N Scale Nostalgia: Trix 1972 Katalog

1972...what a year.  Do you realize it was almost 40 years ago? So what would life have been like for our great ancestors who were alive at the time?  What would they model? What tools and practices would they apply?

Surprisingly, they will probably be using the exact same darn stuff we have today.  Especially if you buy from Minitrix!

The other thing you'll discover is that, well, it was a different time, indeed.  Apparently it wasn't just the hip rock scene that was 'dropping out'....take a look at these wacky psychedelic graphics that permeated this 1972 catalog!
Can you say groovy?  Was N scale really that cool back then or was it just Minitrix ("go pound sand you Roco nerds!"?  Sadly, these are mysteries that none of us will ever know.  And if you do claim that you 'know', please note that I have evidence of psychedelic graphics in your so-called 'train catalog', so your memories are...well, a bit suspect.

So taking a gander (as the kids used to say back then) at this catalog, we see something we see in catalogs today....icons that signify a specific feature or function. Guess what the below icon means?  It means "New", it took me a minute despite the fact that I know "neu" means what it sounds like in English as well as German!  But the font in the graphic? Its more like the security codes you need to enter to post a comment!
Anyway, getting into the actual content...on the first page you are introduced to this interesting scene....yes its a train being packed in with kids holding their Minitrix boxes!  But I have to say, that conductor dude is one scary character....doesn't he look a bit like this guy?  And check out the hat on that lady (!) ...is she their teacher? Mother? Some sort of supernatural witch that haunts the 'bahnsteig" to entice young children to trade their Minitrix sets for East German Piko sets?  We will never know.
Your probably wondering, "Hey, man, we know all about that scene, what about the loco's, man? The LOCOS!?"  Funny, because the trains are pretty much...exactly what we have today.  Yep, 40 years on and the catalog is pretty much made up of the exact items we have in the shops right now.  Well, they look really similar....
Okay, I'm being too cynical, and your probably right, I mean, Minitrix surely isn't using the same casting on its Nohabs that it was 40 years ago could it?  I mean, they are owned by MARKLIN! Surely that means that all modern Minitrix trains are the second best trains (or anything) on the whole planet (MARKLIN! being first, of course)!
And yet, there are some hidden gems in this old catalog....for example, there you see at the bottom two electric locomotives that today are still highly sought after.  They are both basically the same, except one is in the colors of SNCF  (France) and the other in the colors of the NS (Norfolk Southern, who strangely enough operate a railroad in Holland!).  How do I know they are sought after? Because they are darn hard to find...its like every modeler of both the NS (okay, the REAL NS...Nederlandse Spoorswegen, not that copy-cat branch line that runs on the East Coast of the US!) and SNCF are crawling eBay each and every day to outbid each other in their desperate attempts to get their hands on one of these little gems!
So what is the asking price for one of these NS 1100 items (Old Minitrix Catalog Number 51-2933-00)?  The 1972 Prijslist (that's "Price List" for all you non-Dutch speakers) is for 67,50.  I'm assuming that's in Dutch Guilders.  And yes, the 'comma' (for my American / Canadian, and other frontier cultures)  is intentional; they use a 'comma' where we use a decimal point....perhaps they appreciate the nice pause that a comma gives to a sentence and recognize that this is a useful feature to be had when quoting a number?  I think its a great idea!

Back to my point....so I tried to determine what the 1972 exchange rate to USD would be for 67,50 Guilders, and I couldn't find anything.  I was really curious to find out if the average eBay price for one of these (nice ones for $150, well used $75 or so?) would represent a good investment of those 67,50 Guilders 40 years ago.  If anyone can figure that out, I think it would be interesting.

This tells me something else, if there's so much (apparent) demand for these old (and by today's standards, poorly detailed, painted, and antique mechanics, although not as bad as some from the same era as they still run well) why on earth wouldn't you re-release these models again?   Yes, I know its expensive to do all the CAD, production, etc... for a new model (I don't know HOW expensive though), but given the investment in some really niche modern releases, I have to imagine that the big German companies are missing HUGE markets.  But, what do I know?

Here's something from the catalog that basically defined the Minitrix brand in my mind since I was a child....that ubiquitous U30CG!  Yeah, remember when every Class 1 railroad in the US had one of these?  Seriously, I've always thought this was a very unusual choice for Minitrix to make for one of its few US models (if you didn't follow the link to Wikipedia, only about 10 were made, and only Sante Fe had them).   On the other hand, I love it...its ugly enough to be cool in my opinion!  And it also doesn't look like anything else in the US, so its got a real distinctiveness to it that I like.
Flipping forward a few pages....we get to see a couple of cool posters Trix had out at the time.  I wonder how they look with a black light? In all seriousness, this was cool....giving away posters that are kind of hip?  Why don't they do that today?
By page 34 we get to the REAL international flavor of ye olde' Minitrix of the 1970's!  Two F-Units in the color schemes of the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific!  Unfortunately, while the catalog makers place a cute little flag next to every little non-German train throughout the catalog, for some reasons there is no Maple Leaf flag on these two trains sets? Perhaps it wasn't clear to the editors of this catalog exactly which country the CANADIAN National or CANADIAN Pacific were located in. 
In addition to the self-promoting posters that Trix was providing, they have little pictures of apparently real railway posters throughout the catalog.  In fact, I think these are pretty darn cool, and would not mind one bit having a few of these today.  Here's a scan of a few of them from several of the pages in the catalog:
The Swiss were well represented in the above set, while below we see some from Scandinavia....

A few German posters....I really like the poster in the center.

That's it for trains...the remaining pages showcase the track and other accessories (again, the same exact things that are in their catalog today....40 years later!  Can you think of any other company on the planet that can acutally do that! What a business!) until we arrive a whole new world.

At the end of the catalog, we leave the world of trains and enter the world of desperate toy-maker diversification schemes...okay, that's not nice, cause these actually look pretty neat.  They basically seem to be very similar to the Erector sets that were popular in the US.  Kind of neat, and an unusual item marketed by Trix that I wasn't aware of.
A more detailed view of this line of products.....
Okay, that ends this diversionary post that is a look back at the products of days long past.  Well, not really, as a lot of this is still sold new.  That amazes me.  Anyway, hope you like this, I have a lot of fun looking at these old photos and I hope you enjoyed it too! 

UPDATE: More related info this post here.


  1. I remember when the starter sets were in those yellow boxes, and affordable enough to be an impulse buy ;)

    My first Minitrix set (NS-1100 + 3 passenger cars, large transformer, oval with siding) was such an impulse buy. I remember it costing about 100 Dutch Guilders at the time :)

  2. Thanks for sharing those memories Martijn! We never saw those big yellow boxes here in the US (at least at typical hobby shops), just the smaller American prototypes.

    For curiosity, do you know the currency exchange of 100 Dutch Guilders to US back then?

  3. Can't remember, but I do know the dollar was always fairly strong agains the guilder, so I would say 1 dollar was at least 2.5 guilders.

  4. That´s a great post Jerry :) They just don't make those catalogues like that any more!
    Funny, I just got my first 'mainline' N scale train a few weeks ago.. a second hand Minitrix NS 1100 :D

  5. Man, that's pretty awesome. What I want to know is, what's the conductor dude hiding behind that table of contents?

  6. @Martijn: The price list that came with the catalog lists the 1022 (the SNCF version of the NS 1030 set) at "120,00", which sounds like you got a bit of a discount! If your currency exchange is correct, then the set would have cost about $40 USD...which does make this a great price for an impulse buy!

    It also makes me think of what a great investment this set was! I can easily image a NIB/OVP of the NS1030 set getting at least $200 USD on eBay today!

    @Jes - Curious...how much did you pay for that? They tend to go pretty fast on eBay. I paid 118,00 Euros (around $150!) for the 1127 (Yellow/Gray) last summer. Still waiting to convert it to DCC.

    @ Don: Yes...let's be thankful for the Table of Contents being where it is!

    Thanks to everyone for your comments...I'm glad others enjoy this little sidetrack to our hobby!

  7. Jerry, I payed 70 euros for my 1127, but that included two VAM cars and shipping. I tend to avoid ebay for any Dutch rolling stock. Marktplaats.nl is usually a little cheaper. I guess most sellers would be willing to ship abroad.

  8. Jerry, the starter sets are often good value to start with, so it wouldn't surprise me if a starter set is cheaper than just the loco inside the starter set. Often starter sets also have a different road number than the standalone loco, in which case a lot of people end up buying both.

    Also, I think we might have bought it right after the xmas season, which generally means they're selling left overs at a nice discount.

    Jes, Dutch models often go for more than they're worth on Marktplaats. The only exceptions are the more common loco's. Since the 1100 was in a starter set, it was sold quite a lot, but by now many of them are just too old.

    As for sellers on Marktplaats shipping international or not, there's always the option to have someone act as an in-between :)

  9. Martijn, whether on ebay or marktplaats, it's just a matter of knowing what the product is worth before bidding. Many loco's go for much more than they're worth, but in general I've been lucky many more times on marktplaats than on ebay. It's usually a good idea to contact the seller to get a deal before others have placed bids.

  10. Jes, okay, I'm jealous. 70 Euros. Yikes! I've browsed a bit on Marktplaats, but have always been a little intimidated by the interface/process for bidding. I did get a couple of Faller 2293 buildings from there, but that was my last success. I think the hassle of shipping to the US is not worth it for a lot of those sellers. I can understand it too. Do I want to have to fill out a customs form (which means waiting in line at the Post Office) or print a shipping label right at home and just drop the package off? Its an easy choice for most of us!