Imagine the scene: it’s 1962 and the space race is all the rage. You, on the other hand, are a venerable manufacturer of toy trains and your product line is beginning to look a little staid and boring next to all the brand new outer-space doodads and gizmos on the market. Luckily, you are unafraid to tweak your product line to appeal to new audiences. Sometimes this strategy fails miserably: Back in 1957, it turned out little girls did not want a pink toy train. Grafting the exciting new space technology on to an old-fashioned flat car is a more successful gambit, especially because your consumers can’t really have fun with the Mercury Capsule Launching Flat Car unless they also have the new Cherry Picker Car—and the Heliport, too. Ka-ching!
I had ome of the other cars they showed- the submarine car was kind of boring (I think it floated in your tub or wading pool), and I had a missile launcher car that didn't look like anything in the train at the end of the clip. The missile launch er car also came with a separate boxcar that the missile could be aimed at, and if you hit the thing, it would explode into five parts (roof and walls), which could then be reassembled into the boxcar for hours domestic terrorism excitement. Lionel's 1960's trains were all just a little too cheaply made, even for my preteen sensibilities.
At some point I inherited a 1930's Lionel locomotive from a guy that my dad worked with, and I sure wish I still had my hands on that one. It weighed a ton, and I think it was one of the models that have turned out to be valuable over time.