Thomas and Friends Merchandise - Railway Systems - Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway - History, Design and Construction

History, Design and Construction

The company "Learning Curve" was founded by John W. Lee in Chicago, 1992. In 2003 the company was acquired by "Racing Champions Ertl" that was renamed in the same year to "RC2". Learning Curve introduced some new designs for the track surface of wooden toy railways, such as the "Clicketyclack" rails patented in 1995 and the newer tracks with a relief to supply better traction grip for battery powered trains patented in 2003. They also introduced a road track that uses the same gauge as the railway tracks.

The original models were constructed mainly from painted wood, with metal used in the coupling magnets and axles, and plastic wheels and faces. These models were relatively primitive having simple wooden stubs for the funnel and dome. Details such as windows, whistles and buffer beams were omitted.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), the models were upgraded. The wooden funnel and painted smokebox were replaced with a separate plastic smokebox with a more realistic-looking funnel. The tender engines received an additional upgrade of moulded plastic 'coal'.

These improved designs were manufactured until 2002 when they were replaced with a third generation of design, which included new and more detailed faces.

Learning Curve continues to expand its lineup of locomotives, rolling stock and locations, although older, less popular, items are 'retired' when appropriate. Every year, beginning in 2003, 1-3 retired models are re-released, with upgraded, more realistic shape and paint. These models are only available for one year.

Read more about this topic:  Thomas And Friends Merchandise, Railway Systems, Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway

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