SPA from FTG

New wagon from a new name in RTR model railways

In the latest issue of Model Rail (MR205), I've reviewed the excellent new 'OO' gauge wagon from FTG Models. Filling The Gap in the BR air-braked fleet, FTG has produced a real gem in the steel-bodied SPA metal carrying wagon. As an enthusiastic modeller of the 1980s BR era, this was a very welcome release, complimenting Bachmann's OBA/OCA and BBA/BDA models, as well as a number of Cambrian Models plastic kits already in my fleet. The attractive Railfreight red scheme is enhanced by the Cardiff Rod Mill logos and a choice of running numbers is available in this first batch. For the full lowdown, however, see the review in Model Rail magazine...


  1. Hi George How does it compare with the official GA ?? There has been a lot of very adverse comment about the model which is in stark contrast to your review. S

    1. Hi, I haven't seen much in the way of adverse comments, other than the point about the short couplings - but then I tend to avoid forums and the like, where most of the gratuitous nit-picking goes on. I found that the most important measurements tallied closely with what prototype info I could get hold of (which wasn't an official GA drawing), but I don't doubt that there are folks out there with more expertise on the real thing than I.
      What's most important to the vast majority of MR readers, is whether it looks like the real thing. Any minor discrepancy is only likely to bother a tiny fraction of the market, albeit the one that usually shouts the loudest!!

  2. Hi George I think the tiny fraction of the market you talk about are those who are very sceptical about magazine reviews ( according to one current poll this is actually more than 50% )and take the trouble to check models against photos and drawings before deciding if the model is accurate. The vast majority? take reviews at face value and assume what they read has been checked by the reviewer who is knowledgeable about the subject or has at least done a few checks on the details as well as the overall dimensions. Perhaps you SHOULD read some of the forum posts and compare the findings there with your own. S

  3. That's a grossly unfair comment. I can't speak for other mags, but we at Model Rail spend a lot of time researching and reviewing models and always do our best to be impartial, accurate and, above all else, honest. What you must remember is that we often receive models weeks before they go on sale, so waiting for a more general consensus is not always practical, even if we did have unlimited time to garner a wider opinion.
    All reviews, by their very nature, are subjective anyway, so there will always be differences of opinion - the world would be a boring place if there wasn't. Hence why there's still a place for specialist societies and journals, who seldom agree with everything appearing in the more mainstream titles.
    I'm happy to stand corrected if I've made an error re. dimensions - these things happen, but I still stand by my comments that, couplings issues aside, the SPA is an attractive model that captures the overall looks of the real thing, as far as I'm concerned. Indeed, I've since bought a few for myself, so they can't be that bad!

  4. Hi George

    The problem with this model is 2 fold. On one hand if you compare the model with a picture of the real wagon the underframe is pretty much hopeless. Everything is out of proportion, detail is wrong and what is vaguely right is vaguely molded too. I think as a first effort it's not that bad but these errors were all pointed out to FTG in the early stages and sadly they were swayed by the popular opinion of those on a forum who like to boast how many they will buy. Basically they listened to the loudest voices not those who bothered to try and help get a good model.

    The second problem is that it doesn't fill the gap. There's been a kit for these for years that's not only cheaper but better. Sure some Cambrian kits have a bit of a reputation but tha relates to the more complex prototypes, the SPA is of course just an open box.



    1. Hi Jim,
      Thanks for that. Yes, quite a few things could be better - I never like pivoting axles on a fixed wheelbase wagon for starters. But if they've sold well, which I believe to be the case - and at such a great price I can see why they have - from a business point of view, FTG's decisions seem to have been vindicated. If that means that the next wagons are better, then we'll all be a bit happier.

      Good point about the Cambrian kits - I've had a few SPAs knocking around for years but have yet to find the time to put them together - maybe now's a good time? Even though I'm happy with my fleet of Bachmann OBA/OCAs, I still think my older, kit-built versions are miles better...!

  5. Hi George, It took me 1 minute to get hold of a FREE copy of the GA (not a diagram but a proper GA) from which it appears Jim S-W's comments are very restrained. I only bothered to get the GA in case someone challenged my list of faults which, incidentally, was censored by Andy York as soon as I attempted to post them. I had only commented on the unusable couplings on RMweb and intimated there were many inaccuracies elsewhere before I was BANNED for 23 years. Is that the way RMweb should go about informing modellers of the quality of a new product????. I have to tell you that in my opinion there is an agenda being followed by Andy York which may or may not be of his own making but is quite clearly attempting to prevent informed discussion about new models. I and others I know have been threatened with banning as soon as any attempt is made to post adverse comments about new products in the development stage or later. That is why there are so many mistakes on some ranges of new models which will probably remain. The manufacturers are doing their best to avoid spending money on correction.
    Perhaps you SHOULD read some forums e.g. the Flangeway Mermaid, Dapol 4mm Fruit D, Dapols 7mm models (All of them!) the Kernow O2 and 1361 ( although most of my comments to Chris Trerise cannot be seen ) Even the new Oxfordrail wagon has so many silly faults it is almost impossible to understand how they have managed to achieve this, although it is now clear what has happened. The latter are still being hailed by many as "fantastic" even though they fall well short of the Bachmann equivalent which has been available for over a decade.
    You can fool all of the people some of the time---------- A


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