Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Model Railway Review: Bachmann Duck



After years of hoping by fans of Thomas the Tank Engine; Bachmann Trains had finally made Duck the Great Western Engine. Announced by Simon Martin, the creator of 'The British Railway Series' and the Hornby Vs. Bachmann Thomas models on YouTube, and SiF in 2012. The model of the character was suppose to come out in October 2012 but was delayed for some unknown reason and was moved to March 2013. When March arrived the release date was moved to July 2013 and finally he's out now in stores. 

I'm not much of a model railway expert but I do love collecting models from such brands like Hornby and Bachmann. Both companies have made Thomas models for years and had made the characters really well, though I prefer Hornby for their real locomotives but there Thomas models are great too. But there are some downsides of the range like Edward and Emily and some top notch models like Spencer, Murdoch and Henry. Bachmann had made some terrific Thomas models between 2002 - present aside from Thomas, James and Percy who's faces aren't well made and some errors like James' smokebox having a lack of black paint on its side and Percy missing a back coupling. The range really kicked in by 2007 when Toby was released. 

Now that Duck is finally released let's take a look at the model that Bachmann had released. 


There is one complaint I have about the packaging and that is how the way its formed into a blister pack. When you look at Hornby's design, it's pretty much a box that you can use for as many times as you like to keep the dust and dirt away from the locomotives. Whereas Bachmann's packaging in the US is a blister pack in which you can just throw away in the bin after its opened. This is where the problem starts, your model could be all dusty and wouldn't work well, this happened a few times before with mine before I know I have my own flaws. If anyone from Bachmann is reading this, I consider doing the same way Hornby had done for their Thomas models for nearly past 28 years, have a box so that many modellers can use many times and without having the fear of dust. I know there are other ways to prevent this from happening, like a case, but there are many people who wouldn't afford for a case to store there models. However in a positive way, the packaging is nice with the Thomas logo and all, but I prefer if Bachmann uses a box instead.


Like many of there Thomas models since 2002, the actual engine is spot on by Bachmann, it pretty much shares the same chassis as Donald and Douglas, the wheels. And the face is pretty much a S7 replica:

The model is a good runner as well.

Overall the model is one of Bachmann's finest and is in the line of their other models such as Edward, Toby, Bill, Ben and the Scottish twins. I recommend buying this model and I do hope Bachmann does other great models in the future. There is still more models to come this year from Bachmann but as of now, well done to Bachmann to create Duck. 

Rating: 4/5

Monday, 19 August 2013

DVD Review: Railway Mischief



Written by
Andrew Brenner
Lee Pressman 
Paul Larson & Laura Beaumont 


Bonus Features:
- "Sodor Hide and Seek" Game
- 'All You Need Are Friends' Music Video
- Guess Who?

Directed by
David Baas

Produced by
Robert Anderson (Arc)
Ian McCue and Halim Jabbour (HIT)

Release Date:

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate

Well this turns out to be a bit of surprise to me. I manage to get myself a copy of the Wal*Mart exclusive 'Railway Mischief' filled with five selected episodes of the new and improved Series 17 from a seller on Amazon US. With a new production team and writers for the series as S13-16 was criticised by many older fans as well as parents with its bad writing. Since now that S17 has been aired in the UK and more will be airing in October on milkshake and that the US will also be getting it in the next two months, S17, the DVD is not that special anymore then what it was back in April. But I'm happy to get myself a copy of it as the episodes are worth to have. So here are my views on the DVD itself.


The DVD contains about five selected episodes from the new and improved series 17 which was praised by many of the older fans. 'Gordon Runs Dry' was the most positive of all of the selected episodes since that the original personas made a comeback, Percy shunting coaches and other small elements that made the episode reminisce of the past. Including the mention of 'The local' which was never mentioned at all in the TV series and neither the Railway Series. It's also a personal favourite of mine as Andrew Brenner, the writer of the episode, has made the episode enjoyable and it shows how much he recognise the characters of the series over the years and puts them in for the modern audience and it shows how much he has done his homework. Plus the episode doesn't rely on the narrator too much, unlike the episodes between S13-16, as the visual does the work of expressing the story and the character's emotion. You can see my views on these episodes by clicking on the link in the episode list. Now on with the DVD itself:

The special features are quite simple, a music video that has been released before and the game has been released on 'Pop Goes Thomas' in 2011. So the special features are all rehashes from previous American releases. I guess HIT didn't have the time to produce something new, considering that this was released in April. But that won't stop the highlight of the DVD, the episodes. 


What came as a surprise to many fans of the show was a change of the narrator. This DVD was the first time that many fans have heard of Mark Moraghan, a Liverpudlian actor who's been in such UK shows like 'Brookside' and 'Celebrity Masterchef UK' and for the first time, since Ringo Starr and Peirce Brosnan, narrated for both english speaking regions, the UK and US, the Thomas series. Meaning that the two long running narrators for the UK and US, respectfully, Michael Angelis and Michael Brandon, left the series and that there last contribution to the Thomas world was Season 16 and 'Blue Mountain Mystery'. To me I think what HIT has done was a good choice. Michael Angelis was great around the third - eighth season but by the time of the ninth - sixteenth season of the show he has become dull and bland and his voices for some of the new characters, that were introduced during the model era of the show, were generically the same with his voice. Michael Brandon has been criticised by many US fans saying that he sounds goofy, nasally and did, no doubt, some horrible voices, but I don't see him as a bad actor and he had done some enthusiasm for the series. I am sorry that they've left the series and I'm glad that they've done so much for the fans of the Thomas franchise.

But Mark Moraghan has that nice friendly voice of storytelling that is in the similar style of Ringo Starr, Michael Angelis and Johnny Morris together. He has brought enthusiasm to the series and his voice gave the series a nice charm as well and he has become a fast favourite already! I'll be looking forward to more of his narration when more of S17 will make it debut in October.

The DVD is a must have for Thomas fans both young and old, with five good quality episodes from a new writing staff, it's worth it. Andrew Brenner was the right man to take over the head writing job for this show and bringing Thomas back to its normal roots. It may not have the feeling of the classic series, but it has the sense of nostalgia and great work from the writers and the animation by Arc Productions is top notch, they're in the line of Nitrogen's work even though they are replicating Nitrogen's render from 2009-2012. I recommend this DVD to any Thomas fan with its great storylines, some episodes may look or sound silly, like 'Steamie Stafford', but that doesn't stop of how enjoyable it is. If you live in America, were this DVD is sold at, find it at your local Wal*Mart or if you live in a different country and want to watch some S17 goodness, find it on Amazon.com from a seller. I'm looking forward to the next S17 DVD release which will be coming out to the United States in October this year.
Rating: 4.9/5

Saturday, 10 August 2013

DVD Review: Treat Size Introduces.... DVDs



Originally Written by
The Rev.W.Awdry

Adapted and Produced by
Britt Allcroft, David Mitton and Robert D. Cardona 


Directed by
David Mitton

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment 
Entertainment Alliance  

Release Date

In 2013, HIT Entertainment and Entertainment Alliance had both distributed 'Treat Size Introduces....' DVDs of Thomas & Friends, as well as other of HIT's brands such as Pingu, Angelina Ballerina and Fireman Sam, from which I bought 'Sam's Day Off' as well. Each DVD contains about six episodes, Fireman Sam only has a limited of three and Angelina Ballerina only has two episodes on their DVDs respectively. So let's take a look at the Treat Size DVDs.

There are six episodes from the first season of 'Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends' with narration by ex-Beatle Ringo Starr. The episodes are fantastic with the words written by the Rev.W.Awdry with the great adaptation by David Mitton, Britt Allcroft and Robert D. Cardona. With great remastered footage that were released as series compilation in late 2012, which are hard to find to UK and the only place to end up to find them is the internet. 

In another Thomas DVD I bought, 'Edward's Exploit' there are six episodes from the second season of the show with narration by Ringo Starr. These include 'Edward's Exploit' 'Daisy', 'Percy's Predicament', 'The Diseasel', 'Wrong Road' and 'Ghost Train'. It is another fantastic season all remastered too. 

There are no special features on the treat size DVDs, but there is a promotional video for the CGI DVDs of Thomas & Friends. Not special really but a really good promo. 

I think these DVDs are fantastic to have. The series compilations that were released last year in the UK are now hard to find in the shops in the UK, I was there in July when I got these DVDs in York. With being 1 pound each and with a nice amount of good written episodes and all remastered, these are a must have! You can get copies of these on eBay, Amazon etc. or you can find them at local Poundland's or at a heritage railway, I saw these down at the Bluebell Railway last month. There are now new ones being released from the first two seasons, this time from Walk Investments Limited distributing it alongside with HIT Entertainment. These are 'Edward and Gordon', 'Thomas, Percy and The Coal' and 'A Close Shave'. With Christmas being only four months away these could be an ideal Christmas present for your child to introduce to the classic era of the show at its finest. 

Rating: 5/5

Monday, 5 August 2013

NWR Editorial: My Thoughts on CGI Bill and Ben



Let me just say first that I am not surprised that these two are returning as Andrew Brenner had stated in a interview by SiF last year that they are his favourite characters. And by reading his magazine stories that he wrote for the Marvel comic series of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, there were many magazine stories focused on Bill and Ben and some were made into season three stories (e.g - 'Heroes'). 

So last week on twitter, a Japanese Thomas fan had discovered new promo pictures for the seventeenth series for characters like Jack and Duck and surprisingly there were new CGI promo pictures for Bill and Ben, the china clay twins. Arc Productions had done well with there render of the twins, there are a few points of criticism that the twins cab roof are too tall, which I do agree upon, but when you look at the TV model there cab roofs are a bit tall too while the Railway Series version of them shows there true form:

Model version 

CGI promo

Railway Series

The thing over the driving wheels stands out, while writing it I was looking if the model version has it and it did but it was painted in black but its great how its standing out. Plus when you look at these promo pics, without the high contrast, there paint stands out more then the bland thinning out yellow paint that they had during the model era of the show. Plus I like it how the dome is black, that is just what the twins look like in the Railway Series so its good that the animators are focusing on Thomas' roots visually:

The faces are the same though unfortunately as twin engines use different facial expression so the young audience won't get confused who they are in the model era. That happened to me with Splatter and Dodge in 'Thomas and The Magic Railroad' or as everyone else calls it 'Shining Time Station: The Movie'. They both have two facial expressions that are the same and, on a personal and off topic note, the voice acting doesn't help either for those two (Splatter and Dodge). But the faces look very much like their Bachmann models, well Bill's model of course. 

I'm really looking forward to their reappearance soon as they haven't been on our screens for five years. Hopefully other characters like Donald, Douglas, Harvey or even BoCo will make their return. And since they're Andrew Brenner's favourites I do hope they have an episode to themselves or a longer cameo then a certain GWR Pannier tank engine.