Deluxe Board Game Train Sets

Created by The Little Plastic Train Company

Upgrade your board gaming experience with beautiful miniature train sets!

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Makin' Trains Purty - Part 5 - From Midnight to Sunset
5 months ago – Thu, Apr 29, 2021 at 03:57:06 AM

Howdy folks,

This is the last update in our series on train art. 

If you've actually been reading these, thanks! We've put a moderate amount of effort into them. Like, a solid 6.3 out of 10.

If you've been hitting delete because you don't care, that's cool too! The good news is that this is the last one you'll have to delete, so your index finger will finally get a break.

Now let's get to it.

19th century train ads

When we first looked around to see how railroads advertised themselves in 19th century America, we were surprised to find that there were few trains in these ads. Instead, the railroads mostly talked about where these trains went--the cities you could go and the sights you'd see along the way. Many ads even hawked land that you could buy in settlements along the railroad's route.

1880 ads for the Central and Southern Pacific railroads
1870s ad for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad
1881 Union and Central Pacific railroad ad

When you think about it, the focus of these ads makes sense. Taking a long distance train ride was like getting on an airplane today. The point was to get to another place. What kind of train took you there, or how comfortable it was, was secondary. Just look at today's airline ads. You'll find that most talk about the destinations rather than the planes themselves.

But we wanted tins that highlighted trains! Were there 19th century ads that focused on the trains themselves? Well, yes. But these were ads for locomotive manufacturers, not railroads. 

These ads were pretty simple. A realistic charcoal drawing of a locomotive with a list of the company's officers--we guess because they wanted to see their names in print? Honestly, if someone knows, please tell us in the comments.

Wait, Albert J. Pitkin is your Superintendent? Say no more--I want three of your locomotives, sir!
Jasper Cooke is your Superintendent? Hard pass, my friend.
We suspect you do did not want to mess with Aretas Blood. Check him out--he's got his own Wikipedia entry.

You'll notice these locomotives don't have any names attached to them. They're just placeholders to illustrate the kinds of locomotives these companies made. As you can tell, they all looked very, very different from each other.

The Midnight Express tin

So we decided to cheat a bit when making the Midnight Express tin. We imagined it as if it were an ad for a particular fictional train with completely unnecessary shoutouts to its company officers. As tremendously varied as the locomotives were in these historical ads, we decided to make things easier on our artist by asking her to just draw a generic 19th century steam locomotive.

We vetted a few designs before ultimately settling on the one you see on our campaign page.

This first draft looked fantastic but didn't leave enough room for the company officers. Also, its three-quarters perspective didn't have the finely drawn, hyper-realistic look of the ads we were trying to mimic.

This second attempt was 99% of the way there, but we thought the dark shading of the word "Midnight" on the tender took attention away from the train's name and the officers.

Aaaah. Perfect.

(There was also the great "right facing train" or "left facing train" debate that we won't bore you with. Objects were thrown, glass broken, and friendships destroyed forever, but "right facing" eventually won out.)

Modern national park posters

When we thought about where to look for our Sunset artwork, we'd pretty much drunk all we could from the "pretty train ad" well. Look, there are train magazine ads from the 1970s and 1980s, even for freight trains, but they're not exactly the prettiest ads out there. Just do some googling and you'll see what we're talking about.

We've been to quite a few national parks in our time. Visit any national park gift shop and you'll see some great posters. Some are inspired by older 1930s WPA national park posters. Others we can't pin down to a particular style--they just look beautiful. 

So we asked our artist to draw on posters like these for inspiration. The only other request we made was that the Sunset be in a desert setting. You know, because sunsets are intimately connected with Westerns.

The Sunset tin

Like the Midnight Express, the Sunset is a fictional train. We wanted a generic, red cowl unit diesel design that could belong to just about any American railroad and not look out of place anywhere on the tracks today.

As usual, our artist pretty much nailed it on her first try.

Beautiful. But there was only one problem. Where's the sunset?

Aaaah. Perfect.

With less than a day left in our campaign...thank you

As of the time of this writing, with less than a day to go, over 4,760 of you have backed our campaign.

Ain't that something?

This is usually where project creators will thank you for your "support" or your "help." 

We all know those are code words for your money.

So, we'll come out and say it. Thank you for trusting us with your money.

There are so many things that you could have bought with your $19, $69, or more. A nice meal. A board game that exists now. A crushable wool safari hat, apparently. Some really tight-looking sweatpants. Nearly 2,000 live worms. A down payment on a 20 foot tall inflatable tube man Santa Claus.

But instead you decided to buy some awesome plastic trains you won't get to use until later this year.

That takes guts. That's Warren Buffet style long-term investing.

We promise not to let you down.

Thank you. Y'all rock.

The Little Plastic Train Company

P.S. When the campaign ends, we'll send out information about how the pledge manager will work, how you'll be able to purchase add ons, etc. But for now, just bask in the glow of your own awesomeness.

Announcing Extra Engine Packs! And a new preview!
5 months ago – Wed, Apr 28, 2021 at 01:11:03 PM

Train-crazy backers,

Your incessant nagging--um, constructive feedback--has finally paid off!

We're not sure this is what the Force was meant to be used for, but OK! Please let go of our necks.

Announcing Extra Engine Packs!

All backers will now be able to order "Extra Engine Packs" as add-ons in the pledge manager after the campaign ends.

Each Extra Engine Pack will contain:

  • 6 Midnight Express trains
  • 6 Mercury trains
  • 6 General trains
  • 6 Hornet trains, and
  • 6 Sunset trains

For a total of 30 extra trains!

Each Extra Engine Pack will cost just $12.

OK. We know you have questions, so here's our...

Extra Engine Pack FAQ

1) How will these Extra Engine Packs be packaged?

In a plastic bag.

2) Why a plastic bag? That seems decidedly "not deluxe."

Because you can dump them out and place them directly in the existing tins, silly goose! Each of our tins can comfortably hold up to 70 trains. We're trying to minimize waste here! Besides, engines are pack machines that conserve heat by sleeping together, so you'll want to do this anyway.

3) But I want an extra tin with cool new artwork!

We ran the numbers and it would have increased the cost of an Extra Engine Pack to a point where it wouldn't have made sense. And we know most of you probably would have just checked the extra trains in their matching tins anyway. We did this to keep the price low for y'all!

4) Why 30 trains?

Because that was the amount required to make each set playable in a game of Ticket to Ride: Team Asia, which was the most requested game to make our sets compatible with.

5) Can I order more than one Extra Engine Pack?

Absolutely! Order as many as you like. May your train cup runneth over.

6) How much in shipping costs will this add to my order?

Zero! For the average backer who is ordering one or two conductor pledges, there will be no extra shipping costs. You'd have to add quite a few Extra Engine Packs for the weight to add up such that we'd need to charge extra for shipping. 

7) If I've pledged $1, can I order just Extra Engine Packs if I have an irrational hatred of tins?

You sure can. You'd need to order 8 packs, though, just to get the same 240 trains you'd get in a Conductor pledge. That would cost you $96 for trains without tins. Not a great deal, but you can do it!

8) How much will shipping be if I just order an Extra Engine pack or two?

We're still working on that. We'll post those costs in the FAQ section of the site when we get them.

We'd really love it if not too many of you did that, though. Our tins are pretty! Also, we've asked our fulfillment partner contact to create so many shipping tables for us with different variables that we're worried he hates us. And we really want him to like us! We also want to stop having dreams about shipping tables.

9) Why does an Extra Engine Pack cost $12? I ran the numbers for the Conductor pledge and this costs more per train than the Conductor pledge costs!

Blah blah...labor.....blah blah...customs...blah blah...labeling....blah blah a bunch of other behind the scenes good reasons we don't want to bore you with. Trust us, we've priced this as great as the Conductor pledge based on what we've estimate it's going to cost to make and ship these packs across the ocean to you.

9) Why not just add these extra trains to the tins?

Not all backers want extra trains. And we'd have to charge everyone more if we put extra trains in all the tins. And not all of you would agree on how many trains we should add to each tin.

10) Why'd you call it an Extra Engine Pack? We suggested other cool names!

We've applied the same creativity to naming this product as we did to our Deluxe Board Game Train Sets. They've got extra engines in 'em. Our very plain-spoken "call 'em like you see 'em" American way of naming things, we think, should be part of our brand.

Also, we want to confuse them with Extra Rolling Freight Packs in the future, would we?

11) I'm a retailer. Can I add Extra Engine Packs to my retail order?

Yes. Please email support@littleplastictrain.com for pricing.

12) Will you be selling these Extra Engine Packs after the Kickstarter ends?

Yes, but as will our Deluxe Board Game train sets, they will be more expensive.

OK. Enough about the Extra Engine Packs, we also want to tell you about...

A new preview video

The YouTube channel Boardgames and Bourbon has created a cool new preview video (with a lot of stop-motion animation!) showing what our Mercury trains look like on various game boards. We didn't pay them to make this video; we just sent them a free Mercury set at their request. 

Check out their video to see what they thought!

Only two days left in the campaign!

It's hard to believe that there's only two days left in the campaign! 

We continue to be overwhelmed by all of your support.

We've got a few updates left before we wrap up, including our final piece in our series on train art.

OK. Time for a terrible original train joke.

Why did the bouncer kick the Swedish three foot out of the club?

Because it was under-gauge.

The Little Plastic Train Company

Over 4,000 backers! And some announcements! And we want your ideas on rolling freight!
5 months ago – Sat, Apr 24, 2021 at 03:38:03 AM

Our high school English teachers would not be happy with our use of exclamation points. But we can't help it!

We would have posted this update earlier today, but we have a good excuse:

OK. Not really. This gif of Matthew McConaughey in True Detective was just one of the more oddly specific things we found on Giphy and we just had to use it.

Besides, we day drink on Fridays.

OMG. There are so many of you!

You are now 4,000+ strong.

According to the U.S. Army's website, there are enough of you to form a brigade of soldiers. 

A Backers' Brigade.

In keeping with the military metaphor, we can only assume one of two things are true. Either:

  • United in your shared love of train games and cool miniatures, you feel deeply connected to your fellow backers. If you saw another backer in need, you would gladly lend them your metal coins, your poker chips, your inserts, or your painted miniatures lest they play with only the board game components that come straight out of the box. You feel, with every fiber of your being, that you are part of something special: a tightly-knit community the likes of which our hobby has never seen, helping our favorite games reach ever greater heights of glory!
Backing guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?
  • OR you saw a project you liked, backed it, and went on with your day!
Ugh. Quit sending me so many updates!

Either one of those is cool.

Add on pack info coming next week!

We've been hard at work figuring out a way to get you those add on train packs you've been clamoring for. We've almost worked out the details of how they'll be packaged, how many will be in a pack, and how much we'll charge for them as an add-on in the pledge manager. We'll announce all of the details in a separate update next week.

We're still not sure what we're going to call them yet. 

Extra Train Set? Pack O' Trains? Un Petit Peu de Train Lagniappe, Sha? 

Tell us your ideas for what we should name these in the comments below. There is no name too silly for us.

AwSHUX 2021 Virtual Board Game Convention

If you've never been to a board game convention in your life, you should go at least once. You might get hooked like we did and keep going back. Unfortunately, the pandemic has meant that in person board game conventions continue to be postponed.

But the awesome folks at board game review website Shut Up and Sit Down have stepped into fill the gap by running a virtual board game convention called AwSHUX, which runs from this Friday, April 23rd through Sunday, April 25th.

SHUX as in "Shut Up and Sit Down Expo." Aw as in "Aw man, we can't have an in-person convention."

The best part? It's free! There will be live board game demos on Twitch, previews of upcoming board games, a discord channel where you can talk chat with board game creators, and contests to win free board games. The convention starts at 11AM Eastern time /4PM GST on Friday. Just click HERE to check it out.

Oh, did we mention we're a sponsor?

Yeah, we're a sponsor.

And that we'll be giving away a free Conductor pledge and Mercury set?

Yeah. That too.

It's NBD.

Share your ideas on rolling freight

Finally, it's never too early to start brainstorming about what kind of rolling freight you want us to make.

We've decided we want to make the rolling freight in the same five main colors (black, blue, red, green, and yellow) to match our locomotives. But we're wide open on what types they should be.

Regular boxcars? Coal cars? Oil cars? Passenger cars? 

If you've got a specific type of freight you want to see, whether historical or whimsical, let us know in the comments!

That's all for now. Have a great weekend.

The Little Plastic Train Company

Makin' Trains Purty - Part 4 - In Soviet Russia...
5 months ago – Fri, Apr 23, 2021 at 07:36:23 AM

We wanted so badly to title this update with a Yakov Smirnoff style train joke.

But we couldn't think of one.

In America, you ride trains. In Soviet Russia...trains ride you? 

Nope, that doesn't work.

If you've got one, please let us know in the comments. Now it's your chance to show us how good your bad train joke game really is.

Soviet steam locomotives

If you've been reading our updates, you know that we're big fans of the cover for the board game Russian Railroads.

We've never played the game. Just stared longingly at the cover.

Da. It's good.

We knew a bit about American and European trains when we started this project. We knew absolutely nothing about Russian trains.

With a little googling, we found out that the train on the Russian Railroads cover was probably inspired by the Russian locomotive class LV, which ran between 1952 and 1956.

It's just a tad less red than the board game version.

If you've ever started researching a new topic, you know what happened next. We went down an internet rabbit hole reading as much as we could about mid-20th century Soviet trains.

While America was rapidly switching over to diesel in the 1940s and 1950s, steam locomotives continued to dominate in the Soviet Union and China. Why? For one reason, an abundance of coal and cheap labor meant that the Soviets and Chinese were under less economic pressure to switch over to diesel.

Another reason was the economic devastation caused in those countries by WWII. When you're trying to rebuild your country, investing in the latest technology isn't necessarily a priority.

Russian and Chinese locomotives during this period are notable for one striking feature: their smoke deflectors. Those are the large metal walls you see on each side of the locomotive. Their purpose? To lift the smoke up and away so the engineer can get a clear view in front of the train.

China Railways Class QJ
Soviet SO17 class locomotive
Soviet P36 locomotive

We thought this look was so compelling that we just had to have a locomotive with prominent smoke deflectors as one of our sets.

(Yes, train historians, we're aware that there were also some American and European trains with prominent smoke deflectors too. But we ain't talking about them right now.)

Soviet propaganda posters

Another reason we wanted a Soviet inspired train was because of a unique art style we wanted to include. You know what we're talking about: mid 20th-century Soviet propaganda posters with their alternatively smiling and stoic workers! And red--red everywhere!

Trains weren't exactly a popular subject for these posters, but they still appeared from time to time.

Hey, that train kinda looks familiar

Lest anyone think that we wanted to include this art style because we're somehow sympathetic to the Soviet Union, nothing could be further from the truth.

If you think about it, what better way to subvert this kind of propaganda than by co-opting it and commodifying it as part of a Kickstarter project, like, the most capitalist thing there is?

Che Guevara understands. He's been through much worse already.

The General tin art

Our tin art for the General went through several iterations.

An early draft featured a blue sky and italicized font. It was beautiful but didn't fit the severe aesthetic we were going for.

We settled on the red sky pretty quickly. Choosing a font was harder. This early version was italicized with no capital letters. It just looked a bit off.

We thought about faux Cyrillic for a hot second but scrapped that because, you know, Cyrillic is a real alphabet used in many languages and people understandably get upset when you make nonsense words with their alphabet. It was a bad idea. And it didn't look good anyway.

Eventually, after looking at way too many fonts, we settled on all caps, blocky, sans serif font you see below.

We're just showing you four versions here. There were more. If we were this obsessed with one piece of tin art, you can imagine how obsessed we were with our train designs!

Our therapist said it was an "unhealthy" obsession that was "interfering" with our "daily functioning" and that we should focus on our "spouse's emotional needs" and "spending time with our children" rather than "creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind miniature trains for board games."

Good thing we didn't listen to him!

We've got a few more non-art related updates coming your way in the next few days, so stay tuned.

The Little Plastic Train Company

Announcing our retailer pledge level!
5 months ago – Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 08:27:46 PM

Dear Backers,

When we launched this campaign, we had no idea it would be as successful as it has become. We thought maybe we'd get 500 or 750 backers. We figured our campaign would be an incredible success if we got 1,000 backers.

As of our writing this, we now have 3,775 backers with over $256,000 in pledges!

If we were much younger than we actually are, we would describe those numbers as "cray cray."

No, not that kind of Cray!

Because we didn't expect so many of you to back our Kickstarter, we didn't plan on having a retailer pledge level. Anticipating only 500-1,000 backers, it just didn't make economic sense to try to get our Deluxe Board Game Train Sets into retail stores. Retailers only want to stock products that are Kickstarter "hits" and 500-1,000 backers does not exactly make a Kickstarter "hit." So, we figured there wasn't any point.

Well, we're into "hit" territory now.

During this campaign, we've received many, many messages from retailers around the world asking to sell our Deluxe Board Game Train Sets in their stores. We'd told them that they could order as many sets as they wanted, but they'd have to purchase at the same prices as our Kickstarter backers. The vast majority of retailers, understandably, turned us down. After all, they're running their own small businesses and need to sell our train sets at a markup to pay rent, utilities, employee salaries, etc. They couldn't really justify large purchasing large numbers of sets without some sort of bulk discount.

No, not that kind of bulk!

Honestly, it's become depressing to continue to say "no" to these retailers. 

So, we've now decided to open up a retail pledge level.

Why offer a retail pledge level now?

We wanted to put out this update to explain our reasoning.

1) We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to purchase and enjoy our train sets. As awesome as Kickstarter is, the average gamer has never backed a Kickstarter project. Many, many gamers still discover new games and accessories primarily by shopping at their friendly local game stores. Selling only through Kickstarter and our company website means that a ton of gamers out there would never find out about our Deluxe Board Game Train Sets.

2) Local game stores are important to our hobby and we'd like to support them. We didn't get into gaming by shopping online. Back in the early 1990s (yes, we're showing our age here), online shopping didn't exist and it was our local game store that opened our eyes to this awesome hobby. They're a place to discover games you may never have heard about, and, for many stores out there, a place to try out those new games and maybe even have a drink while you do! We just don't want to live in a world where there are no more retail game stores, and if we can help, we'd like to.

This is how we all dressed in the early 90s. It's true. And we make no apologies.

3) Our project has become successful enough that we can now offer a retail pledge level. As more and more of you awesome people have backed our project, our expected print run has become large enough that it now has become economically viable to offer interested retailers discounted bulk pricing for retail sales.

What does this mean for our individual backers?

Nothing! As a non-retail backer of our project, we can still promise you the following:

1) You are getting the best price possible by backing our Kickstarter. Even taking shipping into account, the cheapest way to buy our Deluxe Board Game Train Sets is through this Kickstarter. The MSRP for our sets will be much higher and retailers will accordingly be selling them at higher prices. We will be selling our sets online at the same higher MSRP they will be sold for in retail stores. So if you want to get them at a steep discount, now's your chance!

2) You will get your sets at the same time as retailers will. We promise that we will not be one of those Kickstarters that prioritizes retailers over individual backers. Your train sets will be shipped out on the same container ships as retail orders and will be shipped out at the same time.

How will this new retail pledge level work?

If you're a retailer interested in backing at our new retail pledge level, please email us at support@littleplastictrain.com to receive detailed information about retail pricing, shipping, and payment.  

After you've received this information, we ask that you back at our new $5 retail pledge level to secure retail pricing. Sales will take place directly with The Little Plastic Train Company after the campaign is over. Retailers will be expected to provide proof that they are in fact retailers (details on how this can be done will be sent over email).

Again, we'd like to thank all of you for making this campaign a resounding success. It's only because of you that our Deluxe Board Game Train Sets are getting made. And it's only because of you that many more people will be able to discover them than otherwise would have before.

Until next time,

The Little Plastic Train Company

P.S. Oh, yeah. Train pun. Umm...Did you hear about the train that got a week off from high school? It was a Mono-rail.