept that was sold, although at little or no financial gain for Strombeck-Becker at the time."American Modeler" showed this comparison of available slot car track sizes in the January 1962 issue showing the explosion of slot car manufacturers within a year or so. Lionel soon took over the Scalextric line of slot cars.You can view an interesting Gilbert Auto-Rama Layout TV ad from 1962 by clicking here. A.C. Gilbert sold the Auto-Rama 1:32 scale slot car set from 1961 to 1965.This web page's interest in the original StromBecKer slot car product line ends with the March 1961 sale to Dowst of Chicago; most "Strombecker" slot car info and sales that you see today are for the product manufactured by Dowst in Chicago. Only the Moline, IL line, manufacturered for only a short time, is the authentic StromBecKer.The Scarab car kit, D62, shown below is an interesting example of the transition from StromBecKer of Moline to Dowst in Chicago. The box plainly states that the kit is "Made in U.S.A. by Strombeck-Becker Mfg. Co., Moline, Illinois"," yet the plan title heading states, "Strombeck, Division of Dowst Mfg. Co., Chicago 24, Illinois," also with a "Srombecker" logo. This use of "Strombeck" associated with Dowst as a division is probably a misprint as Dowst did not purchase the "Strombeck" name, only "Strombecker" - some confusion in the ranks at Dowst! Note that the box side also states that, "Adaptable to STROMBECKER road racing track." Apparently Dowst purchased the existing boxes and parts and reprinted the plan to indicate Dowst. Did this kit originate in Moline or Chicago during this 1961 change in ownership?The original track is suitable for both 1/24 and 1/32 cars. A 1932 Ford in 1/32 scale, kit no. D70, has been mentioned in John Burns' kit guide but doubt whether this car was equipped for track racing. I believe that some slot cars were 12-volt powered. It is for that reason, I suspect, that StromBecKer's "H" set control transformer was a "dual-volt" transformer with a switch that could be set on "Lo Volt" for the StromBecKer 1/24 cars using 3-volts or set to "12 Volt" for others (or for certain StromBecKer cars?). The 1/32 car set advertised in 1960 used a 6-volt power pack so that set must have been incompatible with the "H" sets. Does that make any sense? The H2 set box lid gives a good clue. It states: "A Strombecker "dual volt" transformer provides the right power for the Low-volt Strombecker motors, as well as 12-volt motors." This certainly implies that the track can be used for other than StromBecKer cars.Although credited with being the first to come out with U.S. made slot car sets, StromBecKer fizzled out quickly with the slot car set business, maintaining a sales period of probably no more than 12 to 14 months until selling to Dowst. This was an expensive failure.Oddly, Dowst, under the trade name "Strombecker Road Racing," produced a tether car (series?) in 1/24 scale using the same design principal as the first StromBecKer cars (2-piece body, motorized with no chassis). The cover page for the 1/24 scale Lotus-Ford and Pylon kit can be viewed by clicking here. This kit was used as an advertising premium and mailed in a plain box. The pylon is a plastic box using "D" cells.Play watercraft were also part of the StromBecKer line; the leaflet below shows the electric outboard models around 1960 which used on-board batteries. Kit number D2-129, 16 Ft. Sports Runabout with electric motor. This is a rather obscure kit, early in the "D" series injection molded product line.Also in 1960, StromBecKer made an Allis Chalmers 1960 D-Series tractor as seen below. StromBecKer also made the Allis Chalmers "D" Series tractor in a completed version for use by Allis Chalmers as a promotion item.30 ft. Pelican Class Auxiliary Sloop scale model. StromBecKer made an all-plastic, one piece hull racing sloop with an overall length of 26 inches and a height of 3 ft. 6 in. This sailing model also was equipped with a propeller and shafting. This model, Kit B1, sold for $24.50. Click on the flyer below for a full size, two-page color sales brochure for this kit. A previous sales flyer for StromBecKer plastic kits displayed a price of $27.95 for kit B-1.The StromBecKer Pelican 30' Auxiliary Sloop is a magnificent kit from the maker of wood toys and wood kits of ships, airplanes, trains etc. This kit came out in 1956 and wasn't widely advertised as far as I can tell. Priced at a whopping $24.50, it is understandable that it probably wasn't a popular hobby shop item - a dealer could stock a lot of less expensive kits for what this beauty cost. A huge box measuring 28" contains the very nicely molded one piece hull and all the components, most made from mahogany. A full size sail plan is included - in the kit pictured, the original owner expertly sewed the sails from the sail cloth provided- - the result looks professional. This kit cries out "build me."
As the 1960s began, Strombeck-Becker made a quiet exit from the toy business. Quoting from the March 15, 1981 Quad-City Times newspaper, in an article about Strombeck Manufacturing Co. entitled "Where wood still reigns as king" with a subtitle, "Once it was toys and yo-yo's - now, ice bucket handles by the million", the author stated, "By 1962 though, inroads of foreign competition made toy manufacture unprofitable and it was abandoned." There is more to the story than that simple decision as we'll get to in the next section.DIVESTITURE OF THE STROMBECKER TOY LINE - As in any company of long standing, many corporate changes occur - some which the company wishes to publicize, others which don't make it into newspaper articles. The death of one founder and concurrent retirement of the other gave control of the company, in 1959, to the second generation, F.K. "Freddie" Strombeck.Along the corporate way, J.F.'s son Fred K. ("Freddie"), born in 1922, joined the firm and became vice-president (1943). R.D. Becker's brother, T.H. Becker, was at one time the CFO/Treasurer of the company and another brother, Paul, also became part of the firm as Sales Manager in the 1930s but died in a railroad accident in 1938. Correspondent Loree Paulson offered the following information about this accident (note her further comments in the "Comments" section below): " This was the famous New York Central Twentieth Century Limited wreck on the Horseshoe Curve in PA. He had been to the New York City toy show. My Dad worked in New York City and they met. Another Company person or persons were there (a Strombeck or Becker?). This other person was flying home, but Paul Becker refused to fly because it was too dangerous." J.F. Strombeck died in 1959 (on a train while returning from a trip to Seattle for a Young Life board meeting)resulting in F.K. assuming duties as President and General Manager. Designer Andrew Bergstrand's son Harold became the chief designer by 1953 and they worked together on model projects. George Strombeck's son Vernon became a major stockholder in the company when George died, and Vernon later became president and chairman of the board, replacing Fred K. who died in 1972 (see obituary below). R.D. Becker's brother T.H. Becker continued as Company treasurer until his retirement in 1959. When J.F. Strombeck died in May,1959, there were undoubtedly some repercussions within the management and groundwork laid for change - and some bad decisions. But this corporate/family succession list is getting ahead of our story. J.F. Strombeck was a devout Christian, as was his family, and his sound business ethics, allegiance to the Moline community, and devotion to children's toys were probably related to his religious beliefs (my guess but I'm betting it's a good one). J.F. walked the walk in his belief, and over the course of the years (centering around about 1940), J.F. authored five extensive books on the subject of salvation - and this was while he was an executive of Strombeck-Becker. His books have been kept in print for years with reprints that I've found as late as 1991. Several quotations are offered from reviewers and publishers below to give you an idea of the man who was half of the team behind those kits that we enjoy collecting.Excerpted from "Disciplined by Grace" in a reprint by Kregel Publications: John Fredrick Strombeck (Dec. 6, 1881 - May 9, 1959) was a Christian businessman who placed his trust in the finished work of Christ early in life. Over the years he served the Lord as a director or advisor to the Belgian Gospel Mission, Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, etc. With a great desire to communicate the truth of God's grace, J.F. Strombeck authored 5 books: "So Great Salvation," "Shall Never Perish," "Grace and Truth," Disciplined by Grace," and "First the Rapture." Excerpted from a 1991 reprint of "Shall Never Prish: Eternal Security Examined", Arthur Farstad had this to say: You don't have to be a Bible College or seminary type to enjoy this book, and it will be a help to all your friends who need to know about eternal security. Warren Wiersbe writes in his foreward that he was blessed by reading this and other books by Strombeck as a young believer. This reviewer had the same experience. Born of pioneer Swedish stock in 1881, John Fredrick Strombeck went on to be a successful businessman who gave generously to Christian causes and spent his time writing and speaking to everyday Christians on controversial subjects in a sound and scriptural way.... Essentially Strombeck writes biblical theology for the masses and how they (and we all) need it! Denomininationally, he belonged to the Scandinavian-rooted Evangelical Free Church. If interested, you can access some of his material J.F.'s nephew Vernon started a religious bookstore in Moline and ran Strombeck Press or Strombeck Agency, Inc. which printed J.F.'s books in the 1950s. As mentioned above, Vernon later became president of Strombeck Manufacturing Co. Whoa! - you say, where did that corporate name come from - I thought it was Strombeck-Becker Mfg. Co.Different sources each tell part of the story but hesitate to put it all together - so here goes my compiled version. Strombeck-Becker Mg. Co. did drop out of the toy business in 1961; their toy line (mostly slot cars) was sold off for a pittance (but not the unpopular wood items). R.D. Becker "elected" to retire in 1959 and retained a seat on the board of directors. He received a $20 radio as a gift for his 48-years of dedication! Note that R.D.'s brother, T.H., was also retired in that same year. Apparently because of differences in management policies with the President, R.D. submitted a letter in February, 1961 resigning his seat on the board and declaring that he had disposed of his corporate stock in the company. At the same time, the company name was changed, eliminating the "Becker" and the corporate name became Strombeck Manufacturing Co. Vernon Strombeck stated in his interview for Swedes in Moline, Illinois that the plastics business and competition in the 1950s brought on "hard times." He said that they were $500,000 in debt and broke in 1962. Vernon borrowed money and paid off bills himself for the sake of the family name and kept the company afloat, though barely. The toy line sale in 1961 was insignificant and didn't help their financial situation at all in 1962. Vernon did not say anything about R.D. Becker's departure from the company, nor anything about his cousin, Fred K., the company's president.Strombeck Manufacturing Co. didn't sell the wood kit line as part of the Cosmo/Dowst deal as far as I can tell - only the trademarked name "Strombecker" and all of the plastic line. Probably as a means of bringing in some income during the "hard times" of the 60s, they produced a batch of jet kits, D-558, Sabre and F-94A, for Bersted's Hobby-Craft of Monmouth, Ill. (appears on the box only as "Bersted's")which were nicely packaged in sturdy lid boxes; decals in these kits indicate 1967. Since they had sold the "StromBecKer" name to Cosmo, these kits carried the "Woodline" label. These must have been the last wood airplane kits produced by the original company. Today these kits are valued less than the "real" StromBecKers, yet they are probably more historic. Railroad kits were also sold in plastic bags under the Woodline brand. It's possible that the Woodline kits were repackaged old stock. Early train kits also made it into the Woodline series - packaged in plastic bags.StromBecKer's first wood kit line (1934) and the last boxed kit series produced under the name of "Woodline" (1967).The Woodline kits, by Strombeck Mfg., of the late 1960s, had a simplified plan which did not have the familiar coupon for parts replacement that the earlier StromBecKer kits had. Nevertheless, Strombeck Mfg. honored requests for missing wood kit parts until the late 1960s and had a large inventory of kits, doll furniture and parts. As collectors of StromBecKer kits today, one wants to cry when the disposition of all those kits and parts is revealed in the paragraphs below. Correspondent Michael Kelly tells of his employment at Strombeck that time of "house cleaning" of the factory.I just found your website on Strombeck-Becker (Feb. 2011). I worked at the company from late 1966 until 1968 when I went into the Army and then returned for several months in 1970 until I found a more promising job. I worked in the shipping department and one of my jobs was to fill requests from people who had purchased Strombecker wooden kits. These requests were for missing or damaged parts from all of the different kits that Strombeck's had manufactured over the years. We had a very large storage rack in the shipping department that had all parts for all of the different model kits. Even at the late date that I worked there we had a constant influx of requests for parts from all over the world. When I returned from the service one of the first jobs I had to do was dispose of all of the existing inventory of model kit parts and doll furniture. They had a local waste hauler drop a dumpster off for me to fill with all these items. I filled the dumpster 4 times with the last of their inventory. They told me I could have it all if I wanted, wow! if I would have only known. I asked everyone I knew if they wanted any of these items, only one of my friends mother wanted a complete set of the doll furniture. Other than that one complete set everything else went into a dump or landfill, what a waste. I worked with many people at Strombeck's who had spent their whole working life there, most have passed away. I know just two other people that I still have occasional contact with. Hope this little bit of my history at Strombeck's is of interest to someone? I will let you know that it was one of the best places I ever worked (I just retired in May 2010), everyone treated you as one of the (Strombeck's) family. Whenever I find a piece at a local yard sale or antique mall I pick it up for myself.
In response to several questions, Michael added: The parts were from all their wooden model kits they produced, pre & post war. There was a card that was included in the kits that you were to mail in if you were missing pieces or if a part was damaged. People sent those cards in and some people even sent copies of those cards, I had to fill all requests for parts no matter what year the model was produced. There were a lot of the parts that fit into many different kits. The card said what kit they needed the part for and what part they needed. I filled their requests from a "Master" card that had all the different kits they produced and what part they were requesting. Wheels were one item that went into many different kits, if I remember correctly they went into planes, trains and a couple of the military items. I used to have several sets of the Strombeck model makers pins, but I can't find them at this time. Mr. Strombeck had written 6 or 7 religous books, I also had to fill orders that came in for his books. Many were purchased by church or church groups. The Strombecks also opened a book store in downtown Moline, Illinois (before I started to work there) and the requests for the books came to me from the bookstore. Which I then filled their request and mailed the desired book or books to the buyer. One year I got a Strombecker slot car set for Christmas and my sister destroyed it, so when I started at Strombeck's I asked and looked around for the slot cars and/or parts. My production manager (Ron Ferring) told me that management had sold off the entire slot car line including all the spare parts, I do not know whom they sold it to. The 3 people whom are still alive that worked there besides myself are Ron Ferring-production manager, Harley Cox, maintenace/setup man and his wife Cathy who was a machine operator. I do not know if any other people who worked there are still living or not, Harley had a serious stroke last summer and has had to retire from his current job. Let me know if I can answer any other questions, I will be glad to do so with the little knowledge I have.Strombeck Manufacturing Co. ceased to be a family business in 1980 when it was purchased by the Chicago Cutlery Co. Sometime following that sale, the operations ceased in Moline. A grandson of R.D. Becker, Mark Ingebretsen, along with his wife Karen, informed me that they visited Moline in 1992 and found that the old Strombeck Manufacturing building (51st Street and 4th Avenue - the assembly of kits and playthings had been conducted in plant no. 2 in downtown) was still standing - appropriately, one floor was being used for slot car enthusiasts. Mark and Karen visited with Vivian Strombeck, an elderly relative, and contacted some local residents who remembered founders J.F. Strombeck and R.D. Becker.
Photo of remaining plant taken in 1998 by Bud Becker. Vivian Strombeck, mentioned above, was the older sister of Fred K. "Freddie" Strombeck (i.e. the daughter of J.F. Strombeck). Bud Becker visited her last in Moline in 1998 and she has since died. She was a close friend of Bud Becker's sister and in Bud's words, "a fine lady." Bud provided the photo below.Bud Becker's wife, Mary, Vivian Strombeck and Bud Becker in 1998.So who bought the toy line and why is there a company today ("today" being up to 11/1/04)with the name of Strombecker Corporation? It was appropriate that the StromBecKer toy line was purchased by the oldest toy manufacturer in the U.S. The company started as the National Laundry Journal trade paper in 1876 in Chicago, published by the Dowst Brothers Company. Samuel Dowst saw the new Mergenthaler Linotype machine at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago (sound familiar?) and found that it could manufacture the collar buttons etc. that Dowst was already making - it led to the manufacture of metal novelties and the first die-cast toy car in 1906, a Model T Ford. Charles O. Dowst's grandaughter "Toots" became the namesake for the now famous TOOTSIETOY in 1924. A Chicago businessman, Nathan Shure, owner of Cosmo Manufacturing Co., was making competitive products - in 1926 Cosmo bought Dowst and the Shure family has owned the line since then. Cosmo/Dowst bought the Strombecker toy line in 1961 and TOOTSIETOY became a division of the Strombecker Corporation. However, more recently, Strombecker, as a corporate entity, has finally vanished. It was announced on November 1, 2004 that the Strombecker Corporation and Processed Plastic Company have merged their two companies into a new entity, Tootsietoy Corporation. "The combination of our two great toy companies will strengthen our ability to bring out the best, and most innovative, new toys," said Dan Shure, president of Strombecker, and David Bergman, president of Processed Plastic, in a joint statement. This merger was destined to be short-lived.Following on the heels of this merger, the latest in the checkered recent history of the Strombecker Corp. developed on July 15, 2005, putting to an end the name "Strombecker" on corporate rolls.Nine months after merging with the then-oldest surviving toy company in America, Strombecker Corp.-Tootsietoy, Processed Plastic Company sold its intellectual property assets to J. Lloyd International of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, under the terms of a state liquidation sale.The 129-year-old Strombecker was launched in 1876 and under the Tootsietoy line of brands included Hard Body die-cast and plastic vehicles, Mr. Bubbles, American West role-play and cap guns and Tootsietoy, among others."They were hoping the synergies of the two companies [Processed Plastic and Strombecker] would lift the two companies out of the doldrums-at least that was their theory," Wheeler (consultant who ran the liquidation sale) said. "Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Sales didn't come in as they hoped they would and they ran out of cash."J. Lloyd's principal, Jody Keener said, "We'll go forward with our sourcing to continue to manufacture and sell the product line." Good-bye and farewell to Strombecker.The slot-car products moved to Chicago in 1962 and you'll see the Strombecker Corp. address of 600 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago 24, Illinois on the Strombecker slot cars beginning in 1962. R.D. Becker wrote the following which can be said to be the epitaph of the StromBecKer kit line: "At the stockholders' meeting of March 17, 1961, it was reported that due to severe losses in recent years in the plastic field, it would be essential to the Company's survival that this line be discontinued. It was recommended that an agreement be entered into with the Dowst Manufacturing Company of Chicago in which the model kit tools be loaned to Dowst, including the road-racing sets; that the name of the Company be changed from Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company to Strombeck Manufacturing Company, that the trademark, trade names, and good-will connected with "STROMBECKER" and "STROMBECK-BECKER MANUFACTURING COMPANY" become the property of the Dowst Manufacturing Company. It was also decided to sell all or part of all equipment for the manufacture of plastic parts." Note that R.D. Becker had resigned from the board and disposed of his stock just the month prior to the decision to sell the plastic toy line to Cosmo/Dowst. To an outside observer, there breeds therein some dissension with the management of the company! R.D. returned to the board in 1963 as operations almost ceased until Vernon Strombeck intervened with an input of funds. R.D. Becker died in 1965.Frederick K. Strombeck died in 1972 at the age of 50. The following obituary is from the October 30, 1972 newspaper in Moline: Thanks to Donna Foster for the copy.Frederick K. Strombeck, Firm President, 50, Dies Frederick K. Strombeck, 50, of 1875 19th. Avenue, Moline, president of Strombeck Manufacturing Co.Mr. Strombeck was born in Moline and he married Delores Carlson May 7, in 1949.At the age of 11 he had invented the first pre-shaped model toy kits.Later he designed and developed the original slot car racing toy.From 1954 until 1952 An obituary in the Times-Democrat of Davenport-Bettendorf, Iowa, also mentions that "Mr. Strombeck developed the original slot car racing model. He sold the concept and name to a Chicago firm now Strombecker Toy Co." Our collector interest in Strombeck-Becker ends in 1961. I would appreciate information or any corrections or additions or experiences you may have had with the Strombeck family or the Strombeck-Becker company or StromBecKer models. This website is "alive" and can be fed constantly.Note: In writing this, I became enamored with the triple capitalization, "StromBecKer", which became a trade-logo for the company. However, correctly, I should not have used this form after about 1954/55 when kits began to appear with "Strombecker", and then "STROMBECKER" for the last of the line. An interesting technicality. COMMENTS FROM INTERESTED PARTIES - This section will be devoted to reprinting comments from viewers of this website. Personal experiences with Strombecker or their models are solicited along with any related material. These comments are not in any particular order. If you would like to add your "Strombeckerania," use the response link in left column.As a youth, Halvor recalls building StromBecKer models. As the Korean War came along, he enlisted in the USAF and became a physical therapist at Lackland AFB - wanting to work on aircraft, he eventually became a B-36 mechanic at Eglin AFB (six engines, 56 sparkplugs per engine!). Following his discharge, Halvor attended chiropractic college in Davenport, Iowa (1956-60) and, while a student, began a business making industrial models using his model building skills. The Ramsey Advertising Agency in Davenport handled the Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company account. Halvor contracted to do some model work for the agency and he built a number of battery-powered salesman's models of a vent fan system used for industrial air moving.He was interested in ground-effect machines at this time and visited with a Dr. Bertleson in Illinois concerning his research into this type of vehicle. Halvor developed a small ground-effect model using a .049 Cox engine and a plenum-style lifting device and he used the same impeller stamping that he had incorporated into the fan model. The model consisted of two vacuum-formed shells with the engine mounted on the lower shell. The model was "free flight" with no control. He showed the completed model to a representative from the Ramsey agency who then got Halvor in touch with Fred Strombeck just a year or two before the 1961 sale of the StromBecKer name and plastic toy business. Halvor went to Fred's office in Moline and demonstrated the ground-effect model in a hallway where it motored and careened through the office corridor. Fred was impressed and asked Halvor what he wanted for the project package. Halvor thought $700 sounded like a lot and, when proposed, Fred bought the model right there.StromBecKer never went into production on the ground-effect model but Halvor got a contract to do some screen printing on some of the toy wood trains. Once out of school, Halvor began a business creating anatomical models for the chiropractic profession which he maintained for 30 years before retiring. He has built several ultralight airplanes and a Rutan Quicky I and continues to have an interest in radio-controlled models.

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