Tuesday, 31 May 2011

"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!


  1. Interesting read, I did not know about Emily's coaches in large scale until now.

    Even though Bachmann are not known to reuse tooling, they could make Hank from their existing K4 model.

    As for Hornby, I don't understand why their Edward was not made from the 2P model.

  2. Personaly I think that hornby should take their railroad 04 diesel and paint it black, adding cowcatchers and sideplates to give us mavis, the wheel base would be wrong, but it would be anice model. Alteratively hornby could legethen he o4 body and place a standred 0-6-0 chassiec inside,

  3. My idea for Bachmann would be...Arthur with Bachmann UK's 4MT all they have to do is take the body shell and chassis off and paint it and the wheels too in maroon colour scheme with the letters LMS on the sides and slap a face on it and presto you got yourself an Arthur.

    For Hornby, they should re-release the RS Flying Scotsman with the two tenders that it had in 'Enterprising Engine'. All they have to do is have their two tendered Flying Scotsman re-issued or remove the cowcatcher and bell on the 1969 US Tour Flying Scotsman set, slap maybe a customise face on the smokebox door and there you go.

  4. Hornby already did a rather scrappy Bear posing as D7101. I think they could have simply done it with a better face in proper two-tone green.

    Same goes for Bachmann, I believe they did a 00 Hymek in their history? No retooling required, standard everything apart from number and face.


  5. I think one model Bachman could easly make is a hank model scince he is a model of a pre war PRR K4 The only changes bachmann would have to make is the cow catcher and put a face on, although two things that don't make sense is the K4's main purpose was to haul the PRR's passenger trains they could be capeable of a fast freight but thomas depicted him ofa freight engin, and the second Giveing a pensy steam locomotive a southern accent or a cowboy accent

  6. I think Bachmann needs to step up to the plate and make Duck the Great Western Engine. He's been wanted for years and we all know that without a question he is the highest engine on demand for Bachmann. A gap that really needs to be filled by Bachmann, methinks!

    In terms of Hornby, I can see Hornby producing Neville as their next engine. Literally all they need to do is add a face to their current Q1 model and there you have it. I know he hasn't made a lot of appearances, but to me, judging by how Hornby reuses toolings for their Thomas range...Neville is the way to go. Plus I can imagine the result being promising.

  7. ^ Forgot to mention the fact that Duck uses the same chassis as Donald and Douglas, but I didn't feel it was necessary since you had already mentioned it on the blog. All the same glad to see that we're on the same page!

  8. To be quite honest, I found it a bit unusual that Stanley never came out from Hornby. I know you questioned Stanley's popularity in this case and it was well known that the great waterton buildings were announced before the airing of the Great Discovery, yet we still had no Stanley model. Yet despite this...howcome Hornby went on to produce a model of Dart before Day of the Diesels airing...! The fact Hornby didn't make Stanley with the Great Waterton buildings before the respective special airing, yet making Dart before his respective special airing left me speechless.