Micro-Stories: "Car One"
©2000-2015 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Legal Stuff

Let's go back to the beginning... the very beginning... of the Micro-Trains Line: November and December 1972. The "Class of '72" as I refer to it was a group of nine forty foot box cars in the 20000 series, called a "Standard 40' Boxcar" in the Kadee advertising of the time. It was, more specifically, modelled on the Pullman-Standard "PS-1" boxcar, the prototype for which itself varied pretty considerably during its run beginning in the 1950's.

If you arrange these nine cars by catalog number (not counting "Undecorated") the first in the series is the 20018 Grand Trunk Western. Later, after the roadname-based catalog numbers (that's another story) were converted to a more standard form, the Grand Trunk Western became catalog number 20010. Or, as I call it, "Car One," the first ever Micro-Trains car. That's of course subject to some debate, since there was more than one car released concurrently back in November 1972, but that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

And here it is... pretty humble, to be sure, but it is among the cars that started it all. "Just look at the detail!" the Kadee advertisement proclaimed. "Thin roofwalk and steps... sliding doors... Kadee Magne-Matic® couplers... detailed metal underframe... free-rolling trucks... lacey brakewheel." It was a quantum leap forward and, in my mind, began the process of pulling N Scale away from the toy train mentality of "N Gauge" (or even "N Guage") and toward something that could be truly realistic. It also set a new standard for cost! This car originally went for $3.25 versus maybe $2 for a Con-Cor or Rapido, $1.50 for an Atlas "First Generation" and sometimes 99 cents or less for a Postage Stamp or AHM box car down at Woolworth's. The extra cost of the 20018, a quarter more than other cars in the Class of '72, was attributed to the extra paint color-- the green of the maple leaf in the herald-- and began the Micro-Trains practice of pricing cars based at least partially on the complexity of the decoration.

Here's the same car in a re-release almost 18 years later, from July 1990. (It seemed to take almost that long to sell out the first run of the 20018/20010!) The basic design is the same, but the lettering is considerably sharper.

And here's the December 1998 "25th Anniversary Heritage Reprint" that brings the 20010 into the high-fidelity world of today's Micro-Trains decorating skills. The font for the reporting marks has changed, there's lettering on the door and the door itself has been changed to the correct Superior variety. OK, it is supposed to be an eight foot wide door...

We'll bring things up to date with the most recent release of this car. Micro-Trains launched the "1972 Series" in November 2014 with this fourth run of "Car One." Besides the special box, there was also a "throwback" blue label with this offering.