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I have been collecting Menards 4 bay Hopper cars for a while now. Nicely produced cars in my opinion. Well worth the money. A few weeks ago I was at our local Train Show where I picked up a Lionel 643625 4 bay Hopper car circa 1955-57 for a very reasonable price. I finally got around to unpacking the Lionel Hopper and set it out with some of the Menards Hoppers. I did not notice at first glance that they looked very similar. After a closer inspection however the Menards Hopper is a clone of the Lionel IMHO. Perhaps the Oriental supplier of Menards Hopper cars has the tooling & molds from Lionel or the License Rights. I may be late to the party on this subject but I just thought that folks here on the O Gauge forum might like to know.

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There has been a lot of discussions in regards about the Menards hoppers being identical to Lionel's version and the Menards boxcars being identical to Williams by Bachmann's version. It would be interesting to know how the manufacture was able to duplicate other companies tooling or is there some leasing of tooling involved, which I doubt.

I just don't see any electric train vendor assisting a competitor that is selling very similar product at a significant reduction in price.

Bill
 

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There are some differences between the three. One most noticeable when making loads, is the inside dimensions. All three are slightly different. As far as tooling, it is possible to make new molds using an existing car.
 
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