The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On the 1939 Blow-Smoke photos of the Scale-Craft Train Sets

Very recently, thanks actually to a tip (thank you!) I was able to purchase a complete set of the Scale-Craft Blow-Smoke newsletters. The first issue dates to May of 1938 and the last was published in the Spring of 1941. As now I had originals to scan I updated most of the articles in my Blow-Smoke series (it starts here) but was particularly taken by these two images which I would like to highlight.

These are photos published in volume 2, No. 2 of Blow-Smoke, for the Fall of 1939. I had only seen them previously in Xerox so to see them now, especially the scanned version blown up a bit larger on a computer, is quite interesting. Click on either photo for that larger view.

The first thing that just jumps out even more clearly is these are both pre-photoshop image manipulations. Basically each photo is at least two photos. One photo is of the OO set being illustrated running on S-C track. Inside of that is a smaller image of the set boxes and track and such. It is actually a bit jarring to me even now as really it looks kind of like a OO set and a N gauge set, the scale relationship is very odd. But those models most certainly are all Scale-Craft OO models, even if it feels uncomfortable to me to look at the kit parts (tank car and passenger car) and then look at the finished car in the background (!) so much larger. It must have taken some skill to produce these promotional images back in that day.

Moving past that though, these photos have a real "wow" factor and other than a few still images from a movie (seen in this article) are the only images we have of these extremely rare sets, offered in passenger and freight versions. With the die-cast models and sectional track on a metal base they were quite a product when introduced in 1937!

For more details on these sets see this article on Vintage American OO Train Sets, which was updated tonight as well.

As a final note, some years before the launch of this website there was a website where they had one of these sets listed for sale at a high price. I did not think to print it out but the site had a quirky title something like "Tom Turkey OO." I believe there probably are examples out there of these sets that were clearly on the market for several years. For sure one to keep eyes peeled for.

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