Trix is a German company that originally made Trix metal construction sets. one of its co-founders was Stephan Bing, the son of the pioneer toy-maker industrialist Ignaz Bing. In 1935 the company began producing the electrically powered model trains that it became famous for, under the Trix Express label. Prior to the outbreak of World War II the Trix company produced a small range of fairly unrealistic AC powered three rail models running at 14 volts.
Unlike other manufacturers of the period, Trix allowed two trains to run on the same track simultaneously under independent control, one collecting current from the left rail and centre, the other from the right and centre. This system was known as 'Trix Twin'.
In the United Kingdom Trix models were distributed by Bassett-Lowke under the brand name 'Twin Train Table Railway', initially using German outline models painted in British colours, and from 1937 onwards relatively crude models of British locomotives and rolling stock.
Production resumed in 1948 but began to lag behind the technology used by rivals. Trix switched from AC to DC (with its simple reversing function) later than rivals like Tri-ang, particularly the British Trix company. In 1956 Trix switched to DC and in 1967 to two-rail as used by most competitors. The failing Trix brand was taken over several times becoming Trix Twin Railways, Trix Trains, British Trix and then merging with Liliput. Production of British Trix OO gauge trains ceased in 1973.
N gauge models under the Minitrix brand were made from the late 1960s mostly of European prototypes (German and British primarily). North American prototypes were also manufactured and marketed under the Aurora "Postage Stamp" brand; later these items were sold under the American Tortoise, Model Power and Con-Cor brands. Trix sometimes utilized North American consultants to aid in the design of this portion of the product line. The "Hornby Minitrix' brand was used in the 1980s for a short lived range of British outline models using the earlier product tooling.
Trix's owner in the 1980s and 1990s was Mangold, which went bankrupt in the late 1990s and Märklin purchased the assets in January 1997. In part, this purchase was a reflection of Märklin's need for added production capacity; Trix had been manufacturing certain items for Märklin in previous years. The purchase was also in response to the earlier purchase of the Karl Arnold company by the Italian company Rivarossi; Märklin were very keen to take over Trix market share in 2-rail H0 and especially Minitrix, until then Märklin had not marketed N gauge models. In 2003, Märklin introduced its first N gauge models under the well established Minitrix brand. A number of Märklin H0 scale three-rail AC locomotives have also been introduced in two-rail DC versions under the Trix logo and many models are shared between the two brands.
Since around 2003 or 2004 Trix has made a two-rail version of the Märklin C-track, and the two are mostly identical except for the colour of the trackbed and the height of the rails (with Märklin being 2,3 mm high and Trix 2,1 mm). Also, some of Märklin's digital components (such as the Mobile Station) are made in Trix versions with different colours and another logo; but otherwise identical and fully compatible with Märklin's. For a number of years Trix has made two-rail versions of many Märklin models with only minor differences, such as axles (electrically insulated) and for powered models (being of lighting and/or a motor) power pickup.
Outside Europe, the Minitrix brand is very popular in the United States of America.
Other Trix brands
Besides the AC Trix Express and Minitrix brands, the Trix company is also well known for its 1:87 scale DC brands, Trix International and Trix H0, dating back at least to the early 1970s and still being produced today.
A particular Trix speciality is the reproduction of Bavarian prototype models from Epoch I and their equivalent Epoch II, DRG versions. Examples such as the B VI (BR 34), D XI (BR 984-5), D XII (BR 73), G 3/4 H (BR 54), Gt 2x4/4 (BR 96), P 3/5 H (BR 384), PtL 2/2 (BR 983) and S 3/6 (BR 184) have been produced in the steam locomotive line, along with numerous passenger and goods wagons.
Trix also produced highly detailed brass models of steam locomotives in limited quantities under the "Fine Art" label, predominantly in the late-1990s.
- (in English) Trix Trains Official US website
- (in German) (in English) Official website in Germany
- (in Dutch) Official website in the Netherlands
- (in English) Enthusiast's site on early Minitrix in North America
- Ramsay's British Model Trains catalogue, 6th edition 2008 page 414.