All About Postage Stamp Trains
Train Sets

Postage Stamp train sets constitute the messiest part of Aurora's product line and history. At best, the information I've accumulated so far is sketchy and incomplete—I feel like a paleontologist trying to piece together some prehistoric creature. While I acknowledge assumptions are risky, I don't have much choice, and I've done my best to make the most reasonable and defensible assumptions possible. Remember that the Internet was still decades away from existing, and no one was carefully documenting everything that happened at Aurora Plastics.

Locomotives, passenger cars and track were made by Trix in Western Germany, while freight cars were made by Roco in Austria and branded for Trix. Power packs were made in USA by an unknown source. Set packaging was made in USA by Aurora.

1967: An Organized Start

Initially four sets were offered: Fast Freight, Little Donkey, Cannon Ball and the Transcontinental Express. Each set was available in one of four road names: Union Pacific, Santa Fe, Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio. Packaging consisted exclusively of the iconic bookshelf box.

Aurora used the same catalog number for all sets of a given type, and added what I call a "road code" (a three-digit suffix) to indicate the road name. They applied the same numbering scheme to locomotives and rolling stock. It would appear that at least one Canadian train set was released.

1968: Scaling Back

Aurora revised their train set line in 1968 by modifying existing sets and adding a new one. The consist of the Fast Freight was switched around; the Cannon Ball and Transcontinental Express double-headers became single-headers; and the Little Donkey lost a freight car. The O-Six-O Freighter was the newcomer. Packaging was still exclusively bookshelf boxes.

Aurora also changed their numbering scheme: each set type and road name combination now had a unique catalog number. This change was carried over to their locomotives, but not their rolling stock.

Road name options were cut in half: Fast Freight, Cannon Ball and Transcontinental Express sets came in Santa Fe and Penn Central only. The new O-Six-O Freighter was offered only in Santa Fe, and the Little Donkey had no road name options at all. Plus, Aurora significantly reduced the amount of track included in sets, slashing the straight section count from ten to four pieces (actually three plus a new rerailer).

1969: Entropy Wins

In 1969 Aurora went in the opposite direction from the year before, adding a whole slew of new sets featuring the three new locomotives Trix had introduced: the FM switcher, the GE U-28 and the 4-6-2 Pacific. However, it appears these sets (grey rows) were never released, possibly owing to production delays and/or Aurora's change in ownership and management. Adding to the confusion, they changed the names of sets having power packs.

Although details on this era are murky at best, it appears that Aurora released a number of sets not listed in their 1969 catalog (highlighted in yellow). These have road codes grafted onto existing road-specific catalog numbers. My suspicion is that this was done because Aurora was overstocked with train sets in road names from their 1967 line-up. There may be more of them than are listed; I've only included those I've seen either in person or in clear, unambiguous photos.

Packaging was still bookshelf boxes, although the 1969 catalog revealed the introduction of a flat box, which appears to have been created exclusively for a Canadian train set sold through Aurora's Canadian distributor, Aurora Plastics of Canada, Ltd.

1970-1972: The Great Unknown

Piecing together Postage Stamp Train sets in the early 1970s is akin to reconstructing an entire skeleton from a few teeth. I'm going out on a limb by assuming 1970 marked the appearance of the big yellow-and-black flat boxes. I'm going further out on said limb to suggest C.J. Bubla, Inc., a long-gone hobby and crafts distributor in Long Island, took over distribution of the Postage Stamp Train sets.

Most of the sets from this era were the same ones as before, just in different boxes. However, a dealer order sheet from C.J. Bubla includes four unusual "P.S.T. Special Sets" (tan rows), which were packaged in customized yellow-and-black flat boxes, and contained unique combinations of locomotives, rolling stock, track and accessories.

The order sheet is telling in that it confirmed my suspicions about the sets that were never released (grey rows), save for one: 4760, "Mighty Mammoth," was not crossed off the order sheet. Since their 4752 Special Set featured a Pacific, it's possible C.J. Bubla was able to make these sets. However, I've yet to see evidence it exists, and until I do, the row will remain grey.

1973: The Last Hurrah

In 1973, Postage Stamp Train sets reappeared on the market in nice new boxes bearing an American 4-4-0 and Aurora's new block letter logo, a visual reminder the company was under new ownership. The sets themselves were still the same as those from 1968-69, complete with the same foam trays and even the old set names, e.g. "Rattler." It was something of a return to form, if only briefly, since this appears to be the end of the line for Postage Stamp trains.

Although PST trains may have been dead, there was one last very brief, strange reappearance in the model railroading market. However, please note that, out of necessity, much of this information is speculative. As always, I welcome feedback.

Train Set Index

PP = power pack
BB = bookshelf box
FY = yellow-and-black flat box
FA = American 4-4-0 (1973) flat box

NOTE: Checked (√) set types indicate they've been confirmed to exist, not their official release status; there will likely be additions in the future as more sets are found.

Cat #

MSRP

Road Name

Set Name

Release

PP

BB

FY

FA

unknown

 

Canadian National

Shell Oil Promotional Set

1969?

?

 

 

 

4701-210

31.95

Union Pacific

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

4701-220

31.95

Santa Fe

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

4701-230

31.95

Pennsylvania

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

4701-240

31.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

4702-210

31.95

Union Pacific

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

4702-220

31.95

Santa Fe

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

4702-230

31.95

Pennsylvania

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

4702-240

31.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

4703-210

34.95

Union Pacific

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

4703-220

34.95

Santa Fe

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

4703-230

34.95

Pennsylvania

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

4703-240

34.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

4704-210

34.95

Union Pacific

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

4704-220

34.95

Santa Fe

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

4704-230

34.95

Pennsylvania

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

4704-240

34.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

4707

 

Canadian Pacific

Diesel Freight Set

1969

 

 

 

4709

27.50

Santa Fe

P.S.T. Special Set

1970?

 

 

4710

20.00

Lil' Donkey Switcher

1968

 

 

 

4711

22.50

Santa Fe

Fast Freight

1968

 

 

 

4712

22.50

Penn Central

Freight

1968

 

 

 

4714

25.00

Santa Fe

Cannon Ball

1968

 

 

 

4715

25.00

Penn Central

Cannon Ball

1968

 

 

4716

25.00

Pennsylvania

O-Six-O Express Freighter

1968

 

 

 

4716

25.00

Santa Fe

O-Six-O Express

1969

 

 

4717

27.50

Santa Fe

Transcontinental Express

1968

 

 

 

4717-240

 

Baltimore & Ohio

Transcontinental Express

1969?

 

 

 

4718

27.50

Penn Central

Express

1968

 

 

 

4719

30.00

unspecified

P.S.T. Special Set

1970?

 

 

4720

27.50

Lil' Donkey Switcher*

1968

4721

29.95

Santa Fe

Fast Freight*

1968

4722

29.95

Penn Central

Freight*

1968

4722-230

 

Pennsylvania

Rattler

1969

 

 

4724

32.50

Santa Fe

Cannon Ball*

1968

 

4725

32.50

Penn Central

Cannon Ball*

1968

 

4726

32.50

Pennsylvania

O-Six-O Express Freighter

1968

 

4726

32.50

Santa Fe

O-Six-O Express

1969

4726-240

 

Baltimore & Ohio

O-Six-O Express

1969?

 

4727

35.00

Santa Fe

Transcontinental Express*

1968

4727-220

 

Santa Fe

Golden Spike Express

1969

 

 

4727-240

 

Baltimore & Ohio

Golden Spike Express

1969

 

 

4728

35.00

Penn Central

Express*

1968

 

Cat #

MSRP

Road Name

Set Name

Release

PP

BB

FY

FA

4732

25.00

Santa Fe

Tower Switcher

1969

 

 

 

 

4733

25.00

Milwaukee

Tower Switcher

1969

 

 

 

 

4734

25.00

Penn Central

Tower Switcher

1969

 

 

 

 

4735

25.00

Union Pacific

Tower Switcher

1969

 

 

 

 

4736

27.50

Santa Fe

Road Special

1969

 

 

 

 

4737

27.50

Penn Central

Road Special

1969

 

 

 

 

4738

27.50

Louis. & Nash.

Road Special

1969

 

 

 

 

4739

27.50

Northern Pacific

Road Special

1969

 

 

 

 

4742

32.50

Santa Fe

Yard Hog

1969

 

 

 

4743

32.50

Milwaukee

Yard Hog

1969

 

 

 

4744

32.50

Penn Central

Yard Hog

1969

 

 

 

4745

32.50

Union Pacific

Yard Hog

1969

 

 

 

4746

35.00

Santa Fe

Main Liner

1969

 

 

 

4747

35.00

Milwaukee

Main Liner

1969

 

 

 

4748

35.00

Penn Central

Main Liner

1969

 

 

 

4749

35.00

Union Pacific

Main Liner

1969

 

 

 

4750

40.00

Pennsylvania

Rocky Mountain

1969

 

 

 

 

4751

40.00

unspecified

P.S.T. Special Set

1970?

 

 

4752

50.00

unspecified

P.S.T. Special Set

1970?

 

 

4760

47.50

Pennsylvania

Mighty Mammoth

1969

 

 

 

4801-210

24.95

Union Pacific

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

 

4801-211

 

Canadian National

Diesel Freight Set

1967?

 

 

 

4801-220

24.95

Santa Fe

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

 

4801-230

24.95

Pennsylvania

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

 

4801-240

24.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Fast Freight

1967

 

 

 

4802-210

24.95

Union Pacific

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

 

4802-220

24.95

Santa Fe

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

 

4802-230

24.95

Pennsylvania

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

 

4802-240

24.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Little Donkey

1967

 

 

 

4803-210

29.95

Union Pacific

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

 

4803-220

29.95

Santa Fe

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

 

4803-230

29.95

Pennsylvania

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

 

4803-240

29.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Cannon Ball

1967

 

 

 

4804-210

29.95

Union Pacific

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

 

4804-220

29.95

Santa Fe

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

 

4804-230

29.95

Pennsylvania

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

 

4804-240

29.95

Baltimore & Ohio

Transcontinental Express

1967

 

 

 

*NAME CHANGES: Beginning in 1969, sets with power packs received new names, while sets without power packs retained their pre-1969 names.

Without Power Pack

With Power Pack

Lil' Donkey Switcher

Donkey Freight

Penn Central Freight and Fast Freight

Rattler

Cannon Ball

High Iron

Penn Central Express and Transcontinental Express

Golden Spike Express

Buyer alert: Most people have no clue what should be in one of these train sets, so unless you're just interested in the box, carefully compare the set's contents with what's shown on the detail pages in this section to be sure it contains what it should. More recommendations here.

See Also...

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