Lifelike is still around

Traindork Aug 14, 2012

  1. Traindork

    Traindork TrainBoard Member

    On the Union Pacific we have 5 gallon buckets that we use as water coolers. They have the UP logo and rules printed on the outside. They also come with a light green lid. On the inside they have a styrofoam insert for insulation. They actually work pretty good and can keep water cool for a very long time. Well, a couple of nights ago, I'm sitting in the loco and I take the lid off the bucket to grab a water. I see what looks like a familiar logo on the bottom of the lid. On closer inspection, it's the old Life Like double L logo with the name Life Like Products spelled out underneath. Interesting that they've gone from model trains to making products for the real thing!
  2. Rob M.

    Rob M. TrainBoard Supporter

    Actually, the styrofoam business was (and is) Life-Like's primary reason for existing--I've got several of their disposable coolers. They got into model railroad manufacturing by making the styrofoam mountains-with-tunnels that beginning modelers so often buy.

    As I've heard it told, the reason Life-Like got out of model railroading was because of a couple of warehouse fires that destroyed a large portion of their styrofoam product inventory. They needed money to recover, Walthers was a willing buyer, and the trains were just a side-line anyway, so...
  3. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

    They were based in Dixon, CA when I lived there as a teen. Ah..... I still remember walking in looking for a summer job....
  4. u18b

    u18b TrainBoard Supporter

    Seems to me the fire was in Baltimore.
  5. Charlie Vlk

    Charlie Vlk TrainBoard Member

    The Kramer brothers were in the Hobby Business before the styrofoam division started.....their name shows up in Craftsman prior to WWII
    Somewhere I think I have a complete history of their business that ran at the time of the sale to Walthers
    Charlie Vlk
  6. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

    They were based in Balt. From what I heard, they had very nice factory sales where they almost gave stuff away.

    They pushed into the medical plastics field around the same time as two or three high profile warehouse fires. Insurance? Arson? An improperly disposed cig? The world of models trains is murky indeed.
  7. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

    My first 'layout' was an HO scale Life-Like styrofoam set purchased at a G.C. Murphy's department store in Prince Georges Plaza in Hyattsville Maryland. That was about Christmas of 1968. I later stripped the track from the styrofoam base because there was no place for the large 4' x 4' (x 9" tall) layout. In order to keep an active layout it had to fit underneath my bed... so I managed to get about 3'x5' plywood put some casters on it and did a double oval 'plywood plains' layout. I used green sawdust 'grass' paper and black electrical tape for roads. The Plasticville buildings, Life-Like styrofoam mountains and other scenic stuff had to be removed to slide that layout under the bed. It was fun until I had to give it all up a couple years later when we moved to Florida... and parents said none of my model railroad stuff could go on the trip.
  8. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    To their credit they went from making crappy locomtives to making some of the best non DCC locomotives around. Their FA/B 1's and 2's along with the GP20 and 18's were perfect for operating large trains on Ntrak layouts. The sales on the GP20's and FA/B1's enabled a lot of people [myself included] to stock up on some good locomotives. You won't see that from Walthers.
  9. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

    Amen to Inkaneer's comment. Was really sorry to hear that they were sold to Walthers. Life Like made modelling a lot of smaller prototype roads easier. Walthers, while a fine company seems stuck on the bigger and midwestern roads.
  10. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    My first purchase of N scale locomotives were two UP SD7's I also like their GP20's and have around 4 and are great on the layout.
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Their SW9/1200 is a very decent engine as well.
  12. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    The best thing was they imported their stuff directly to Australia through a local distributor bypassing the USA so up until the SW's and GP20's LL was the only US prototype you could get here that wasn't priced twice what it was in the US, in fact our prices were often cheaper. Then Walthers took over.
  13. FloridaBoy

    FloridaBoy TrainBoard Member

    Ever since '88, I have been a fan of LifeLike when they came out with their "new and improved line" after abandoning the Yugoslavian made locos (Mehano) and coming up with a Chinese manufactured loco. Lots of backstories abounded, but over the next couple of years, they produced the plastic framed all wheel drive locos one after another, which was as perfect timing as could be.

    Rivarossi, Arnold, Trix and Roco were sending their problems to us stateside, so these inexpensive little locos with 5 pole motors which ran consistently, smoothly, had drawbar pull and quietly were well worth the money, and available at Toys "R" Us. Back then is when my children were born, and all of our 'venture capital" was spent on baby furniture and stuff for the newborn son, and I could pick up a loco when buying diapers!!!!!

    When they came out with the split frame GP20's life was even more grand. Then back a few years later, Model Expo had them on sale for 16 bucks each, and if you had a coupon, even cheaper. My friends and I scored a few of these and they are still performing today, and that has been 20something years. Not bad.

    Last but not certainly least, these little plastic frame guys paved the way for their great steamers (Mallet, Berkshire, 0-6-0) and some great diesels. Walthers just doesn't know what a potential gold mine it has. sigh...if only they liked N.

    Ken "FloridaBoy" Willaman
  14. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    I agree with that. I have 4 of them. Two in BC Hydro colours and two custom painted for a freelanced shortline: they are really nice runners for engines their size but their one major drawback is numerous small and fragile detail parts such as horns, headlight casings and especially handrails that like to pop off and disappear!

    I do know for myself, and several other modellers, what we would really, really like to see are new production runs of the Life-Like Erie-Builts and Alco FA units.

  15. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

    Somehow the Name "Life Like" doesn't quite seem to work with 5 gallon buckets like it does with model trains.:eek:hboy:
  16. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    Just to come back to this thread, I found out a few weeks ago, it is still possible to find a Life-Like engine you want if you wait long enough, and usually after you've stopped looking for it. After having giving up hope, and removing them from my wish list indefinitely, I finally found a pair of Canadian Pacific LL Alco FA1's at a local train show for a bargain price. I'm sure I would never have found them otherwise.
  17. jargonlet

    jargonlet TrainBoard Member

    I have a GP18 and a pair of E7's. Well I think they're E7's, they're C&O Pere Marquet E somethings. All three are very good running locos. The GP18 was given to me in the mid 90's by my great grandparents. I was about 12 and they took me to the hobby shop and let me pick out whatever I wanted for my birthday that year. I ended up with the GP18 and some rolling stock but now only the engine is left. It's about 16 years old give or take and still runs great. I've had 18 pieces of rolling stock behind it and it has no problem pulling them by itself even when going up grades.
  18. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris TrainBoard Supporter

    I have a LV ABBA set of FA's , an ERIE set of ABA FA's and an E-L AA set of PA's. They all pull like crazy and run hours on end at our NTrak events. The ABBA set will pull 50 car trains for several hours without any signs of overheating. I don't think I paid over $25 for any of the engines, and the LV FA's cost me less than $80 for all four!
  19. mfm_37

    mfm_37 TrainBoard Member

    They are based in Baltimore in the Hamden section of town, Hon. Right off of I83.
    A large portion of their business is styrofoam products. Now you know why they sold so many of those styrofoam mountains. One of their warehouses burned down several years ago. About a half mile away from the main offices. That was just before the train division sell off to Walthers. The building was good tinder well before it finally burned with a load of coolers inside. I could see the smoke from several miles away.

    Martin Myers
  20. joetrain59

    joetrain59 TrainBoard Member

    Be cool if they bought it back from WKW.

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