Today's batch of model reviews contains quite a variety, with a first for this site, as well.
So let's get started!
First up today, from Athearn, we have Clinchfield CRR 3615, an EMD SD45-2.
SD45-2 History: An upgraded and updated version of the SD45, the SD45-2 was built between 1972 and 1974, with only 136 being built. Like its predecessor the SD45, the 45-2 had an EMD 645E3 20 cylinder engine, providing 3,600 hp to two 6 wheel trucks. The main differences between the 45 and 45-2 were the upgraded electrical components that were standard on the "Dash 2" line, and the rearrangement of mechanical components under the hood, doing away with the trademark flared radiators of the 45. The 45-2s served their owners well enough, but were overshadowed by the hugely successful SD40-2, and the various other -2 models. Mostly retired by the big railroads by the early 2000's, several went to shortlines and leasing companies, with a few still being operated today, and others having their original engines removed and replaced with smaller EMD 16-645E3 units. As of this posting, 2 have been preserved.
Specific Model Prototype History: Built in November of 1972, and one of Clinchfield's 18 45-2s, CRR 3615 would eventually (through mergers) become Seaboard System SBD 3615, SBD 8973, (between Seaboard and CSX, it was rebuilt with SD40-2 mechanical/electrical components) CSXT 8263, and finally, CSXT 2423. I'm not 100% sure of the current status of the loco, but I'd assume it's been retired, and likely scrapped.
Info on the box.
I like how Athearn puts a rendering of the actual loco that's in the box here, instead of nothing, or a generic photo of a random SD45-2.
Sorry about the front axle being off the track, didn't notice that until now!
Overall Build Quality
Paint and Lettering
Ease of Operation
Specifics: It's a typical great Athearn model - details are great, good weight, mostly sturdy, and operates and sounds perfect.
The only "bad" things I noticed were the typical *flimsy Athearn railings, and the cab windows were movable, but either slid around randomly, or were stuck.
*I think I heard that Athearn purposely make the railings flimsy plastic to ensure they won't be bent/broken during handling. I don't accept that - wavy and flimsy are not a good substitute for straight and sturdy on a model. The plastic ones look okay if they're molded perfectly, but they're often not, or get bent or bowed during factory installation. Metal, or even sturdy plastic, are much better.
Next, a British Bachmann tanker.
Now we get to the (minor) issues photos.
First, a gouge that stands out a lot on the gray tank. It was like this from the box.
And second issue.
Poor molding and/or connection between the tanker sections. This was common throughout the model.
Verdict: aside from the issues above, it looks good, especially the paint and lettering, and you can't really notice the issues unless the tanker is literally in your face. Also, it handles perfectly in a train.
Next, more Britishness, this time a Dapol ballast wagon.
With a detail pack. Also in here were a few of the couplers like from my Dapol GBRF wagon duo, which allows you to couple a string of these together without the bulky British style couplers, making it look nicer, and possibly making it handle better. I only have the one, so couldn't test this theory.
I rarely take frame/underside photos, but this was impressive enough to warrant it. Loads of detail.
Verdict: It's great. Handles wonderfully, detail/paint/lettering are all great, it's sturdy, and as a bonus, has sprung buffers!
Next, a first for this site ... a building!
I'll clarify something first - this was a prebuilt or "built-up" building, requiring no assembly. I only buy prebuilt buildings and structures, because I tried building kits, and absolutely hated them.
This was my first business building, and I chose a pizzeria because pizza.
Now, the very observant may have noticed something by now, but here it is on full display.
Yes, it's totally empty inside (I know people whose heads are, too).
Verdict: It looks good and is sturdy. The interior, or lack thereof, doesn't bother me. Unless it's right at your face, you won't notice it, and if it had a full interior, it'd be very expensive, and probably fragile.
So, if you need a pizza joint on your layout, I fully recommend this.
That's all for this round of reviews, thanks for looking, and drop any comments or questions down below!