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Home / News & Reviews / News / Athearn discontinues Blue Box model kits

Athearn discontinues Blue Box model kits

By | October 16, 2009

The firm had produced the line of model train rolling stock kits for more than 50 years

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Athearn, manufacturer of N scale and HO scale model train products as well as 1:50-proportion die-cast models, has announced that it will discontinue its line of Blue Box kits. This action is effective immediately. In a press release the firm cites that increased manufacturing and labor costs have caused it to no longer be able to sell the kits at competitive prices compared to its assembled products. Athearn will continue to support all service and warranty needs for Blue Box kits. More information can be found at the Athearn Web site.


25 thoughts on “Athearn discontinues Blue Box model kits

  1. I could never understand why Athearn (and MDC) had to go with assembled cars anyway. If you can't assemble an Athearn/MDC kit you have no business being in the hobby. On a time vs money basis i can see buying assembled Intermountain, Red Caboose etc., but Athearn/MDC???
    It's especially frustrating having to buy assembled cabooses and being unable to get into the interior. Same for undec kits for private roads or roads not offered assembled.

  2. This could be considered a good thing. Maybe Athearn is stopping the line because the Bluebox kits cant compete in the current market. Could they be getting rid of the line to start a new kit line in the future? One with higher details and lower production costs? I love the idea of being able to buy kits, but that kit needs to be of the highest quality with ALL the detail parts one would seek. Thanks.

  3. Just more jobs going to China!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thats all it is people. like it or not its just the way it is.

  4. We have been cursed by the weekend model railroader, those who want ready to run, is it not more fun developing modeling skills? Including assembly, weathering, truck and coupler improvments, etc. Blu box is where my skills developed as a young man, giving me confidence to weather and detal locomotives. Its a sad dark day in the hobby in my opinion! Come on Athern you must set the standard!

  5. I'm a merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts and will have to buy up some old MDC and Blue Box kits for the kit requirement. Kids just can't find them unless they are full blown craftsman kits. At least my youngest has built a few Walthers kits along the way.

  6. So now instead of putting together a 40 or 50 car train of shake the box models we will be buying a 7 to 10 car train of ready to run models for about the same price. We will soon be able to count on investments $1200 dollars per train if we want to run long freight trains.

    Look for all of the future production to leave California and go to China so it can be cost effective. I for one will be sad to see those blue box kits go away as they were great for the cost, even if they had to go up in price a good bit they would still be a bargain.

  7. It appears that my retirement fund isn't in stocks or bonds, but rather in Athearn Blue box kits!
    A few years ago, it seems you couldn't give them away.

  8. This news has hit me hard, as about 98% of the rolling stock on my personal layout were the blue-box kits. I just hope I can purchace the last of the in-stock kits that my local hobby shop is carrying. I can see mysef a few years from now and looking back, thinking of how much fun I had building those rail cars and the few locomotive kits I had and whishing I could do it all again to feel the satisfaction of sitting down and, in one evening,
    having a new string of railcars sitting in a siding and thinking "I built those kits from their strait from the box condition into these masterpieces that ride around this rail-empire that I built," Sadly, this news has also meant another thing to me: my hobby budget just got tighter. Solong to the days of good-quality kits for any skill level.

  9. I have been thinking about the delema I am in with the discontinuation that I am in with this discontinuation of the Blue box kit line and have come to the realization that the $60.00/ month I have been normally placing toward my hobby will only be able to allow me 3 RTR rail cars, if I only get the cheepest cars that are of moderately good quality. Unfortunately, with those RTR cars,they has about the same level of detail as one of the Athern kits. The big difference, the RTR cars must first be disassembled to properly add the level of detail that any model railroader would want to make an accurate replica of a rail car. With that said, It would be safe to say that, at least with me, RTR now means Ready To Rebuild.

  10. This is truely a tragedy. After I exhaust my stockpile of the kits, I'll have to come up with something else to do to relax until the day I can settle down and start building a layout. I guess Accurail and the handful of other kit makers will start receiving more of my business.

  11. Youch! I guess I will be hitting my local hobby shop soon and snap up any of the blue box Athearn and Roundhouse kits that fit in my transition-era plans. Looking at the prices for locomotives in the rtr line confirms to me that they've priced themselves out of the market segment I live in. The freight car prices are routinely about $10 more than I'm willing to pay. The kits will probably vanish from train shows this fall. It's a good thing I've got about 40 kits in my garage.

    It's getting tougher to bring a kid into this hobby, especially when you ought to plan on dropping as much for a starter layout as for a Sony Playstation3 and a couple of games. Heck, a couple of old 1950's Lionel plastic cars and locomotives are going to be cheaper than one new Athearn plastic locomotive.

  12. What a shame! Athearn always provided a lot of bang for the buck, and rugged reliability, especially for younger modelers who were transitioning from tinplate to HO scale. Not every young hand is ready to assemble a kit that contains a lot of hand-applied details. It seems to me the general direction of many model railroaders recently has been to become collectors, rather than builders. This seems to be part of Athearn's premise about opting to sell ready to run models, rather than kits. This may bode very sadly as many of these novices may become increasingly frustrated as they attempt canstruction of more complicated models and rolling stock without ever learning the techniques for assembling the simpler to contruct models, e.g. Athearn. This frustration may lead to their abandoning the hobby. This would be a loss for everyone.

  13. Yes, it is sad to see the Blue Box kits disappear. I began model railroading in 1961 with an Athearn Blue Box stockcar given to me by a gentleman and I still have it. Although I now model in N scale, I mourn the passing of HO shake the box kits by Athearn.
    This is also occuring in other hobby facets in which I am interested, radio-control model airplanes. Horizon Hobbies is one of two BIG hobby suppliers in the US and they have done the same thing to model airplanes. Once we built our planes but now they come pre-built (almost ready to fly, ARF) from China and Viet Nam, two countries almost as friendly to the US as Cuba. Almost everything we use on a daily basis comes from outside our country now, so it was inevitable our trains would.

  14. looks like we will have to start scouring the likes of Ebay once the Hobby shop shelves have run dry…

  15. Athearn has always been considered an easy kit to build and therfore good for modifying & kitbashing; not highly detailed but rugged and great for operating.It's too bad that we are going away from building cars (and buidings ) and buying them ready to use.

  16. At least Accurail makes kits that are easy to build and good looking as well. I love the Blue Box kits but like all good things, I guess they eventually have to come to an end. I'll have to scour the train shows for them I guess. I was hoping to find some more 40' box cars and a few reefers and gondolas one of these days. The cabooses are also favorites of mine as well. I can customize those easily.

    The thing about the Blue Box kits is like many have mentioned that we are able to build and modify them easily. Unfortunately, many of the younger generations of modelers do not have the patience to sit down and put even a simple kit together. They would rather take it out of the box, plop it on the track and go. There will be many basic skills lost in the true art of modeling with these cars going away.

    I wonder if this also means the MDC kits will be discontinued as well since Athearn took them over?

  17. It's very disappointing to hear that Athearn is discontinuing the Blue Box kits!!! I got into the hobby back in the late 60's with a Tyco train set for Christmas. Shortly after Christmas we went to the hobby shop and I bought my first BB kit, and thoroughly enjoyed building it! Over all of the ensuing years since then, I've built hundreds of the BB kits for myself and also for friends. It's been a great pass time for snowy or rainy night, and even for those long hours of staring at the walls while working the graveyard shift for many years.

    In High School English class I had to do a 'demonstration' speech once, and I did it on assembling an Athearn BB tank car. I not only got an "A" on the speech, but I also got another piece of rolling stock for my layout…..and it's STILL rolling after more than 35 years!!!

    I have about a hundred BB kits in my stockpile yet to be put together, along with many other kits from several other manufacturers. However, I guess I need to motate over to the hobby shop and grab up a passel more Athearn BB kits, so I have an even bigger stash of 'em to keep me busy now that I'm retired!

    Having RTR and Pre-Built rolling stock and structures are all great and fine….BUT, many of us want and NEED kits. We want and need them to build, kit-bash, and/or detail as WE see fit, in order to fit in with our chosen RR, whether it be a modern standard or (like many of us, myself included) a fallen flag, or to fit a particular era, or (in the case of structures) to fit a particular space on our layout.

    So let Athearn, and whoever else, go ahead and bring on the RTR/Pre-Built items, BUT keep the kits also!!! Let US (the individual modelers) decide what WE want! Don't force YOUR (the manufacturers) choice on US!!!

    Me being retired is a good thing….Athearn Blue Box kits being retired is a BAD thing!!!

  18. I started with Athearn back in the YELLOW box days. This is bad news for those of us who to to build things with our hands.

    Another case for instant gratification by the X Y and Z generations.

  19. This is an outrage! Irv Athearn must be rolling over in his grave so much that he is known in Heaven as "Pinwheel Irv"! I too will have to use E-bay to fill out my roster, as I am on a tight budget. Horizon, get with the program, Athearn made its reputation on AMERICAN TRAINS built in AMERICA by AMERICAN WORKERS!

  20. since Mr Athern's died thiis product has really gone down here a another action to bring them one noct down
    I'am really disappoint I really love there product

    very very disappointed

  21. I have been in model railroading for about 10 years. It looks like I became a modeler just in time for modeling to disaper.
    now days everyone wants to have it done for them. I have enjoyed the art that modeling is and always will be.

  22. As the others have commented, some time earlier, I too am sad to see the demise of the Athearn "blue box" kits–and with it, Athearn shifting from being a manufacturer to a merchandiser. I had hopes that some other manufacturer would pick up the tooling, etc., for these, but I suppose that's long gone. Too bad, as those kits compose most of my roster. Their demise has certainly cut my purchasing.

  23. They were always special to me even when I was a kid.Affordable and dependable with a little bit of TLC they will go forever.I really do miss their rolling stock too.Maybe some day they may bring them back as a special run.I always enjoyed assembling the kits.Especially the Box Cars.

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