Monday, 20 June 2011

"Railroad Class 06"

I actually bought this Hornby Railroad Class 06 quite a while ago, for a project which to date is ongoing, and whilst rummaging for something else, came across it in the cupboard, still boxed, unused.

So the question is - are there enough diesel fans out there who would like this to be the first review on a diesel subject (alongside Mavis and Salty videos for the Thomas range), and in the style of the Tornado review?

Post your comments here. Do I review the little diesel or not?

Until next time!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

"Day of the Diesel Design Drama"

Last week, Bachmann USA released the first photograph of their forthcoming Diesel model for the Thomas & Friends range. Since then the vast array of forums have been awash with posts on the look of the new model, which is touted for an October release alongside Donald & Douglas.

One of the things which has cropped up in discussion concerns the face. It is this which has been met with great debate, and I feel that there is a single, logical answer as to why this face - taken directly from the CGI incarnation of Diesel - was used.

To put it simply, this is the current incarnation of Diesel as the fans know him. It is the most recognizable to the pre-school market the brand is aimed at, and it follows on from the development of the Bachmann large scale models released over the last two years.

The characters of Thomas, Percy & James in the large scale range were designed and manufactured after the characters had been made into their CGI forms for the new incarnation of the show. This is also true of Diesel. All four models therefore have a great deal of raw video material available to Bachmann's designers for the overall design of their models.

There is no doubt in my mind that HiT Entertainment will want any new models made, under license from them, to match closely with the CGI incarnation of Thomas & Friends - it's the current look, and as we should know from experience, the look of a brand is crucial in maintaining its desirability.

However, several people have cited Donald & Douglas as being examples of models which are not made to the CGI standard, as the above four models described were, and that Diesel should match this idea of the Bachmann models being made to the "model series" and not the "CGI series".

This train of thought is derailed somewhat when it is realized that neither Donald nor Douglas, nor Bill & Ben (who have appeared in recent years) could be made to the above standard, as none of the four have appeared in full CGI yet. Further, one poster on a particular forum made mention of Salty not being to his CGI form - this is because his Bachmann model came out before the full CGI was implemented into the series.

Overall, I would suggest, gently, that fans and modellers alike think through the future of the Bachmann Thomas & Friends carefully. Future models are no doubt going to be closer to the new vision for the show, and not the older models, regardless of the prototype chosen.

It is for that reason that I am taking my money off Duck appearing, shared chassis or not (although how awesome would it be if Bachmann made him? Come on! The fanboy in me says yes, the cynic in me says no), and putting it firmly on a character such as Hiro appearing instead.

In fact, I wonder if any of the forthcoming Day of the Diesels characters will be considered for a Bachmann model instead, in future, given the change in design slant to the CGI series.

On that note, I'll call it a day. I am still collating votes, and will do up until the 26th June. On the 5th July, I will announce the subject of the next review.

To whet your whistles, I can reveal that in joint first in the voting stakes, are Bill & Ben, and Henry, with Gordon a strong 3rd, and Emily a weaker 4th.

Until next time!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

"Edward VS Edward"

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Reverend W. Awdry's birth!

“It's the United States VS Great Britain”

“Edward the Bachmann Engine”
“Edward the Hornby Engine”

Which of these top rated toy trains in the USA and UK will win in this streamlined special review, with tests on style, strength and SHEER POWER?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

"HO/OO Thomas Poll"

Hallo all!

A very interesting fact has emerged recently - the Hornby Thomas is no longer supplied with traction tyres. This means that my original Thomas VS Thomas is now largely irrelevant, consequently I am going to film a rematch between the Bachmann Thomas and the Hornby Thomas.

To help with the filming, I need people who own either model to tell me a few things. So, please take a minute to read the questions below, and answer them if they are relevant to you:

Hornby Thomas:

Q1. Where did you buy your Thomas
Q2. Does your Thomas have Traction tyres?
Q3. What year was your Thomas made?
Q4. How well does it run?

Bachmann Thomas

Q1. Where did you buy your Thomas?
Q2. What year was your Thomas made?
Q3. How well does it run?

In addition, there's a few questions for both sets of owners:

General Questions

Q1. Who is your favourite character?
Q2. What locomotive character would you like to see from Hornby?
Q3. What locomotive character would you like to see from Bachmann?
Q4. What do you feel could be improved on in either range?

Thanks in advance chaps, I will accept answers up until July 30th, and I'll publish the results prior to the release of Thomas VS Thomas: Reloaded!

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, 13 June 2011

"Edward VS Edward...coming 20th June"

Yes, the next review video is now scripted, and into the filming and editing stage. Edward VS Edward is coming to Youtube on the 20th June!

Until next time, where the two octogenarians of the Thomas & Friends world battle it out in a series of tests, on style, strength, and sheer POWER!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Hi Everyone,

My apologies to those on Youtube who commented on my last two videos - I managed to upload the originals edits, sans the watermark. As they say in the business, whoops!

Here are the videos, one each for the pages on this blog, covering The Time Trial Leaderboard, The Haulage Capacity League, and the Tug of War Challenge.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

"Leokimvideo's Next Video"

All images in this blog post are © Leo Henry, and are used with permission.

I've been very privileged these last few years to build up a good working relationship with Youtube Media Don Leo Henry (best known by his moniker, Leokimvideo), and from time to time we exchange ideas and discuss the latest goings on, on the 'Tube.

Coming soon from Leo is a terrific video where he shows you how to power a Pez Thomas for HO track, along with related coaches, other engines and stock. He's allowed me a glimpse into the behind the scenes, and the photographs below are a small insight into what will be a VERY big video on Youtube.

As you can see, Leo has created a rather lovely period piece, of Thomas with Annie & Clarabel, to match the traditional Hornby train set variant.

This picture tells a thousand words - a lot of hard work went into preparing the Pez models and the Take'n'Play Thomas for film.

Look out for it - it is sure to be a brilliant video.

Until next time!

"Additions to the blog"

Following some good advice, I've started to create separate pages for the results in the Time Trials, Tug of Wars, and Haulage Capacity tests. Each one will have a separate video, along with results posted underneath.

You can click on the above pages to see my progress - currently only the Time Trial one is complete, as I am collating the results of the other two.


In other news, bowing to pressure from Youtubers in the know, I am going to have a rematch between Hornby and Bachmann Thomas. This is as a result of discovering that not every Hornby Thomas has traction tyres...!!!

Look out for that, in addition to August's Hornby VS Bachmann video.

Until next time!

Monday, 6 June 2011

"Hornby Railroad Tornado - Review"

“It's the best of British – a brand new, mainline steam locomotive for the 21st Century”

“The A1 Trust's number 60163, Tornado, is now available in model form, from Hornby!”

“How will the Mighty Tornado fare in this model review, with tests on style, strength and SHEER POWER?”

First Impressions

In 2008, 60163 Tornado was released to traffic for the first time, running in on the Great Central Railway in her grey livery, before being painted in her most recognisable British Railways Apple Green livery.

The locomotive was the culmination of a shared dream: People who shared a vision, and were determined to turn it into a reality.

The engine has achieved super star status, appearing markedly in the national press as the star of Top Gear's Race to the North – and now, it has been immortalised by Hornby in three model variations to be released this year.

The first, and the subject of this review, is the budget “Railroad” range Tornado.

On receiving the model, the first thing I noticed was a little sticker applied to the handsome yellow and red packaging – a “DCC Ready” sticker. The box is the standard Hornby affair, though annoyingly it does not use the plastic inserts of previous Railroad models, regressing somewhat to the polysterene tray of previous years.

At a first glance, the bulk of the new build Peppercorn A1 is captured extremely well. Most notable are the roller bearing axle boxes on tender and engine, the shape of the cab roof – unique to Tornado – the placement of the A1 whistle (different from the original engines) and the plain stovepipe chimney.

On the front bufferbeam, the electric lighting and their lamp brackets are absent, but the holes for their placement are not, leaving three distinct square holes in the running plate. The hole for the vacuum pipe in the bufferbeam is also present, but no detail is provided with this budget model to fit.

A spare pipe can be fitted very easily to the front end, improving the look.

The handrails on the cab, tender and smoke deflectors are moulded onto the model, much like the Railroad Flying Scotsman model. The handrail for the boiler is separately fitted.

The buffers are not sprung, and are moulded onto the model. This is something of a disappointment as my example had some damage to the right hand buffer. The plastic is clearly not durable enough, and caution is advised when handling the buffers. If you are brave enough, as I intend to be, to fit new buffers, spare sprung buffers can be obtained from Bachmann of the correct LNER type.

The tender shares this type of buffer. Detail on the rear of the tender body is crisply moulded, though again there is no vacuum pipe, but a hole for fitting one remains present.

The tender is probably the strongest part of the model, capturing every single unique detail of Tornado's tender, down to the anti-slide plating on the water tank, to the cabinet of dials on the front. The spoked wheels are a joy to behold, and capture the prototype extremely well.

The connection between the tender and locomotive is a simple bar arrangement, with two holes for changing the gap between cab and tender. This means the tender, like the Bachmann Peppercorn A1s, does not have pickups of any form.

This is the first time I have seen this particular arrangement on a Hornby model, and I don't like it very much. It seems a rather flimsy arrangement, compared with the other other Railroad Pacifics plug in connection.

The cab is also moulded very well, entirely in plastic and as part of the injection moulded bodyshell. Two cab seats are provided, one either side. The cab roof, though relatively plain, is a very accurate presentation of the prototype's different curvature to the roof.

The chassis is a very familiar affair, if you are familiar with Hornby's other Pacifics in their Railroad and Super Detail ranges. The cartazzi wheelset – the two small wheels under the cab – are flangeless, allowing the model to negotiate tight curves with ease. A relief for my tiny trainset!

The wheels have plastic centres, with metal rims pressed onto them. The only real complaint here is the colour of the plastic – it does not match the green of the bodyshell very well.

When lined up alongside two Bachmann Peppercorn A1s, the differences are clear. The top engine is Bachmann's W.P. Allen model, and the bottom is Bachmann's own model of Tornado, first released in 2010.

The first obvious difference between the three models is the application of their liveries. The Railroad is a budget model, and has a much simplified livery. The white/black/white lining of the prototype is reduced to simple white lining on the locomotive, and to white/green/white on the tender.

The extensive red lining on the running plate, and frames of the locomotive and tender have also been excluded. The overhead warning stickers are also absent.

At the front end, the white lining on the bufferbeam has also been excluded. For a budget model, this is understandable.

The nameplates are printed onto the smoke deflectors and are easily legible. The cabside numbers and British Railways branding on the tender are neatly applied too.

More disappointingly, no silver paint has been applied to the smokebox – one of Tornado's most recognisable features are her burnished smokebox straps and handrail, and to some extent this changes the “face” of the model somewhat. The very prominent chime whistle Tornado carries behind her right hand smoke deflector is there, but is both unpainted, and very plainly moulded.

This is a very minor quibble with an otherwise excellently painted model. The livery application is crisp and sharp, the model looking smart regardless of its much simplified livery.

Haulage Capacity

Each model has to pull a train of coaches, the standard coach being used for this test the ubiquitous Hornby Mk1 coach.

The weight of one Hornby Mk1 Coach is 5 ounces, roughly 140 grams. The Railroad Tornado weighed in at ounces, approximately grams, and its tender weighed in at ounces, approximately grams.

The model, according to Hornby, utilises a 3-pole motor, not a 5-pole one. It did not seem to make much of a difference, as the Tornado model was both quiet, smooth running, and powerful. 14 coaches were pulled on the level without any problems.

The only misgiving I have is the front bogie. Like all the Pacifics in the Hornby range, older types of pointwork seem to give these trouble. The Railroad Tornado derailed twice whilst conducting this test. Aside from that, it is a terrific model.

Recommended Retail Price

The recommended retail price for the Railroad Tornado model is £76.99. In comparison, the cost of a full spec A4 Pacific is now reaching the £140 mark, whereas the high spec Tornado model (not yet released) is £92.99. Until that model is released, it's fruitless to ask whether or not the Railroad model is value for money against it.

However, it is definitely value for money against the Bachmann Tornado model, with an RRP comparable to the Hornby A4s, of £141.95 – the next batch of these models will be released towards the end of next year.

Overall, I'm sold on the virtues of the Railroad range – affordable, well performing models that look enough like their prototypes to delight and entertain any child or railway enthusiast on their train set.

So on that bombshell, it's time to end – until next time, thank you for watching!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

"Edward's Exploit"

I've had a lot of mail regarding the Bachmann Edward this last week. What to say, how to say it, how much he can or can't pull. Pretty much every single person who has written in has said the Bachmann Edward was weak.

My layout is on the level - this I check and adjust every single time I film a review. The engines are tested thoroughly prior to filming - none of the shots I use in the Haulage tests are of the tests themselves.

This is due in no small part to the amount of time I spend checking the coaches run properly, that the models are working within reasonable parameters, and that I'm confident I will get decent footage from a particular angle later.

Well, I have just finished testing the two Edward models in the haulage stakes. Bear in mind the Hornby Edward shares the same tender drive as the James model, and just like its red sibling, the Hornby Edward pulled the maximum number of coaches my layout (a standard trainset oval) can hold - 14 coaches.

This should be absolutely no surprise to anyone. Hornby tender drive locomotives are monstrous haulers, and supremely fast. An old 9F (severely battered) I picked up from a charity shop a few weeks back was found to be in terrific running order, and its old, but still serviceable tender has gone to powering my girlfriend's father's Britannia tender drive model.

I had no expectations of the Bachmann Edward, however, based on what I was being told. It has been described as a "poor runner", "poor hauler", "weak" and similar.

So I went in with no expectations, and - well, let's just say I was amazed. The Bachmann Edward seems to have been the victim of rumour. My example just kept piling the coaches on. It was by no means as powerful as the Hornby Edward, or its closest associate, the Bachmann James, but for its weight (nearly 2/3rds as light as the Bachmann James), and its wheelbase, I came away extremely impressed with the model.

You'll find out the results of the Edward VS Edward Review on the 20th June, but suffice to say - the exploits of the Bachmann Edward have to be seen to be believed.

Until next time!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

"Storm Warning!"

Just had an email to inform me that a certain Railroad version of a popular new build Pacific locomotive is on its way. Expect a brief video review this week on said model, and a full Hornby VS Bachmann Tornado video when the super detail model emerges later this month.

Until next time!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Today I had quite a surprise. It looked like all of my Christmases had come at once!

Bachmann Edward, looking like he's rather happy to be at Copley Hill this morning. He won't be quite so happy after he's been put through his paces for the Edward VS Edward review! I'm staggered by the look of the Edward model. He's perfectly proportioned.

I have checked the Bachmann model against the TV series model all morning, aside from the obvious cab discrepancies (no fittings on all of the Bachmann models), Edward is a superb representation of that used in the Mitton directed episodes of Thomas & Friends. I haven't tested his performance yet, I fear, based on a few other reviews on Youtube, that I may yet be disappointed by this model...

There were several other models, all arriving at once. Not photographed yet, but present, were the Hornby Edward for the review - kindly provided by Gavin Rose of The Railways of Sodor fame. Thanks Gavin! :)

Also on loan from Gavin was the "missing twin" - I have found it nigh on impossible to get a "Bill" model in Hornby form, and now have all four for their review, which I am sure after this blog post may get the nod for the next review!

You may have noticed two diesel interlopers, lurking in the background...

Yes, Salty and Mavis have arrived! I plan on doing stand alone reviews for both models, and also putting them into a special four way "Day of the Diesels" special review, featuring the Hornby Diesel & Dart models.

Until next time - the Edward review is now in full production!