Wel­come to MODEL RAIL May 2016

Model Rail (UK) - - News - Richard Fos­ter

There’s no pleas­ing some peo­ple.” The ex­change be­tween Gra­ham Chap­man’s Brian and Michael Palin’s ex-leper is one of the many high­lights of The Life of Brian. But it’s this line, fol­lowed by the ex-leper’s re­sponse - “That’s just what Je­sus said” - that’s par­tic­u­larly poignant. This scene sprung im­me­di­ately to my mind in the wake of Bach­mann’s 2016/2017 range an­nounce­ment on March 1. If the com­ments on so­cial me­dia and in­ter­net fo­rums are any­thing to go by, it ap­pears that Bach­mann Europe can’t please any­one at all. Our hobby has had its own ‘sec­ond com­ing’ in re­cent years. New announcements came left, right and cen­tre, and it was ex­cit­ing. It seemed like there were no lim­its. Mod­els which had seemed un­likely be­came a pos­si­bil­ity. Bach­mann was swept up in the ex­cite­ment too - and who could blame it? It is­sued a flurry of new tool­ing announcements. But then the bub­ble burst, and sud­denly that flow of new tool­ing announcements be­came an ever-grow­ing back­log. It’s not a prob­lem unique to Bach­mann, but that’s where most of the flak has been aimed. The 2016 announcements high­lighted Bach­mann’s no-win sce­nario. As Pub­lic Re­la­tions Man­ager Den­nis Lovett ef­fec­tively said, the com­pany was ‘damned if it did and damned if it didn’t’. If it an­nounced a host of new mod­els, the key­board war­riors would launch an of­fen­sive say­ing that it would be an­other decade be­fore they ap­peared. And if it didn’t, those same war­riors would com­plain that it wasn’t an ex­cit­ing enough range. A new cat­a­logue is al­ways ex­cit­ing and I must ad­mit, I did feel a lit­tle un­der­whelmed by Bach­mann’s two new mul­ti­ple units. But that feel­ing didn’t last long. There’s a huge amount of ex­cit­ing stuff in the new cat­a­logue - a great choice of liv­er­ies and the re­turn of many old favourites. There are also some ex­cit­ing in­no­va­tions. Thanks to Next18, sound is be­ing squeezed into more ‘N’ and ‘OO’ mod­els. A sound-fit­ted ‘OO’ gauge Class 03? That’s pretty ex­cit­ing. Then there’s Bach­mann’s Rail-con­troller, which looks to be a fun and sim­ple way of get­ting the most from DCC. And now there are model pas­sen­gers in coaches and DMUS. This is, ap­par­ently, not ex­cit­ing if you’re a key­board war­rior: “It’s a way to push prices up”, and “the pas­sen­gers will be wear­ing the wrong clothes”, or “they’ll be sit­ting in car­riage sid­ings when the car­riages should be empty.” Adding pas­sen­gers to coaches is not a great leap for­ward, but it’s a sim­ple fea­ture that adds a bit of ex­tra re­al­ism. And we need to re­mem­ber two things. Firstly, this is a hobby. It’s sup­posed to be fun. If your en­joy­ment comes from con­coct­ing elab­o­rate con­spir­acy the­o­ries, then good luck. The rest of us should feel priv­i­leged that we can choose from so many mod­els. As Chris Leigh con­stantly re­minds us, there was a time when you’d be lucky to get one or two items of new tool­ing a year from all the man­u­fac­tur­ers put to­gether. Se­condly, model railways are an art form. We’re try­ing to mimic life. With a train go­ing past at nor­mal view­ing dis­tance, you won’t no­tice whether the pas­sen­ger is wear­ing win­ter clothes in sum­mer. Just see­ing peo­ple inside a coach will be enough to cre­ate the im­pres­sion of peo­ple en­joy­ing a rail­way jour­ney. Bach­mann Europe is not a face­less cor­po­ra­tion. It’s a group of en­thu­si­as­tic, friendly peo­ple who share our pas­sion for mod­el­ling. They want to make great model trains that peo­ple want to buy. If you want con­spir­acy, go watch The X-files. Rather than crit­i­cise, let’s just en­joy this fab­u­lous hobby and prac­tise what The Life of Brian teaches us: al­ways look on the bright side of life!

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