Monday, June 24, 2024

The antidote to modern RTR


We've been having a bit of a clear-out at work, and among the stuff that has come my way "to do something with one day" is this N gauge locomotive. 

What is it? Well, according to Gaugemaster, it's sort of based on the LNER ES-1. Except it's not. I suppose it has a pan, and sloping ends, but there the similarity ends. The real ES-1 is a bogie loco, so a lot longer, and pretty much unlike this model in every way. 

But I still like it. This harks back to the 1970s, when foreign models would be rebranded into a BR livery to gain UK sales. I'm sure I remember an 0-6-0 Class 17, and Playcraft and Lima were perfectly happy to do this. It's not something we've seen for many years, modellers having become more discriminating/picky over the years. Until this model from Kato. 

But, I feel this has a place in the market. For £42.50, we have a well made, and decorated little model. Plus points are that the pan is really delicate - and it runs sweet as a nut straight from the box. I mean really sweetly. Had young Phil been modelling in N, he'd have loved this. A new loco for the layout!

And I think there are plenty of people who will feel the same. They are the ones just getting on with building a train set, without worrying about modelling anything specific. A nice looking, superb running, locomotive for a very reasonable price, will do perfectly thank you. 

Obviously, this marks me out as a "non-serious modeller" to be shunned, but then part of the appeal of this is how much some sections of the hobby will hate it. I might brandish the model at shows like you would with a cross and vampires!

Now, I know some of you will be suggesting that the best think I could do with this model is rob it of its chassis for a 009 project, and if I were sensible, that's probably what I'd do. However, I like this so much, it's going in the cupboard as a collectable. I wonder if I can find one of those Class 17's now for a "Locomotives that don't look at all like the prototype" collection...


Simon Hargraves said...

Lovely little loco!
I bought a red one in a set with three Japanese wagons when they first came out. At the time, the replacement for the venerable Kato 103 chassis was eagerly awaited by 009 modellers, but the set, which has the same chassis, was available first.
I also bought an oval of Kato "Pocket Line" track (6" radius curves!) and spent quite a bit of time just watching the little train glide around the kitchen table. This packs into a small shortbread tin, and with a suitable (battery?) controller, can be set up almost anywhere. A few more items of rolling stock and some buildings, vehicles, etc. have been added, mostly bought second hand.
Kato do dummy overhead masts, too, and when I have time (!) a layout may happen, but it's a lot of fun just playing trains with none of the baggage.

Place in the market? Definitely! It captures the imagination in a way many more expensive items perhaps don't, and Gaugemaster also sell a set of four undecorated BR hoppers to go with the little electric loco, very much in the same vein as the Kato Japanese set, I think this is a brilliant idea for a new starter (of whatever age) in N. I also loved the old Playcraft, Lima, and Tri-ang freelance stuff.

There's no need to rob the chassis; Kato ref 109 is the chassis from this loco, 110 is a tram chassis and 108 one with no outside details. If I've got the numbers wrong, I'm sure someone will tell me.
Thanks for brightening up an otherwise dull Monday morning, Phil,
All the best,

James Finister said...

I believe the "prototype" was built by Toshiba, though as far as I know none of them were 0-4-0s

jamfjord said...

Simon is right, of course; the chassis is the Kato 11-109 - I have one myself and it runs very nicely (if a bit swiftly). Also as Simon states, no need to scavenge the chassis from this model, the 11-109 chassis is quite widely available in this country, from TrainTrax, Tramfabriek and various sellers on Ebay, and indeed Gaugemaster seem to be selling it for £30 currently. Frankly I think European manufacturers are missing a trick - I'm sure generic 0-4-0 or 0-6-0 chassis units would come in handy for all sorts of applications, without having to sacrifice any (comparatively) valuable Peckett or Andrew Barclay models, for example.

Woody said...

Hello Phil, Have a look at some of the latest videos from Budget Model Railways on YouTube. Mike Potter, the host, has been using many of the Kato Pocketline products to effective use in creating small fictitious but entertaining layouts within the capabilities of mamy newcomers to the hobby and at relatively little cost.Woody