MDC / Roundhouse / Piko / Mainline America

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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.


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.


Model Die Casting relocates to Hawthorne, California.


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

"Recent" history


The original company was MDC (Model Die Casting) but some was also sold under the Roundhouse name.

Most of the products were 1:32, but they had a larger scale "bobber" caboose which Matt D. reports to be very close to 1:24. 

MDC / Roundhouse was purchased by Horizon hobbies about 2010.

Horizon Hobbies

Now Horizon hobbies has Athearn and MDC and another company.

Mainline America: (owned by Midwest Companies Inc)

There was nothing heard for a while, then a new company in the US claimed to have the molds. They had some parts, but no new product.

The complete story is that they were going to work with Horizon to produce the product, but somehow the molds got sold to another company, and that company is PIKO. My personal guess is that PIKO came in later and offered a sweeter deal. Too bad.

So Mainline America has the rest of the MDC inventory, and was selling some of the products, from original stock and some new parts, notably wheels are made of a much superior plastic (the old MDC stuff could literally "melt" in the heat) with stainless steel axles (original axles were steel, and would rust, and expand and literally split the plastic wheels into pieces.

The had a number of plans and had produced some improved details too.

I had some communication with Joseph Novosel in 2009, who indicated they intended to get the tooling, but they intended to produce new tooling. They had a large inventory of speeder parts, and intended to revive them, new tooling, motors, etc. They also had parts for the Hustler loco, boxcars, reefers, hoppers, etc. I contacted him again in 2010, and they failed to get a motor supplier for the speeders. They were still selling parts. No communication since then.


So Piko bought the molds, and are producing some of the cars again.

The "bobber" caboose has been re-issued as pretty much the same as the MDC version, although it no longer has arch bar trucks.Their web site does not list the caboose separately, but you can see it in the G scale starter sets. They also show a drovers type caboose, which looks the same as the"bobber" without a cupola.

The shorty ore cars (jennys) are there, but look a little different, maybe just a poor picture on the site.

There is a 40' reefer and a 40' box car and the 2 bay hoppers..


We shall see what lies in store for this line of nicely detailed, well scaled products. It's not clear if Piko will improve or upgrade anything, since they are selling these American prototypes in Europe.

Mainline America seems to be gone.



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