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Dear Rapido Customer,
New! N Scale Meat Reefer
Hey N scalers - we haven't forgotten about you! I'm delighted (again) to announce our first general-release N scale freight car. It's the GARX 37-foot Meat Reefer!
Our Meat Reefer is based on a design built between 1937 and 1941 by General American Transportation (GARX). Although built with a wooden sheathed body and roof that made them look like a car from an earlier era, these GARX cars were modern for their time. More than 940 cars were built to this configuration making it one of the most numerous meat reefer designs, and they lasted in service into the 1970s. They would normally be assigned to meat service only, running between meat packing houses and regional dealers throughout North America, Including Canada.
THESE ARE NOT FRUITY REEFERS!!!!
If you have 100 fruity (general service) reefers on your layout, you still need to buy a whole fleet of these. Unless all of your N scale people are vegetarians, in which case forget I said anything.
Certifiable (adjective): Relating to or being a person showing disordered behavior of sufficient gravity to justify involuntary mental hospitalization.
This is what Mike called me when I suggested that we give the trucks in-line brake shoes. I'm writing this quickly as the men in white coats are on their way.
N scale truck details are notoriously difficult to photograph, but I think I've caught the in-line brakes in this photo:
Our N scale GARX Meat Reefer features:
In addition to our standard releases, Rapido Trains Inc. is pleased to announce the Rapido Meat Reefer Collector Packs - click here for more info. Solid blocks of meat reefers were a common sight on North American rails for almost a half century. While the most famous of these cars were proudly adorned with the names and logos of large packing companies, a sizeable number of them bore the names of smaller packing houses. Still others carried experimental or "one off" liveries from the larger packers.
Each of the cars included in our Collectors Packs has been chosen to be a unique addition to your reefer fleet or decorated reefer collection and are sure to be a conversation piece for both rail enthusiasts and collectors alike. Each Collectors Pack contains four cars, each in their individual jewel case. These cars will not be released individually or in other four packs so the only way to obtain them is in this Collector's Pack release.
And have a look at the neat drawings below to whet your appetite. We will not be making inventory of these - they are being produced strictly to order.
Note that these cars are being produced at the MLW factory. We started to cut the tooling at the end of July and received the samples shown in the photos at the end of September. There won't be any three-year delays with these models. They will be delivered by the end of 2015.
Please order by Tuesday 17 March to ensure you don't miss these great models. Contact your dealer or click here to order.
These cars were the brainchild of Mike, our only N scaler on staff. He started with us back in July 2013 and has become an indispensible member of the team. Last month he wrote a blog entry about what it's been like to go from being a modeller to being a manufacturer. You can read it by clicking here. And here's that link again for the N scale reefers: That Link Again.
New! HO Scale Canadian Gons
I'm just chock-full of new announcements today. Here's a surprise one. We've ALREADY MADE a new run of HO scale Ultimate Canadian Gons. They're here, in our warehouse, and they are disappearing quickly. I casually mentioned them in an email to our Canadian dealers and 75% of them are now gone.
These cars ran all across the United States and Canada, and many are still in MOW service for CP.
This new run features new numbers for our most popular paint schemes, as well as significant improvements in packaging. When I was in China I tested the new packaging. I threw one against the wall (overhand) and then whipped it, twice, into the corner of a desk. The packaging was totaled but the gon was OK - nothing broke off. It won't withstand being driven over by the UPS guy, but it should survive most of the other indignities inflicted upon it.
CN had two noodle placements on its gons, and of course we (inadvertently) chose the rarer one for our first run. So on this new run the CN noodle is in the more common, lower position.
The paint schemes in this new run are:
HO and N FL9 Update
As I mentioned last month, Bill has been hard at work with our experts and our engineers in China, and I am delighted (I feel that way a lot) to let you know that the HO scale FL9 is now in tooling, and we anticipate receiving the first sample around Christmas. Last month I showed you some rear truck detail. The front truck is even more impressive:
With the help of a number of New Haven and FL9 experts, we found all sorts of little details to tweak and improve upon before the model went to tooling. For instance, did you know that the number boards on the FL9 are actually notched on the sides? They are completely unique.
No, we didn't know either. One of our experts was studying a prototype photo to help with another issue and he had one of those "Umm... Hey, guys..." moments. So our model has the unique, notched number boards:
You'll be able to see them in person at the Springfield show. The order deadline is February 20th, and we're starting production less than two weeks later, so that deadline is FIRM. These are made to order, so only orders placed before that date will be honored. Click here for info on the HO FL9.
The N scale FL9 is currently in the design stage. Mike and Bill are finalizing the details with our engineers now, and we hope to start tooling in about 10 days. We should have a sample or two for Springfield, but we may not have time to get them decorated. They will still look AWESOME.
Right now we're scratching our heads on how best to design the front truck to avoid fouling the coupler on tight curves. Never fear! We'll solve it...
The drawings aren't finished yet, but you can still see the amazing level of detail we'll be including. Check out the underbody piping and air reservoirs, as well as the separate grab irons, cut levers and air hoses.
The roof shot shows the mini-pantograph used to pick up third-rail power while going over switches into and out of Grand Central Station. Mike and I had a big argument about the winterization hatch. I think that etched hatch grills look goofy in N scale, and Mike says that N scalers want them, even though it means you can throw a football through the holes in the grill. I'm leaning towards a molded-on grill with finer detail.
Jason Shron Voodoo dolls are available for sale to those N scalers who think I should be put to torture for that choice.
Full info on the N scale FL9 can be found here. Remember - order yours by February 20th or you ain't getting any.
HO Scale F40PH-2D Update
We're getting better and better at delivering on time these days. I am pleased (delighted/excited/ecstatic/etc.) to tell you that the first shipment of F40PH-2D Locomotives has left the factory and is en route for Canada.
This shipment comprises the original scheme, used from 1986 to 2000, in both DC/DCC/Sound and DC-only versions.
I have spoken with VIA and they have informed me that they have made some extra inventory of all of their F40PH-2D locomotives. They will be activating them in their shopping cart system next week. If you want to make sure you get your order in, you can send an email to email@example.com and let them know. Click here to visit VIA's F40PH-2D ordering page (they will be activated next week) or click here to visit our F40PH-2D page for more info.
To get you foaming at the mouth, below are a bunch of photos of the production model.
In case you haven't read it already, we've put together a Master Class on the history and spotting features of the F40PH-2D. Click here or on the image below to read it.
Here are those links again: Rapido's F40PH-2D info page; VIA's F40PH-2D ordering page. If you pre-ordered the F40PH-2D from VIA, your locomotives will be en route to you before Christmas, and may even arrive before Christmas, depending on where you live.
The Northern Alberta and Undecorated GMD-1 Locomotives have just arrived and are on their way to dealers. That means that we have delivered ALL of the GMD-1 locomotives within 16 months of the official announcement. That's a record for us. In the past we were talking three to four years!
We are contacting direct customers now. Please bear with us - we're working to improve the speed with which we send out direct orders. The trouble is that because they were pre-ordered, we have to key in the credit cards manually. This causes a large number of the cards to be rejected, and then we have to contact customers. That takes a long time. If anyone has experience with a better way for us to handle pre-orders, do please get in touch.
En route from the factories now are the aforementioned HO scale F40PH-2D Locomotives as well as the second run paint schemes of the HO scale GARX Meat Reefers.
In production now are a whole whack of N scale passenger cars, LRC Locomotives, LRC Passenger Cars, "Canada" Scheme F40PH-2D Locomotives, and N scale GMD-1 Locomotives. They will all arrive between December and March.
We start production of the MLW FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives next week. If you didn't order any and you would like to, please contact us immediately. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. If you're reading this after next week... sorry you missed out!
If you are looking to buy our products and it's past the order deadline, you can check out our dealer listing here as many of our dealers carry stock. Our US distributors don't tell us who buys our products, so if you are with a US or international dealer that carries our line and your store is not in our dealer listing, please contact me.
HO Scale Budd Mid-Train Dome Deadline Extension
If you haven't yet seen our Budd Mid-Train Dome, you are seriously missing out. You know I'm not one for superlatives (BWA HA HA) but our Budd passenger cars really are the most detailed and realistic plastic passenger cars ever made. The only commercially-available cars that rival them are the brass works of art produced by The Coach Yard, but the brass cars are not for everyone's budget.
The original order deadline for these cars was next month, but I've been informed that the factory won't have capacity until after Chinese New Year. So we're extending the order deadline until February 20th 2015. Come and see the cars for yourself at the Springfield show at the end of January. They really are something to behold.
The Budd Mid-Train Dome comes in numerous popular paint schemes:
Rapido Coming to the UK!
Bill and I depart on 17 November to spend a week in the UK. Last time we visited the UK we went from Cornwall to Scotland, stopping in Shildon on the way - click here to read about it. The time before that, Dan and I explored the Midlands, Northeast, Northwest, and a bit of Wales (and Dan was in Scotland for an hour). Click here to read about that...
This time, we're following in the steps of Brother Cadfael, the 12th-century crime-solving monk from the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury, as brought to life by Ellis Peters in her popular series of mediaeval whodunnits. I'm a big Cadfael fan. My memory is so bad that I can reread all of the Cadfael mysteries every few years and I've completely forgotten whodunnit.
Bill and I will be touring Shrewsbury, the abbey, town and foregate. The next day we head up to Gwynedd, where Cadfael was born (and, entirely coincidentally, Doctor Who was filmed). We then head south towards Cardiff, figuring that Cadfael would have approved a visit to Wales's only whisky distillery at Penderyn.
Cadfael was built of solid, Welsh stock. (We often meet "solid" Welsh people in Ellis's books. Are non-Welsh people "liquid" in some way?) We're hoping to spend a couple of days appreciating the grandeur that is Wales and learning how to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
(If I ever move back to the UK, I will move to Gwynedd. But I'll need to keep a bucket of phlegm handy to pronounce the place names.)
The point of our visit to the UK is to introduce ourselves formally to the great British model railway public at the Warley Exhibition, which will be held on 22 and 23 November at the NEC in Birmingham.
Bill and I will be there, with bells on, along with a sample of our APT-E train, and some neat Rapido badges to give away! Come visit us at the Locomotion booth #E22. If the samples don't arrive in time, Bill will be in the display cabinet, wearing a tutu.
We plan to be wearing the latest British apparel craze otherwise known as the high-vis vest. I'd say "you can't miss us," but as everyone seems to wear high-vis clothing in the UK we will probably be hard to spot. Information about the Warley show can be found here. Our UK outline web site can be found here
3D Scan For Our Secret New Model
The photo above is a lie. The real train that we scanned has been Photoshopped out to protect its identity...
The whole Rapido team in Canada, Connecticut and China is working on the design of a major new model train announcement. When we sent our drawings to the factory, the resulting "first attempt" looked nothing like the real thing. I immediately decided that a 3D scan was needed. We've done enough trains to know when the investment into the scan is worthwhile, and this time it was.
On Tuesday, Dan and I braved the wind and the rain to assist with the 3D scan of our new model. Hopefully the model doesn't end up being covered in HO scale raindrops....
We will announce the new model at the Springfield show in January. As you can guess by the American location for the announcement, it is an American prototype. But it has a "Canadian connection" as well.
Start planning your trip to Springfield now! The show is on 24-25 January 2015 in West Springfield, MA.
Confederation Train and FP9A/F9B Update
September 30th was a big order deadline for a number of Rapido products, including the Steam Generator Cars, the Canadian Pacific and VIA Rail FP9A and F9B, the American FP9A, and the Confederation Train. The latter two announcements were conditional, meaning that we needed to get enough orders to make them.
I am pleased to inform you that the Confederation Train will be going ahead. We had enough orders... just! However, because of the complexity of the train, we've been informed that the factory won't have capacity to start production until later in 2015.
That means you can still order your Confederation Train. We'll keep the order desk open until we are ready to start production. Similarly, we are keeping the order desk open for the CP and VIA FP9A and F9B locomotives as they will be made at the same time as the Confederation Train. It looks like an early 2016 release for both.
Click here to order your Confederation Train, and click here to order your CP and VIA FP9A and F9B locomotives.
The ex-Canadian FP9A and F9B locomotives are all cancelled, effective immediately. The orders weren't there to justify production. These are Raillink, Southern Pacific, Pan Am and Kansas City Southern. The HO scale Deluxe Osgood Bradley Coaches are also officially cancelled for the same reason. See my essay below to find out more.
So who wants this stuff?
We regularly get requests for models decorated for shortlines, tourist lines, regional railroads, etc. We also get requests for oddball railway equipment of all shapes and sizes.
I remember soon after Richard Longpre and I first met, he told me that we would sell thousands of "Mount Royal Club," an oddball CN rebuild passenger car. I said to Richard, "Do you need one?" He said, "No, I already made one." I responded, "I don't need one either because I also made one. That means that 25% of the people who want Mount Royal Club don't need it!"
Richard has since become one of my best friends in the world and Rapido's very own Mr. Expert (Monsieur l'Expert in French). He does all of our French translations and has forgotten more about 1950s passenger cars than most people will ever know. But our conversation illustrates a good point.
We received a lot of requests for our FP9A locomotives in American paint schemes. VIA F-Units are everywhere; because VIA's fleet was still in regular service up to 2002, many VIA FP9A locomotives found their way to American shortlines and tourist railroads. So we announced them, but the orders just didn't materialize.
We've announced some duds before, but never like this. A grand total of 22 models of KCS-1 were pre-ordered, including sound and silent. That's it. In the entire world, only 22 people wanted an accurate model of KCS-1.
We've had more than 100 email and phone (and letter!) requests for PanAm FP9As PAR1 and PAR2. But we sold a grand total of 55 locomotives, sound and silent combined. So evidently quite a few people like the idea of owning a locomotive enough to ask for it, but they don't like it enough to actually order it.
Since the FL9 announcement, we've been inundated - and I mean sometimes more than one a day - with requests for the Maine Eastern FL9 locomotives. Maine Eastern and Pan Am operate in the same general area. I'm not going to risk announcing Maine Eastern FL9 locomotives any time soon. Sorry guys - maybe you can convince Maine Eastern to commission a custom run.
I'm not a huge fan of conditional announcements, even though there are two in this newsletter - the SRY and Cuban GMD-1 locomotives. But I'm not sure I see any other way to gauge what the sales of an oddball model will actually be.
You'd be surprised how many requests we get for - of all things - the rebuilt RS-18 in the photo above. This was modified by CN in 1968 to have a top speed of 92 MPH and provide 575V Head End Power to the CN Tempo passenger cars.
We could never produce this as a standalone locomotive, but if we are doing a series of RS-18 locomotives, I question if we would ever make back the tooling investment needed to make this engine. Despite the 100-200 requests we've received for it, I doubt if we'd sell more than about 150 total.
There are no easy answers. There is a lot of risk that we take in making any new product announcement. For all-new products, we've usually invested heavily in R&D and tooling before the announcement is made. We have a good feeling that a model will sell and so we take the plunge.
But for oddball paint schemes and variations, we have to be cautious. I am very glad that we did not tool up those Deluxe Osgood Bradley coaches as the total advance sales do not even cover the cost of the small mold modifications to give the accurate window arrangement. Next year we'll announce those paint schemes on our standard 10-window coach, which will be Os-Good-Enough-Bradleys for most people.
The best way to ensure we make an oddball model that you want is for you to help us get the word out. If we announce a conditional locomotive or other model that you want, please let your friends know. For instance, if you know railfans with in an interest in Cuban railways, you can suggest that they order a Cuban GMD-1 (or twelve!) to put on the mantle.
We would love to be able to make all of these oddballs, but sometimes the interest just isn't there.
Here's a fun feature that will end our newsletters each month. The same dumb question is answered by each member of the Rapido team. I've blatantly ripped this off from Model Rail magazine, though their questions aren't dumb. Anyway, thanks Chris and the gang at MR for the idea!
If you have a dumb question you'd like us to answer, please send it along!
IF YOU COULD BE A TRAIN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
And that's another one in the can. Anybody still reading?
We have a very special announcement coming in our next newsletter - an all-new American HO scale locomotive and new N scale passenger cars. Make sure you get to a computer over Thanksgiving so you don't miss it.
Due to my ridiculous workload, I have worked on my layout for exactly one day since June. If you can't reach me over the next couple of weeks, try my basement!
All the best,
Rapido Trains Inc.
*The "Reed Sea" in the first picture caption is not a typo. Go check the original Hebrew. Mike made me add this disclaimer as he was emphatic that "People will think it's a typo! Only a PhD in divinity would know it was the Reed Sea." Mike's mandatory Hebrew classes start next Tuesday.
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