First ThoughtsI first heard about the release of the Works Unit Van on Christmas Day last year. Then again, you couldn't exactly miss it with so many people uploading the pictures to YouTube... Anyway, I was quite excited by it, as it would've been the perfect accompanyment to the breakdown crane which, as it turns out, was being re-released for this year (so for those hoping for a new and improved Spencer can look at the crane and think "if they re-tooled that, they could also be re-tooling Spencer). But the pictures told a different story. It looked quite plain on the picture that Hornby released, but I had hope that, during the 12 months between the announcement and the release that something would've been changed to make it look better.
What You Get
That aside, the box opens with flaps at either end to reveal a plastic tray and many plastic inserts to keep the product safe. It is very robust, and it will keep the model safe very well.
|Photo from eHattons|
This model really is very disappointing. For a company that bought us great rolling stock like S. C. Ruffey, the circus vans and the green and red express coaches, they really have failed as far as this is concerned. It's basically a re-paint of the old Sodor Mail and Cream Utility vans. The colouring isn't right either, although it is crisply painted. But the biggest problem with it, apart from the price which I'll get to later, is that it doesn't know what it is. I think it would've been better if they'd have included the words "WORKS UNIT" on the sides like the television series alternative.
However, it does have some good qualities. Unlike the two vans before it, the brown livery of the works unit van is applied on all four sides. The Sodor Mail and Cream Utility vans have a black livery on the front and back. Also, the detailing on the undercarriage and the bodywork is brilliant.
R.R.PThe recommended retail price (R.R.P. ) of this model is a staggering £15.25 (€18.04, $23.79). This left me absolutely flabbergasted. When the Sodor Mail was released, I paid £7 for it - but I bought 2 so it was £14 for both), while I bought the cream utility van a week before I got the works unit van for £11.75 (from what I can remember). But since it's rare I was expecting it to be more than it was when it was first released. But to pay £15.25 for a brand new piece of rolling stock, which is also quite flawed in design, is absolutely farcical. Luckily I shopped around and found it here for £12.25 - with free UK postage and packaging. But even this is quite expensive for what it is.
Should you buy one?In my opinion, not in a million years. If I'd have known then what I know now I wouldn't have even thought about getting it. It is a flawed model in design and colour, and is never worth the massive price tag that it's been given. To be honest, there are three things I can suggest:
- If you REALLY want this model, wait until the new year and hope the price goes down
- Write to Bachmann US and request that they make a Works Unit van
- If all else fails, make your own.