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Marx "Handcar" Guide ....... 2002 Electric Handcars 10/15/2006

The Marx 2002 series of  electric handcars are an under appreciated group. The variations that exist are fun to find and particularly in the type of condition you want. These are the series of plastic electric handcars that were produced from 1955 through 1974. So from their earliest introduction you are talking about an item that can be over 50 years old!

Marx Handcars Chronology (produced from 1955 through 1974)

1) Red w/yellow men 1955

2) Red w/blue and gray men 1955 - 1956

3) Brown w/blue and gray men 1956 - 1974

During the earliest period (1955) of their introduction they were offered with a red base and yellow men. This appears to have been early production in 1955 only:

            

When I say these are hard to find I mean hard to find. Note the 4 hand grips (frequently 1 or more can be broken off) on the corners are all there and those YELLOW men are ever so tough to find in any shape let alone complete and unbroken. Making it even more interesting is that though reproductions of the men are available in gray and blue. No one has produced the yellow version. One of the reasons is to protect the scarcity of this item to prevent fraud. Part of the reason that Marx stopped making the yellow men, my guess, is that they seemed to have had a problem matching the torso with the legs and arms. When found, the yellow men frequently show up with distinctly different shades of yellow. One a much lighter yellow and the other an almost mustard shade. Also note the box and the insert. These units are fragile and the ingenious method of packaging protects them very well if it has been utilized. This method of boxing stayed with the line throughout its entire production period.

The next version of the 2002 handcar was introduced sometime in later 1955 and was produced through 1956. It was the red handcar base with blue and gray men:

Note that the red base is the same as from the earlier production in appearance. All the men are plastic except for one set I have seen which were lead. I believe that the earliest blue and gray men were "reproduced" as lead figures but I have only seen one set of these. Could they be a salesman's sample? Who knows! Reproductions of the gray and blue men in plastic are readily available.

Both versions of the red based handcar are fun to find. The yellow men very, very difficult. The gray and blue men version is much more available but no version is more commonly found then the brown handcar with gray and blue men. It was produced from 1956 through 1974. They are plentiful compared to the red base versions:

           

Note the first photo shows all gray men. I have also seen them with all blue men. Did it come from the factory that way? It could have. Remember, Marx was producing toys and if they were short blue men could they have substituted gray......absolutely. However, they could be 2 reproduction men as well. the photo with the gray and blue men is most commonly found. You get a feel for this just by noting it was offered for 18 years.

You also note the distinct variations in color of the brown based handcars. Side by side the 2 colors stand out and I believe that there is another distinct shade in between if you are persnickety! However, there definitely are 2 shades. One the light chocolate and the other the dark chocolate version. The photo's do tend to exaggerate the difference, but, none-the-less there are at least 2 distinct color variations. These color variations remain basically undistinguished from most who collect Marx 2002 handcars.

The electical contacts on the earliest versions were 2. Some where along the line during the 1956 and later period the number was reduced to 1. I do not have a photo of this:

                 

Be on the look out if pristine condition is your goal. Always ask questions of the seller. The plastic men can also be quite fragile with arms and legs not secure after all these years. The hand graps can be broken. Once again, be on the look out. You can take a look at the motors and see that these do not come with "lifetime" guarantees but they do get the job done in one way or another.

There is a fine Yahoo group that focus's on Marx Trains. It can be reached by searching Yahoo under MarxTrain.

Have fun with Marx trains!

Very best, Mike (hspanier@aol.com)

PS I would like to acknowledge John F. and Tasker B. for introducing me to Marx trains. Their continuing willingness to answer my questions and share information is most appreciated. Their input has been invaluable and gracious in every instance.


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