Review: Hornby OO Collett Coaches

Written by Tony Richards.

Over 35 years ago Mainline Railways introduced their Collett 60 foot ‘Sunshine’ coaches to a delighted ‘OO’ world. These coaches established a new standard in detail and whilst they were not perfect in every way, their quality was un-surpassed for decades: in fact, Bachmann still produce models very closely based on them and they continue to stand up quite well.

At the time, apart from the Airfix / Mainline Centenary stock, the only post-1922 ready-to-run OO GWR corridor alternatives were either Hornby’s rather basic 58 foot Collett bow-ended coaches [still available in their ‘Railroad’ range] or the discontinued Graham Farish stock, basic and entirely fictitious. Consequently, the Mainline 60-footers sold well and in their later Bachmann guise continue to sell well.

Whilst many of the above continued to be sold with various livery changes, we had to wait until 2011 for an r-t-r GWR-liveried coach to surpass the quality of the original Mainline Colletts: Hornby’s Hawksworth stock. These were magnificent models, quite the equal of Hornby’s Maunsell coaches, and were very well received. I say ‘were’ however as, inexplicably, the GWR-liveried editions were produced in relatively small numbers and have not been re-released since: annoying if, like me, you need a couple of Thirds.

But now, Hornby has raised the bar yet further and their five new Collett bow-ended coaches have to be amongst the best r-t-r models of any type ever released. Not content with simply producing them in Brake-Third, All-Third and Composite format, Hornby have also provided the Brakes and Composites in left and right hand form, enabling a rake to be assembled with the corridor running the length of one side: a first in ready-to-run. Prototypically there is no All-First available as none were made originally.

The photographs show just how good these coaches really are. The 1927-1934 livery application is first class with crisp delineation between the colours. Whilst some may wish to slightly weather the white roofs, that is simply a matter for personal choice. The windows, flush-glazed, display clearly legible smoking and non-smoking signs, the seats are correctly coloured according to class and the door handles and grab irons are separate fittings and real works of art. Correct roof ventilators have been fitted, separately applied lamp irons and handrails abound and the corridor connectors, with their correct suspension hangers, are superb. Notice that the end corridor doors are also panelled.

If there is any criticism of these coaches, it is only that some may feel that the painted droplights are perhaps just a shade too red. If that offends, it is easily remedied however.

Underframe detail is equally good and sensibly moulded in a slightly more durable plastic to reduce damage from careless handling. The 7 foot bogies are particularly fine and it would good to have them available as spares [although that seems unlikely to happen]. Buffers are sprung [but might perhaps benefit from just a little toning down ?] and NEM pockets are fitted for the slim-line tension-lock couplings.

An accessories bag is also supplied with each coach, containing alternative Roco-type couplings, coach destination boards and blanking plates to close off the corridor connectors if required.

The new coaches are both difficult to fault and difficult to surpass. They have set a standard by which future releases will surely be judged and Hornby is to be applauded for its innovation.

For:        

  • genuine prototypes faithfully modelled
  • excellent livery application and much fine separate detail
  • left and right hand variants available

Against:     

  • nothing worthy of note, but availability may become limited

9.5 / 10