Monday, 22 December 2014


Season's Greetings...

...with best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
Have a good one!

Monday, 8 December 2014


Advance sample under review.

It's been a veritable feast of high quality second generation DMU releases this month and, following on from Bachmann's Class 150/1, I now have the pleasure of reviewing the latest Realtrack Models Class 143. As a follow up to the widely acclaimed Class 144 (winner of Model Rail's Model of the Year award, no less!), it's a hard act to follow. But this particular sample certainly lives up to expectations...

A full review can be found in the next issue of Model Rail (MR204, out December 17th), but a sneak preview is presented here to whet the appetites of 4mm scale modern era modellers. The first manufacturer to attempt replication of First Great Western's intricate 'Local Lines' livery, Realtrack has managed to get all of the tiny place names printed clearly and legibly, even if you do need a magnifying glass to read most of them! 

The small dots (of varying sizes) that lighten the blue livery along the lower edges of the sides are also crisply applied, making for a complex production job. With so many separate printed processes involved, you'd think there'd be more of a risk of smudging or 'steps' visible between the graduating shades. But, everything appears seamless and the overall effect is as impressive as anything else I've ever come across. That all this has been achieved by a small manufacturer - and with a retail price starting at only £120 - is incredible. And that's before the accuracy, character and technical specifications are taken into account (which are all equally impressive).

Two versions of the FGW livery are being offered, with different unit numbers and destinations applied (my sample is turned out as running a Bristol Temple Meads - Severn Beach service), while a pair of Arriva Trains Wales units are also due out imminently, each with suitable South Wales destinations. 

Who would've thought that one of the most mundane prototypes would be honoured by such a superb model?! 

With thanks to Chris Nevard for the images.

Greatly magnified, the bodyside printing reveals an amazing level of detail. The shade of blue also varies from top to bottom, as with the real thing. It's almost imperceptible, but it's there nonetheless!

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Backscene painted, but is it too blue?

More work has been visited upon my new layout over the past week, albeit in fits and starts. The 'sky' has been painted, initially with white household emulsion via a small roller, followed by a mix of Tamiya acrylics sprayed through my trusty Iwata TR2 airbrush. Said airbrush then decided to fail, necessitating a visit to the experts at The Airbrush Company, where the seals were replaced with a set of solvent-proof fittings as are now standard on many decent airbrushes (mine was about 10years old and had been, up to that point, 100% reliable).

Now the airbrush is back home, I'm thinking of reworking the sky a little. It looks positively mediterranean in the photographs - is this accurate for a layout set in Ireland?! I shall have a think about this over the next few weeks...

The goods shed is another feature that is currently under consideration. It's a Skaledale engine shed that I titivated some years ago, but the corrugated roof is bugging me somewhat. The corrugations run horizontally along the sides and, once you notice this anomaly, it's difficult to ignore. So, I shall have to take some action with model filler or clay. As for the low relief factory, that is now securely planted, atop a plinth of rock and earth, giving the layout some extra variety in terms of height.

The station building can also be glimpsed, having started to receive its paint job - I'm thinking peeling paint and exposed, weathered timber. Still lots of scenery work to take care of too, but most of this is being saved for the Christmas holidays...