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Mantua RF-16 "Shark Nose" the Diesel HO Scale Locomotive
4--4 Engine Kit No. 215 A Unit
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Mantua RF-16 "Shark Nose" The Diesel Engine 4--4
Kit No. 215 HO Scale Model Railways with Mantua Metals Original Blue & White Box Complete with
Instruction Sheet, Abbreviated Mantua Catalog and Guarantee Inserts
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A renowned name in model railroading, TYCO (the Tyler Company) originated with Mantua Metal Products, founded in 1926 by electrician John N. Tyler. With partner James P. Thomas, Tyler turned out a line of scale-model, battery-powered toy boats and tools. In 1930, the partners adapted a standard six-volt motor for use in a model locomotive. Railroad hobbyists, who built their trains from scratch, favored Mantua's "Midget Motor" and "Midget Senior" for their small size, light weight and reliability. In 1933, the partners moved their shop to Woodbury Heights, New Jersey. At this time, the particularly English hobby of model railroading was picking up steam in the United States. Railroad hobbyists painstakingly assembled locomotives, boxcars, gondolas and cabooses from die-cast metal parts, made from detailed and accurate prototypes. They built elaborate layouts complete with tunnels, stations, crossing gates and village streets, and lovingly weathered their train cars with realistic grime and scratches.

To meet the growing demand, Tyler developed a new motor for use in HO-scale (1:87) locomotives. In late 1937, just in time for Christmas the company delivered its first "ready-to-run" Mantua freight train kit, which included a die-cast Reading Consolidation locomotive, two gondola cars, a caboose and 21 feet of track. Mantua Metal rode the model-railroad wave until World War II, when the factory retooled for military production.

After the war, the company returned to model railroad products. Business boomed as millions of model railroaders worked diligently in basements and garage attics to build ever more elaborate track layouts and realistic scenery. Model railroading was considered a worthy, even healthful hobby: the Mantua catalog from 1948 proclaimed: "find a model railroader and you've found a happy man."

In the 1950s, the Tyler Manufacturing Company (TYCO) began operations as a division of Mantua. The company offered model train kits as well as "ready-to-run" versions, both sold in light blue boxes. The "blue box era" was followed by a "red box" period in the 1960s. In 1967, Mantua Metal Products Co. and Tyler Manufacturing became part of a new corporation, Tyco Industries, Inc., with the new company retiring the Mantua name.

In 1970, Consolidated Foods bought the TYCO line of model trains, which became part of the Sara Lee Corporation. During this "brown box" era, TYCO began selling pieces based on imaginary prototypes, some of which displayed product logos, entertainment figures and other images never actually seen on a full-size train car. The company also diversified into new products, such as remote-controlled vehicles and building blocks.

The era of jet aircraft, rockets and electronic gaming was at hand, however. New indoor amusements replaced modeling, automobiles replaced passenger trains and fewer youngsters took interest in an obsolete means of transportation. TYCO produced its last line of model trains in 1993, and Mantua Industries ceased operations in 2001.

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