John Tyler helped found the original Mantua Toy & Metal Products Company in 1926 with other members of his family, selling trains under the Mantua name by 1930. Early offerings included component pieces such as the Midjet Motor sold in the ’30s to steam locomotive, freight car, and passener car kits that included a full line of offerings by the 1950s.
The shift towards “ready-to-run” (RTR) train sets in the postwar era led to the creation of the Tyler Manufacturing Company in 1952, better known as TYCO. Mantua continued to exist throughout the ’50s and into the 1960s manufacturing kits, while the TYCO line sold already built and ready to operate model trains largely in set form. The Mantua and TYCO empire was a family owned business from its inception. John Tyler was the person who helped guide the early Mantua into the model train business in the 1930s. John Tyler’s son, Norman Tyler, was named president of TYCO Industries, Inc. the combined Mantua and TYCO companies, in 1967.
The company was eventually sold to Consolidated Foods, with Norman Tyler remaining on the board. Production was moved to Hong Kong, and the original Woodbury Heights factory was deemed redundant. The Mantua name was re-introduced in 1977 when Tyler purchased the factory in and continued as an independent company releasing HO-scale trains until 2002.
The new Mantua offered steam locomotive kits, plus ready to run examples. The EMD F7 and EMD GP20 also joined the Mantua line. Freight car offerings included classic Mantua tooling, plus later the former Lindberg Line tooling was re-introduced by the company. The final production year for Mantua was 2001. “Mantua Classics” continues today as part of the Model Power line, which is distributed by Model Rectifier Corp. (MRC). This site focuses on Mantua products catalogs released bewteen 1978 and 2001.
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