Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl Trains
Collecting Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl Trains
Any true Thomas the Tank Engine fan will eventually learn about the older Ertl trains that may be collected. They can be found as die cast and plastic models. Unfortunately, the Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl trains don't always have the names of the trains written on them, as the wooden trains do. To help make this easier for collectors, my son and I have compiled a slideshow of some of the more common Ertl trains to help you identify them. In addition, information regarding many of characters is also provided below.
Collectible Ertl Train PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Types of Ertl Train Collectibles
One of the reasons toy train collectors or Thomas the Tank Engine collectors may have an interest in the Ertl trains is that the manufacturer discontinued the Thomas line of trains in 2004. The price of these trains continues to climb as they become more scarce, especially the trains that are anniversary or special edition models.
The Ertl trains, first manufactured in 1984, are made either of plastic or die cast metal, and there are three different series of Ertl trains to collect.
The first die cast Thomas the Tank Engine trains had sticker faces so that the owners could change the expressions from happy to sad. The plastic faces eventually replaced these sticker models.
In the 1990s, Ertl produced the Gold Rail series of Thomas trains with the main characters, all of which have magnetic couplings. There was no track for these trains.
Finally, they produced a miniature line of the trains in 1991, which have sticker faces.
A complete list of all of the trains, and their release dates from Ertl, may be found at TrainSpottingWorld.com.
Where to Find Ertl Trains
If you're interested in collecting the Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl trains, there are several places where you may locate them.
First, if you love surfing the Internet, you'll find many of the trains to complete your set on eBay as well as from reputable retailers. The quantities are usually limited, and many toy train stores have very few Ertl trains left. The prices are still reasonable for these new die cast trains, and if you're lucky, you'll also find a few of the Ertl destinations and track from time to time.
Second, try flea markets and garage sales. While not everyone is a train collector, these little trains and their accessories may find their way into one of these sales.
Finally, don't forget your local Salvation Army. Since these trains were built to last, especially the die cast models, they can survive being in a bin full of odds and ends in the toy section of these thrift stores. If you have the time to dig through these bins, it may well be worth your while, and at prices that can't be beat.
Don't forget to round out your collection with the Ertl accessories. These can be hard to find, but I've managed to find quite a few on eBay. The accessories are usually plastic, which include the following destinations:
- Level Crossing
- Station and Siding
- Train Sheds
- Train Yard
The Gold Rail Series offered the following sets to use with trains from this same series:
- Engine Sheds
- Ffarquhar Station
- Lower Suddery Station
- The Docks
Other accessories for the Ertls include a blue plastic carrying case (with Thomas on the lid), which opens and will hold quite a few trains of varying lengths inside and the Wellsworth Station playset, which opens up to reveal a flat play surface on thick cardboard that features track and scenery on the sides, as well as three plastic buildings (including Wellsworth Station) to stow the trains in. (See the photos of this in my slideshow above).