Welcome to MODEL RAIL May 2016
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!