The really serious model railroaders can’t get past the fact the for all their great details and prototypically accurate paint jobs, the ultimate fact remains that these are still toys and we are playing with them. And, certainly Lionel accessories such as the 0470 IRBM Missile Launcher and its accompanying 0847 Exploding Box Car were the source of concern for more than one concerned parent. On the other hand, the 0470 tapped into the psyche of the American boy of that era.
We can’t speak to the intellectual motivation of Lionel when they introduced their new products in the 1960’s, but their H0-Scale product line certainly speaks for itself. Where once the 0-Gauge line had been the cast-iron black beauty steam locomotives that Joshua Lionel Cowan loved, the 1960’s began an era of bright colors, rockets, satellites, radioactive waste and plastic. The 0-Gauge line of trains of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s would be the pattern for the H0 line, too. The accessories of the H0 line echoed the accessories of the 0-Gauge line.
Lionel was not isolated from our society, and while a space race raged in the real world, Lionel armed up, too. It got to the point that the President of Lionel was John B. Medaris, Major General (ret.). Medaris had been in the missile division of the U. S. Army, working at Huntsville with Werner von Braun and the other German rocket scientists. He appeared on the cover of the 1961 Lionel catalog: