THE FINAL VERDICTHornby have made a lot of models that Bachmann haven't and vice versa. Hornby have made Duck, Oliver, Toad, Stepney, Flying Scotsman, Bear, Dart, a breakdown crane and, soon, Murdoch. While Bachmann have made Salty, Mavis, Henrietta, Cranky, Terence, Harold and, of course, Donald and Douglas. While I think Bachmann have steadily made better models year on year, Hornby are near enough left in the dust, as they don't make as many models as they used to (this year being their biggest for about 6 years while Bachmann have made many models FOR 6 years straight). However, there is something lacking from both ranges: generic coaches. Sure there's the express coaches, but as we've seen in the TV series there are old green and cream coaches from Series 1 or the red coaches seen from Series 2 onwards. Fans don't really say it, because they have other ideas, but the sheer amount of wagons and vans created from BOTH ranges compared to their coaches is rather unfortunate.
Bachmann are better value for money. In some instances you can get 2 Bachmann engines for the same price as one Hornby engine. An example I have personally is that I bought Bachmann Donald and Douglas for £80 (on eBay), whereas Murdoch will be retailing at £92. The sheer price difference is incredible (and not in a good way). Sure, you could TRY and shop around for a cheaper price for Murdoch, but the cheapest I found is in the £70 mark. You could probably get Bachmann Spencer and one of his coaches for about that! Yes, the Hornby models are finely detailed, but if they just lowered the price a bit they'd be more enticing. Trust me, people would want to buy more of something that's cheap than one thing that's expensive. So drop the price, watch the models fly off the shelves and watch as the profits skyrocket.
Bachmann make their models from scratch, so they can be built with precision and be made to look exactly like they should in the TV Series. Hornby use pre-existing models from their vast catalogue of models to try and make the engines look the way they should in reality (only Percy's body is scratch built). That's fine for Thomas, Henry, Duck, Spencer and Murdoch as they are perfect representations of their prototypes. But for engines like Emily, Edward and Dart, they should have planned them better, even made completely new models if they had to. Emily's face looks downright ugly and Edward just looks... wrong, despite the correct livery and wheel configuration. If Hornby don't think outside the box and try making characters from scratch, Bachmann will just pull even further ahead and that would be sad, especially for company that has such an illustrious history like Hornby. Then again, with the amount of models they've discontinued this year, it seems like it could be the beginning of the end for them anyway.
So the brand I would turn to first would be Bachmann. Ever since they burst onto the American market in 2002, their models have improved year on year, while Hornby's range has sadly been dying a slow death. But what the Bachmann range shows more than anything else it's that the voice of the people CAN be heard. We asked for Edward, and we got him. We asked for Donald and Douglas, and they were soon made. Maybe if we ask for Duck and Oliver, they'll be made too...? The main reason I would buy Bachmann is the most important one for me: value for money. I guarantee you that if a Bachmann salesman showed a Thomas model (for this example, Edward) to a random guy in the street and said "Here's Edward, your kids will love it and he's all yours for £40), would he say no if he had the cash?
I just want to say for the record that I adore Hornby and near enough every model looks great. But for me the models are just too overpriced for what they are, especially when compared to Bachmann.