Bachmann Industries

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

Bachmann Industries is a Chinese owned company, with its founding base and North American headquarters based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania specializing in model railroading.

Today as part of its parent Kader group, its brand is the largest seller, in terms of volume, of model trains in the world. Bachmann primarily specializes in inexpensive high quality entry-level train sets sold in the mass market.


Founded in 1833 by Henry Carlisle, the company originally specialized in vanity products such as women's combs. In 1899 Carlisle's firm, now run by Henry E. Bachmann, merged with a competing firm being run by Henry E. Bachmann's father, Henry G. Bachmann, and the younger Bachmann's brother, Walter J. Bachmann. The company changed its name to Bachmann Bros.

Its experience in plastics led to a mass-market plastic fence released in 1947. Originally intended for decorating Christmas trees it was adopted by early railway modellers. When Bachmann learned this they began producing other products for this market leading to the Plasticville line of buildings, which were popular accessories for Lionel and American Flyer trains.

Bachmann introduced its own line of trains starting in 1952, made by Hong Kong based plastics moulding manufacturer Kader Holdings Company Limited.

Global expansion

A center cab switcher made by Bachmann's Spectrum.

In light of falling profits, in 1984 Kader acquired Bachmann. It changed the name to Bachmann Industries and used the brand to expand the offering to North American customers.

As well as introducing its own brands to North America, Kader under the Bachmann brand built itself up as the largest volume seller of model railways by purchasing other failing companies, using the Bachmann name to front a series of purchases in the rest of the world to combat the then poor perceptions of Hong Kong based production quality. In 1989 a European division was set up initially reusing the moulds previously used for the Palitoy 'mainline' model railway products to create the Bachmann Branchline models. 1992 it bought Liliput of Austria and in 2000 it bought Graham Farish.

Kader's business model for each take over, from its original purchase of Bachmann to the present day, is to buy a perceived quality brand in the target market or country. The company then closes local in-country production facilities, and then improves quality by re-engineering the models in Hong Kong, and reduces cost by producing the models in mainland China.


Presently Bachmann offers trains in HO scale, N scale, On30, and G scale around the world, in addition to buildings and accessories:

  • North America - Bachmann Industries
  • United Kingdom - Bachmann Branchline offer OO gauge models, while Graham Farish produce British scale (1:148) N gauge models under the Graham Farish name
  • Europe - Liliput and Palitoy
  • China - from 2000, Bachmann also started producing Chinese outline models under the Bachmann China name, opening the world's first Bachmann speciality retail shop in Shanghai in 2005

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