Saturday, 30 May 2015

Hornby's 2015 Range

With Hornby's announcement that they would be reviving their Thomas and Friends range (my thoughts on that here), everyone became rather excited about what was to come. So here are my thoughts on Hornby's most recent announcement: their 2015 range!

In all, Hornby revealed they'd be releasing 6 locomotives, 5 pieces of rolling stock, 5 rolling stock packs and three sets, which is an excellent starting point. But that's only part of the story.

All of the locomotive releases are exactly the same characters that were around in 2008, which has provoked very mixed feelings as it's nothing new. And I can definitely understand why; most older fans probably have each character already. Me though? I'm not that bothered. Yes, to older fans, it may seem pointless, but what about young fans? You know, the main target audience? What if they're only just getting into model railways? Introducing the first six engines is the most ideal way to do this as those six are the most identifiable. Besides, I'm also happy for one reason:

Hornby's rendition of Henry is, in my opinion, the best Thomas model I've never had, so I'm extremely glad that he's part of the launch line-up. However, if the promotional picture will be the final look for the model, I'll be slightly disappointed. There are some green bits there that really should have been repainted.

The biggest disappointment though is Edward. Out of all of Hornby's original models, Edward's was, by far, the most controversial as he was such a contrast to all of his incarnations on TV and in books, so to discover that his new version is exactly the same as his old one is really disheartening. At least back in 2011, his reduced price of £49.99 was enticing, but for £30 more? Nope. You're better off searching eBay for the Bachmann version.

Singular rolling stock (bar one) consists solely of express coaches, which is fair enough. But I never really expected Old Slow Coach to be brought back, at least now. Not to say I'm disappointed, but considering the only time she was seen on screen was in 1998, would kids actually know who she is?

And then there's the rolling stock pack, which include Annie and Clarabel (it's about time, to be honest), the Troublesome Trucks and random wagons including three tankers, red and blue open wagons and S. C. Ruffey. They're a nice starting point, especially since one includes a brake van. Unfortunately, I do have a criticism.

There's a reason fans choose Bachmann's Annie and Clarabel. While they do have their issues (their running boards are mis-coloured and Clarabel's not depicted as a brake coach), but at least the sizes and proportions are correct, something that could never really be said about Hornby's (apart from the clockwork range), so to see them looking the same as they did before is a real shame. I'm secretly hoping they're just stock photos rather than the final products, but I doubt it...

As for sets, there are two including Thomas, one with a generic oval, Annie and Clarabel and the other with the oval and the same coaches, but with additional trucks. Then there's one with Percy and the mail train with the same layout as Thomas' Passenger and Goods set but with the additional mail van exclusive to the set and a red van. I have to admit, it's a really good set, and I'm glad this was one of the first to be brought back. The additional track is nice and the van look brilliant.

Final Thoughts
I've seen a lot of complaints about the announced range. And I can completely see why. This was advertised as a "brand new range", yet it was nothing new. But think of it this way: despite the price, these trains are aimed at kids. And while they're not new to us, they're new to them. The range had to start somewhere, and I think adding the major six characters, as well as the important rolling stock, is a very good starting point. Yes, I'd have loved new characters and rolling stock, but considering the range has been non-existent for a couple of years, they need a solid foundation to build from. And with two waves of models coming next year, we may get new characters very soon.

I quite like the packaging. It's bright, vibrant and looks very appealing, maybe more so than it ever has before. I'm hoping that the boxes for the actual characters and rolling stock keep the viewing window though. While it doesn't give as much as a viewing range as the Bachmann packaging, it still gave you a good idea as to what you were getting and the quality it was in.

Overall, I'm still glad that Hornby have brought their range back to the UK. Once the old stock has been revived, it'll be very interesting to see the new things they produce. The lowered prices (compared to what they used o be and how much discontinued models are going for on eBay) are much more appealing and the quality will, hopefully, still be there. One thing that surprised me was that the faces are still the same as they were before (you'd think they'd be CG inspired these days), but they still look really good. And I'm really excited to get Henry.

1 comment:

  1. At one point I was in Hamleys to buy new track, when I have overheard a family looking for Percy, and finding out that the range was demolished, they were a little sad (well, to the Ebaymobile then I guess).

    Then, when I found out that the Hornby range is back, I sort of connected it logically to the family, and thought 'yeah, it may be one of the more polarizing ranges of T&F, but it still definitely has a cult following, despite Bachmann getting it right often'.

    I do admit that I barely need anything from this upcoming range (as I do have most of the products already, but if they start releasing the stuff I don't have, or absolutely new stuff altogether, then I'll go for it (I just hope that this re-launch is a success for that to happen).