Hornby goes high speed in 2008

Sound fitted locos, a new, top-notch HST power car and a Class 153 single-car DMU are the headline products in Hornby 2008 product range.

Hornby Class 56 with Digital Sound

HIGH SPEED AND hi-tech is a path that Hornby will be continuing to follow during 2008. The success of this year’s ‘OO’ gauge Class 390 ‘Pendolino’, which in DCC-fitted form has overtaken the Flying Scotsman as Hornby’s best selling set, has laid down foundations for another new model of a high speed train…

With train operators finding they cannot do without the iconic HST on the 12 inch to the foot railway, ensuring at least another 10 years top link use, the Margate-based manufacturer has confirmed that it is well down the path of producing a completely new Class 43 HST power car for release during 2008.

Grand Central HST

Despite already possessing two existing models of the type in the form of the original Hornby product from the late-1970s and the more recent Lima tooling, the company’s decision is sure to be vindicated in view of the proposed ‘top drawer’ specification with central motor and all-axle drive. The exercise will take into account all known detail variations including roof and window arrangements as well as those modifications resulting from the re-engineering programmes and, perhaps, most surprisingly of all, the optional fitting of conventional drawgear and buffers.

Power and dummy packs, slated for an early autumn release at around the £130 mark, will take in original blue/grey, InterCity executive, Virgin Trains and GNER liveries as well as the contemporary Grand Central black scheme. These power cars will be supported by complementary Mk. 3 trailer packs. In both DCC ready and fitted options, the models will be designed to support a sound chip.

The good news for diesel modellers doesn’t stop there though. At the opposite end of the spectrum and switching tracks from the main to the branch line, Hornby has at long last committed to the Class 153 single-car DMU, which this magazine has long championed.

Arriva Class 153

Although the former Dapol Class 155 still exists in the Margate tooling bank, one need not worry as this passenger unit, useful for space-starved modellers, will take the form of another completely new state-of-the-art presentation both with and without DCC decoder. As with the Class 43, one can expect an extremely high level of exterior (just think of all those rivet heads), and in this case, interior detail. Directional lighting and a below-floor motor bogie are advised. Initially, this useful unit will appear in Central, Northern, Wessex and two Arriva-branded transitional schemes.

Developments continue apace on the control system front with the DCC ‘Elite’ unit gaining NMRA accreditation. A new hi-spec handheld control unit, with single rotary input is to be introduced under the ‘Access One’ name and is to employ wire-free infrared technology.

‘Sapphire’ decoders in standard and mini formats conform to NMRA standards and incorporate high-frequency back-EMF motor control and shunting speed options. Automatic stop/start facilities are available as are new variables representing fuel capacity and burn rates, which could lead to some interesting prototypical operation as locos need to be booked for ‘virtual’ fuel or maintenance.

Hornby Access One Handheld IR Controller

The ‘Skaledale’ range of scenic accessories and buildings continues to expand with a host of more modern urban subjects that are likely to appeal to RE readers. These include skips, bins, site offices, industrial units and factories. A simple lighting system and scenic materials range (including trees) also been launched to enhance these useful products.

Linking in with Skaledale is a new range of 1:76 scale metal vehicles to be known as ‘Skale Autos’ and produced as part of a link up with Oxford Diecast. The launch range is 1960s-1970s based and features fictitious colours and brand names but more contemporary vehicles are promised for the future.

The next twelve months certainly appear to promise plenty of exciting products but Hornby readily admits that new diesel and electric products have not kept pace with the steam era releases. We are left pondering if the capacity for four more new diesel or electric locos and a similar number of wagons and coaches before the end of 2010 is just a little bit of marketing spin or will actually become reality. We certainly hope it is the latter!

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