All About Aurora Postage Stamp Trains
Collectors such as myself and Bob Williams are like archeologists. There's little to no documentation on these products, and in light of the vintage, few original employees to ask. So, we must reconstruct history based on scant clues, which forces us to make certain assumptions.
Canadian train sets are quite rare, and also really complicated. Evidently, Trix first released Canadian locomotives and rolling stock in 1968, so it might be safe to assume these sets were all sold in 1968. However, while Canadian freight cars were Trix, they never showed up in the most genuine-looking sets. Also, 1967 and 1968 domestic train sets had different contents and different numbering schemes, and there's a mix of both 67 and 68 set contents and numbering represented here.
It's possible Aurora just shipped a whole bunch of random packaging and products to Canada and let them do whatever with them, but unless we can track down someone who worked there, we'll never know. Personally, I believe all of the packaging was done in the US, especially since the sets that included power packs had American packs instead of Canadian ones, and that they stuffed the boxes with whatever was convenient (they're known to have done the same with domestic sets), which would explain most of the inconsistencies.
But based on the condition of the sets that appear for sale, it's challenging to assess their authenticity. So, consider these as typical examples of what you'll find floating around out there, as opposed to genuine articles. Incidentally, things were very different in 1969, when Aurora's Canadian distributor is known to have created very different set packaging themselves.
Although the set number, trays and contents are all from 1967, I would consider the set below to be genuine, especially since the images were posted by the original owner.
Note that the set below contains a Canadian Pacific cattle car and gondola. It also has a 67 vintage left tray, and 68 right tray with proper 68 freight car assortment, but with a 67 cover sheet! Since it's not shrink-wrapped, anything could have happened to it. Therefore, I consider this set to be highly suspect. Courtesy of Bob Williams.
The problem with the set below is the same as above: it has a 67 vintage left tray, a 68 right tray and freight car assortment, but with a 67 cover sheet. Since it's not shrink-wrapped, anything could have happened to it, although the fact that it has no Canadian freight cars is encouraging. So, I consider this set to be somewhat suspect. Courtesy of Bob Williams.
This set has multiple issues. It has a 67 left tray and a 68 right tray that contains a Canadian Pacific hopper—I've never seen a bookshelf box set with a hopper—and a flatcar in the gondola slot. Also, the label on this box is wrong: 220 is the road code for Santa Fe. And since it's not shrink-wrapped, anything could have happened to it. Therefore, I consider this set to be highly suspect. Courtesy of Bob Williams.
This Little Donkey set was spotted on eBay, but only the box label was captured. The label with "No." as part of the box artwork is quite rare; I've only ever seen them on prototype sets. The set number is 68 era, and the road code is correct. Courtesy of Bob Williams.
This Cannon Ball set has the same unique label as the Donkey set, but the road code sticker appears to have fallen off; also, the set number sticker covers another one. Despite the 68-era set number, both trays and all contents are 67. The fact that it has no Canadian freight cars is encouraging, and the dummy diesel is genuine. The shrink wrap may not be original, so I'll ignore it. Courtesy of Bob Williams.
This set might be genuine, although it's hard to tell since the shrink wrap may or may not be original. Everything to do with the set is all 68 vintage, and the fact that it has no Canadian freight cars is also encouraging; the lack of road code is minor in the scheme of things. Courtesy of Bob Williams.
The set number, trays and contents are all 67 vintage. It includes a Canadian Pacific boxcar, gondola and flatcar, which is unusual, but the big problem is that the right side tray was (crudely) modified to accept a flatcar with a brake wheel, and generally flatcars with brake wheels were never included in any set; this alone leads me to suspect that it was probably re-wrapped. Also, the road code on the label is for Union Pacific, and the label was applied over a box marked for a Cannon Ball set. Therefore, I consider this set to be highly suspect. Courtesy of Bob Williams.
The label on the set below was purportedly 4803-212, but the set included a power pack, so the number should have been 4703-212. The set number, both trays and contents are all 67 vintage. The right tray cover sheet is flipped, but since it's not shrink-wrapped, anything could have happened to it. This leaves me somewhat suspicious, although the dummy diesel is genuine, and the images were supposedly posted by a relative of the original owner; the fact that it has no Canadian freight cars is also encouraging.
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Postage Stamp Trains is a Trademark of the Aurora Plastics Corporation.