6. What is the story about the Aurora train wreck?
Tom West was the R&D Product Manager for the Aurora Kit line at the end of the run. He says:
“The infamous train wreck (somewhere outside Albany, as I got the word) did in fact happen. Evidently it was a derailment which sent the car carrying a load of molds out into a field. Since they were so heavy, the molds were not tied down and pretty well tore up the car when they went through the car.
“The loss was actually in the area of 14 1/2 molds officially (or 15 1/2, something like that). The molds were taken to Chicago to the Morton Grove facility, where the insurance company paid on the loss. Obviously, the other 1/2 mold was not particularly functional, but then the insurance company never had to produce parts from the remaining 1/2 mold.
“There were some figure kits involved, a couple of aircraft molds, and the Addams family house sounds right, as mentioned on one of the other responses. I know that one of the accessory (black) parts molds for World War I aircraft was in there as well. I believe it was the Albatross CIII and two more kits that were the ones affected. Can’t remember which the others were.
“Aurora molds were pretty much dismantled by Monogram beyond the ones lost in the wreck. When they got the molds, they gave their marketing group the list and told them to tell management which tools they would use in a certain period of time, like 3 years or 5 years, or something like that. Everything after that was open to the tooling guys, who, I understand, were given a bonus based on the amount of beryllium steel (cast cavities) that they were able to salvage from those molds. This material can be remelted and recast into new parts. Much of the classic oddball Aurora product was melted down in what sounded like a real feeding frenzy which eliminated the greatest part of the Aurora mold library, especially unwanted figures.
Since that time I have talked to various people who would have been involved, and everyone was just following orders and nobody ever made a decision to scrap those molds. Tom Gannon, the Monogram President at the time was the only one who would take credit for the direction that set that in motion, as he felt it was good business to eliminate the stuff from the marketplace to eliminate competition. As if some of that old Aurora stuff was really going to compete with what Monogram was doing.
Hope this helps clear up some of the confusion.”