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

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

Superb and only the second example I've seen of the Marx Mystery Tunnel. 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, metal wheels instead of rubber or plastic, and the auto styles shown on the box cover and tunnel. 

Central to the set is a single straight track 9" section with a lithographed 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 interior of the tunnel roof is a grooved, plated steel ramp. One end of the ramp is hinged and fixed to the ceiling. This allows the opposite end to raise and lower and works as a release mechanism. Hanging down from the center of the ramp is a lever. One car is wound up and placed underneath the ramp between the lever and the end of the ramp while its running. The idea is that as the second car enters, it'll strike the lever, raising the ramp, to release the first racer. That's the Mystery; one car enters while another leaves. The real mystery is how to keep the first car running while the second is being placed on the track. With start/stop switches on the rear trunk of both vehicles the tunnel car has to be inserted while it's running. You then have to have enough time to place the second racer behind it. 

One use will also scratch the roof of both cars. It appears that the tracks were assembled once, and that the cars were run through the tunnel just once (each has a single tiny nick on the roof). Both cars work great and I didn't want to scratch anything so I didn't try to run the vehicles through the tunnel.

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. 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, polished tin wheels. The names, "Bluestreak" and "Whiz" are lithoed of their roofs. They come with their original (and correct) Marx die cast metal key and have pre-1939 Marx logo's on them.

The original box is awesome. Printed in dark blue, dark red, and white it was illustrated in a dark "art noir" style. 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. It also includes the original stamped packing slip.

Size: Toy size as indicated in description. Box 7" x 11" x 2". 

Sold: Oct. 2008

Price Sold: $ 480


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

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