When you think cool, you probably don't think of toy trains. Indeed, you probably picture the toy-train enthusiast as a portly, avuncular loner with way too much knowledge of railroad history and an even greater willingness to share that knowledge with anyone who will sit still long enough for him to divulge it (Cliff Clavin, basically).
But that's not true (entirely). There are loads of ultra-cool people who love them some toy trains, and you might even meet some of them at this weekend's Rocky Mountain Toy Train Show at the Denver Merchandise Mart. Still think you're too cool for the show? We'll prove you wrong with this list of five people who love toy trains and are definitely cooler than you.
5. Neil Young
Neil Young loved toy trains so much that he bought the company! That's right, Neil Young was a part-owner of Lionel, one of the biggest toy train manufacturers out there. He also invented a number of train-control technologies, while also making rock-and-roll history as one of the all-time great singer, songwriter and guitarists.
Reason he's cooler than you: He's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You are not.
4. Gary Coleman
The former child star was a model-train enthusiast, and it only makes sense that he would like miniature things. for a while, he worked here in Denver at Caboose Hobbies and had one of his layouts featured in the September 1990 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.
Reason he's cooler than you: His catchphrase was known and beloved by millions, even to this day. How's your catchphrase doing?
3. Winston Churchill
England's greatest leader of modern times wasn't above getting down on his hands and knees and playing with toy trains. According to a charming story related by his grandson, he even liked to make his trains crash. Mussolini might have made the trains run on time, but Churchill wasn't afraid to fuck them up, and look who won World War II.
Reason he's cooler than you: He was one of the key figures who lead the Allies to victory in WWII. You've never gotten close to WWII than a game of Call of Duty.
2. Johnny Cash
He appeared in a handful of TV spots for Lionel in the '70s (he and Neil Young probably got together to talk trains and stuff) and said it himself: "If anybody loves trains, it's me, Johnny Cash." He wouldn't say it if it weren't true, would he? Also, he wrote a bunch of songs about trains, or that mentioned trains, so there's that.
Reason he's cooler than you: He is the Man in Black. No one has ever called you that.
1. Mr. Rogers
One of the coolest thing about Mr. Rogers was his badass toy-train layout. Come on, admit it -- as a child, you would have killed to have that set-up. Now as a suave, fashionable urban youth, you'd probably prefer one of his killer cardigan sweaters, but deep down, you know his trolley is still where it's at.
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Reason he's cooler than you: Mr. Rogers was an inspirational icon to millions of children. You probably haven't even inspired one kid today, have you?