After the highs of 2016 – when we delivered Britain’s first crowd-funded model – 2017 was always going to be a year of consolidation and steady progress with a focus on continuing or completing the development and delivery of pre-announced models.
That said, we have delivered another new model this year, and found time to offer two new models.
2017 began with the incredible news that our TEA tankers had been voted Model of the Year in the British Railway Modelling/RM Web annual poll. Amazingly, Revolution Trains was also voted runner-up in the Manufacturer of the Year category.
Our first show of the year was Model Rail Scotland at the SECC in Glasgow at the end of February.
Here we were able to confirm that after a slow start, and amid some doubts that it would ever generate enough interest, our first model aimed at the transition era – the Class B tanker – had finally reached the minimum level required for us to put it into tooling.
Once this was done progress was swift, with unpainted samples received just eight weeks later – in time for the DEMU showcase exhibition. By the time we closed the order book we were delighted with the number of orders and these models are now in production and expected early in the New Year.
The ever-popular York show over the Easter weekend gave us a great opportunity to meet supporters and potential customers and we were positioned next door to our friends from Rapido Trains of Canada. They had the latest news on the 00 version of our TEA tankers – which are now in production – and the Pendolino, Class 92 and KFA container flats.
Pendolino production started in early summer. Completing these models was a huge task requiring the manufacture of more than 10,000 individual vehicles of 6 different types – and not helped by factors outside Rapido’s control including fine dust from a neighbouring ceramics plant contaminating the paintshop, however they are now understood to be en route from China.
The Class 92 has progressed well, with a first working sample emerging in June – just seven months after we announced the model – and a successful trip to Polmadie with Legomanbiffo to record the exclusive sounds for the model courtesy of Serco, GBRf and Caledonian Sleeper.
For the Warley show in November we handpainted one of these first samples into the attractive Caledonian Sleeper livery. This was useful as it both shows how attractive the finished models will be, and also highlighted some areas where fit or moulding needed to be fractionally tightened.
Second samples were received by Rapido just before Christmas with suitable improvements and we are looking forward to assessing these ourselves.
In June we attended the DEMU showcase exhibition where we announced our first new model of the year – the IZA Cargowaggon twin van.
The response to this delighted us and we were able to get the CAD drawings signed off, and tooling completed, in just five months, meaning we had the first moulded samples of this model in time for the Warley National Railway show at the NEC in November.
Painted samples – and a set with the working tail light – are expected next month, with the order book likely to close in early Spring.
We also decided to offer the APT-E as an N gauge model – based on the success of Rapido’s model of this iconic train, though while the response has been encouraging so far we are under no illusions that this model is likely to take some time for word to spread and to generate the levels of interest needed to start production.
In September we were at The International N gauge show (TINGS) again, for the third year, where we had our 40′ hi-cube containers – produced in conjunction with C-Rail – on show.
We also had for sale Dapol’s models of 66419 “Patriot” in its attractive powerhaul livery on behalf of Project Railway Honour, raising funds for the ABF – The Soldier’s Charity. Limited numbers of these models are still available.
Looking forward to 2018, we are anticipating the delivery of three different models – the Pendolino, Class B tankers and 00 TEA tankers – in the first half of the year.
As models are delivered we do have ready new projects to offer, with the first of these likely to be unveiled at Model Rail Scotland at the SECC at the end of February.
At the end of March we will make a final decision on whether to proceed with our Class 320/321 project. We have seen an upturn in orders in recent weeks, but once again would appeal to those who expressed an interest, but who have not yet ordered, to get behind this project.
The CADs are now completed but without sufficient orders we are simply unable to commit to tooling. This would be a shame as while such units may lack the glamour of the Pendolino they are the unsung heroes of the modern railway and, for those wishing to model a complete system, are just as important.
By the summer we are expecting the Class 92s to be in production, and by Autumn we are hoping the HOA hopper will have reached the sampling stage.
3D prints based on the approved CAD have been made for approval, now the model is awaiting its turn in the production schedule.
If you’d like to come and talk to us about existing projects – or give us your suggestions for new ones – then as well as Model Rail Scotland we will have stands at York, DEMU Showcase, TINGS and Warley again so please come and say hello!
Once again, we would like to say a huge thanks you to everyone who’s supported us, ordered from us, come to chat to us or engaged with us online. None of this could happen without everyone being a part of it.
Here’s to a great 2018!