At the apex of the tinplate era, American Flyer's top-of-the-line set was the President's Special. Introduced in 1926 with lithographed passenger cars and a painted engine, by 1928 the Special had evolved into a totally embossed, painted set with brass window inserts and details. While it lacked the interior furnishings of Lionel's best passenger cars, the Flyer set was nonetheless a magnificent train and, at $75.00, noticeably less expensive than comparable Lionel offerings. American Flyer's advertising department spared no hyperbole in its 1930 catalog description of the train:
"America's finest miniature railroad train and the "crack" train of the American Flyer lines, modeled after the 20th Century - America's Finest! Rich and beyond mere words to express its fascinating beauty, the "President's Special," a four-car train, stands out in bold relief, distinctive and individual against all other miniature trains. It is 100" long. Fashioned carefully and skillfully by master craftsmen. It is illuminated with 15 Mazda lamps. In this masterpiece are included all the leading features demanded by young Americans in a De Luxe train, plus the most exclusive and unique fun-making American Flyer features.
"Everything you see in this marvelous train is there - it has speed - it has stamina - it has matchless beauty and smartness of lines - it radiates richness in color scheme and boasts an array of solid brass and polished nickel trim found in no other train - Gross weight 40 lbs."
Our Lionel Corporation version brings back the glory and the military-themed consist of the President's Special in two-tone red as it was depicted, but never produced on the cover of the 1928 catalog, complete with the "Commander" locomotive ("modeled after the latest New York Central 12-wheeler"), club car "West Point," Pullman "Academy," diner "Annapolis," and observation car "Army-Navy." Add this set to your layout and you'll know what it felt like to be the luckiest kid on the block nearly eight decades ago.