Recall my last post, describing how I stumbled across information about Bachmann’s new Hong Kong trams and promptly ordered one from an eBay seller in the wee hours of Sunday morning. After settling in to what I expected to be a two-week wait, imagine my surprise and delight when the tram arrived on my desk in the Eastern U.S. on Tuesday afternoon — just over two days later (and for the grand total of $12 in shipping).
Aside from my utter joy with the seller’s quick service, these models are some of the most amazing off-the-shelf trams I’ve ever seen.
I have many modeling interests, with British trams at the moment chief among them. Though a bit far afield, the family resemblance of these cars to classic British designs is irresistible (and of course there are the Birkenhead specimens as a prototype in Britain), and so I had to have one. To highlight a few of their finer points:
- Exterior body detail is extremely fine in its own right, and especially compared with Peak Horse predecessors. Highly realistic moulding, down to rivets.
- Interior detail generally pleasing. Lower deck a little less polished due to motor but there are longitudinal seats. Nice detail in motorman’s cabins.
- Top deck detail impressive. Realistic seats, silver stanchions and even simulated roof slats.
- Directions say body can be opened; not sure how easy it would be to access top deck to add figures, but perhaps not impossible (haven’t tried).
- Model comes with an array of extra destination sign plates, which can be changed. I also haven’t tried this yet.
- Working headlights.
- Trolley pole is apparently a dummy, but attractive enough for those who don’t operate with live overhead.
- Mix of open and closed windows. Apparently fixed in place, but nice effect.
- Mine is the plain green livery, but lettering sharp and other liveries appear crisp in photos I’ve seen online.
There are a few points some may not like:
- Marker lights are merely painted blobs.
- Two-axle car has only one powered axle. Car is light, but shouldn’t be a problem on flat layouts.
- Despite above, car came out of the box a very fast runner (but quite smooth).
- As noted, I haven’t experimented with taking the car apart, but it does seem a tiny bit fragile.
- Car does not seem to be DCC equipped.I have no experience with DCC and can’t speak to how easy it might be to address this.
All-in-all, however, an exceptionally worthwhile model. We are starting to see U.S. prototypes of this caliber in the form of Bachmann’s Peter Witt and Birney models and Bowser’s postwar PCCs.
I gather Bachmann considered a generic ready-to-run British standard car several years ago but dropped the project for apparent lack of interest. Given the advances in model design in recent years, it’s exciting to think of what they could do if they embarked on a UK car(s) today. Happily, on that note: The remarks you see in this post are essentially a republication of what I posted on RMweb.co.uk this week after receiving the tram. A respondent offered the tantalizing suggestion that ready-to-run UK cars may soon be in the offing; we can only hope.
In the meanwhile, I am well pleased with the Hong Kong model, which I recommend to all.