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Dear Rapido Customer,
FPA-4 First Sound Samples
We received our first HO scale FPA-4 and FPB-4 samples with sound, and we were completely blown away by the sounds. The low Alco 251 rumble is just wonderful and special kudos are deserved by Matt Herman and the entire ESU team for turning the raw sounds we recorded from FPA-4 #6764 into model-sized music. I recorded a video of my first impression when I took these out of the box, and I lost it. They are that good.
Consider this an FPA-4 and FPB-4 teaser video. Click here or on the image below to watch it.
The FPA-4 shares the same nose as the FA-2 and the FPA-2 (and we're pretty sure it shares the nose with the FA-1 as well - anyone care to confirm?). If you look at the photo above you can see the immediate difference between our FPA-4 nose and other noses out there. The model in the foreground is an FPA-4 that I kitbashed from an FA-2 model about 16 years ago. Notice how the nose is quite bulgy and rounded.
Now look at Rapido's FPA-4 nose. There is a very noticeable "corner" in the nose - it's not a constant radius - and it has a more tapered feel to it. You know what? Our nose is correct. Any other FA noses that don't look like ours are wrong. Few manufacturers could make a statement like that. We can. To quote Monty Python, "We're not only proud of that fact; we're smug about it."
The model is far from ready - we still need to fix the grills, which we're not happy with. But it's getting close enough to look awesome. More info about the Rapido-MLW FPA-4 and FPB-4 locomotives can be found here. The order deadline is Friday the 13th of June. Delivery is early 2015.
HO Scale GMD-1 Production Samples are Here!
On Wednesday we received our production samples of the HO scale GMD-1 locomotive. They are absolutely stunning. See for yourself.
(If you follow us on Facebook you have seen these already! Click here to visit us on Facebook and "like" us so you see stuff sooner.)
This is the first locomotive out of the MLW factory, and it is of the same high calibre you've come to expect from Rapido. The entire shipment of this paint scheme - CN noodle (black) - is leaving the factory in less than two weeks and will be here in June. That means we've gone from official product announcement to delivery in less than 13 months. Woo-hoo!
Our models include some neat features:
We expect to receive delivery of a new paint scheme every six weeks or so. So start saving now! Click here for more info on the GMD-1. We're sold out so if you are just deciding now that you want one, you'd better call around.
N Scale GMD-1 Update
Just so you N scalers know we haven't forgotten about you, above is a photo of our upcoming N scale GMD-1 in the stunning sergeant stripes. Remember when railroads believed in spending money on paint jobs? I used to think the GMD-1 was ugly. But when I see the 1600-series, 6-axle GMD-1A in sergeant stripes, I realize that it is a Thing of Beauty. Have you ordered your FLEET yet?
We just finished adding the walkway tread and the factory forgot the tread on top of the anticlimbers, so they are working on that now. We'll be ready in time for production - the N scale GMD-1 will start production in just a few months' time.
You need to reserve your N scale GMD-1 and GMD-1A by Friday the 13th of June. Click here for more info and/or to place your order.
Deliveries: Gons and Coaches
As I mentioned last time, we are continuing to explore this new and exciting concept of "delivering products in my lifetime."
The last batch of MLW Ultimate Canadian Gondola models is arriving next week: CN (delivery), CN (12" lettering), CN (noodle) and Pacific Great Eastern. We are sold out so please call around if you haven't pre-ordered.
In the photo above, one of the mums in our village workshop does the final QC inspection on Canadian National Super Continental Line coaches. In southern China, most of the factories are filled with workers who have come in from other parts of the country. Most of them are young - in their 20s - and at Chinese New Year time they all go home and many of them don't come back! When they are home they learn about some other factory to work at in a different province, and they go there instead.
The main workshop that builds Rapido models in China is in a small village, and employs mostly local mums. Because they live "near the office," the don't disappear at Chinese New Year and they are much more reliable in general. We've seen a marked improvement in our quality control since the factory started hiring more mums and fewer 20-somethings. Hurray for mums!
The Super Continental Line coaches have all left the factory and will arrive in two batches: mid-May and the end of May. So you'll have them in your hands in June.
Grey Ghost FP9A Arrival
This one only took us three years.... Boreal Trains in Rimouski, Quebec commissioned an exclusive run of 100 of these VIA Rail Canada oddball locomotives, and they have finally arrived.
The "Grey Ghost" is a railfan term applied to VIA FP9A number 6532. In 1980 it received this experimental paint scheme of grey and yellow. This was a variation of the original intended paint scheme for the LRC, as shown in this 1970s artist's concept:
Eventually VIA decided against the grey scheme for its conventional equipmment (and for the LRC!), and 6532 and two coaches were eventually repainted into their traditional blue colours. The paint used for the test was not the usual grade and it started to fade within a couple of months, likely due to the chemicals used in the wash rack. 6532 was painted back into blue before being rebuilt into GPA-418 #6310 three years later and painted into blue... again.
Denis Coté, the owner of Boreal Trains, is a friend of ours and a fellow VIA nut. You can order the Grey Ghost directly from Denis. His email address is email@example.com and his Facebook page is at facebook.com/boreal.trains. You can read more about the Grey Ghost here.
Meat Reefers - Order Yours Now!
The order deadline for the second run of HO scale Meat Reefers is SWIFTly approaching. (Ouch!) The first run sold out and we got dozens of late requests for more that we couldn't fill. So please contact your dealer to order now. We take direct orders, but only in four-packs.
This run of Meat Reefers includes:
It's alive! A couple of weeks ago we received our first new LRC Locomotive sample from the factory in more than three years. It's nice to see that this project is still alive and kicking! Unfortunately the locomotive came with a laundry list of tooling adjustments they still need to make. I've been told that we can finally start production in the summer.
I think you'll be very pleased with the looks and performance of this locomotive when it's finally ready. Have a look at the photo below.
Our model will feature working ditch lights and red markers (at both ends), and it will even feature working step lights. You can see them in the photo above. It's even better in person.
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that while our latest sample has step lights, it doesn't actually have steps. They didn't inject properly - and that's in the laundry list of adjustments needed. Also note our sample is hand painted, so the weird jog in the yellow on the nose won't be on the production model. But we do plan to use the richer yellow shown in the photo. I felt the stripes were too pale on the first run of coaches, which was not intentional.
We've temporarily reopened the order desk for the LRC locomotive and coaches (they are being produced together). If you haven't ordered yours yet, please contact your dealer or click here to order direct.
Those of you frustrated with the seemingly endless delays to this project, please keep in mind that this is my favourite locomotive - I spearheaded the preservation of 6917 and Sidura and I actually owned 6919 for a while. I've been just as frustrated as you. We'll get it out this year.
Mike's Transcendental Journey
Transcontinental. I meant Transcontinental. Sort of.
Mike and Dan rode The Canadian to Supertrain this month and our latest blog entry is a travelogue (with a "ue") of their journey, as well as Mike's personal journey as he turned 50 while en route.
You can read our blog by clicking here. Please use the blog comments section to share your experiences of The Canadian and of becoming a Really Old Guy like Mike. We would love to hear your stories!
So... Why the UK?
I get asked that a lot - why are you getting into the British market? If it's a Canadian asking me, chances are they have never thought much about the UK since they last visited for the Jubilee in 1977 and they think that all British policemen wear bearskins, red Routemasters are used everywhere, and that ambulances still go "wee-WAW, wee-WAW." I wish ambulances still went "wee-WAW, wee-WAW." I love that sound.
If it's a Brit asking me, the tone is usually one of disbelief: "Why would you EVER want to make a model for the UK? Our economy's gone to pot!" That is generally followed by a rant against Tony Blair, council flats, the Euro, Margaret Thatcher, DCC, People Born Inside the M25, People Born Outside the M25, the Rail Delivery Group, political correctness, Argos, the term UK plc, Mark IV coaches, and human beings in general. (I really hate the term UK plc.)
When Sidura and I were first married we lived in Edgbaston (Birmingham) for a few years. We remember those early days before we had kids very fondly. We travelled all over the UK from Cornwall to Inverness and everywhere in between, usually by train. While I'd always loved British culture - music, tea, humour, Doctor Who - we fell in love with the land and its trains. Well, I fell in love with the trains. Sidura fell in love with the Lake District. Can you blame her?
Bill Schneider (Rapido Bill) lived in the UK shortly after the reign of Have a Canute Or Two or whatever his name was. Bill also loves British trains and he currently models a Great Western branch line in the 1930s. I've encouraged him to add overhead line equipment for my Pendolino fleet. And I've encouraged him to change his layout to Birmingham in 2003. He's not listening.
By the time we got to 2013 I realized that I had only been back to the UK once since 2004, and I wanted it to be a part of my life again. I also realized that Doctor Who was turning 50, and during the 40th anniversary celebrations I vowed to be back for the 50th.
Now let's see - Bill and I want to spend more time in the UK, Bill and I love British trains, and Bill and I are part of a model train manufacturing company. Now that was a tough one to figure out.
When Dan and I visited the UK for Doctor Who's birthday - I mean, for our UK product research trip - we met up with Brian Greenwood, George Muirhead and Anthony Coulls at Locomotion in Shildon. Brian runs Locomotionmodels.com, the model railway arm of the National Railway Museum. George is the museum manager at Locomotion in Shildon, and Anthony is the senior curator of the National Railway Museum. They are great guys.
It's nice to meet people half a world away who speak exactly the same languange you do. I don't mean English - I mean the language of trains and a passion for them.
During our visit, Dan and I outlined the plan for Rapido's first Birtish model. Brian and George immediately said, "We're on board - let's do it together." And so we are! Rapido's first model for the UK market will be a Locomotionmodels.com exclusive edition and will form a part of the "National Collection in Miniature" series.
I'd like to properly invite you to join
I'll be sharing more info about our new UK model in the coming months. Once we announce it on the 24th, we will be sharing our 3D drawings on RMWeb for comment and feedback. We want to ensure everyone loves our first model. We'll have samples at various shows in the UK in late 2014 and early 2015 so you can experience the model "in the flesh" before placing your reservation.
Thanks to the four of you still reading this! And please pass word of Rapido to your friends who model British railways so they can sign up to read our newsletters that are 90% about VIA and CN. Hmmm. We seem to have a bit of a disconnect here... I'll get working on it.
All the best,
Rapido Trains Inc.
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