American Ambassadors of Rapido.
Introducing AAR: American Ambassadors of Rapido
This year we exhibited at Trainfest in Milwaukee for the first time in several years. Dan Darnell and guest Rapido exhibition dude Matt Soknacki had a great time meeting so many of you, and we intend to be at Trainfest every year from now on.
Dan and Matt heard the same comment over and over: "Rapido? You just make Canadian stuff, right? When are you going to make something American?" The production samples of our Amtrak F40PH were a bit of a mob scene, as most of the people crowding around didn't know we were making one.
Upon hearing this news, Bill Schneider - our American head of product development - proceeded to smack his head against a stone wall. Repeatedly.
Bill takes the news with grace and aplomb.
If you're reading this then you know all about us and our products. But despite our best efforts we're having trouble getting our message out to our fellow modellers (modelers - sorry, force of habit) in the States.
We had to turn away literally hundreds of orders for Napa Valley FPA-4 locomotives from people who never knew we were making them until they saw one on a buddy's layout. (We still have some Grand Canyon engines, by the way.) Earlier this year Bill and I met train store owners from just outside Boston who had never heard of us, despite the heavy New Haven emphasis in our US product line. And they even told us New Haven was their biggest seller!
To help get the word out, we're looking for model railroaders who live in the United States or who regularly travel there to volunteer to be American Ambassadors of Rapido. To be an Ambassador is easy: just talk about Rapido to your fellow model railroaders. Let them know about our existing and upcoming products. Hopefully positively.
(If you hate our stuff, why are you reading this newsletter? Go work on your layout or something. Life is too short for you to read newsletters from manufacturers you can't stand.)
A typical Rapido customer poses in a Rapido Ambassador T-shirt. Well, one can dream...
If you sign up to be an Ambassador, we will send you a free American Ambassadors of Rapido T-shirt early in the new year. (No, the woman in the photo is not included with your T-shirt. Behave.)
Whenever you act as an Ambassador, either at a show, a club, a train store or other venue, send us a photo and a brief description of the event. Starting in February, every month we will give away $250 in Rapido products to one of our active Ambassadors. If only one of you actually wears the T-shirt and spreads the Rapido gospel, that's a lot of free stuff for one guy...
To sign up is easy: just reply to this email or click here to visit our AAR web page. We'll need your name, address, phone number, and T-shirt size. Please help us spread the news that yes, Rapido does indeed make American models. The American Ambassadors of Rapido program is open to residents of the United States. It is also open to residents of Canada who travel regularly to model train stores or events in the United States.
Rapido's new N scale Meat Reefers have arrived!
N scale Meat Reefers are here!
Our N scale GARX Meat Reefers have arrived! These handy house cars were used all over the United States (and into Canada) from the 1930s to the 1970s. Full information can be found here. We made a few extras of these so if you're just hearing about them for the first time, you can go ahead and order them from your local train store.
Here's another view. Both shots were taken on Mike McGrattan's Samuel Ridge layout.
Our Meat Reefers are in stores now. If your store can't order them for some reason, you can always order them (by the four-pack) directly from us. Click here for more info or to order direct.
WOW! Those production models of the Amtrak F40PH look amazing.
Thanks to Manny Jacob for the photo diorama. Nice, eh?
Amtrak F40PH Update
One of our most anticipated models is arriving shortly. Our HO scale Amtrak F40PH is the first museum-quality Amtrak F40 model ever produced, and the shipment will be arriving in North America this weekend. (The container number is TCNU7510505 if you have the ability to track it.) We will be shipping the F40PH to customers on December 11th, so it will either be a Christmas present or a New Year's present for you, depending on how long it takes to arrive.
Here are some features you may not know about:
Click here for more information. We've made some extras of the sound models, so if you need a sound model please get in touch or ask your store to contact us.
- In DCC, the strobe lights work, either randomly or together - your choice!
(They also work in DC (sound), but only together.)
- Each sound model contains TWO high-quality speakers under the hood.
- Behind the see-through radiator grille, you can see the shutters!
- The model was designed with the help of Amtrak's own Matt Donnelly and Amtrak expert Alex Stroshane.
- The dimensions are bang on. This is a first for an HO F40 model, for some odd reason.
- The model features a real recording of the P5a horn with Doppler effect!
- This is going to make your other F40 models look a bit shabby. Sorry.
Here's a screen grab from our new documentary, All About the RDC.
We've become known for our silly YouTube videos, but this time we've taken a straight approach. Our new documentary, All About the RDC, takes you through the design process of our RDC model. We start with the 3D scans of the real Phase 1 and Phase 2 RDCs at VIA Rail Canada's Toronto Maintenance Centre back in 2014. We show you how we designed the model using the 3D scans. And then we take you to North Conway, New Hampshire in October 2015 to show you how we recorded the RDC sounds from the real thing.
This video is one of the best we've ever done and it is of interest to everyone - you don't need to be an RDC fan or even a train fan to enjoy it. 3D scanning is a fascinating bit of technology, and our interview with Jocelyn Paquet from Creaform Inc. explains how this valuable tool can be used. Please click here or on the image below to watch the video.
We've included some outtakes at the end - something we should really do more often. More information on our forthcoming RDC model can be found here. You can reserve yours direct from Rapido or from your local hobby shop. Word seems to be getting around, as our RDC advance orders are the strongest we've seen in a long time. I guess people are finally getting tired of their rubber band drives...
The RDC order deadline is March 7th. Based on the large number of advanced orders we've already received, that deadline will NOT be extended, so please reserve yours ASAP.
Rapido FP9A locomotive shells in production. Look at all that maroon!
The factory has been very busy in production and in tooling. On the production side of things, they are hard at work building the CP/VIA HO scale FP9A locomotives, some as-yet-unannounced N scale freight cars for Prairie Shadows, and the British APT-E.
New Haven 8600-series coach side in the tooling workshop
But the exciting story is in tooling. Currently, we have the following models in the mould shop, listed by level of completion. This does not include models that are in the design stages; these are only models that are actually in tooling.
First test casting, N scale New Haven 10-Window Coach
I think I can honestly say that Rapido has more models in tooling than any other model train company. As you can see, most of the above projects are completely new - they aren't just rehashed versions of existing models.
We didn't plan to expand this quickly, but we had to due to circumstances beyond our control. I'll tell you more about that in a future newsletter.
RailCrew production samples: Switch Machine and Uncoupler
We've had a lot of requests for news on the RailCrew Uncouplers and Switch Machines. So here's the news.
We approved our production samples from China and sent out more than 100 sets of samples to model train stores and clubs here in North America. A number of key recommendations for improvement came back to us from you guys, and we decided that several of them could not be put off until the second run. So we've made the decision to tweak the Uncouplers here in Canada with new parts from China, and to completely remake the Switch Machines.
In terms of delivery, this means that we are shipping out the Switch Stands next month, the Uncouplers starting in January and the Switch Machines starting in April/May.
I'm sorry for the delay, and Randy and Bill are both very upset about it. But when delivering a completely new type of product, it is important to get it right. I know a lot of you have been eagerly awaiting these and it is frustrating when things get pushed back. But we'd rather deliver a product that gives you a lifetime of reliable operation than deliver a product that is unreliable just so we can meet a promised shipping date.
Click here for more info about RailCrew products.
The Rapido arrives in Dorval.
Photo courtesy Mark Kaluza.
New Blog: Riding the Rapido
The Rapido team was joined by about 70 of our fellow railfans and modellers for a once-in-a-lifetime trip aboard a charter train to Montreal and back. If you weren't able to join us, please click here to read our blog. It's a photo essay about the journey, including both trips in Skyline dome 8501, the excursions in Dorval and the Rapido Product Launch Party at Exporail.
It was a tremendous success, and we hope you can join us on our next Rapido excursion!
One of the gorgeous model buildings at Pendon Museum, a remarkable model railroad
Follow our adventures in Britain!
Bill and I are in the United Kingdom for the largest annual British train show, the Warley National, which takes place this weekend in Birmingham. Every year when we come to the UK we travel all around in the week leading up to the show. This is not difficult given that the whole island would fit comfortably in southern Ontario.
Well, I say Bill and I, but now it's just me. He had an untimely engagement with the Loch Ness Monster while we were in Scotland.
Bill meets an unfortunate demise in Loch Ness.
The UK is steeped in railway history and railway culture. There are about 200 heritage railways on this tiny island, and it probably has more model railroaders than Canada and the United States combined, despite having one fifth the population. You can read about our travels on our Facebook page and on RMWeb, the UK railway modelling forum. Click here to visit the "Bill and Jason's Excellent UK Adventure" discussion. Our blog starts on page three.
New Rapido Recruits
Welcome to the new Rapido recruits!
We've got some new faces at Rapido these days, and it's high time I properly introduced them.
Mike Mitchell started a few months ago to help out in the warehouse, and he's really grown into the role. He ensures that models are picked, packed and shipped to our customers, and having someone in the warehouse full time makes a big difference. Mike also answers the phone, and he's very polite to those guys who call to tell us the road numbers of every one of their 137 UP engines. Yes, we really do get calls like that. Mike's good at hanging up, too.
Thomas Blampied is well known in Ontario railfan circles. He's been an active photographer and modeller for much of his life and he's published a book on Ontario Northland, which you can order here. Thomas is handling most of our customer service inquiries and is very good at warranty repairs. He is diligent and takes great pride in his work. Thomas also answers most of our emails now, so if you any issues with Rapido products please get in touch with him through the contact page of our web site or by replying to this email.
Dan Darnell is a well-known figure in the Canadian model railroading scene. He worked at George's Trains in Toronto and Markham for 20 years (manager for 15), and he is extremely knowledgeable about Canadian and American railroads. He has extensive experience in model railroading and brings a lot to the Rapido team. Among other things, he is spearheading a new Rapido Canadian entry-level model which will be announced next year.
The challenge ahead is for us to sell enough trains to keep paying these guys. So please help them out by ordering more HO scale FA-2s and N scale GMD-1s!
Mike, Thomas and Dan join our current team of seasoned train show veterans: