Company Profile: Bachmann

History in a Nutshell

Founded in 1833 by Henry Carlisle, the company originally specialized in vanity products such as parasol handles and combs. In 1899, Carlisle merged his firm with a competing firm run by Henry G. Bachmann, and changed its name to Bachmann Bros. By 1912 they began experimenting in plastics, and in 1927 they became the first American manufacturer of sunglasses, under the brand name Solarex. About this time they moved their plant to Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the Kader Company was established in 1948 to make models and toys for export around the world. In 1952, Kader made the first model trains for Bachmann; this relationship continued until 1984, when Kader acquired Bachmann. Under the Bachmann brand, Kader began purchasing failing companies: they bought Liliput in 1992, and Graham Farish in 2000.

In the mid-1960s, Bachmann took note of the sudden popularity of N Scale model railroading, and by 1968-69 was manufacturing their own line of N Scale products, giving them the distinction of being one of the first domestic manufacturers of N Scale (although their products were made in Hong Kong). In 1970, Bachmann then entered the HO Scale model trains market—the reverse of the norm. In 1988 they started to produce G Scale train sets called Big Haulers, and in 2007 they purchased the Williams Electric Trains company, allowing them to expand into the O scale market. Bachmann now makes products in N, HO, O, On30 and G Scales.

Along the way, Bachmann also manufactured many other hobby items, including plastic models of animals, airplanes, slot cars, military models, and toy robots. But by the 1990s they'd dropped most or all of these lines to concentrate on model trains. In 1992, production moved from Hong Kong to a Chinese government joint-venture plant in Dongguan, China, although the company is Bermuda-registered and Chinese-owned yet still headquartered in Hong Kong. Bachmann Industries in the US is currently only engaged in marketing and distribution.

N Scale Products

Bachmann announced their entry into the N Scale market in 1968, although they didn't have any finished products to shoot for their first catalog, which has HO Scale "stand-ins." Unlike their competitors, Bachmann's N Scale line was exclusively North American, and included a number of unusual items such as the Turbo Train. Unfortunately, product quality was—and remains—highly variable, ranging from cheap toys to some of the best models on the market.

Some of their products have been rebranded by AHM, Con-Cor, Busch, Parkway, Revell and others. Also, for reasons presently unknown, Bachmann sold some of their N Scale trains under the brand name Bronco.

Printed Matter

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