A 4 pack of reviews today, evenly divided between British and American.
First up today, my first Rapido locomotive, Conrail GE B36-7 CR 5046.
B36-7 History: The General Electric B36-7 was built between 1980 and 1985, with 230 being constructed. "B" refers to their truck arrangement having two 2-axle trucks, or a B-B setup; "36" is the horsepower, 3,600; and the "-7" referred to the electrical components, which were redesigned and updated for the entire "Dash 7" line.
Powered by a 16 cylinder GE 7FDL16, they were primarily designed for fast, lighter trains, such as high priority container and intermodal. Several of the big railroads of the 80's rostered them, but they were mostly retired from the big company rosters by the late 90's, with a few hanging around in limited service or deadlines until the 2010's. The majority were scrapped with a few remaining in service on shortlines, and from what I can find, none yet preserved.
CR 5046: Rolling out of GE in December of 1983, 5046 would serve Conrail well until the Conrail split, with CSX taking possession of it and painting it into their livery. I couldn't find any info on its CSX tenure, including number, but it eventually had its B-B trucks replaced with narrow gauge BB+BB (4 two axle trucks, to distribute weight better on narrow gauge) and wound up working for EFVM or Estrada de Ferro Vitoria-Minas (Victoria Mines Railroad) in Brazil. It appears to still be working.
First, the info on the box.
I don't normally include box photos, but I will here.
This is a nice photo ... of a Southern Pacific B36-7. Why is there a photo of an SP loco on a box containing a CR loco? No idea. Not a good decision in my book - either leave the box blank, with a logo, have a rendering of the actual model, or a photo of the prototype in the box. Or even a window to see the model.
And the operating manual, and a couple cool stickers!
Now, the manual contains all the information you could want ... and some you don't. This was my first Rapido loco, and I knew nothing about their products. Therefore, when reading the manual, I was surprised to encounter many instances of "humor", "sarcasm", and various "asides". Now, I'm all for these things in the right time and place, but an operating manual for an expensive model isn't the place. If it was an info/history page about Rapido chock full of this stuff, that'd be fine. But it wasn't: it was scattered around everywhere, making looking for operating and programming info time consuming and needlessly more difficult, with having to wade through "filler" text not pertaining to the model. Also, it wastes paper and ink.
An extremely detailed exploded diagram.
And finally, the model.
A few up close detail shots.
The chain here is an actual chain - very nice!
Headlights and ditch lights.
And "tail lights".
The front had these too, and they operate depending on direction (set to forward the rear are red).
I'm not 100% sure, but I think these style red directional lights were required by law for locomotives operating in New York City, and possibly surrounding areas (maybe even NY as a whole).
Overall Build Quality
Paint and Lettering
Ease of Operation
Good: almost everything; paint, lettering, details, sounds, quality, operation. It was all top notch - all combined, it was probably the best model I've reviewed.
Bad: the incorrect box photo is weird, but the box and packaging were great quality, so that's really a non-issue. The way the manual was written made it a bit more of a chore to wade through than other manuals I've encountered - the info is all there for the model, but diluted with pointless ... other stuff.
I absolutely recommend this loco, and from my experience here, Rapido as a whole. Obviously so, because I have a poll running to choose a Rapido PA-1 as of this moment, and I have another Rapido product preordered. And I'm excitedly awaiting future releases!
Next up, from Walthers, a SOO Line box. SOO, in this context, is pronounced like "soup" without the p.
The full name of the railroad is - Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault St. Marie Railroad. Another grammar oddity is that "Sault" is pronounced like SOO is above, and the railway just adopted the SOO moniker as an easy phonetic nickname, hence "SOO Line".
Anyway, the info on the damaged box.
The model was totally fine, though.
And a few up close shots of the fantastic detail.
Verdict: it's great. Paint, lettering, and details look good, sturdy with good weight, and rolls and handles just right. Definitely recommend it.
Next, the British stuff, starting off with a potential bang.
From Dapol, we have a Southern Railway Gunpowder Van.
Yes, these hauled gunpowder and other explosives specifically.
The RCH (Railway Clearing House), which was a governing entity for Britain's railways, had set rules for these cars, such as how many could be in one train (5 normally, though during WW2 this was essentially ignored, for obvious reasons). Also, what cars could be attached to it, and what cars were allowed in a train with them (I.E., now combustible materials or oil). They were painted in various colors throughout their lives, and were eventually phased out in the 80's.
One of my favorite aspects of the model - Made in Wales!
Verdict: It's a really nice model; sturdy, the details and paint all look good, and it handles just as it should.
Plus, it's unusual.
And lastly, from Bachmann this time, a brake van for the LMS (London, Midland, and Scottish).
As a side note, until this review, I didn't know what "duckets" were, so I looked it up - they are a windowed, box-like structure mounted to the top or sides of a brake van to provide the guard a better view. Basically, in American terms, a caboose without a cupola or bay windows.
You may notice issues here...
Good: the paint is good, and it handles in a train just fine.
Bad: as you can see, most of the railings, steps, and running/foot boards are wavy/crooked/damaged.
They were like that from the box, which was not damaged.
A pity, because it really could be a great looking model, but the cheap and thin materials, which are not straight and allow for apparently very easy damaging, let it down.
I wouldn't buy another of these particular brake vans, and wouldn't suggest it.