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These included locomotives with real puffing smoke (like the all-new Pennsylvania S-2 steam turbine), a remote-controlled coupling system, and a realistic water tower with a moving spout.Lionel's offerings, many styled to match actual railroads, reflected America's renewed love affair with trains.It also marked the ascendancy of affordable O gauge over the more expensive standard gauge, which was discontinued in 1939.Lionel benefited financially from defense production during World War II, but toy train production was put on hold.This resulted from a bustling economy, the growth of electric power, World War I defense production, and the end of German toy imports.Changing times were reflected by "Racing Automobiles" and a passenger train with internal lighting, the retirement of the quaint "Pay-As-You-Go" trolley, and the introduction of a war train with cannons.
Though the company became a corporation, the family tradition continued, with Cowen's son Lawrence ("The Happy Lionel Boy") gracing catalogs, packaging, and sales materials.
Meanwhile, Lionel's fabulously illustrated catalogs became children's cherished "wish books." The products they portrayed - like the No.
402 electric engine, the Hellgate Bridge, and the No. Working accessories - including crossing gates, highway flashers, and traffic warning bells - became more and more lifelike.
Cowen got endorsements from celebrities, and even started a Lionel radio show.
Slogans such as "Lionel: The Father and Son Railroad," and "Real enough for a man to enjoy - simple enough for a boy to operate," were the first of many to pitch family themes.