It would not be an exaggeration to think of Märklin and the Swiss "Crocodile" as being synonymous.
The commercial love affair goes back to the early 1930s with offering of the 0- and 1-Gauge models and a single prototype model of a 00-gauge Crocodile in 1938. World War Two, of course, put an end to all this. By 1947, with some signs of economic recovery in evidence, Märklin could once again think about a 00-gauge Crocodile.
Märklin and the Swiss "Crocodile" are very close to being synonymous. Strong statement? Hardly. There has been a model of a Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen (SBB) Ce 6/8 or Be 6/8 electric locomotive in the Märklin product lineup since 1934. Models have ranged from the diminutive Z-gauge Crocodile to the superbly detailed Gauge 1 models of the mid to late 1980s. These models have achieved almost legendary status and a desirability that has steeply elevated their prices into substantial five figures.
Like the prototype, the Märklin Crocodiles span several eras, perhaps milestones is a better word, of European railroad history. A single prototype Crocodile (Ce 6/8I), known as the Köfferli-Lok because of its appearance, was completed in 1920. While this prototype was used largely for testing, construction of a successor Ce 6/8II was already underway. With it the classic crocodile shape was born as was the nickname "Crocodile".
A little more than ten years after the Crocodile started serving the Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen (SBB) over the St. Gotthard, Märklin issued their first model of this intriguing and uncommon locomotive. The story has its beginning in the very early 1930s. Märklin's representative for England, France and Switzerland had called on the Märklin dealer in Zürich and returned to Göppingen with the news that there was a strong demand for a model of the Crocodile.
Many modelers and enthusiasts of European trains know that the Märklin firm started as a manufacturer of lacquered sheet-metal toys in the middle of the 19th century. Toy trains followed, and by 1891, Märklin presented its first systematic approach to model railroading, a windup locomotive with cars, and sectional track. By adding more track, a train setup could be expanded. About 1900, the company had become quite serious about toy trains. On the basis of the products offered by Märklin, gauges and scales 0, I, II and III of that time were adopted on an international basis. Märklin's success grew rapidly, and by 1907, it decided to pursue export markets.