For more than 75 years, Athearn model trains have been a shared hobby by family and friends. Learn more about the history of Athearn trains in miniature here.


Model railroading is a timeless hobby. It’s a favorite pastime that has been shared by fathers and sons, grandparents and grandchildren, and friends young and old. Everyone remembers their first train set. That’s why for more than 75 years, we’ve delivered a wide range of top-quality models in a variety of scales. Athearn® trains share the detail, high-quality, and value that appeal to all modelers. Wherever you go in the hobby - from buying your first model train set to building your dream layout - we’re here to help you every step of the way.



Musicians Jerry Joice and Perry Bodkin establish a hobby store called Roundhouse at 1301 North Catalina Street in Hollywood, California. The business is soon taken over by part-time employees C.H. Menteer and C.A. Voelckel. Shortly after assuming leadership, they are hired to build models for Cecil B. DeMille's film Union Pacific.


Roundhouse Products introduces its HO scale 0-6-0 steam locomotive as a brass and lead alloy kit.


World War II forces Roundhouse Products to suspend operation in February.


After receiving a large response to an ad about his O scale model railroad, Irv Athearn establishes Athearn Trains in Miniature and sells model railroad supplies.


Menteer & Voelckel's company is now called Model Die Casting, Inc. and resumes production of the Roundhouse Products line by summer.

Irv Athearn becomes a full-time retailer of model railroading supplies.


Model Die Casting relocates to Los Angeles, California.

Irv Athearn moves his business from his mother's home to a separate location in Hawthorne, California.


Athearn purchases Globe Models on July 2. The Globe Models name is retained until 1956.


Athearn introduces the 200-Ton Crane in die-cast metal.


Athearn introduces the all-metal RDC-1, RDC-2, RDC-3, and RDC-4.


The Globe Models F7 is introduced as an unpowered kit. A gear drive is added later.


Model Die Casting relocates to Hawthorne, California.


C.H. Menteer becomes sole owner of Model Die Casting.


Athearn introduces the Hi-F Belt Drive for the F7, and the GP9 and Hustler locomotives. A number of plastic car kits are released, including the Cupola Caboose, 40' Box Car, 3-Dome Tank Car, Heavy-Duty Flat Car, 40' Steel Refrigerator Car, and the Streamlined RPO, Coach, Vista Dome, and Observation.


Athearn introduces the plastic-bodied RDC-1 and RDC-3, powered by the Hi-F Drive, and a plastic version of the 200-Ton Crane.


Athearn introduces the 4-6-2 steam locomotive with the Hi-F Drive, as well as the 50' Double Door Box Car, Quad Hopper, and Pickle Cars.


Athearn introduces a gear-drive version of the 4-6-2 and a gear-driven 0-4-2T and 0-6-0.


Athearn introduces the GP30.


Athearn introduces freight cars with RP-25 wheels.


Athearn introduces the "ring-magnet" motor for diesel locomotives.


Athearn introduces the GP35, SD45, SDP40, DD40, and SW1500 Cow & Calf.


Athearn introduces the Alco PA1/PB1.


Athearn introduces the U28B, U28C, U30B, U30C, U33B, and U33C.


Athearn introduces the F45 and FP45 with Athearn's first flywheel drive. The flywheel drive is also added to most of the other Athearn locomotives. Notable exceptions include the RDCs and Hustler, which still use the Hi-F drive, and the DD40. The F7s are available with or without flywheels. The S12 and SD9 are also introduced with the flywheel drive.


Athearn introduces the H24-66 Trainmaster. Model Die Casting introduces an N Scale product line.


Athearn improves the locomotive line with a new drive that has new narrower motors and new handrail stantions. New plastic EMD Blomberg Truck Sideframes are applied to the F7, GP9, and GP35. Athearn introduces the SD40-2 and SD40T-2 Tunnel Motor. With the new narrow motors, they are Athearn's first hood units to feature scale-width hoods.

Model Die Casting introduces the Shay steam locomotive kit.


Model Die Casting introduces the Alco RS3 diesel locomotive kit.


Athearn introduces the GP38-2.


Athearn introduces the GP50.


Model Die Casting introduces the Alco RS3 diesel locomotive kit.


Athearn introduces the GP40-2, SW1000, and SW1500. The old SW1500 Cow & Calf is now correctly called an SW7.


Irv Athearn passes away. Athearn introduces the Impack Articulated TOFC Spine Car.


Athearn introduces the 50' Modern Double-Door Box Car.


Model Die Casting relocates to Carson City, Nevada.


Athearn is sold to new owners. Athearn introduces the MAXI-III and Husky-Stack Well Cars.


Athearn introduces the GP60, GP50 Phase II, and C44-9W. The DD40 is released with flywheels. In September, the non-flywheel version of the F7 is discontinued. From this point on, the only difference between the Standard and Super-Powered F7s is the large weight.


Athearn introduces the AC4400CW.

Model Die Casting introduces new can motors


Athearn introduces the AMD-103. In June, Athearn announces the development of the SD70-series for the Genesis line. In October, Athearn announces the development of the Bombardier Bi-Level Commuter Cars.


On July 2, Athearn purchases the F-Unit tooling by Paul Lubliner from Highliners to be used in the Genesis line. Highliners retains the rights to sell the F-Units in undecorated kit form.


Athearn releases the Genesis SD70-series and announces the Genesis 2-8-2 steam locomotive. In October, Athearn announces an improved version of the SD40-2 that will replace the existing models.


The Athearn RDC-1 and RDC-3 are officially discontinued due to a damaged frame mold.


Athearn introduces the Ready To Roll Line. Athearn secures Ford licensing. Ready To Roll F59PHi; Ford C series begins.

Model Die Casting introduces Ready To Run versions of some locomotives and cars rolling stock.


Athearn acquires Rail Power Products. Athearn acquires the tooling for four 50' Box Cars from Details West. They are later released in the Ready To Roll line. Athearn introduces the N Scale product line. Athearn secures John Deere licensing.

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis Auto-Max; Trinity 10-Panel Covered Hopper
  • Ready To Roll Ford C series begins
  • N F59PHi; Ford C series begins Tractor, Box Truck, Stakebed, Fire Trucks

Athearn announces their first locomotive equipped with sound. Athearn secures USPS licensing.

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis 4-6-6-4 Challenger; TBOX
  • Ready To Roll SD50, CF7; GP60M/GP60B; Coalporter; Ford C Fire Truck program begins including pumper, rescue, and Telesqurt
  • N Auto-Max; Bethgon Coalporter

Athearn is purchased by Horizon Hobby. On June 14, Model Die Casting is purchased by Horizon Hobby. The Roundhouse name will be used only for HO scale pre-WWII products, with the rest of the Roundhouse line under the Athearn name. Athearn secures Mack licensing and begins offering 1/50 scale die cast.

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis SD45T-2
  • Ready To Roll GP35 reintroduced with ex-Rail Power Products shell, SD60; FMC 4700 Covered Hopper; Mack B & R series begin with a Tow Truck, Dump Truck, Cement Mixer, Tractor
  • N SD70 series; SD75 series

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis MP15AC Switcher; SD45-2
  • Ready To Roll SD35; SD40 RS-3; HO PS-2 2893 Covered Hopper; 65' 6, Mill Gondola
  • Roundhouse 40' Pfaudler Milk Car
  • N 40' Pfaudler Milk Car; PS-2 2893 Covered Hopper; 65' 6, Mill Gondola

On May 31, McHenry Couplers is purchased by Horizon Hobby.

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy
  • Ready To Roll GP40X; 50' Santa Fe Ice Reefer; ACF 2970 Covered Hopper; HO PS2 2003 2-Bay Covered Hopper; 30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car; 16,000 Gallon Clay Slurry Tank Car; Ford F-100 series begins with a Pickup and Panel Truck
  • N 4-6-6-4 Challenger; 50' Santa Fe Ice Reefer; N 30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car; Mack B & R series begin with a Tow Truck, Dump Truck, Cement Mixer, Tractor

In July, Athearn acquires the tooling for several trailers from A-Line. They are later released in the Ready To Roll line.

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis F45/FP45; Union Pacific FEF 4-8-4 Northern
  • Ready To Roll SD40T-2 tooling upgrade; SD45; PS-2 2600 Covered Hopper; Ford Model A series begins with a Coupe, Sedan, Pickup, Woody, Delivery, Huckster, Telephone Truck, Tow Truck; Ford F-850 series begins with a Fire Trucks, Stakebed, Box Vans, Tow Truck, Cement Mixer, Grain Truck, Boom Truck
  • N Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy

In September, Athearn acquires the Tower 55 line tooling from Overland Models to be used in the Genesis line.

New Tooling announcements:

  • Genesis Southern Pacific Mt-4 4-8-2 Mountain; Southern Pacific Chair Car
  • Ready To Roll Slab Side Turbine, SW1000 and SW1500 tooling upgrade; Trinity 57' All Purpose Spine Car; RTC 20,900 Gallon General Service Tank Car; 30' NACC 8,000 Gallon Tank Car; 13,600 Gallon Acid Tank Car; Checker A8 Taxi; Flxible Bus
  • Roundhouse 85' Pullman Palace Passenger Car
  • N F45/FP45; PS-2 2600 Covered Hopper; Flxible Bus

Athearn establishes a relationship with SoundTraxx to begin offering locomotives with Tsunami sound.

McHenry begins offering N scale couplers.

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis FP7; GP15-1
  • Ready To Roll Veranda Turbine; GATC 2600 Airslide Covered Hopper; RTC 20,900 Gallon Acid Tank Car; 33,900 Gallon LPG Tank Car Early & Late Versions; 40' Wood Chip Hopper; HO Yard Tractor; Grain Truck N GATC 2600 Airslide Covered Hopper; ACF 2970 Covered Hopper; 40' Wood Chip Hopper; 33,900 Gallon LPG Tank Car Early & Late Versions; Bay Window Caboose

Athearn releases the Genesis SD70ACe based on former Tower 55 tooling. Athearn secures UPS Licensing.

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis SD70M-2; 50' GATC 20,000 Gallon SHN Type 40 General Service Tank Car; 50' GATC 20,000 Gallon SHN Type 30 Acid Tank Car; F89F 89' Flat Car; 50' PC&F Boxcar with 8'+6' Landis Doors
  • Ready To Roll U50
  • N F59PHi available with Tsunami Sound for the first time

New tooling announcements:

  • Genesis GP7 & GP9; DDA40X "Centennial"; GP15T; Southern Pacific Bay Window Caboose; 50' GATC 20,000 Gallon SHN Type 40 Acid Tank Car; 50' PC&F Box Car with 8'+8' Landis Doors
  • Ready To Roll 24' Ore Hopper Roundhouse ex-MDC Arch Roof Passenger Car upgrade

Athearn announces Genesis GP 18, SD60M Triclops and SD70ACU


Athearn Celebrates 75 years in business.


Athearn retires the Ready to Roll line and re-brands to three brands, Roundhouse, Athearn, and Genesis. Athearn Genesis releases its first all new N scale freight car, the 13K Acid tank car. McHenry introduces the first N scale shelf coupler.