|During the 70's celebrities loved to be shown with LGB|
as shown on the front page of this old LGB Depesche
Headline: Celebrities driving a celebrated train...
when will you indulge into the fun of owning an LGB
GBP: Back to LGB. What still fascinates me is the story about the handmade locomotives by Christian Höhne which were sold as specialty series by LGB as early as 1977 and were high priced. I do remember quite well the 1976 International Toy Fair Nuremberg where the first model was offered. And I do remember the proud price of DEM 5,000.00 (the equivalent of 2 months salaries for an average worker/clerk). Especially because that was beyond my own means and I just think that that was the same for many LGB fans. How did you manage to sell those locos year after year and even under the pressure of ever increasing prices?
Klaus Baumann: LGB(loco) itself did already impress just by her size. But these handmade steam locomotives of different types had a special wow factor. They were made out of metal, therefore were very heavy, were elaborately packed in wooden boxes, were limited in production to 100 pieces, and of course there were offprints of high gloss brochures. And everybody was convinced that those would increase in value even though that didn't prove true over the years. Any way there were quite a few collectors who put several of the same series on their (basement) shelves immediately. And maybe it was a way for some entrepreneurs out there to 'invest' their money... The final series didn't sell that well any more. Obviously they had hit the ceiling price wise plus meanwhile it proved that they weren't suited well to withstand 'tough' LGB operation (on the layout) - quite contrary to initial beliefs. Standard LGB motorblocks were too weak for the heavy metal bodies. And the fact that during production the parts were painted first and then glued in place led to them falling off after years of usage. 'Superglue' as we have today wasn't invented yet.
GBP: Following hitherto articles in GBP it shows that back then LGB really went into high gear. Continuously there were new models and series were extended. How were 'the good ol' times' at LGB?
Klaus Baumann: One was enjoying one's own success. And we wanted to show off a bit towards Märklin. That was one of the reasons for the many annual new items. Back then they made it a big secret every year at the Nuremberg Toy Fair what new items (models) there would be. Later I ensured to ease up on that. Why shouldn't we grant access (in) to the booth (it was common on German industrial fairs to keep the main part of the booth closed to general visitors and grant access only to by-appointment-only high profile guests). After all we could be proud of what we had to show. And then, the LGB team was simply 'the right stuff'. It is undeniably commendable what the brothers Eberhard and Wolfgang Richter achieved. They also had the luck to find good employees, the Master Craftsmen (Meister) of the various departments, Robert Münzing as technician or the well functioning repair department which also fulfilled almost each and every tinkerer's wish for component parts. Don't forget Wolfgang Zeunert who - for many years - was responsible for the LGB Depesche and many other things. There was no "Public Relations Manager", no "Key Account Manager" - we managed well without those titles...
|Small but effective: LGB management of the 70's:|
(from left):Robert Münzing Technical Adviser, Wolfgang Richter,
Klaus Baumann, Eberhard Richter and his wife Karin
Klaus Baumann: Yes, that is a good example. For me LGB was my profession. And I viewed everything associated with that purely business. And that is quite alright. (In) Earlier (years) I had more (LGB trains) but now my grandchild plays with that.
GBP: Herr Baumann, thank you very much for this interview and also for the coffee and the yummy cake.
Klaus Baumann: It was my pleasure, thank you for coming.
(The original German article contains additional 'boxes' with fun stories shown here in a grey shade)
The Deal with Playmobil --- Ending a vacation on Ibiza island Klaus Baumann met the young owner of Playmobil, Horst Brandstätter at the airport. They had a lot of time since air control was on go-slow strike once again. The Faller company had offered their "Play Train" but (LGB) wasn't satisfied with that. On the spur of the moment Klaus Baumann proposed a co-operation. (Playmobil) Should manufacture the engines themselves, nicely with rounded edges and thick grab bars matching the Playmobil figurines and Lehmann would provide the tracks and motor blocks. While Mr. Brandstätter took a while to warm up to the idea back at Lehmann they were not amused. How he could feed the enemy? - Wolfgang Richter accused him. But he turned around quickly realizing that this train (which by now is known pretty well) wasn't a real competition but rather the entry for children into trains and later to LGB. In addition LGB enjoyed another plus from this deal: the monthly check from Playmobil for the track production was a boon for the profit situation. Nowadays one could admit to it , smiled Klaus Baumann with a wink in his eyes: track production at Lehmann was never unprofitable.