c.1949 Marx, 12pc. Mystery Tunnel in Original Box #2

c.1949 Marx, 12pc. Mystery Tunnel in Original Box #2

The diversity and sheer number of different toys sold under the Marx name never ceases to amaze me. This was the first example of the Marx Mystery Tunnel I had found. It's all heavy gauge tin litho complete with original box, inserts, and even the original factory inspection tag. And most important it's in near mint+ condition!

I could find no reference for this toy. The date manufactured was approximated using the post-1939 Marx logo, the presence of tin wheel racers, and the auto styles shown on the box cover. 

Central to the set is a single straight track 9" section with raised walls and arched roof (i.e., the tunnel). A shopping center with a coffee shop, a pharmacy, an apple vendor, and sidewalk citizens are lithoed on one side. The "Tunnel Service Incorporated" garage and car wash is lithoed on the other. The arched roof has a long compass arrow pointing west. "Mitchell Field" and "25Mi." are on opposite corners of the roof. The lithography on the roof represents directions for a passing overhead airplane. 

Now here's the Mystery part. Attached to the underside of the tunnel roof is a grooved, chrome plated steel ramp. The wheels of the racers fit perfectly into the grooves. One end of the ramp is hinged and fixed to the ceiling. This allows the opposite end to raise and lower. In the center of the tunnel, hanging down from the ramp is a lever. The idea is that  one car enters, strikes the lever, and releases the second racer.

That's the Mystery; one car enters while another leaves. The real mystery is figuring out how the blasted thing works! With start/stop switches on the rear trunk of both vehicles there's no way to have one racer remain stationary and take off by itself. The racers are also too tall to fit through the opening with the ramp down. I didn't want to scratch anything and since it's never been assembled I left it a mystery. 

The set also includes eight curved tracks and one straight. Each is lithoed to represent a bricked roadway which is fenced on both sides. The tracks interconnect on both ends. However, all it takes is one use and the litho will be scratched. There are only two miniscule scuffs on two of the 40 track connector ends and not a single mark on the roadway. The tunnel and single straight track pieces are 9" long. The remaining eight curved sections are 11" long. Total length when assembled is 106", or approximately 9 ft. 

The two racers are 4" long with clockwork motors and on/off switches. They're all tin litho with pressed disk, chrome plated tin wheels. The names, "Comet" and "Whiz" are lithoed of their roofs. They come with their original (and correct) Marx die cast metal key. Both have a pre-1939 Marx logo lithoed on the driver's door.

The original box is just awesome. It's beautifully illustrated in perspective. Printed in dark blue, dark red, and very little white, it shows the Tunnel service garage and a car emerging from one end. Side portraits of a blue and red racer are shown on the side aprons. The box includes the original insert for the tunnel, as well as the separate box inserts for each racer. Amazingly, also inside the box was the original stamped packing slip. The stamped number correlates to a specific factory worker.... just in case there's a complaint.

Size: Toy size as indicated in description. Box 7" x 11¾" x 2".

Sold: May 2006

Price Sold: $ 487


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Subject: c.1949 Marx, 12pc. Mystery Tunnel in Original Box #2

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