So, a positive post - the Bachmann Devious Diesel model has arrived. Strictly speaking, not true - the "devious" appears to have been permanently dropped for this character, long after Britt Allcroft introduced it in the mid 90s.
However the arrival of this model has made one thing abundantly clear: Bachmann need to do partial retools of their older models. The latest models are making the older models look very tired and poorly designed by comparison. Looking at Diesel, and then the first model in the range (Thomas) confirms this view further.
The first thing which springs to mind are the coupling hooks. No longer the strangely shaped and elongated hook at front and back in grey plastic, they are much closer in shape to an actual coupling hook on Donald & Douglas and Diesel, and this is one modification which should be able to be done with a minimal amount of fuss.
Then there's the question of the faces. Thomas, Percy and James are most guilty of this - none of them quite capture the characters. The Scottish Twins and Diesel match their counterparts perfectly. These three desperately need new face plates, and fast, if they are to stand the test of time.
Then there's Percy. Cab footsteps in the wrong place, coal bunker too big and moulded in grey plastic instead of black, and the missing coupling hook on the rear. A partial retool of this model would bring it up to the high standards of the latest HO offerings, and the stunningly designed G scale Percy too.
James only requires the new coupling hooks, a better proportioned face, and for the small red strip under his smokebox to be painted black (as per the character) along with all wheels and axleboxes on engine and tender to be painted black, not grey.
Henry and Gordon require minimal work to be brought up to standard (if we ignore Henry's rather too short tender), in terms of new coupling hooks and the axle boxes being moulded in black, not grey plastic.
Edward, Spencer, Salty, Mavis, Bill & Ben and Toby only really require the new coupling hooks to be able to be more than presentable and up with the best models in the range.
These partial retools will have two major benefits: firstly, it'll make Bachmann and therefore HiT/Mattel more money. Changing the models will make people go out and buy the new ones to replace the old ones. Creating demand by making the models "new" again. Secondly - it'll make the whole range look like its made by the same company.
Having a defined, and refined look to the range will keep it fresh, high quality, and desirable for Thomas fans throughout the world.
And it must be said - with Diesel, they've upped the ante even more.
Until next time!