Before the company changed its name to American Flyer Manufacturing Company in 1910, it only produced passenger-train sets, known as “Chicago cars. As they weren’t numbered but had “Chicago” stamped onto their sides. Then, in 1910, the newly minted American Flyer company launched its first line of freight cars. The company also produced a lower-end Hummer line of passenger and freight cars. These were never branded with the American Flyer name.
Finally, in 1918,
with the market already dominated by Lionel and Ives, American Flyer began producing electric locomotives and cast-iron O Gauge trains. Using technology that had been developed 20 years earlier. Between 1920 and 1934, the company released electric toy trains meant to resemble trains running in New England at the time. They were made out of lithographed steel, enameled steel, and cast iron.
To compete with Ives, Lionel, and Dorfan, American Flyer launched a larger, “premium” line of electric toy trains in 1925. These trains could run on Lionel’s “Standard Gauge” tracks. Which American Flyer named “Wide Gauge” (both were 2 1/8 inches between the rails). Marketed as “Wonder Trains,” American Flyer’s shiny, brightly colored train sets had patriotic names like “American Legion,” “President’s Special,” and “Mayflower.”