BERLIN — Last spring, the managers at Märklin, the 162-year-old maker of model trains in Germany, were surprised by something unexpected in the sales reports.
“We started to notice a serious uptick in orders,” said Florian Sieber, a director at Märklin. The jump continued into summer — a further surprise, he said, because that’s “when people don’t usually buy indoor train sets.”
But buy they did. In November, Märklin’s monthly orders were up 70 percent over the previous year. The company’s video introducing its new trains and accessories, posted in January, has been viewed over 165,000 times.
Along with baking and jigsaw puzzles earlier in the pandemic, model trains are among the passions being rediscovered while people are cooped up indoors. Several companies that make trains are reporting jumps in sales. For many people, the chance to create a separate, better world in the living room — with stunning mountains, tiny chugging locomotives and communities of inch-high people where no one needs a mask — is hard to resist.
Märklineum, the company’s museum.
the Simba Dickie group, a privately owned German toymaker, bought the company, trying to salvage what it saw as an important brand.