The company was founded in 1960 by Ing. Heinz Rössler and started with a plastic Minitanks series of military vehicles. After export to the USA became successful, the model line was expanded with model trains in HO scale and the smaller N scale. TT scale was also subsequently added to the product line. The model rail product line covers many European countries including Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and also the USA. In the mid 1970s, Lionel HO trains were produced by Roco and Athearn before moving production to the Far East by 1978.
On July 15, 2005 Roco Modellspielwaren GmbH was declared bankrupt and taken over by the creditor Raiffeisenbank. After restructuring, a new company Modelleisenbahn GmbH was formed to consolidate the model railroad market. The Roco brand and associated logo continued to be used. To sharpen the focus on model railways, on October 1, 2007, the 'Minitank' product series was divested to the German model car manufacturer Herpa. In February 2008 Modelleisenbahn acquired Fleischmann from the owner family. Moving some production to lower cost factories like Slovakia and later Vietnam, the companies saw profitability again. Roco and Fleischmann continue as separate brands under Modelleisenbahn GmbH, while benefiting from economies of scale through joint development projects, marketing and procurement.
Roco has also focused on innovation in digital train control for multiple gauges under the Z21 brand, where users can use iPhone/iPad/Android devices to operate railway models. With these strategies Roco/Fleischmann is the number one company in the DC railroad market segment in Europe, and number two company in the overall railroad company after Märklin which is focused on AC railroad models.
Below are some examples of Roco train models.
- mremag.com News Service Archived 2008-07-04 at the Wayback Machine
- (in German) Modelleisenbahn GmbH press release Archived 2009-01-22 at the Wayback Machine, December 2008
- Modelleisenbahnen: Fleischmann und Roco wechseln das Gleis, Handelsblatt, dpa, 14. Juni 2011
- (in German) Wer will Roco Fleischmann haben?, August 2017
- (in German) Spritzgussproduktion wird aus Gloggnitz in die Slowakei verlagert, OTS, 2 March 2018
- Z21 Model train control
- Modelleisenbahn Companies, September 2020
- Wer will Roco Fleischmann haben?, August 2017