Märklin/Trix HP Tank Cars


Richard Hendrickson
 

Ian Clasper kindly sent me a raft of detail shots of these new models, and
I have to say that I am seriously disappointed. Previous models of U.S.
prototypes from M/T have incorporated a variety of errors, in addition to
what Mike Brock aptly describes as their "Alpha Centauri" couplers, but
most of the die work for the injection moldings was very good. By
contrast, the new tank cars look like something AHM would have had produced
in Hong Kong thirty years ago.

Owing to the truck-mounted toy train couplers, the tank car models sit way
too high on their trucks. This, of course, can be corrected. However,
almost all of the details are oversize and very heavy, conspicuously the
platform and railings, brake rigging, uncoupling levers (though at least
they're there), etc. Especially noticeable are the flanges at the end of
the tank where the sheet metal jacket over the insulation was riveted
together; these were very thin on the prototype, and almost have to be a
bit oversize in HO scale, but on the T/M model they're about a scale foot
thick and look awful. The equivalent flanges on Athearn's forty year old
"chemical" tank car model are much better executed (though of course the
Athearn model has numerous other shortcomings).
The T/M models are being made in China and we know the Chinese can do much
better than this, as demonstrated by the models they're making for
Life-Like, so the Germans have to take responsibility.

I have the distinct impression that M/T have become arrogant and complacent
owing to their dominance of the toy train market in Europe and have neither
much understanding of nor much respect for the serious scale modeler market
in North America. It's one thing to sell Kadee quality models for $30+,
quite another to ask those kinds of prices for models that fall far short
of current state of the art. I'm especially aware of the deficiencies of
these M/T tank car models because I'm currently "Beta testing" a couple of
pre-production Intermountain stock car kits which are a notable example of
how far the best manufacturers have come in producing dead-on accurate,
elaborately detailed, and delicately molded models in injection-molded
styrene. All I can say is that I hope the M/T models will not discourage
some other manufacturer from producing high quality models of these
important and interesting prototype cars. If the Germans aren't
embarrassed by this shabby effort, they should be.

Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520

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