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Menards O gauge World Headquarters building

Headquarters building with Starbucks coffee shop

Price: $119.95 (no. 279-3792) Dimensions: 13 inches wide, 16 inches deep, 23 inches high Features: Interior illumination, Starbucks has tables, chairs, counter, server, and customers. Base is decorated Power: Requires a 4.5-volt 5000-mA AC to DC power adapter sold separately Order:
When I was a kid, I knew a railroad needed a headquarters. Mine was an old Lionel caboose I had received as a gift. The caboose had no couplers, which limited its use, so it became my trainmaster’s office. Well, brothers and sisters, those days are gone.

Other than a cryptic “O World Headquarters” on the shipping notification sent to me, I had no idea what the building might be. Seeing the size of the box made me wonder if they’d shipped a carpet cleaner by mistake. Nope, right there on the side of the box was a picture of a modern skyscraper.

Is it wrong to feel, well, giddy when you open a product box?  If it is, then, I plead guilty. At a time when you wonder what Menards could possibly make that would top the York Hotel Royale, they go ahead and top it.

“Holy cow!” was my first exclamation, once I realized it was a structure with modern lines. I popped the top and found a bundle of small railroad heralds. This suggested you had freedom to select the railroad of your choice.

Corporate HQ KING

This is the grandest contemporary office structure I’ve seen for the O gauge market. This is also the most imposing structure I’ve seen that wasn’t from a custom builder.

This is a magnificent structure on the one hand, for size and on the other, creativity. While the footprint and height of the structure are not that different from those of the previously released York Hotel, the latter has a more vertical look, while the headquarters appears wider. The base is 13 inches wide and 16 inches deep. It stands approximately 23 inches high. The headquarters is 10 inches deep and the Starbucks juts out 5 more.

I think this wideness is an optical illusion of sorts caused by the styling of the windows: They are modern single units that appear somewhat short and wide. The hotel’s windows are similar to the windows on a house, narrow and tall. As any stout person knows, horizontal stripes will make anything look wider!

There are seven stories of corporate windows (employees enter from a first floor side door, by the way). There are windows on all four sides, so the headquarters will be visible from any spot you place it, except perhaps behind a water heater or a basement post!

The uppermost part of the front has backlight signage: WORLD HEADQUARTERS. There is a red tab on the left. This fits the size of the many railroad logos included. But if you don’t want to use this as a railroad building, you can make your own logo on your home computer, use a large lapel pin, or find some other creative technique to make this whatever HQ you want.

The top of the roof has aircraft warning lights on the corners and four groupings of HVAC equipment to keep your 1:48 scale employees comfy in the summer or winter.

The photos don’t quite catch the color, but the structure is light blue with gray trim on the corners. The base is nicely scored to suggest concrete pavement. There are also pedestrians, and Jack the pup is on the sidewalk.

As Menards did with the York Hotel, it utilizes the rear to offer a simulated parking option or let you remove a section and  run your trains through the building.

I thought this was a odd when I saw the hotel, but posing it with several trolley cars looked pretty good and made sense.

A note about the run-through: If you plan on using this structure with the York Hotel, the bases are not the same size. The hotel will need to be placed a bit farther back for the right alignment.

This is a great concept for placing the city skyline on the back loop of your layout for a great visual effect. One might hope there are other cityscape buildings on the horizon.

Hot cuppa Joe

Think back to old movies from the 1930s and ’40s and you’ll probably recall scenes in the lobbies of office buildings they were often a hive of activity. People might bustle around an information desk. There almost always was a newsstand, perhaps a candy/cigar/cigarette vendor, and maybe even a small coffee shop or gift shop. Keeping with this multi-purpose theme, the World Headquarters also has a high-visibility tenant on the first floor: Starbucks.

Starbucks is internationally known and seems to be in a race with Walgreens to be on every other corner of every city in America. You have brand recognition. This will probably elicit smiles from non-train folks viewing your three-rail empire. But as the commercials say, “Wait, there’s more.”

When layout visitors look beyond the sign, they will discover they can see inside the shop from the sides and even the ceiling. Menards has positioned customers, a barista, counters, tables, chairs, and customers. Even a plate of fruity-looking stuff! All it needs is a few O scale coffee mugs, and it will be complete! This aspect should be a crowd pleaser, for certain.

Oh, keep a Swiffer handy. In the few weeks we’ve had this around the office, the smoked windows of the store seem to be a magnet for dust!

As for power, the LED illumination is great – and it should be with 250 LEDs packed into this model. Menards recommends using the new no. 279-4050 power adapter. It is a 4.5V/5000 mA device suitable for the largest requirements of Menards buildings. The adapter costs $19.99 plus shipping. Order online at

At this point, I simply refuse to ask, “What will Menards do next?” because I’m pretty certain that whatever it is, it will be a surprise and it will demonstrate some very clever out-of-the-box thinking.


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