For the railroads, the identity that most know and love are the various paint schemes applied to their locomotives and rolling stock. Over time these identities can change, some a little and others a lot. Much like the railroads, the box and its artwork is what many model railroaders use to identify the different manufacturers of model train products. Like the railroads, the box design can change overtime. Here is a little history of how the ExactRail box came to be and has changed.
In the Beginning...
The name of the concept business as it was proposed to John Pestana was Premier. The Premier box was white with red and grey accents, and would serve as the foundation for the ExactRail box. (The box art image is not an exact reproduction of the original artwork.) Pestana felt as though the Premier name was overly generic. The internet is full of companies named Premier, from day spas to insurance agencies. He saw a need to create a company name that spoke directly to model train enthusiasts.
Original designs of the box with the ExactRail brand were tested in a rainbow of colors, one example is the green version to the left. Eventually the colors were decided to be blue & yellow for Evolution Series & N scale products and grey & yellow for Platinum Series products. With the colors decided and a change to the window size, the boxes for the first releases were ready.
The Platinum Series Box
The grey and yellow Platinum Series box was relatively short lived, only 3 product releases shipped in it. The boxes went through a full top to bottom redesign. All boxes would now have the same blue and yellow. The product series tags went from an oval in the top right to the "swoosh" with the newly revised series designs. All other design elements of the original box were refined and a small adjustment made to the window size.
In 2013 we introduced the 3rd generation charcoal box. We felt that the current box art was too busy and was becoming dated quickly. We decided to go with a more minimalistic and timeless approach. We had experimented with a few designs, first in N Scale and then on an Evolution Series box, both will be discussed later.
The ovals & swooshes were eliminated and the brand began the transition to charcoal. The new box is simple, clean and with a handsome matt finish. We like this box because it looks great but doesn't draw your attention away from the product inside.
The Evolution Series Box
With only different color queues, the Evolution Series box was always within the same family of the Platinum Series box. Evolution blue came about with the 2nd generation boxes. It was used in the series logo "swoosh" and oval above the window. On the charcoal boxes, the Evolution blue replaced the grey used by the Platinum Series boxes.
Express & Signature Series Boxes
There has only been 1 box version of the Express & Signature Series, both from the 2nd generation boxes. The Express green and Signature red were the only changes to the boxes from the Platinum and Evolution boxes.
When we do a new release in the Express Series it will follow in the footsteps of the Evolution charcoal box, but substituting the blue with Express green.
Signature Series will most likely not see a new box as this line has effectively been folded into the Platinum Series.
Other Box Styles
Prior to the Charcoal boxes there were a few box & packaging designs that were used.
Artwork needed to be generated for the Brass Irrigation Wheel Line & N scale jewel case inserts as well as a new box size for the 30' & 50' Bridges. This opportunity was used to design new box artwork. Liking the new design, we decided to run with it on future releases, however the ExactRail blue was changed to the current charcoal.
Because of the various sizes and lengths of the products we have produced. Many different sizes had to be designed to display and protect them.
The two most common sizes are the 10.5x4x2" & the 12x4x2" boxes. Typically a 40' to 50' long freight car goes into the 10.5" box and a 60' to 70' long freight car goes into the 12" box. For the 89' long Vert-A-Pac, it needed a 16" long box.
Bridges required a deeper box to protect the product. Using the same length and width of the standard box sizes, a deeper 3.5" box was developed.
For the initial release of the Johnstown America AutoFlood II Hoppers we offered a bulk pack. This 16x12x2" box could safely hold 4 cars.
In part 2 I will talk about N scale boxes, as well as packaging for wheels and trucks.