Monday, 28 July 2008
Best RTR Diesel?
Over the last few years there has been an increasing amount debate about Ready-To-Run (RTR) locomotives and stock. Steam RTR has improved out of all recognition in recent years. Diesels have improved much more subtly.
There are, I think, three contenders for the best four mil' RTR diesel. My criteria for this is simple - the basic outline of the model does not require altering in order to provide a good likeness of the prototype - even the new Bachmann Class 37 needs some work in order to achieve this.
The first contender has to be the Heljan Hymek - it lacks some of the fine separately applied details which later models have but the overall appearance is absolutely spot on. Although the model still needs its headcodes and couplings fitting (both of which I've always fitted both at the very end of the process) it still looks completely 'right'. The designers were very much on to a winner with this one - something is just so right about the shape of the body. The only real issue is that the buffer beam valances are moulded in plain black plastic and require painting in order to get a result which looks right.
For me one of the most convincing RTR diesels of recent years has been the class 66 from Bachmann - it captures the look of the common 'Shed' perfectly - I do think it can be hard to capture something with which people ares o familiar. In the same way the 16T mineral wagon captures the fifties and sixties railway scene, the class 66 is a key component of the post privatisation railway. Bachmann have done themselves proud with this and they created a perfect workman-like model which captures the shape of the class 66 perfectly.
Another key piece of motive power has to be the class 60; Lima did an excellent job in the nineties with their version of this type - however it was held back ultimately due to its old-style mechanism and lacking some of the finer details which we now like to have, but it did capture the look of a sixty very well indeed. However, when the new class 60 from Hornby arrived it immediately knocked the Lima model into touch. It looked right, had a whole host of separately applied details, opening doors, etched grilles, interior details behind the grilles, fully detailed cab interiors in fact everything one could hope for.
The Heljan Hymek doesn't have opening doors, etched grilles, interior details behind the grilles nor fully detailed cab interiors. But I still think it's one of the best. When it goes past on a layout hauling a train, you can't open the doors anyway! I would always take a model which had the right shape and look to it over something with lots of 'extras' that doesn't look right. Hornby sixty's manages to fulfil both of these areas magnificently, but somehow, their Class 31 just doesn't do it for me. The Hymek doesn't have any gimmicks, but captures the look of the uniquely shaped prototype to perfection. This must, surely, but worth more than any number of opening cab doors? I'll leave it for the reader to decide...