Sad news from Athearn this morning. They are disccontinuing effective immediately their blue box line of basic kits.
I'm sure most US outline modellers around the world began with the Athearn blue box kits. Kits was a misnomer really. There was rarely any serious assembly to do like in the Intermountain TTX flat car kit I still have to make after 4 or 5 years in my posession. They were more of a dis-assembled R-T-R model. It was just a question of putting the body on the underframe screwing the bogies in place and adding couplers. Five to ten minutes work and Bingo! There you had it. One ready to run HO scale box car.
My first layout was totally operated with blue box freight stock and locomotives. I still have some today operating on this layout.
Times however have moved on and there are much much better quality kits and RTR models out there today. It will tak a long time for them to disappear but still the shelves of the local hobby shop won't be the same without that little blue box there.