Friday, April 07, 2017

Annie and Clarabel done RIGHT

Annie and Clarabel

Many years ago, our model railway club built a Thomas the Tank engine layout to take to shows. At the time, the Hornby range of stock was very limited, basically Thomas and Percy.We wanted all the other characters and so our merry band of finescale modellers set to and converted other RTR models until we had a pretty complete set. 

Most of the rolling stock was easy. Add painted faces and the job was done. 

However, Thomas's coaches, Annie and Clarabel demanded a little more work. They are as important in the series as some of the locomotives, so Keith made a special effort.

Repainting a pair of Triang suburban coaches brown and then handing them to master painter John Webb to add faces, the result was a pretty good looking set. 

This didn't always go down too well with the children. "They are the wrong coaches" they would cry. 

You see, in the books, Annie and Clarabel are bogie coaches. On the TV, they are 4 wheelers. Hornby modelled the later. We, being schooled in this stuff before the pesky telly show appeared, knew them to have 8 wheels rather than 4. 

So that's what we modelled. Very literate us railway modellers.


Paul B. said...

I thought it was only grumpy old men that complained about the stock on exhibition layouts. Damned rivet counters!

Huw Griffiths said...

It isn't too hard to imagine why Hornby went for 4 wheel coaches.

Their merchandising deal would probably have related to the TV programmes, rather than the books - and I wonder how much of the stuff in the later TV series was even remotely related to anything in the books.

Anyway, a lot of their target market probably spend far too much time watching badly drawn, almost surreal, cartoons on the telly - certainly far more time than they are ever likely to spend reading.

You can almost imagine some people's thoughts on the subject:

"Wilbert Awdry? Who was he?"

"Clarence Reginald Dalby? Haven't seen him on Nick Jr, so I've definitely never heard of him."

Perhaps not - but some people have - people who know that the carriages in the books were bogie coaches. However, this might have forced Hornby to produce some new tooling - rather than giving them yet another excuse to resurrect their superannuated 4 wheelers.

Somehow, I suspect this decision might have made itself.

Anyway, if some people were assembling some Th*m*s sets, there might have been the temptation to go further with the "authentic retro" stuff. On Rev. Awdry's original layout, the locos and stock didn't have silly faces stuck on. "Duck" was a GWR pannier tank model, apparently with a decidedly rough running chassis (ducks are known for waddling).

I wonder how popular that would have been with certain nippers. Well, I wonder, but I'm not exactly worried - after all, I've never had kids of my own.

Seriously though, a lot of effort went into getting this stuff right.

If I'd been a club member operating this layout at a show or open day, I would have been tempted to keep a copy of one of those Th*m*s compilation books somewhere easy to get at - possibly even had cards with some of the pictures from said books - and pointed them out at the first murmur of complaint.

Well, it's either that or suggesting that they build and exhibit their own "better" version. OK - perhaps not that one - but you know what I mean … .