Here at OTCM towers, we have always felt sorry for the British Railways standard 24.5T Hopper, or at least for its model brethren.
This poor chap has been overlooked for many years, an accurate model escaping the attention of not only the RTR manufactures but also the kit companies for at least 3 decades. K’s produced a white metal kit, but for a reason unknown to man, decided to base this kit on the prototype example, of which only one was built, rather than the production batch which totalled over 5000… talk about maximising your market!
Parkside joined the RTR guys in ignoring the 24.5T, even though we all hoped that following their successful 21T Hopper kit this would follow, and then DJ Models announced they would be producing it. At this point our hearts sank, now the model had been announced no one else would be interested in producing it, but in standard DJM style, we wouldn’t see any results for what would seem like 36 years, if at all.
Fortunately at the same time, the internet started generating rumours that another company had also scanned the preserved example, although everything was very hush hush – que much relief in OTCM circles.
Less than a year later Accurascale have produced and delivered a bloody gorgeous model of the prototype, one that pushes the standards for RTR wagons further than has been achieved before. To have done this for what is, essentially, £20 per wagon is quite an achievement, and keeps the price in line with contemporaries from established players in the market, such as the Hornby coke Hopper. That isn’t to put the Hornby Hopper down, it’s a lovely model and Accurascale have been able to take advantage of a couple of years development in manufacturing techniques, but their offering certainly has the edge.
The model really is top quality, but can obviously be improved on further with some weathering and better couplings. Other than this I didn’t see the need to do much to the first of two packs, other than remove the power station circuit branding – while having one wagon ‘off circuit’ seemed feasible, 3 in a rake was unlikely so these patches were removed with a little thinners and a cotton bud. Instanter couplings were then fitted, Smiths links with Exactoscale Instanter links which clipped into the plastic coupling hooks making installation on all 3 wagons a 15 minute job.
Weathering was in the usual OTCM style – a right mix of Tamiya, Revell, Games Workshop and artists acrylic colours with an emphasis on black and dark browns, laid on heavily and then removed with thinners to leave a varied pattern. The aim has been to create something that looks good from a normal viewing distance and passes muster up close, rather than going for out and out accuracy and detail on each wagon.
Now in the interests of fairness, it only seems right to mention a bit of a QC issue on one wagon I didn’t notice until I started vandalising, in that the last photo above shows that one of these has 2 of the central pillars fitted rather than 1 as should be the case. The expectations of many that a factory can turn out thousands of products with many individual parts and not a single defect drive me insane (let’s look at the bigger picture guys) and I could have sent this back for an exchange but I doubt it will be noticed in reality, so this isn’t a moan, more just to highlight an issue. Obviously we are always fair on OTCM so if Accurascale want to send me some free stuff I can make the above comment go away!!! (Nudge Nudge Wink Wink, with a pinch of salt…)
I’ve got another pack to work on (they are tempting, these things) but will spend a bit more time on them, these having been rushed through so that they can appear on SQ at the GCR Model Event next weekend, if you are there please do stop by and say hello or similar (a moderate bit of abuse might be tolerated – ed)
Post Post Note: Having reading this Post, Fran, the main man at Accurascale, was concerned to see that a QC issue had slipped through the net, and subsequently replaced the wagon in question, please see my follow up post, Thank You Even More, Accurascale!