Get ready for OcTRAINber!

All aboard the Hype Train!

For the moment we cannot unveil all the details yet, but yes, Brick Model Railroader will indeed be hosting their first ever building contest. Behind the scenes we are currently discussing rules and prizes, which will be made public before October 1st.

What we can however tell you is that it will be known as OcTRAINber, which also means that the contest will start on October 1st and end on October 31st.

The other thing we can tell you is that the contest will be centered around building something* (with train wheels!) that that looks absolutely silly when it goes through regular corners but looks awesome when going through some R104’s or R120ies. Think very long car or locomotive. Call it the Train-equivalent of the Swoosh, or just call it the reason why you never built it in the first place. Both are fine, just as long as you realize that this contest will be about finally building that monster!

Anyways, OcTRAINber is now officially a thing, so get ready to participate!

 

*Size to be determined

LEGO Trains are Put to the Test (1984)

Background Information on the Article: The following article originally appeared in the March 1984 issue of LEGO Review, the English title of the LEGO Group’s house organ (employee magazine). The article, titled “On the track,” provides an analysis of a review on LEGO trains that appeared in the November 1983 issue of the  Stiftung Warentest. Stiftung Warentest is dedicated to objective reporting on consumer goods and serves a similar function as Consumer Reports in the U.S.

On the Track… (By Preben Peterson):

TEST: In the November 1983 issue of their magazine ‘test,’ the German consumers council ‘Stiftung Warentest’ took a close look at toys, as a sort of preview to the on-coming Christmas shopping.

Among the products tested were various LEGO products: our train programme was evaluated against others, even bigger and well-known brands.

We have tested ‘test’…

INTRODUCTION: In Germany, and just about all central European countries, model trains are a subject which occupies a lot of children and adults in their leisure time.

For many of them the game is to acquire or construct precise models of existing or historic, characteristic or famous trains, stations, landscapes, etc.

WATCH THE FORMAT: This test did not concentrate on that side of model train sports, but on model trains as toys. Here one begins, soberly, by pointing out that although it is not an unimportant part of play to build and rebuild, some of the excitement is lost if one, owing to size is forced to build and dismantle the construction at the end of every day’s play. Or if the dimensions in relation to the available space are such that there is little room for variations, details and the finer points of the game. Here the LEGO train scored its first point, since, all in all, it was described as very handy.

For instance, the LEGO locomotive in the train in question measures only 153 mm and weighs 367 g. While a similar version of the otherwise so popular brand Märklin with its 335 mm and 1850 g is described as a somewhat ‘overgrown’ item, especially for smaller children.

IDENTICAL…?: Our track width – that is the distance between the rails – is a little outside the standard which a number of the other trains use. Three of the five trains tested, namely Lehman, Märklin and Playmobil use standard ‘G’ (45 mm) which corresponds to a 1:22.5 ratio. The fourth train, Faller, uses the standard ‘O’ (32 mm), which corresponds to a 1:45 ratio. As many of you already know, we use a track width of 38 mm. This adherence to the non-standard did not give rise to criticism. On the other hand one wonders, naturally, why the components from the three ‘standardised’ trains are not compatible…

PRICE: The magazine pointed out that price was not without importance when the decision of which brand of train was to be made.

Here again, our products were praised – perhaps to the surprise of some people. For instance, if one buys a LEGO train set comprising a steam engine, some carriages and goods wagons and a modest, little beginners’ set of rails, one is in business for 70 DM (about 25 US $). That is only a couple of dollars more than one would pay for a Faller engine – alone. And that is the cheapest of the four competing engines whose prices topped at nearly 80 dollars. Add to this carriages costing between 5 and nearly 25 dollars – each.

And, the magazine reminds us, who will remain satisfied with a mini railway with one engine and two carriages forever? Hinting to the cost of expanding the set…

 

PLUS AND MINUS: After this a ‘dive’ and then more praise to those of our colleagues who have worked with the trains and their ‘accessories.’ It is rather difficult to connect power to our rails, they complained. However, our constructors’ and users’ guides got through unscathed when very sharp, critical words were passed about nearly all the others.

MOST IMPORTANT: Finally, and absolutely of greatest importance the toys’ play potential are evaluated. A test-panel (I think that’s what they call it) of children between 6 and 14 years old was asked to play with the trains – under the appropriately watchful eyes of experienced analysts. Here too, the trains and their accessories were exposed to special trials and tests which we also know from our product tests here in the company (- but which, to judge by the results, could lead us to believe are not known, or perhaps not used in all the other companies).

Not surprisingly, it turned out that our train performed extremely well during the long-term tests. The speed matched amply that offered by the others, and on the matter of pulling power our train, as the only one of the five, was characterised ‘very large.’ Some of the others could not cope with load i the form of cargo on the wagons and gradients in the terrain/landscape which one was tempted to give them.

Our rails, points, signals, carriages and driving capacity received praise, while one could have hoped for a somewhat more popular passage about sidings (Is this noticed during play? we are tempted to ask. Ed.).

And the LEGO train was the easiest to work with – that is, to get on the tracks, shunt, etc.

ALL IN ALL: The conclusion is:

“The LEGO train is constructed upon the same principles as the other boxes and models from the same company and the elements can thus be combined freely. Construction of the engine and carriages feed children’s creativity. Once in a while things fall apart during play but that doesn’t disturb or annoy. This train is particularly good fun to play with, thanks to among other things, its powerful pulling capacity and speed.”

Upon this background, the LEGO train got the evaluation ‘very good,’ together with Playmobil’s train, while the others were placed lower.

“Upon the basis of their wide range toys in general, the two companies probably have greater experience to build upon,” concludes the report.

And that’s not untrue – neither is it at all bad…

*NOTE: First two illustrations come from the March 1984 issue of LEGO Review. All other illustrations come from various examples of LEGO train advertising for the year of 1983.

From Rails to Rocket Fuel (1971)

This week’s piece of LEGO train advertising history was published in France in 1971. This is probably my favorite example of LEGO train advertising. The stylized drawings and explosion of color make this a feast for the eyes.

There is also some creative storytelling going on here. If you look closely, you will notice a Darwinian depiction of trains. The 4.5V train moves into the world of 12V, is transformed into a monorail, a boat and a supersonic jetliner. All of these illustrations lead your eyes to the final focal point, which is a space-bound rocket. From trains to spaceships, “LEGO is a new toy every day.”

P.S.: Be sure to take a second look at that monorail. You might find that it bears greater resemblance to more recent fan designs than LEGO’s official monorail system of the 1980s & 1990s.

Steam Giants of the Norfolk & Western Railway

I hope you, our dear readers, will allow me to indulge myself once again as write about my own LEGO® train building. Today I finally bring you my two most recent articulated steam locomotive models, the Norfolk & Western A class and Y6b. Those of you who have seen a PennLUG display in person over the past year, or read issue 46 of Brickjournal have probably already seen these, but it’s taken me a little while to finally upload photos and write an article on them for Brick Model Railroader. In my defense, I’ve been busy.

The Last Great Steam Railroad in America: Modeling its Finest Work Horses

My A class and Y6b milling about in PennLUG’s rail yard.

Continue reading Steam Giants of the Norfolk & Western Railway

Building Up Prussian Steam

Today we’re looking at something with a high cool factor.

Meet Falk Schulz, or “bricknerd” on Flickr, a very talented builder from Germany. He’s certainly no stranger to Brick Model Railroader, having been featured in a past article highlighting some his Prussian electric models. Falk is known for his amazing work with diesel locomotives, having built several North American models. My favorite is probably his Rio Grande SD   40T-2.

Falk’s Rio Grande diesel. 7 studs wide and all the right details. I particularly like the brick-built logo.

However, as can be seen by the title, we’re not focusing on his diesels today. Instead, we’re looking at a steam locomotive. A small one, too.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zeist_bouwplaten/6897683145

Continue reading Building Up Prussian Steam

North America – At least we had 4.5 Volt (1982)

Back in the 1980s, 12 Volt trains reigned supreme in the UK, continental Europe and Australia. Meanwhile, across the pond we “Yankees” were less fortunate and missed out on the joys of 12V trains. Fortunately, we were able to get push trains and 4.5V battery-operated trains.

This hard-to-find brochure is from 1982 and advertises the 4.5V system for the North American market. The front cover features a charming illustration of set #7720, displayed with a mix of LEGO and traditional model railroad landscaping. We might not have had all the bells and whistles, but at least we had trains!

“Trains with unlimited possibilities” (1983)

If you walked into a toy store in 1983 and saw this, how could you not fall in love with LEGO trains? The following illustration comes from a set of photographs of dealer displays distributed to toy stores in Germany. This display designed to promote LEGO trains is absolutely gorgeous and features an operating signal light. Other themes covered in the packet include Town, Classic Space, Fabuland, etc. However, only the train-themed display featured functional lighting! Were any of our German readers fortunate enough to see this display in stores?

Coming Soon – Winter Village Station!

The LEGO Group released an announcement today that should please fans of official LEGO train sets.  As an addition to the popular Winter Village series, the Winter Village Station will be available October 1st!The set looks like it will have tons of playability, especially when combined with the Winter Holiday Train (10254).

Winter Village Station Photo Gallery

The official press release:

10259 Winter Village Station
Ages 12+. 902 pieces.

US $79.99 – CA $99.99 – DE 69.99€ – UK £74.99 – DK 649.00 DKK

*Euro pricing varies by country. Please visit shop.LEGO.com for regional pricing.

Head home for the holidays with the Winter Village Station!

Head for home with the festive Winter Village Station holiday set, featuring a snowy railroad station with wreath adorned lampposts and clock tower, platform, mailbox, green trees, snowy grade crossing with twin barriers and lights, and a beautiful, festively decorated bus with opening doors and a luggage rack with removable luggage and gift wrapped packages. This LEGO® Creator Expert model also includes a ticket counter with a timetable and a transaction counter window with room for sliding out tickets to travelers, plus a coffee shop with a serving hatch and a detailed interior with an espresso machine, cups, cash register and a menu. Includes 5 minifigures.

Includes 5 minifigures: a bus driver, barista, grandmother, child and a ticket agent.

The festively adorned Winter Village Station features a snowy train station with a clock tower, platform, coffee shop, ticket counter, grade crossing with twin barriers and lights, lampposts, mailbox and green trees, plus a bus.

Ticket counter features a timetable and a transaction counter window with room for sliding out tickets.

Coffee shop features a serving hatch and a detailed interior with espresso machine, cups, cash register and a menu.

Bus features festive decoration, opening doors, luggage rack with removable luggage and gift wrapped packages, and a removable roof for accessing the detailed interior.

Drive the happy passengers to the station.

Raise the barriers to cross the track.

Grab a newspaper and relax with a warm espresso from the cozy coffee shop.

Man the ticket booth, serve the travelers and slide the tickets under the serving window.

Gather the family for some festive LEGO® building!

Accessories elements include buildable wreaths and wrapped gifts, plus 2 mugs, ticket, newspaper and an envelope.

Special elements include new 1×1 round plate with horizontal shaft, 4×6 roof element in dark blue, gray microphone element, printed ticket element and shield elements with printed clock-faces.

Includes 4 straight track pieces to connect with the LEGO® Creator Expert 10254 Winter Holiday Train.

Winter Village Station measures over 7” (19cm) high, 11” (28cm) wide and 5” (14cm) deep.

Grade Crossing when closed measures over 2” (6cm) high, 5” (13cm) wide and 5” (14cm) deep.

Bus measures over 3” (9cm) high, 5” (15cm) long and 2” (7cm) wide.

Available for sale directly through LEGO® beginning
October 1, 2017 via shop.LEGO.com, LEGO® Stores or via phone:

US Contact Center 1-800-453-4652

CA (English) Contact Center 1-800-453-4652

CA (French) Contact Center 1-877-518-5346

European Contact Center 00-800-5346-1111

LEGO, the LEGO logo and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2017 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

Union Pacific SD70ACe Heritage Fleet – 6 Locomotives!

One of the things I dislike about modeling real locomotives and rolling stock is how dull and monochromatic the colors tend to be. I’m always on the lookout for bright and colorful things to build and when I came across these Union Pacific heritage units last year, I knew what I had to build next. Union Pacific had these SD70ACe’s painted special to commemorate 6 different rail lines that they acquired throughout the years. Missouri Pacific in 1982, Missouri-Kansas-Texas in 1988, Denver and Rio Grande in 1989, Southern Pacific in 1986, Western Pacific in 1983, and Chicago & North Western in 1995. I built the Missouri Pacific right away and held off on building the remaining 5 pending the construction of some other projects.

I never actually planned on making all 6 but had several people ask me when I was going to complete the set. I mentally scoffed at the idea of making 5 more of the same locomotive. Well, here we are today and all 6 are now complete. I think it was my friends Cale and Nick that finally convinced me to do it. Nick was also very generous with sharing brick in rare colors to help me. I did all the vinyl stickers myself on my vinyl printer/cutter Roland BN-20. I take custom orders and enjoy doing stickers for other Lego train fans. I can print full CMYK + white ink and cut on any color vinyl including metallic colors and clear. Just shoot me an email to legoman666@gmail.com.

Anyway, here’s the first one I did, the Missouri Pacific aka MoPac.

Continue reading Union Pacific SD70ACe Heritage Fleet – 6 Locomotives!

BrickFair Virginia 2017

BrickFair Virginia 2017 was the last of the big AFOL convention I was planing to attend this year. Taking place last weekend, August 2nd to 6th, it was an awesome event filled with trains and fun. Though BrickFair may sometimes seem a little less prestigious compared to Brickworld when it comes to LEGO trains, BrickFair can no doubt draw a wonderful and diverse train presence with no less than seven clubs displaying train and monorail layouts, as well as  numerous models from individual builders. BrickFair was also host to a Train Olympics competition, run by Adny Mollmann and Nick O’Donell from OKILUG. And there were a few fan voted trains awards given out too. So let’s recap the fun.

Doug Forman’s, Vincent Hills Medical Center on the WamaLTC train layout.

Continue reading BrickFair Virginia 2017