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Author Topic: Tyco: one of Bachmann's oldest rivals  (Read 19443 times)
wiley209

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« on: September 28, 2013, 06:20:08 PM »

Some of you may already know that I am often interested in vintage HO-scale products (and yes, vintage Bachmann is one of them.) Since the 1970s, Bachmann was one of the top HO train companies.
BUT... during the 1970s and up to the mid-1980s, Bachmann's biggest rival was... Tyco Toys!


Originally an offshoot of Mantua, Tyco was popular during the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. Tyco and Bachmann were the two big HO train manufacturers of the 1970s (HO was the ONLY scale Tyco manufactured trains in), and they both offered a wide variety of sets, locomotives and rolling stock, buildings and action accessories. (But Tyco never offered scenic/landscaping accessories like Bachmann first did in 1979.)

Tyco even had sets based off the Chattanooga Choo-Choo (years before the Bachmann version), the A-Team, G.I. Joe, Transformers, M.A.S.K. and Rambo.
Unlike Bachmann, Tyco never really offered locomotives based on the most latest models in use during this time (like the F40PH or the GP40.) Their building kits were also typically made by Pola in Europe, then rebranded by Tyco. They even offered building kits based off Pizza Hut, 7-Eleven, Burger King and a 7-UP Plant in the 1980s (some of these were also offered by A.H.M. around this time.)
Tyco even offered some rather unique products, like a large track expander set that featured blocking control and diagrams for a large 4x8 layout:


...to their TycoScene layout board of the 1980s!

It was sort of similar to the Bachmann Power House train set layout board of the 1980s, but designed more realistically, and could be expanded to support a 4x6 layout with a passing siding, and even had strategic placement of accessories. This layout board was often included with some of their train sets, and at the time was an innovative way for playing with HO trains on the floor, before today's roadbed track.
Tyco also offered some rather cool action accessories that still look pretty good on a layout today:


Just as Bachmann had some of their own exclusive action accessories in the 1970s and 1980s, Tyco also had their own as well. Some of these could also be used with Bachmann E-Z track with some modification.
During this time, Tyco's other big product was slot cars. Although Bachmann did make slot cars for a while, I don't think they were as popular as Tyco's, and were discontinued in the early 1980s. It was HO trains where Bachmann and Tyco really competed with each other.

As the 1980s went on, Bachmann was growing and Tyco was shrinking, partly due to the general loss of interest in model railroading as a kids' toy, and partly because by the late 1980s and early 1990s, their products could be seen as a joke in the model railroad market, especially compared to the more high-end stuff of the time like Bachmann's then-new Spectrum line. Tyco never had such an equivalent (like Life-Like did with their Proto 2000 line.) Tyco last offered HO-scale trains in 1993, and then finally went out of business in 1998 (their slot and RC cars were acquired by Mattel in 1997.)
Of course, Bachmann lived on, and is still a major player in the HO train market today. Tyco didn't even survive long enough to come out with a roadbed track to compete with Bachmann's E-Z Track!

Just to make a note, I actually like both Bachmann and Tyco's output they offered during that time. In fact, if I were making an HO-scale layout in 1979, even if I started with a Tyco train set, I would probably also be using Bachmann Plasticville kits and some of their action accessories, rolling stock and locomotives in conjunction with Tyco's equivalents (very much like my current layout, where I use a combination of different manufacturers' products.)
Though today Tyco locomotives can vary wildly in terms of operation. I only have two: a small Tyco diesel switcher and an 0-8-0 Chattanooga steam locomotive and tender car. The switcher runs really well, but the Chattanooga sometimes struggles due to its "PowerTorque" pancake motor.

I am also a member of the Tyco Collectors' Forum, since I like both Bachmann and Tyco's stuff.
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jbrock27

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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 07:04:16 PM »

I think you are leaving out a couple of other manufacturers who were big dogs at that time,  Wile E. CoyteSmiley

And as far as choosing a piece of rolling stock from that time, between TYCO and BACHMANN, I would take the TYCO over the candy colored BACHMANN.
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Doneldon

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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2013, 07:23:58 PM »

wiley-

The B'man and Tyco may have held most of the toy HO market, with considerable help from Life Like, but there were many, many other manufacturers. Athearn comes to mind as a giant which sold in both the toy and hobbyist markets. Bachmann successfully made the transition to quality products; Tyco didn't, nor did LL until its reincarnation as Proto. The majority of the other manufacturers are still around today except for lots of changes in the brass market as it moved first from Japan to Korea and then to China.

Your interest in the older product lines is, itself, interesting. I suggest that you see if your local library has old Model Railroader magazines, either in pulp or on fiche, as a way to learn more about the hobby in past years. If your lib is empty, MR has a DVD-ROM with all of its old issues although it's kind of pricey. There were some other mags, too, most notably Railroad Model Craftsman, but I doubt if any libraries have them. Well, perhaps some huge city systems might have them but I'd even question that. Acquainting yourself with the older press offerings should fill in some gaps in your knowledge and prove to be good reading.
                                                                                                                                                       -- D
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jbrock27

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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013, 07:25:50 PM »

I hate viewing Fiche!!
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jward


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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2013, 07:40:21 PM »

one major brand of train set quality equipment during this time waS ahm, later ihc.in their heyday, they were as widely sold as tyco, and probably bigger than Bachmann or lifelike. I can remember buying ahm stuff from jc penney back in the early 1970s.

athearn, on the other hand, was geared more towards more advanced modellers. it also ran far better than any of the train set makers locomotives and cars.

one wonders if some of the old tyco molds are still around, and if they could be upgraded to current standards with an 8 wheel frame mounted drive, and filled in pilots with body mounted couplers. they did offer some unique diesels.

and I personally would love to see their 60 foot boxcars with body mounted couplers and no roofwalks.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
jbrock27

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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2013, 08:10:15 PM »

You have to admit though, AHM stuff was a step above LL, TYCO or Bman of that time period.
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jward


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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2013, 08:56:32 PM »

of the 4, tyco had the nicest handrails. ahm's were plastic and grossly oversized, while tyco's were metal similar to athearn's that would withstand rough handling.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
jbrock27

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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2013, 09:05:44 PM »

Sorry.  I should have been clearer.  I was talking about rolling stock.  I never thought much of AHM motive power (diesel anyway, I don't know anything about their steam).
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Catt

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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2013, 09:53:02 PM »

Back in the day Tyler Company (TYCO) and Mantua were two different companies.
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RAM

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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 10:24:35 PM »

As I recall, Mantua used the tyco name for a few years.   Then it was sold. 
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jbrock27

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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2013, 07:46:05 AM »

Speaking of MANTUA, it looks to me that MODEL POWER took them over and are putting out MANTUA items under the MODEL POWER label.  Am I correct?
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Catt

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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2013, 08:50:10 AM »

Ram, Tyco and Mantua were a combined company.The Mantua GP20 was the unaltered TYCO shell (except for the pilots).

Jbrock,when Mantua quit making model trains Model Power bought most of the dies and have actually inporoved some decent to start with product.(IMHO)
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jbrock27

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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2013, 08:53:18 AM »

Thanks Catt.
Do they come with body mounted knuckle couplers?
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jward


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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2013, 10:05:29 AM »

the freight cars do, along with the old tyco snap in trucks with the coupler pockets removed.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
jbrock27

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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2013, 11:01:09 AM »

Thank you Jeff.
What are the wheels and axles like?
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