Rapido UK Newsletter No. 2
©2021 Rapido Trains Ltd
Dear Rapido Customer,

Question: How can you tell that we’re serious about our new UK business?
Answer: Because the time between this newsletter and the last one can be measured in weeks and not years!
 
With no new announcements to be made, we thought that this newsletter might be a quiet one. In actual fact, we’ve got LOADS of stuff to share with you.

What’s in this issue:
  • Exciting product updates
  • Our 'first' product videos!
  • Rapido in the press
  • We answer your questions

And, finally…
  • What about the diesels?
The Rapido Trains UK team having fun... what we're all talking about is anybody's guess!
How is it February already? Maybe time is flying because we’re all having so much fun here at Rapido UK!

Unfortunately, we’re STILL waiting for a UK bank account, which means that we still can’t take orders and we still can’t set up stockists. We know that you can’t wait to order our exciting range of products but the application process IS progressing so please bear with us.

How will you know when it’s successful? Well, residents of Tongue* will be able to hear Andy’s cry of joy!

So, what have we been doing?

Well, we’re working on a really exciting range of locomotives and rolling stock models, some of which will blow your mind like a… like a…

RICHARD: Jason, do you have a Dr Who analogy to hand?

JASON: It’ll blow your mind like a Venusian shanghorn messing with your perigosto stick.

RICHARD: Come again?

JASON: Not a good one? How about: 'It’ll blow your mind like an amplified Dodecahedron in the Screens of Zolfa-Thura'?”

RICHARD: If any of you have a clue about what Jason is talking about, you deserve a gold star. I have no freaking idea.

As soon as we’ve got a bank account and can start taking orders, we will announce these new models. We can’t wait to share them with you.

We certainly haven’t forgotten the six models that we announced back in January. Let take a look at what’s happening with them…
*Tongue, the village on the Sutherland coast (i.e., the very top of Scotland). You can see from the view of the neighbouring mountains why it's one of Richard’s favourite holiday destinations!
Josh in the Toronto office is completing the final artwork for the Fleetline next week.
Production begins immediately after Chinese New Year.
Birmingham buses – almost in production!

The tooling has been signed off for our all-new 1:76 scale Fleetline bus and we’re just waiting to approve the final artwork for this and the fresh batch of Birmingham Guys before both are cleared for production. All being well, these fabulous buses should land in the UK during the summer. 

ANDY: Wot, no ‘you wait for a bus’ cliché?

RICHARD: Give us some credit!

Check out the full Guy and Fleetline ranges here.
Eleven new Birmingham Guys for you to choose from. Artwork is basically done for these.
BR Dia. 1/260 gunpowder van. We've tooled two types of wheel and three types of buffer shank.
Gunpowder vans - in tooling!

The design work for our ‘OO’ gauge gunpowder van has been signed off and the tooling design finished. We expect that the mould shop will actually start cutting steel just after Chinese New Year (so late Feb/early March).
We’ve been able to incorporate key detail differences in order to produce BR’s Diagram 1/260 van (Lots 2490, 2499 and 2544 only), the GWR’s Diagram Z4 and the Railway Clearing House’s standard gunpowder van design.
The GWR version has a different roof and door locking mechanisms. The label clip is also an optional part.
The eagle-eyed will no doubt spot a couple of minor differences that we haven’t been able to include. We’ve not managed to model some tiny bracing plates that were on the end stanchions of some vehicles but not others and that we have had to include lamp irons on all versions.

Rapido’s philosophy, be it in North America or the UK, is to try to offer every detail difference that we’re physically able to make. But there are limits. Jason talks more about making decisions from a manufacturing rather than a modelling point of view in the latest newsletter from our colleagues across the ‘pond’. Please click here to read it.

Having gone slightly off topic, scroll down as we have a more treats for you...
The RCH version. Some wagons will come with vacuum pipes and cylinders.
The '15XX' is turning into something really special. We just have a few more minor tweaks to make before it's ready for tooling. Scroll down to see it from different angles...
16in and ‘15XX’ – neck and neck!

Design work on the two steam engines that we announced in December – the brutish Western Region ‘15XX’ 0-6-0PT and Hunslet’s sweet 16in 0-6-0ST – are both nearing completion. They’re so close that we don’t know which one is going to be finished first.

You can see from the renders and videos (below) that both are going to be super little locomotives. That’s a subtle hint to buy one! It’s going to be difficult to know which one to choose, so buy many. That is a less than subtle hint!

Jason’s favourite is the ‘15XX’. He loves its complexity and complicated tooling and says that we have to find more locomotives just like it…

ANDY: We’ll explain this in-joke at some point.

RICHARD: Probably in the next newsletter.

We still have a couple of tweaks to make to both, most importantly making the bunker and the cab a single moulding on the '15XX'. But we should see Engineering Prototypes of both locomotives later this year.
15XX CAD render 2
15XX CAD render 3
It might be a simpler design than the '15XX' but the Hunslet 16in 0-6-0ST is also shaping up to be a little cracker. Who wouldn't want one on their layout? More views below...
Hunslet CAD render 2
Hunslet CAD render 1
A first look at our 'N' gauge MetroVick Type 2. Still a bit of work to do but it's looking good so far.
Don't forget... the Class 28

It might be the smallest of our sextet of December announcements but the wonderful MetroVick Type 2 Co-Bo certainly hasn’t been forgotten about. Design work is progressing nicely and there’s a very good possibility that the little Class 28 might overtake the two steam locomotives and make it into shops by the end of the year (don’t hold us to that though!). 

We have hit a slight snag, however. Do you have any sound footage of a MetroVick Type 2 in action? We want to get cracking on our sound version but as the Crossley HST V8 two-stroke diesel was unique on BR and the class were early casualties, finding suitable material is proving a tad difficult. If you have an audio recording that you think might be suitable, please drop us a line.
Our plan for having authentic, illuminated headcode discs is so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.
In stock now: the '16XX' 0-6-0PT produced for Model Rail magazine.
The ‘16XX’ has landed…

The ‘16XX’ (no, Jason, that’s not a typo but a completely different engine) that we’ve made for Model Rail should, by the time you read this, have landed at Kernow Model Rail Centre. KMRC handle all of Model Rail’s orders and so, if you have ordered one, please don’t phone to find out where yours is. Chris Trerise and the KMRC team will be working hard to process orders as quickly as they can. Phoning to chase will slow them down.

You haven’t ordered a ‘16XX’? Well, there are 22 to choose from so click here to buy one.
Want an 'N' gauge Class 92? Order now as there aren't many left!
…as has the ‘92’

We’re pleased to report that Revolution Trains’ eagerly awaited ‘N’ gauge Class 92 arrived in the UK in December. As these models are manufactured to order, there aren’t many left. If you haven't ordered yours yet, head over to Revolution’s website to get your order in quick before they’re all gone. 
And then hurry back here to watch our videos!
Enjoy the show!
Our 'first' product videos!

We're so proud of how good both the '15XX' and Hunslet 16in are looking that we've made these little videos to really show them off properly. They're also the first videos from the new UK operation and should be the first of many.

However, they're not technically our first UK videos (hence the quote marks). If you missed these the first time round, you may want to check out these two cinematic gems featuring the APT-E and some Welsh guy brandishing an ice hockey stick...
Marvel at our little Hunslet!
Andy & Steve's 'OO' gauge layout 'Lynsford', beautifully photographed by Model Rail's ace snapper Chris Nevard. That bus looks somewhat familiar...
Rapido in the press

Did you believe us when we said that Andy is a talented modeller?

Well, this is the lovely Southern Region layout that he built with his best mate Steve Bassett. It’s called ‘Lynsford’ and it’s starring in the March 2021 issue of Model Rail, which goes on sale on February 8th. Click here to order your copy in order to see ‘Lynsford’ in all its glory.

Then look out for an exclusive Q&A with Richard about Rapido Trains UK and its plans in the April issue of Railway Modeller. It's on sale on March 11th. Find out more here.
An EP of Rapido Trains Inc's forthcoming 'HO' CPR 'D10', which modellers in the UK will be able to order through Rapido Trains UK... at some point.
Ask Rapido

Launching an all-new UK business was bound to generate a whole host of questions. We’ve been replying to them all as quickly as we can but there have been some common ones that we thought deserve answering in a forum such as this.

ANDY: Plus it saves us a lot of time answering each one individually.

RICHARD: See, there’s no such thing as a selfless act!

We’ll try and answer one common question an issue. So, without further ado:

Q: Will I be able to buy Rapido’s North American products here in the UK?

A: The short answer is ‘yes’. However, GDPR regulations and post-Brexit restrictions make this a complex problem to solve. It’s very much our intention that modellers in the UK will be able to buy Rapido Trains Inc products here and that modellers in North America will be able buy Rapido Trains UK products there. Please bear with us while we figure it all out.

ANDY: And we can’t do much more on this without a bank account. Argh!

JASON: I can open a bank account in Canada in less than 12 minutes.

ANDY: Go on, rub it in.
Three 'Westerns', probably the most stylish British diesel locomotives ever, posing outside the centre of the universe (or A Shop at Swindon as it's more commonly known).
Photography: BJ SWAIN/COLOUR RAIL
What about the diesels?

Picture the scene: It’s the weekly Rapido Trains UK Product Meeting.

JASON: So, ah – these may be nice steam engines, eh? But you can’t forget aboot the diesels.

RICHARD: But most diesels have already been covered.

JASON: Yes but they’re all warmed over 1980s toolings.

RICHARD & ANDY: No, they’re not. Trust us on this!

JASON: You may be British, but you're both Hosers.

It’s taken a while but we’ve managed to finally convince Jason that most of the ‘OO’ diesel-outline models available today are to modern standards, i.e. that they have full lighting and sound functions, good looks and fine detail. Not only that but flicking through Britain’s Model Trains (the mighty tome that Richard used to edit) reveals that out of 77 TOPS classes allocated to diesel and electric locomotives only 11 have never been offered ready-to-run in ‘OO’ before (not including models currently in development).
The Class 13 is one of 11 TOPS-allocated classes never offered RTR before. Do you want one? Please let us know.
Photograph: COLOUR RAIL
We thought we’d explore the reasons why.

You see on forums that new announcements are very often met with “yet again, nothing for the modern image modeller” type comments. The simple reason is that, in terms of diesel locomotives, the pool of suitable modern image prototypes to choose from, for 'N', 'OO' and 'O', is very small indeed.

With obvious opportunities few and far between, what gaps are left are risky territory. Take the Class 13, Tinsley Yard’s famous ‘master and slave’ shunters. It’s an iconic class for sure and not available RTR. But would enough people be prepared to pay £300 for a 'OO' gauge model? And are there several thousand people willing to spend that much to warrant the investment in producing it? Probably not.

(RICHARD: Seriously, would £300 for a 'OO' gauge Class 13 put you off? If not, let us know. If we get enough, we might make it a reality!)
A taste of things to come: 'EM2' 27002, Bulleid 1Co-Co1 10203, an EE 350hp shunter, gas turbine 18000 and the Fell on display at the 1954 International Railway Congress. With what's available RTR and what's under development, you'll be able to re-create this scene in 'OO'.
Photograph: COLOUR RAIL
The root of the problem lies with British Railways. The period between 1948 and 1963 is a fascinating one to study and you really have to wonder just what was going through the minds of management at the time. BR inherited something in the region of 20,000 steam locomotives. These encompassed designs built by the ‘Big Four’ between 1923 and 1947, many thousands of older machines and those built more recently for the war effort. BR not only continued to build some 'Big Four' designs but also a further 999 steam locomotives to 12 new designs.

That offers model manufacturers with a vast pool of potential steam-outline models to choose from.

The Modernisation Plan of 1955 advocated replacing steam with diesel and electric as well as updating operating practises. All perfectly logical given that BR was already losing vast sums of money.

What happened was that BR rushed to order diesel and electric locomotives (often from builders who were unused to building this new technology) to literally replace steam like for like. Yet the way the railway was run didn’t change. You only have to look at the large number of diesel shunters that were built for London’s docks as a perfect example of this thinking.

Simply swapping one form of traction for another was not the answer. The railway was still inherently uneconomic to run, which was why the Beeching Report was commissioned.

We know what happened. The network shrunk. Traffic dwindled against a backdrop of declining British industry and increased competition from road hauliers. Consequently, non-standard and unreliable classes were rapidly withdrawn to save money leaving a core fleet of locomotives.

Consider this: the total Class 20 and 37 fleet comprised 537 machines to cover the whole network. Compare that to the 863 ‘57XX’ panniers were built to shunt just one region and you can easily see why there are more opportunities for steam models than there are for diesels.
Rail Operations Group has just ordered ten Class 93 Bo-Bos, Britain's first tri-mode locomotives (they use diesel, electric and batter power). Who will be first to offer one RTR?

The other factor to consider is changing customer demands. It’s a bit of a cliché to keep pointing out what a game-changer Hornby’s ‘OO’ gauge ‘Merchant Navy’ was when it was released in 2000.

(RICHARD: What a hideous phrase ‘game-changer’ is.

ANDY: Well, you used it…)

It encapsulated the exciting possibilities offered by the Chinese factories: superb looks, lots of fine detail, a reliable mechanism and fantastic value.
New models from China came thick and fast in the early years of the 21st Century. Gone were the days when you’d get one or two new models a year from all the manufacturers combined. Now it was one or two announcements a month. Popular diesel classes in ‘N’, ‘OO’ and ‘O’ were, naturally, among them.

Some were stunning and are still considered benchmarks by which other models are judged; others missed the mark. With the latter, modellers made do, using parts and products offered by the likes of Shawplan, to get the best from their models.

The hobby is constantly evolving and modern image modellers in particular continue to demand higher standards and even greater attention to detail.

(RICHARD: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this as it keeps us on our toes!)

Consequently, there is greater demand for ‘the definitive version of Class XX [fill in your favourite here].

We now have a perfect storm: manufacturers are snapping up any available main line diesel locomotive that’s not been offered RTR before, picking off those locomotives requiring a ‘definitive’ model or simply going through their back catalogues to bring previous offerings up to scratch.

That leaves Rapido Trains UK in a tricky position. Quite simply, we’ve arrived at the party a little late and all the good booze has already been drunk.
The APT-E illustrates perfectly what happens when Rapido makes a modern image project. We've got a couple of ideas in the pipeline...
That makes our situation look a little hopeless doesn't it?

(JASON: That 3mm:1ft scale Class 28 idea doesn't look like such a bad one now, eh? Ahem. That was mine.)

Well, before all the diesel fans desert us completely, let's just say that going through Britain's Model Trains wasn't a fruitless exercise. It actually yielded a few surprise gaps, which complemented diesel and electric ideas that Andy and Richard had already come up with.

Frustratingly, Covid travel restrictions have scuppered our plans to get out with a tape measure and camera to start to fill those gaps. But we're working hard behind the scenes on several exciting diesel projects in 'N' and 'O' as well as 'OO', to perfectly complement the steam items we have planned. We'll keep you guessing for now as we don't want to show our hand too early. Suffice to say that our range of products is going to be an exciting one!

We'll leave you with this tantalising thought however: Model technology keeps on moving. It won't be long before the definitive Class XX is no longer 'definitive'. And when that time comes, Rapido will be ready to pounce!
Last but not least...

Don't forget that there's a whole team of people in both Canada and the US developing a simply staggering range of 1:87 scale 'HO' and 1:160 scale 'N' gauge North American models. Click here to visit the North American web page.

We will be in touch again next month with our next newsletter. It's almost as if we copied and pasted this from our last newsletter but hopefully we might even have a bank account by then!

Until next time,

Richard

Richard Foster
Sales and Marketing Manager
Rapido Trains Ltd
You can write to us at Rapido Trains UK, PO Box 1408, Maidstone, Kent, ME149YR
or e-mail us at customerservice@rapidotrains.co.uk