A marketing debacle in the late 1950s, the Lionel Girls' Model Train Set is a sought-after collectors item today.
Should a Girl's Train Be Different?In 1957 Lionel came up with the bright idea that model trains could be for girls too. Heedless of the fact that any girl who wanted a model train would want their train to be realistic, just like the boys did, Lionel introduced their now famous Girl's Set, an electric train set in various pastel hues. This was a marketing disaster.
Perfect For a Little Girl's Bedroom
The Girls' Set was three-rail O27 electric train set with a pink 2-6-4 steam locomotive and tender. It included a string of the following pastel hued cars:
- Robin's Egg Blue New York Central Pacemaker Boxcar
- Buttercup Yellow Missouri-Kansas-Texas Boxcar
- Pink New York Central Gondola with Barrels
- Lavender Lehigh Valley Hopper
- Pennsylvania Sky Blue Illuminated Caboose
Whatever Happened to Girls Sets?Sales of these trains were so dismal in 1957 and 1958 that there are stories of dealers painting them in order to get them to sell. But years later their rarity turned them into collectors items. In 1991 Lionel reissued them just for collectors. In 2006, under the Williams brand name, Lionel offered a replica Girls' set and a second Girls' set as well. This second set had the same freight cars and caboose with a pink GG-1 locomotive instead of the 2-6-4 steamer and tender. I read that in 2004 an original 1957 edition Girls' Set sold at auction for over $16,000. I guess you can't call them unpopular anymore.