Tuesday, 31 May 2011

"Votes for the Month of May"

So, after every review video I make, I ask the question - who do you want to see next? And say the usual spiel of "put a comment in the video, or by PM, or whatever forum you're on", and it then takes me about a week and a half to tally up the votes from Youtube, The Sodor Island Forums, Sodor Island 3D, Sudrian Railway Modellers Forum, The Permanent Way Model Forum, the Bachmann USA Forums...and so on and so forth!

Although around 50-100 votes are on Youtube, and around 5-15 on each of those forums, the majority of the votes come in my inbox, with Youtubers giving me some terrific reasons as to why I should make a review on such and such character.

This month it's been a bit easier as people are homing in on specific characters more and more. Less votes for less well known characters, more votes on the major characters who are left.

So, if you haven't already guessed - the choice of the next video review is (drum roll), Edward the Blue Engine - coming in a red Hornby box, and a blue Bachmann Blister Pack.

The votes for the top five characters I tallied up since the 20th May are as follows:

1st - Edward - 257 Votes
2nd - Henry - 103 Votes
3rd - Gordon - 23 Votes
4th - Emily - 17 Votes
5th - Bill & Ben - 9 Votes

And the wooden spoon this week goes out to Lady...who got 11 votes despite not actually being a model in either the Bachmann or Hornby ranges. 11 of those votes were cast by the same person.

This I did not pick up on until writing this blog entry. Annoying.

Emily actually got 18 votes - 17 for, 1 against - first time that's happened, and it made me laugh to read it! Kudos to that viewer :)

Edward was by far and away the top choice this month, and that gives me great delight as he has been - and always shall be - my favourite character in the series. Closely followed by Gordon, for obvious reasons!

Drop me a line here in this blog entry if you have anything you feel absolutely MUST be discussed in the Edward VS Edward video - any and all suggestions gratefully received.

And of course, suggestions for an Ertl model in the "star on a reasonably priced flat truck" cameo - thanks to theirishthomas for that great suggestion on the Spencer video!

Until next time!

"A Pattern Emerges"

There's been a lot of talk recently on the Bachmann HO Thomas & Friends range, mostly centering on the strange, unannounced appearance of Emily's Coaches in the Large Scale Range.

They say there's no smoke without fire, so it seems perfectly natural to assume that a large scale Emily loco is in the works. Right?

Possibly yes, but we must also consider the precedents set by Hornby in previous years.

For example, not only was a Great Waterton set of resin buildings made by Hornby, to tie in with The Great Discovery, there was also "Stanley's Shed". The implication was, that Hornby intended to make the main character of The Great Discovery as a model. That never came to pass, and the buildings - which did not sell in great numbers at their release - have taken several years of dramatic RRP reductions in sales to disperse completely.

The question to pose - one that cannot be easily answered - is, would the set have sold better if Hornby had produced Stanley to go with them? I think so, purely on the basis that people like to collect all the different pieces of ranges such as these, and having a Stanley themed set, complete with shed, track, controller and trucks, would have been a better themed train-set to advertise The Great Discovery than the dirt encrusted Thomas that was sold instead!

Of course, there are further questions - has Stanley really been popular enough to warrant a model in either range? The engines which buck this trend must be the forthcoming Murdoch model in the Hornby range, and the Salty model in the Bachmann range. Neither of the two characters have really been seen as "popular" - Salty is a conveniently placed diesel most of the time, and Murdoch hasn't appeared for several years in the TV series - yet both are being produced/have been produced as models.

Arguably, given the new Railroad 9F models, Murdoch is a simple enough conversion - with echoes of the Hornby Spencer model reusing the Railroad A4's basic tooling. On that basis, the profit margins must be better than tooling up a whole new model for, say, a Stirling Single...!!!

So what of the popular characters? Duck is the missing link in the Bachmann range (and if we go by TV series accuracy, now has a chassis to go under his body, thanks in part to the introduction of the Scottish Twins), whereas the Scottish Twins are the missing link in Hornby's range.

I've always said that Hornby missed a trick by not simply tooling up a new bodyshell for their standard 0-6-0 chassis, and marrying that with the tender tooling off the Caledonian Single. You would have a very convincing Donald or Douglas model with little in the way of new tooling required.

Several people have actually done just that, and a few people have gone further, making their own loco bodies and tenders from scratch, to fit the standard Hornby 0-6-0 Chassis.

Getting back to the idea of a pattern emerging - does this mean that Emily will be produced in large scale? This reviewer says no, purely on the basis that such an announcement would have raised the roof with Thomas modellers everywhere. Emily is a popular character, and a large scale model would be highly desirable. Releasing her coaches, to me, says they are testing the water as to whether a large scale Emily would sell.

On that bombshell, I'll leave you with this question.

What characters can potentially be produced by reusing existing manufacturing tools by Hornby & Bachmann?

Post your answers in the comments section of this blog - I'll discuss the best ideas later in the week. Until next time!

Monday, 30 May 2011

"Hero of the Scales - Now Live!"

Well, today's the day! After much delay and hard work, the "Hero of the Scales" blog is finally live!

All the posts have been moved over from the Copley Hill Blog, giving the Thomas Model Reviews a blog in their own right.

Here's to a few years of fun with the toy trains - I'm now off to have a cup of tea before bed!

Until next time!

Friday, 20 May 2011

"Hornby Spencer VS Bachmann Spencer: Thomas & Friends Range UK vs USA!!!"

It's the battle of the A4 Pacifics - who will win in this streamlined special review?

Until next time!

Monday, 9 May 2011

"Hornby VS Bachmann: Q&A"

I've had a lot of mail recently about my "Hornby VS Bachmann" series of videos. In writing up the script for the latest video, I've come to appreciate further the extent to which Thomas & Friends fans extol the virtues of one range over another.

There's been a lot of questions which I'll try to answer in full in this blog post Q&A. I've even thrown in one bizarre complaint for good measure! So here goes:

Q) Do you make the videos for kids, or parents?

A)My videos are really aimed at the parents of children who'll buy one or the other of the brand, but I thought I'd make it watchable for all ages. That's why it is broken up into sections, making it better digested as a video review.

Q) Is power everything? You put a lot of emphasis on power in the videos...!

A) No, power isn't everything. The Haulage and Tug of War tests are generally used to discern the full potential of the model's mechanical abilities. It must be said, generally the Bachmann range is made to suit a cheaper RRP (Recommended Retail Price), and thus the mechanisms are normally simpler.

Q) Did you use a gloss or semi-gloss black paint to fix the Bachmann James livery issue?

A) It was a gloss black - Humbrol no.21, specifically. I used Tamiya masking tape to get the shape of the smokebox correct, and also prevent the white footplate from being smudged.

The wheels were simpler: I taped up the flanges, and removed the coupling rods, before applying with gentle brushstrokes the same no.21 gloss black. I repeated the process for the tender wheels and axle boxes.

I may yet do a video on how to fix the many livery errors and problems with some of the models. Certainly my Bachmann Percy has become the most modified of my fleet with sprung buffers, repainting and refining the plastic bodyshell further. Pity about the face, but never mind!

Q) Why did Henry have Gordon's face in the Toby Review?

A) It was a little aside to "Peter Sam and the Refreshment lady" - where this switching of faces really did occur in the Television series!

Q) Why did Gordon have Henry's tender in the Toby Review?

A) That was an aside to the episode "It's good to be Gordon", which was a significant part of the plot!

Q) What's been your favourite model to review so far?

A) The James Review has been my favourite so far - the two models were equally good in many ways, and opened up interesting points and discussions on the video itself. The Bachmann James really did impress me, despite its annoying livery errors.

Q) Will you do Lady next?

A) No, I will not do a video review of "Lady". This is down to two very important points.

1) Neither Hornby nor Bachmann make a model of "Lady", and

2) Neither Hornby or Bachmann make a model of "Lady".

I'm aware that was technically the same point, but felt it so important that it was worth saying it twice!

Q) That is just plain harsh at the end about ''garden sheds'' not being allowed to compete (see the Toby Review? )! Or was it just that the two Toby models got owned so badly that it was a bad idea to put the footage in..?

A) One of the two Toby models failed prior to filming the Team Tug of War. Rather than leaving it out altogether, I put together a short film whereby Team Thomas won the Team Tug of War...again!

Q) It bothers me when you say "Backman". Its not bark-man either! It's Bachmann, you have to make the noise at the back of the mouth. If you cant be bothered to get the German right its just ignorant.

A) I'm British, born in Hong Kong whose first languages are English and Cantonese - German (which is where the name originally comes from) is not a language I speak with much clarity as I find languages difficult. Incidentally, your phonetic pronunciation is wrong. The correct phonetic pronunciation of the name is "BAHK-muhn".

A point of interest: Bachmann is in fact an American company, with a Chinese parent company (Kader), originally founded in 1833 by one Henry Carlisle.

Q) How much do these videos cost to make?

A) Each and every model has had to be purchased in and around their RRP (though I shop around to try and get the cheapest deals possible). Two people have donated models to the reviews, for which I am very grateful, and they are linked to in shout-outs throughout each specific review. The Gordon review terrifies me, as the Hornby Gordon has an RRP of £110...that's $180.19!!!

Q) What models do you think Bachmann and Hornby should make for the ranges in future?

A) I'm a firm believer in "playing to one's strengths", and on that basis, I think Hornby could do no better than to give the British Public what they want: and follow Bachmann's lead in making a set of Donald & Douglas models. They could be easily made as a bodyshell to fit the standard 0-6-0 chassis (which their Thomas and Duck models share), with a new tender specially tooled up (or borrowed from the Caledonian 123 model).

Bachmann should get in on the ground floor and make Hiro, the D51 engine first seen in Hero of the Rails. He's a popular character who would make a very handsome and significantly popular model - who wouldn't want to recreate the chase scenes with their Bachmann Thomas, Spencer and Hiro?

But if they wanted to listen to the fans more closely, then the money's on Duck appearing. There's no excuse for not making everyone's favourite Pannier Tank.

That's all for now from the Q&A - until next time, where we'll see Spencer the Hornby Engine take on Spencer the Bachmann Engine...!