Dear Rapido Customer,
Rapido's British Model Launch
We're just a couple of weeks away from our big UK model launch, better known as the "3D Scan Railway Party" at Locomotion The National Railway Museum at Shildon on 24 June. Click here for directions.
We're expecting at least three people to show up for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You'll get to:
We love travelling by train in the UK and I am sure that you do as well. I hope you will take a day off work and train down (or up, if you are way north) to Shildon and spend an enjoyable time with us. It will be an intimate party atmosphere, and a lot of the British model railway press personalities will be in attendance so you can meet and talk to them too!
Full information on the launch can be found at our UK launch page: RapidoUK.com. Please bookmark that link as we will regularly redirect it to the UK version of our web site, the exact URL of which might change.
Bill and I will be regularly updating our Facebook page while in the UK, so please tune in for the latest news. You don't need to be a member of Facebook to view our updates. We will also be writing a blog entry about the UK trip. In the meantime, you can visit our blog now to read about Mike and Dan's road trip to Quebec and Moncton smack in the middle of the latter city's recent events. Click here to go there.
Our visit starts with our "Support the Cornish Economy" trip to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway on 20 June. On 22 June we spend just about the whole day on board a CrossCountry HST (I love the HST). We're in the Darlington and Shildon areas until the 26th, when we head to Dalwhinnie to
We're booked on the ScotRail sleeper back to London and we fly out on the 27th. So that's at least two hours in London on our last day! (I think I'm taking this "I'm from the North" thing a little too far.)
We've been very busy with HO scale deliveries of late. At your local hobby shop now (or just recently arrived) are:
Arriving end of July:
Seriously, though. Because Chinese New Year shuts down the factories for most of February, they don't really get back into the groove until March or April. That means a lot of summer deliveries.
My suggestion? Save your model railroad spending budget for the summer and spend your winters building the layout!
The Super Continental Line GTW (Noodle) Coaches are actually here, but they have the wrong trucks. We're waiting for the factory to make new trucks and then we're going to do the swaperoo here at our warehouse. So you can expect them to be ready around the end of July. They had better be - I leave for China at the beginning of August!
Order Deadlines Extended to June 30th
Our HO scale GARX Meat Reefer was just reviewed in the July Model Railroader, which will introduce a lot of people to the model. MR subscribers can read the review here. It would be silly to say "you can't order it!" so we have extended the order deadline until the end of this month.
Our GARX Meat Reefer is unique for being the longest-lasting wood-sided reefers to remain in service. These cars serviced meat packing houses throughout North America and lasted into the 1970s. They would feel at home on any North American layout set from the 1930s to the 1970s. If your HO scale citizens eat meat, you need these cars.
If you compare them to other manufacturers' meat reefers you may already have on your layout, you'll see that there are some key differences between our cars and the others you have. The steel hatches with the diamond-tread surface and the six General American triangular hinges are unique to our car and have never been made before in plastic.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you only have general service reefers (such as Pacific Fruit Express/PFE or Fruit Growers Express/FGE) on your layout, our Meat Reefers are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. You need a complete train of our Meat Reefers. Go order 48 of them. Please! Click here for more info.
Note that the MSRP is currently $44.95, and many dealers are selling for less. Next time we bring out these cars, I can tell you now that they will be north of $50 each... so order them now! More on those rising prices in a future newsletter.
Boy am I going to get complaints from that picture. I'll forward your angry emails to Mike. He's our big N scaler.
The N scale GMD-1 order deadline has also been extended to the end of June. We're still revising the walkway tread pattern so the moulds need a bit more work. Click here to read about our N scale GMD-1 or to place an order.
Because we've just launched this (humbly) amazing video showcasing the FPA-4 and FPB-4 sounds (click here to watch it!), we're giving you and extra couple of weeks to order yours before we start production. So please order your FPA-4 and FPB-4 by the end of June. Click here for info.
Now looking at the neat photo above I'm probably going to get asked when the final (for real this time!) LRC order deadline is. At some point in the next few weeks I will ring the "last call" gong and give you two weeks to firm up your numbers. Yes, we are really starting LRC production this summer. As soon as the final tooling revisions are done I will send out a special short newsletter with that two-week warning.
Click here to order your LRC locomotives and coaches.
Luminato's The Lost Train
For the last few months I have been very busy preparing for something I couldn't tell you about. As it's just ended, I'm really glad that I can finally spill the beans.
Luminato Festival is an international fine arts festival that takes place in Toronto every June. Events include live music, readings, dance, performances, art installations, film, etc. The vast majority of Luminato events happen in and around the downtown area. This year something special happened up in the suburb of Thornhill.
The Lost Train took place in a secret location. It was a food, music and railway experience hosted by world-famous chef Fred Morin from Joe Beef restaurant, world-famous scratch DJ Kid Koala, and some guy who has a train in his basement. For me, working with these two guys who are so well known for their art - worldwide - was humbling indeed.
Passengers were picked up at the famous Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto and taken by limousine to a secret train-related location. They were led, blindfolded, from the limousine to a VIA train car... which happened to be VIA coach 5647 that I built in my basement! Because the blindfolds were put on well before they arrived at my house, few people had any clue where they actually were.
In the coach, passengers were treated to a sumptuous meal designed specifically for the event by Fred. The meals comprised small portions to fit the confined space of the coach and the courses evoked the spirit of on-board meals of the past. Located in Montreal, Fred's Joe Beef is one of the hottest restaurants in Canada, and he has recently expanded with a new restaurant on the same street, Le Vin Papillon. Fred is known for his unusual food combinations and their resulting out-of-this-world tastes. He's also an author and TV star, sharing the spotlight with his partner, Dave McMillan, on Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown. Most importantly, Fred loves VIA and CN trains just as much as I do.
While passengers were eating their meals and getting to know each other in the rather cozy (knees-knocking) atmosphere of the coach, Kid Koala jockeyed train-themed music from a pair of turntables set up in the luggage rack. In the background you could still hear the sounds of the train that I always pump through hidden speakers. Servers in 1980s VIA-inspired uniforms kept the passengers well fed and well imbibed.
Amazingly, all of the food was prepared in our suburban, 1987-era kosher kitchen. Fred and his team of experienced chefs (led by caterer Raegan Steinberg) transformed our kitchen and family room into a professional gourmet food factory.
As the passengers were eating dessert, the chef joined them in the coach to tell them about their meal and explain some of the thought that went into The Lost Train experience and his co-operation with Kid Koala to create a food-music-train event. My involvement at this stage was still a secret. People still had no clue where they were, except that it was part of a train car.
After their meal, the passengers were led down the hall to the other part of my basement - namely the HO scale Kingston Subdivision. Here I revealed that they were, in fact, inside my house in suburbia. The reactions were amazing! Most people had thought we were in a museum or a rented theatre space. Several people assumed we were in a VIA or CN office building! Here I took them through the process of resurrecting coach 5647 by showing them slides in their very own souvenir Viewmasters!
I demonstrated the model railroad by running my Turbo on some temporary track between Oshawa and Guildwood. I loved watching their reactions to the unfinished model railroad - some people saw the room as a work of art in and of itself, and others were brought back to the memories of their childhood train sets or taking their kids to train shows and clubs. It was fairly unanimous - everyone agreed that I am nuts and Sidura is a saint. I passed the floor over to Kid Koala, who performed a train-themed piece on his turntables that he specially composed for this event.
Kid Koala is a scratch DJ (or "turntablist" in hoity-toity circles). He's performed at venues all over the world including Madison Square Garden and the Glastonbury Festival, where he's headed in a few days. I was floored by the captivating music he can create simply by modifying sounds on turntables.
He not only demonstrated his art; he also explained how it's done and let the passengers have a try. Most of the passengers, which included television personalities, writers and one governor general, had never even seen a scratch DJ in action before and now they got to try it for themselves. Watching a former representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II scratching disks on my model railroad is something I will never forget. Not ever.
The schedule was gruelling - much more so for Fred and Kid Koala and the administrative team than for me. I had done several weeks of long hours and hard work to get the basement ready before the event, but during the event I was just needed for the last half hour of each performance. I had time to put together the FPA-4 video and this newsletter in between my appearances. Everyone else was on their feet the whole time. We brought 12 groups of eight passengers each through The Lost Train experience. That was four groups per day for three days.
Behind the scenes, Caroline Hollway was our boss. She organized everything and kept everything - and everyone - in line. There were as many as 20 or 25 people in my house at one time! And between shows there was a lot to set up and plenty of fires to put out (thankfully none in the kitchen). With no prior planning, the Heywood-Wakefield train seats in our living room became the mobile office. (The site office was the guest room in the basement - often with three people at a time, squished on the hide-a-bed, using their mobiles and laptops simultaneously!)
One of the most rewarding things for me, as a life-long VIA fan and lover of old VIA stuff, was seeing things like old VIA trays and cutlery being used again, in service, on a train. It really felt like we were bringing 5647 to life. Although it didn't move, it was boarded by passengers who experienced in it, eight at a time, for over an hour. In essence, this crazy full-size train in the basement has come full circle. It started life as an artifact taking passengers on journeys across the country, and now in resurrected form it has taken passengers on a journey again. This journey may not have resulted in an arrival at a new physical destination, but it was a culinary, auditory and experiential journey nevertheless. It was one that few of the passengers will ever forget.
I have to thank Dan and Mike for holding the fort for me while I was preparing for The Lost Train. I was away for days at a time, and for much of May I was hardly at the office. Nothing makes you work on your layout more than knowing you have 100 guests coming through on a fixed date and it has to look presentable by then.
My friends, John Chipperfield and Tom Fetherston, came to my house often and we worked hard erecting the helix (we needed Dan for that!) and building the second deck. Jeff Loach came by to help lay track and Gaston Moreau provided me with loads upon loads of trees. He makes amazing trees.
The great thing is that this push now means that we will probably be able to start operating the upper two decks of the Kingston Sub next year. In July I will take out the temporary track I laid on the second deck and start constructing the third. I'm working on a detailed update to the Kingston Sub web site to show how we built the helix and the middle deck. It should be ready in the next few weeks.
This truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one that I will never forget. My background is in the visual arts, and to be a part of a major art event in my city is a great honour. As a bonus, I made some very good friends in the process. After seeing my Turbo run, fellow train nut Chef Fred has now decided to take the plunge into model railroading. That's another one converted!
I owe Fred Morin, Kid Koala, Caroline Hollway, Jorn Weisbrodt, and everyone at Luminato a huge debt of gratitude. Together, we brought VIA coach 5647 to life and brought an abundance of joy and culinary delights that it never even saw during its 40 years in service.
Most importantly, I owe Sidura. She was supportive of this from day one and she allowed her entire house to be turned upside down for a week. She also kept the kids out of trouble during that time and she taught them to understand that this was a special event and that they should be proud of it and not worry too much that their routine was being upset. She even got Boaz and Dalya a limo ride! My wife is a saint.
The most important thing is that everyone had fun, from the three creative forces behind the project to the staff and most especially to the passengers. For the passengers, each journey was a time of relaxation, surprise and delight, and I hope that the 100-odd people who rode The Lost Train will keep the memories close, especially when planning their next journey... Maybe they'll choose the train!
On that happy note, I'll be off.
The next newsletter will be about our surprise UK product announcement later this month. Until then...
All the best,
Rapido Trains Inc.
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