A study of of ROKAL would be incomplete without a report on Nathan R. Preston.
Preston was the American importer of ROKAL-TT. Before he built his company two other companies tried the sale of ROKAL:
For one, the Polk Brothers, New York. Nathan Polk, Nathan Polk, manager of Aristo-Craft, is the son of one of these brothers. The Polk brothers also had over the years a great hobby store in the center of Manhattan. Rokal was distributed under the Aristo-Craft name ca 1953-1956. See catalogue)
There was also a Canadian company, which distributed Rokal for a few years in the very early'50s.
Preston took over distribution to 1961 or 1962
Preston (right) and Winkler (center) on the Chicago
Toy and Hobby Fair 1962.
Preston (center) and Winkler (left) on the Chicago Fair 1962.
Published advertisements by Preston date to 1965. Preston imported until the model train production by ROKAL ceased.
Family traditions report that Preston a "hero" of World War II. The family legend says, Preston had alone with his driver and a machine gun and Jeep, liberated and held for Patton's advancing troops the city of Bamberg. There is some evidence for these reports: Finally it was the end of the war and given the unstable conditions, the Germans were probably happier to see two Americans with a weapon as hundreds of Russian troops with Kalaschnikovs.
In any case, Preston remained after the war as a military adviser in the Bamberg area. Eventually, possibly in 1962, he was led to his relationship with ROKAL in Des Plaines, Illinois (USA) where he built his distributorship.
He did this with the help of his partner Leo Winkler, with whom he resided in Bamberg.
Preston was of particular interest because it is based on the German toy market. He also imported Kle-Wei, Pola and others, as well as temporarily Mini-Trix. Preston had the same problem that other distributors, namely that direct purchase was cheaper in Germany, which today (2005) is even more so.
In any case, the Germans were on the strong dollar at that time and very interested in the American market. As they advanced, they all have the same problem: a German product. "We have a great model railway and you will buy" The Americans but asks: "What is the use of this product?"
Anyway, Rokal in America was difficult to sell. First, because the trains were expensive and, ultimately, because N scale emerged and won the scale race.
As ROKAL the production stopped, Preston and Winkler returned to Bamberg. They stayed in the toy industry and founded NRP hobbies. With a shop and mail order.
This is a translation of a page of the homepage of Riley O'Connor, using additional information in this U.S. toy retailer. He kindly allowed me to post December 10, 2005.
This website is produced by Jay W. Preston to honor John Hossack, the Abolitionist of Ottawa, Illinois. The father dedicates this to his son, Yujin Jay Preston (1979-1999), daughter Elika, and daughter Yuli, great great great grandchildren of John Hossack. Permission to reprint this material is granted when this notice is included in full. © 2000 - 2010 Jay W. Preston. For information, comments or contributions of time, money, information, materials, or manpower to this site: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyrights of works cited, quoted, or excerpted remain with the respective owners, if not in public domain.