Today, Bachmann announced which products they'd be making for 2013. Here are my thoughts on what they've announced. But before I continue:
For the HO Thomas range, Bachmann announced one new set, three new locomotives, one piece of rolling stock and one character. For large scale, they announced one locomotive and two pieces of rolling stock.
I'll start with the large scale first, and Toby sounds like a wonderful addition; he will complete the "little engines" of the Steam Team and he should be a larger version of the HO scale model already available. However, like the other models in the large scale range, expect Toby to have a CGI face.
The two wagons, the blue truck and the raspberry syrup tanker, are rather nice additions. I'd expect them to be larger versions of the HO scale versions with more detail to make them look more realistic.
The Large Scale range is growing slowly but surely. They'll be great additions to any public garden railways, or other large scale displays, so children can happily watch their favourite characters come to life.
Now for the HO scale, and the first "new" addition is Thomas' Christmas Express, which seems like a re-design of an earlier festive set, with a green van replacing the coach, and a crate on a conflat replacing the old striped tanker.
With locomotives, Bachmann decided to immortalise 'Arry and Bert. While I am rather happy that they will be made, it just seems lazy and safe. Just take Diesel, remove the ladders, re-spray them and there you go... I added a CGI picture because they probably will be based on their animated looks, regardless of whether fans want it or not. HiT want their toys to replicate the look of the television series as it is now, not as how fans want them to look. The only reason the Scottish Twins and Duck had model styled faces is because they never made the CGI series (sure they were in Series 12, but they weren't on screen that long).
They're also giving Thomas a bit of a party piece this year. As he rolls around a layout, he will make puffing sounds via a sound chip on his electronics board. To be honest, I'm rather hoping they update his casing a bit as well. He still looks as good as he did when he was first released, but when compared to newer models, he looks rather old. Plus, that face still looks like it came from a comic rather than the TV series.
The rolling stock will be a new Troublesome Truck... and that's it. No other info is available, but it'll probably have a CGI face. Although, I'm rather hoping it looks like this:
The last announcement took everyone by surprise:
Jeremy has pretty much been forgotten about now since the airport last appeared in Series 12. But Bachmann have decided to make him. I'm not sure if I'll get him, but I'm interested to see the finished model.
Finally, we were given, what looks like, a picture of what Duck will look like when he's released in a few weeks' time*.
|Apologies for the poor quality|
For the final version, they've painted the running plate grey (it was black) and the steam valve has been painted green (it was black, too). The only thing that's been left is the buffer covers, which are still black, but I don't really care. Those few little alterations have made A LOT of difference and I'm really looking forward to its release.
Overall, though, it's a rather disappointing line-up. Whether it's because the last few years have been rather big, or because it just seems like there are very few announcememts this year (maybe because they're focusing on their new Chuggington range), it just doesn't seem as good. However, I am looking forward to the released of 'Arry and Bert and I will definitely be getting Duck. But I do think there's a bright side: at least Bachmann are making SOMETHING, which is more than can be said for Hornby.
I really do think the end is nigh for the Hornby Thomas range: the end of their licence is approaching, there's nothing new this year and they're discontinuing more models than they're producing. Why do I bring this up? Simple: this could be a good time to extend Bachmann's licence so the UK has better access to their HO models. They already sell their Large Scale models here, so I don't see why their HO models should be different. Most fans buy their models online anyway, and most choose Bachmann (including me, except for Spencer and his coaches).
The question now is: what's next for Bachmann? Actually, there are still many choices. For locomotives, I'd like to see these two:
Why? Because next year I would like to see Bachmann make characters that have never been made before (which is why I didn't say Oliver, Hornby made him. It's a shame they discontinued him though), and what better ones than Daisy and BoCo? But if Bachmann want to made newer characters instead, then I have alternatives:
Stanley is my favourite character of the HiT era, so he's a natural choice for me. As for Arthur? He's my second favourite character from Series 7, after Murdoch, but since he was made by Hornby - and I want Bachmann to make something completely new new next year - I had to choose Arthur. I definitely would NOT want Billy, Charlie, Flora or the Logging Locos though. Read my series reviews to see why.
Don't worry, I haven't forgotten the rolling stock:
Not every engine pulls Express Coaches, most pull normal coaches like these. I wouldn't be too bothered if there was no Old Coaches - although they do look fantastic in the first series - but they really SHOULD make the red ones. They've been appearing ever since the second series, and it's rather disappointing that none of the Thomas toymaking licences have made them.
I also wouldn't mind seeing these:
OK, this is technically contradicting what I said about Bachmann being original, but while the Hornby Breakdown Crane is good and the Works Unit van is average at best, why don't Bachmann swoop in and make TV accurate alternatives? Or if they don't want to make the old crane, there's always...
Yep, Rocky. Enough said.
A wild card, maybe? While Hector hasn't been in many episodes, he IS only the second named truck after S. C. Ruffey. Bachmann made him (in HO and Large Scale), maybe Hector could be next..?
I wouldn't feel right picking anything for the large scale range as I don't collect them (too large and really expensive to me), but if they ARE continuing a 1 locomotive, two rolling stock pattern, maybe Gordon and the Green Express Coaches? Or Henry and the Red ones?
Whatever Bachmann come up with though, I'm sure they'll dazzle us like they usually do. The best of luck for 2013, Bachmann!
* = at the time of writing