In an age of outlandish advertising copy, the "Brute" surely would have inspired some of the greatest flights of fancy ever to grace a catalog page - had it ever been manufactured. Hand-built in Italy around 1927, most likely by Lionel's Societa Meccanica La Precisa tool and die works, the Brute was a pre-production model of what would later become Lionel's largest and flashiest Standard Gauge electric, the 381E.
But even for the Roaring Twenties, the Brute was a bit over the top. At 28" in length - a foot longer than the production 381E - this was a toy that few children could even pick up. Like Lionel, other tinplate manufacturers built electric locomotives based on the Milwaukee Road's Bi-Polar electrics, but only the Brute duplicated the actual engine's articulated body. Equipped with three motors, the Brute was designed to run on special track more than 3" wide. Impractical but incredibly impressive, the one-of-a-kind engine was displayed in Lionel's showroom for many years before passing into the hands of renowned train collector Bill Vagell. He had the model plated to better preserve it, and the Brute later moved into other train collections.
New for 2009, M.T.H. introduces this first-ever replica of one of tinplate's most legendary locomotives, offered with three motors in as-built green livery or plated as the model exists today. While the original Brute never turned a wheel on an actual layout, we've engineered our model to run on Standard Gauge track so you can experience what Joshua Lionel Cowen dreamed of: the Brute heading up a string of tinplate varnish as it was intended to do.
Read more about the Brute in the Classic Toy Trains article.