written by Richard Grigg.
Rusty the maintenance diesel was introduced to the Railway Series in 1959 with the publication of the 14th book entitled 'The Little Old Engine'. He first appeared in the television series during series 4 (1995), in the adaptation of his Railway Series introductory story 'Trucks'.
In the fictional history of the railways of Sodor Rusty was designed and built by Ruston and Hornsby in 1957 and arrived on Sodor the same year to join the Skarloey Railway. While he helps out doing odd jobs Rusty's main task on the SR is to help repair and maintain the permanent way with Mr Hugh (CME of the Skarloey Railway).
The narrow gauge section of the Bachmann 'Thomas and Friends' range is continuing to be as popular as ever and in this review we will be taking a look at the latest addition to the loco fleet to join Skarloey and Rheneas, the no:5 engine... Rusty (item no: 58603) with an RRP of $135
Rusty comes in the usual packing associated with the 'Thomas' narrow gauge line. The model is secured in a 2-piece plastic case within an easy to open cardboard box. The necessary paperwork is also enclosed which comprises of:
An exploded diagram
A 90 day warranty form
A warranty activation card
Rusty is based on the Tal-y-llyn Railway's no:5 diesel locomotive 'Midlander' but for the most part he doesn't bear much resemblance to his real life prototype, unlike Skarloey and Rheneas. That said however he is accurately reproduced to how he appears in the current CGI era of the TV series and is also a good starting point for 009 narrow gauge modellers to convert into a different loco.
Moulded details include:
Rivets on the rear of the body as well as on the cab sides and back
A tail lamp on the cab rear
Exhaust vents either side on top of the body
Air intakes either side at the bottom of the body
Recesses either side where the starting handle is inserted
Separately fitted details include:
Radiator water filler cap
Cosmetic coupling hooks
Below the running board details include:
Rivets on the side panels
Axle box details
The model is fitted with BEMO style hook and loop couplings which don't easily connect with PECO couplings very well without assistance. Thankfully the couplings are plugged into NEM sockets, making them easy to change out for better alternatives.
Unfortunately Rusty comes with a closed off cab which is a bit disappointing as it prevents the insertion of figures into the model, however given the small stature of the loco enclosing the cab was likely unavoidable when housing the motor assembly.
One aspect of Rusty that everyone has commented on in their reviews is his size. This is especially noticeable when he's placed beside either Skarloey or Rheneas. With regard to both the Railway Series and the television series (both the model and CGI eras) Rusty's small stature is inaccurate as he's supposed to be around about the same size as them. The only reason I can think for Bachmann making Rusty the size he is is to make him about the scale of 'Midlander', who is smaller than the steam engines on the Tal-y-llyn Railway, although it still begs the question why they've gone with the smaller scale. So Rusty's small size can either be seen as prototypicaly accurate to the Tal-y-llyn Railway or inaccurate to the Railway Series and TV series.
In the Railway Series Rusty was painted in charcoal black with yellow lining and lettering, for the television series he was painted in a bright orange which Bachmann have correctly reproduced. Yellow lining adorns the cab windows on 3 sides while his name and number plates are presented sharp and clear in white printed decals.
The model comes with a centrally mounted motor with the worm gear on one side and a flywheel on the other, a similar arrangement to that of Rheneas. After the initial run-in period the model proved to be a smooth runner and with the die-cast metal body (excluding the plastic cab), has sufficient traction on the wheels.
Like Skarloey and Rheneas before him Bachmann have given Rusty a turning radius of 11 and a quarter inches, however with his short wheel base he can negotiate curves tighter than that.
Rusty is a welcome addition to the fleet of Bachmann 'Thomas' narrow gauge models even though he's a bit of a mixed bag of good and bad points. The separately fitted and moulded detailing coupled with the smooth running performance makes him an excellent model and a great conversion project for 009 scale modellers. At the same time it's a shame that the cab is closed off and his smaller than usual scale to how he's usually portrayed does mean that he's not quite up there with Skarloey and Rheneas.
Nevertheless I'm still happy with what we got and I can still recommend him to both my fellow 'Thomas' modellers/collectors and to 009 scale modellers. You can be assured that Rusty will be seen running around on my narrow gauge layout 'Rheneas Tunnel' just as much as the other engines.
Many assumed that Bachmann was going to release the Skarloey Railway engines in numerical order to begin with so it was a surprise when we discovered that Rusty was coming next after Rheneas so now all bets are off as to who's next to be announced. I've seen many people predicting that Peter Sam may be next, so we'll have to wait and see. (It has since been announced that Peter Sam will be next).
Pros & Cons
A perfect model to introduce young modellers into 009 scale
An excellent model to modify and convert
Great moulded and separately fitted details
Pivoting hook and loop couplings can make coupling up tricky sometimes
In terms of the Railway Series and TV series Rusty is smaller than usual when next to Skarloey and Rheneas
With this I give an overall score of 7.5/10.