Sidebar: Importers on the Cusp
These importers arrived at the scene on or right after my cutoff. There are probably others I've yet to identify.
Lou and Sol Kramer were interested in model airplanes, and founded Burd Model Airplane Manufacturing Company in the 1930s. World War II ended production, so they formed Kramer Brothers Hobbies to sell model cars. When they began making Styrofoam tunnels under the brand name Life-Like Products, they were inspired to use the process to manufacture ice chests and coolers, and in the 1950s established Lifoam Industries. The Kramers then bought the old Varney company in the 1960s and was releasing HO Scale trains by 1970 under the Life-Like Trains brand. Around the same time, they rebranded Mehano N Scale trains as well as Bachmann, Faller and Heljan kits; later they sold Chinese knock-offs and eventually produced some unique models of their own. Their N Scale line eventually became fairly extensive, but of highly variable quality. Life-Like finally sold the model train division to Walthers in 2005 to focus on foam insulation products; Walthers still uses the Life-Like trademark.
Michael Tager, cited as having worked for Athearn, Atlas, Aurora, K-F Industries, Mantua, Matchbox and probably others, launched American Train & Track Corp. in 1957 at the former offices of a Canadian-American distributor of Tri-ang in New York City; Model Power emerged from the collapse of ATT in 1970. Model Power then either bought or merged with American Tortoise Inc., moved to ATI's headquarters in Farmingdale, NY, and became the North American distributor for Minitrix. They also began importing/rebranding products from the likes of Faller, Mehano, Pola, Roco, Röwa and probably a whole bunch more—they became the great recycler of old tooling. Model Rectifier Corporation now owns Model Power.
Little is known about Parkway Industries of Cleveland. They existed from around 1960 to the mid-1970s, and owned two Hobby House stores in Cleveland. Parkway had a penchant for repackaging an interesting mix of items; one of their earliest success stories was the Road, Rail & Race Set from the early 1960s, which consisted of an Aurora Model Motoring racing set combined with a Tyco HO train set. Parkway began advertising repackaged N Scale products in 1970; their eclectic mix of items included Arnold/Revell train sets, Bachmann freight cars, and Faller building kits, where they merged three Faller kits into one, selling them all in the same box with four different possible combinations.
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