Everyone knows that Walt Disney loved trains. From his earliest experiences with them as a youth to his backyard railway on up to his (almost) full-sized Railroad at Disneyland, Walt was never far away from the rails! And neither, it seems, is Mickey.
Like father, like mouse:
Is Mickey admitting to being a little ‘mentally irregular’? No, that’s not the definition of ‘loco’ that applies here. Did you know that it’s actually a British term for a ‘locomotive’, as in: “Britain’s most famous steam loco.” Oh those Brits, they shorten everything!
And remember, what we see interpreted here in plastic is not a ‘train’. A train is the entire unit once it is assembled in the rail yard: The engine (or locomotive), the tender, the cars, and possibly a caboose. Just as a ‘transport’ on the highway is actually a tractor (the truck portion) and a trailer.
A cowcatcher, shown above at the base of the front of our Loco, is a metal frame for pushing aside cattle or other obstacles on a rail line. This device was invented in 1838 by British engineer Charles Babbage but is now used mostly in North America. The shape serves to lift any object up off of the track and push it safely to the side. In the locomotive industry, a cow catcher is more commonly referred to as a pilot, and true rail enthusiasts frown on the old, albeit more colourful and fun, moniker.
Now let’s have a look at the back of the Loco:
For Steam-powered trains, easy access to fuel and water was imperative. So being able to move from the back of the Loco into the tender needed to be simple and safe. Our plastic Loco looks to have an ‘open’ ‘window’ of sorts for viewing backwards and two doors that could be swung outwards when more supplies were desired.
To further clarify, a tender or coal-car is a special rail vehicle that contains the fuel (wood, coal, or oil) and water required to operate a Steam Train. It is often permanently coupled to the engine, or Loco.
Mickey is the engineer of an 0-2-2 Loco. An 0-2-2, in the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives by wheel arrangement, is one that has two coupled driving wheels followed by two trailing wheels, with no leading wheels. So, four wheels, total.
But our toy is obviously not a real Loco! How do we know for sure? Because it has a little hole in the bottom that makes an annoying squeaking sound when the Loco is squeezed. I guess you could consider this to be the whistle!
This rubber novelty has the Walt Disney Productions trademark and is branded as made by Danara in Taiwan. It also has the number ’72’ engraved on the bottom. This could be a production marker or it could indicate that the toy was produced in 1972.
FUN FACTS: Danara It is a central Asian name that can mean a beautiful female. It also happens to be the 52,400th most popular name of all time. But I digress. There is still a Danara International Limited that makes and distributes plastic toys, but it is impossible to say if it is the same company responsible for Mickey’s Loco.
And to conclude: A Song
Pardon me Walt, is that the famous Mickey Loco?
When you hear the whistle squeaking eight to the bar
Then you know that Disneyland is not very far!
Shovel all the coal in –
Gotta keep it rollin’…
Whoo Whoo, Disneyland, that’s where you are!