Partwork season is upon us again and this time there is one for railway modellers - or at least people who wish to become railway modellers.
Your Model Railway Village is a partwork from Hachette. Over 120 issues, the buyer is provided with a trackmat, trackwork, rolling stock and buildings to build a modest OO gauge train set.
The first issue is on sale for £3.99 and has been eagerly snapped up by modellers as for the money you get a Mk1 coach and straight length of track. The makers of both items are a mystery. They may possibly be simplified copies of Bachmann models, the coach certainly seems like theirs when you look at the couplings. The track looks a bit Hornby.
Carefully examining the photos, I think the footbridge appears to be a shortened Airfix/Dapol model. The road vehicles are diecasts but the rest is a bit of a mystery. It appears that the buildings will be supplied as pre-painted plastic kits split over several weeks.
By this point, most modellers will go into standard "I hate partworks" moan mode and whinge about the cost of the thing. £1073.80 is a pretty hefty price tag for a train set. Add on this this the loco, controller, baseboard and all the sundry bits required to make a model railway.
The biggest problem I can see though, is the time taken. Assuming this thing is aimed at beginners, and young ones at that, then the time taken will be a bigger issue. 2 years to complete the model is bad enough, but if you look at the trackwork being offered, in a month, you'll have 4 straights and a curve. On that basis, you could be looking at nearly 6 months before the tyro modeller sees a train run. Will they really stick around for this?
They will also need to build a baseboard, you can't ship these in A4 sized slices attached to magazines.
More of an immediate problem is that unlike other partworks, all you can do with the first issue is unpack the coach and length of track (which isn't even long enough to fit the carriage on) and read the paperwork. Other models allow a little hands-on building to get you in the swing of things.
Will I buy the rest of the issues? Not a chance, but then I'm a long way from the intended market. I would like to see the buildings as they could be a lot of fun.
I'll be honest though and say this is one I can see not making it to the final issue. Aside from the cost and time taken to finish the thing, I suspect that modellers are snapping up every copy in WH Smith for the cheap carriage. That means none left on the shelves for those who would get something from it until part 2 arrives. And who wants to start at part 2?
Your Model Railway Village website