If you collect Marklin Z regular production or special imprints before 1997 your helpful guides on the journey are the very informative Koll catalogs from 1996 and 1997. Koll published two catalogs for each year: “Marklin SpurZ” and Marklin SpurZ Speczial”. The two Marklin SpurZ catalogs cover regular production items and their variants along with approximate valuations. The “Speczial’s” catalogs cover special imprints produced and printed by Marklin almost completely illustrated and accompanied by edition size, valuation and Koll’s number. The Koll’s number is important in that it identifies year produced and sequence of release that year. Marklin has produced special editions and one time series locomotive and car sets sometimes accompanied by a numbered certificate, special imprints including white box editions are a little different often produced in editions as small as 100 and commissioned privately; they have never been available through the dealer network, collectors of special imprints purchase these cars through secondary market passing from the original owners through dealers and then new collectors. One exception are Hbis style cars with Swiss imprints, they were produced for the Swiss market in an edition size of 300, but they were sometimes then imported to USA dealers without being sold in Switzerland first. Great graphics and rarity have been two reasons to collect Marklin special imprints, but gaining a wider understanding of the companies depicted on these cars adds tremendously to the appreciation of the historical value of collecting Marklin Z.
-Special Imprints are also assigned another set of numbers besides Koll, these numbers are known as ‘Miba-Monk’ numbers based on the collection of Gilles Monk of Belgium, they are assigned numbers based on the sequential release dates. There are thousands of special imprints so the work of archiving these very special cars is to be admired.
-Special Imprints also include another subset referred to as ‘Industry Prints’. Industry prints are not covered in the Koll catalogs. Industry Prints were privately printed in Germany by Baur-Druck Bad Waldsee and sold by Schmidt, Germany for distribution in Europe and the United States. *If you have a special imprint car, and it does not have a tiny ‘m’ printed on it then it is an Industry Print.
Designing your first large scale Z layout can be a daunting task, but Marklin offers three excellent products to help: track stencil 0212, layout book 0296 and the track planning game 0232. These three products each in their own way references all tracks and track accessories. The track stencil allows for a straight forward approach, tracks are drawn through a connect the dots kind of exercise. The layout book has been reprinted several times suggesting its longstanding popularity, it starts with an overview of track and accessories followed by numerous very fine ready made layout and module designs. Lastly is 0232 referred to as the Track Planning Game which is a good description for it with lots of plastic parts that fit together like a puzzle. Snap together pieces represent all the different kinds of track, switches and accessories to make up a layout in a 1:2 ratio, simply double the dimensions of the completed assemblage of track to determine how big your layout will be. At the time of this writing all three products are no longer available by Marklin, but each are easy to find on Ebay or dealer old stock.
Z gauge layouts can be produced with products from numerous companies. As for track there are three popular ones including Micro Trains, Rokuhan and Marklin. Marklin in my opinion is the most realistic, but unlike the other two you will need to add roadbed for realism. Cork roadbed is available from Itty Bitty Lines and most train stores that sell Z have this in stock. You can adjust the color of a cork roadbed with water base paint to match your prototype railroad. Cork roadbed is difficult to lay for curves, but cutting it lengthwise in two parts will allow it to easily manipulate for curves. Track maintenance is essential from time to time from cleaning to dust removal. If you own a Miele vacuum cleaner perhaps consider purchasing the accessory SMC20 Micro Set, it is perfect for removing dust from track and catenary. Use denatured alcohol for cleaning the track. A dirty track can often be the culprit when your loco is not running smoothly.
About 20 years ago Marklin commissioned Noch to make two layouts: one for winter and one for summer using the smallest radius available in Z. Noch came up with two detail rich layouts for the smallest space. These are perfect if you live in a cramped NYC apartment like my Wife and I once did. Big on details including 10 people, 5 buildings, 23 trees, wooden bridge, open girder bridge, stream and pond, a phone booth, and even a VW Bug. This summer layout features static grass and rocky landscape features. Electronics are simple and include 3 position toggle for neutral, forward and reverse direction, speed controller, and plug. What you need is a power source for up to 9 volts either with a battery or an AC adapter. I recommend the AC Adapter by Powerline, their version that is labeled ‘Universal’, it features a switch that lets you adjust power from 3V – 12V which is handy for fine tuning the speed controller; mine is set for 6 volts which is perfect. A 9V battery won’t give this level of control. Dimensions: outer diameter is 15 1/2 inches. Originally the layout retailed for close to $600. If you can’t find one of these layouts don’t fear you can make your own out of foam and wire it with the Noch speed controller available for under $90 at ZscaleHobo.com, Frank also sells the Noch StaticMaster for applying static grass.
In 1984-1986 Marklin released in cooperation with Kraft 11 special imprint cars in Z scale. Nine of the cars were included in printed cardboard sleeves comprising car or cars respectfully along with track or accessories comprising a complete train and layout if you collected them all. The illustrations on the sleeves are fun, they depict the car included hooked up to the other cars in the train in their progression of release. It has taken me many years to collect all of these cars, each features the little printed ‘m’ for Marklin notating a special release car. Two cars that were printed at the same time as the “Marken-Express” cars were ‘Frapan’ and ‘Knack & Back’, these cars differed from the “Marken-Express” releases, they included illustrated Kraft product sleeves. The Marklin style 8615 and 8600 freight cars were used for these two editions.
Here is the list of Marklin Z Kraft cars in order of release with Koll’s numbers:
1. NUR GUTES VERDIENT DEN NAMEN KRAFT + Tomaten-Ketchup: two car set that included a BR 89 loco. Koll’s #84710 (1984). Marken-Express release.
2. Scheibletten Koll’s #84711. Marken-Express release.
3. Mayonnaise Koll’s #84701. Marken-Express release.
4. Miracoli Koll’s #84702. Marken-Express release.
5. KRAFT-VELVETA Koll’s #85702. Marken-Express release.
6. Miracel Whip Koll’s #85703. Marken-Express release.
7. PHILADELPHIA Koll’s #85701. Marken-Express release.
8. FRAPAN Koll’s #85701.
9. Knack & Back Koll’s #85702.
10. jocca Koll’s #86701 Marken-Express release.