Please accept my apologies for any typos that you may find in this post. The spell checking routine on the blog software isn't working correctly and it has been difficult to check for all of the errors. They tell us that they are "working on it..."
This year's NMRA National Convention was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan during the last week of July/first week of August. As part of that convention, the NMRA also holds the National Train Show which is an opportunity for manufacturers of all sizes to get together and display their company's products & services. It is also a time when many companies make announcements of new releases and products to come.
OK, so you know I'm a Nickel Plate modeler so for me, the major announcement of the show is that Bachmann will be releasing an HO S2 switcher in NKP colors along with nine other roads. The loco will be available with DCC and also with or without sound. It is expected to ship in September of this year.
Also from Bachmann, we can expect some small hi-rail utility vehicles and some new F-units. Finally, they have dug back into their past and are planning to re-release two Plasticville kits from their Old West series. I'm not sure how many modelers there are from that era, but the buildings can be "modernized" with a few details to add an "Old West" flavor to your more modern layout. I remember many years ago that MODEL RAILROADER featured an article about one of the Old West series kits being modified into a modern day Ponderosa Restaurant.
Bachmann continues to grow in the hobby and seems to have become one of the "Big Three" in model railroading along with Walthers and Horizon Hobbies. They certainly had quite a presence at this year's show and continue to make headlines with their creative and innovative new products. Their very nice display also featured some goodies that are currently available including these fine looking steam locomotives.
In spite of their recent release of the B&O EM1, Bachmann has continued to lead the way in the release of smaller steam engines which are more at home on smaller home layouts than the big behemeths that other companies continue to release. Yes, I'm also a fan of big steam but the hobby needes these smaller locomotives since they are appropriate for most any layout and the smaller luggers far outnumbered their larger counterparts in all parts of the country and all eras of the railroad history. Bachmann fills that gap.
I was impressed by the continued growth of several areas of the hobby. It appears to be a given now that we simply won't see any new locomotives that are not equipped with DCC. New locos do have decoders that will allow them to be operated on both DC and DCC layouts but it really appears that DCC is here to stay and that manufacturers are "on board."
Laser cut kits are also continuing to grow in popularity. I'll have a little more on that in a future post but it is probably safe to say that laser cut kits far outnumbered those of conventional polystyrene models all around the show.
Finally, sound is big in new locomotives. Not only in the new ones but also in the aftermarket kits available to add sound to older locos as well. While many of the releases featured at this year's show did have sound as an option, I truly believe that it will only be a matter of tiem before sound is as common as working headlights and knuckle couplers.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit a National Train Show, don't pass it up. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet with the manufacturers in our great hobby. And they do want to hear what you have to say. This is our hobby and as such it is guided by our wants & desires. Manufacturers are keen on satisfying those wants & desires in order to keep the hobby growing and to stay in business. Mark your calendars; the 2014 National Train Show is scheduled to be in Cleveland; I'm already planning to go.