Friday, 13 January 2012

2012 Hornby Thomas Range

Before you ask yes, I've discovered the 2012 Thomas range.  Then again, like the 2011 range it's pretty hard not to discover it due to the mass of uploads on YouTube (seriously, guys, one upload is enough, more than three is overkill).  So here are my thoughts on the range, starting with the least talked about first.

Open Wagon Three Pack

On the face of it, this three-pack seems to be based on the old three pack, with the brake van from the 2000's replacing the one from the 1980's.  That was a nice little change as I think this brake van looks a lot better.  The open wagon has also been replaced: by S. C. Ruffey.  This really puts me off this set to be honest.  Not because I think it looks bad - it's probably the best truck they've made for the Thomas range and a hell of a lot better than Bachmann's - it's because I already have him, and I don't really want duplicates of the same character from the same range.  The Sodor Scrap Co. truck is the only surviving truck from the old set.

Would I buy it?
If S. C. Ruffey stays in it, no.  It was a good idea to re-release an old set, but I really think that if the brake van was the only change it would be a lot more appealing to me, and probably those who have a Hornby S. C. Ruffey and don't want to pay for a set to get another one just to get the scrap truck and van.

Tanker Three Pack

This is a brand new three-pack by Hornby, and I think it's a thing of beauty.  In the set you get a Sodor Fuel tanker, a Milk Tanker and a weathered Oil Tanker.  They all look really detailed, despite them looking taller and thinner than their TV counterparts.  But that doesn't really bother me, as this three pack has a jewel in its crown: the designs of the tankers are exactly the same as when they were first released seperately.  And with Bachmann being constantly criticised by fans for changing the designs of their oil tanker, and mail van, to match the CGI counterparts,  this set may lure them to buy maybe their first ever Hornby tankers.

On a side note, I have a feeling that this year, Bachmann may do the same with their milk and fuel tankers as they have with the oil one, so that may push fans to buy this set even more.

Would I buy it?
Definately, maybe three or four if they're the right price.  I really like the Hornby tankers, and if they don't do what Bachmann have done, I think other fans would be interested too.

Closed Van Three Pack

Another brand new truck three-pack.  In it you get the cattle wagon and the red and grey vans.  It is also a very nice little set.  The cattle wagon makes things look a bit strange as it's shorter and longer than the other two vans.  To be honest, I think this would've been the perfect set to re-introduce the old van from the 80's which never got re-released.  It would've matched up size-wise (I know, I often use the old vans in trains with the red and grey ones) and it would've finished this set off beautifully.  But the cattle wagon still looks pretty good and I'm still looking forward to its release.

Would I buy it?
Yeah, definately, maybe three or four (like the tanker three-pack) depending on prices.  The cattle wagon doesn'tt put me off it as such, but I still think that the 80's van would've been a better choice.

Thomas and the Breakdown Train Set

Whether this is accidental, coincidental or intentional, this set is seemingly based on the Railway Series story - and episode - of the same name.  I think this could be classed as a "Greatest Moments" set, and if that's the case, it's a heck of a lot better than all of Trackmaster's "Greatest Moments" sets combined.  Despite this, I'm not really sold on this set to be perfectly honest.  In it, you get Thomas, the Breakdown Crane that was released in December and - rather bizarrely - a blue truck.  The crane is fine, it looks good with all the hazard stripes and when I get the money I'll be getting two of them.

But I REALLY think they should've included the Works Unit coach.  Yes, I was heavily critical in my review of it, but it DOES have the same livery as the crane and it really would've finished the train off nicely.  My other issue is with Thomas.  Not the model itself, I love it and it'll always be one of my favourite Hornby models.  But in a set like this, I think they should've released a special version of him.  That's why I really like Percy's Mail set and The Great Discovery set: they both have unique selling points.  The mail set included a brand new, BR-styled mail van with a Sodor livery, while Thomas and the rolling stock were weathered in the Great Discovery set - not to mention the fact that Thomas had a surprised, almost tired out expression on his face.   Even ModelZone in the UK released a special, unweathered stand-alone Thomas with the same surprised face as the one in the Great Discovery set.  But here, there's nothing.  Quite disappointing in my view.

Would I buy it?
Definately not.  The only thing in this set that I actually want is the crane, and by the time it's released I'll probably have bought it.  If this set had something unique in it, I'd be more tempted.  However, if you're looking for a first ever Hornby set for your kids, this might be the one for you.


This is the first of two re-released engines this year (I think we all know the second :P, but I'll get onto him later).  It doesn't really look any different than the one they released in 2005, which is a bit of a shame as I feel the water filler caps on the wheel arches (I think that's what they are.  If you know feel free to correct me) shouldn't be there.  If they weren't he'd be perfect, but I don't think they detract from his looks that much, if at all.  The only thing different this time is that only 1,000 will be released.  I don't think many fans will be happy about that, but I think it's a smart move on Hornby's part.  If all the stock is sold, they may think that it's a really popular model and release more.  If there are some left, they may think it was a good idea to discontinue him and just pull the remaining stock from shelves.

Would I buy him?
No, I already have him.  But I would recommend him to other Hornby Thomas fans who don't have him as he is a fantastic runner and superbly detailed.

Spencer's Coaches

I've decided to do these together, but I must stress they will be sold seperately.

Since 2008, the only brand that had made a HO/OO scale model of Spencer's coaches was Bachmann... until now!  Hornby have seen Bachmann's coach and raised them a brake coach (if you don't know about poker you won't get that reference).  The detailing from the roof to the wheels is absolutely sublime.  But I think these coaches have the same problem as Bachmann's coach does: the base designs are very lazy - they're Gordon and James' coaches in Spencer's coaches livery.  However, this doesn't bother me as much with these coaches as the Bachmann coach did, as I've always preferred Hornby's: they're the ideal height and length, and the detailing is stunning.  Being honest, I was tempted to get Bachmann's since it was the only one on the market.  But with these joining the fray, I'm so glad I didn't give into those temptations.

Would I buy them?
They're already on my Christmas list (I know, seems WAY too soon, but by adding them now my dad has more time to get them.  He's quite forgetful you see :P), so whether I get them or not I don't know.  I'll definately make a blog post around this time next year updating you on what - if anything - I get (before you say it, I'm still the kind of guy who loves family Christmases, and if I do get these, I won't be running them until a few days after).  If I don't get them for Christmas, I'll definately be buying them.


2008 Spencer, taken by eHattons

In 2008, Hornby released, at the time, their best ever model in Spencer.  But I didn't realise HOW brilliant it was until it was discontinued and Simierski posted his review between Hornby's and Bachmann's streamlined silver engine.  Since that review, fans have been sending their messages to Hornby to bring him back.  And, thankfully, they listened and this year, he's back!

The re-release of this model proves that positive people power DOES work.  The people wanted Bachmann to make Donald and Douglas, they did.  Fans wanted Spencer back, now they have.  Fans have also wanted a Bachmann Duck.  Time will tell if the people's voice will be heard again...

However, there are two differences between the old Spencer and the new one.  Chief among which: the new one will be DCC ready!  Yep, Spencer will be the second model - after Murdoch - to be DCC ready.  The second is that only 1,000 will be made.  I think this is smart on Hornby's part (see Stepney as to why).

Being honest, I hope there'll be a third difference: the wheels.  I hope they re-paint his wheels grey like the rest of his body.  I don't really think the black ones detract from the sheer quality of the 2008 version, but it would make it a bit more TV accurate.  Simierski also pointed out that they used a double chimney A4 as a basis rather than a single.  Like him, that doesn't bother me, but if they changed the wheel colour, he'd definately be my all time favourite HO/OO model, leapfrogging Murdoch.

Will I buy him?
He's on my Christmas list too.  But if I don't get him then, and he's still being sold. I would save up for however long it takes to get him.  THAT is how much I want this model.  And I would be willing to pay that little bit extra (although anything over £100 - like he's been going for on eBay - is farcical :P) for the sheer quality of the model than settling with the cheaper, crappier Bachmann alternative that I've been doing since I started being interested in model railways in 06.

Overall Opinion
I'm pleasantly surprised that Hornby have announced more Thomas models.  Yes, there aren't any new engines, but with Hornby making models for their other ranges, not to mention the merchandise for the (yawn) London Olympics and making models for their new licence Olly the Little White Van (it's like Chuggington with cars), I wasn't really expecting any.  But the ones they're releasing look quite promising, but I'm especially looking forward to Spencer and his coaches.

Here's a little message to Mattel.  I know you're really wanting to expand the wooden railway range in your own image when Learning Curve's license runs out, but PLEASE renew Hornby's!  Despite the constant bashing by Bachmann obsessives, many people love Hornby's Thomas range, and it would be an absolute travesty if their models were taken away from us.

So, those are my thoughts on Hornby's 2012 range.  Bachmann will be announcing their range in their catalogue at the New York Toyfair next month.  When their announced I'll make another post like this one.  Hopefully Bachmann will release pictures of their new models.  If not, then hey ho :P.