12.24.2009

Locomotive Roster: NS Class 1800; Minitrix 12187


There is something compelling to me about the Nederlands Spoorwagen, or Dutch railways, that I enjoy modeling.  It could be because  I've made several trips to the Netherlands and have always found the Dutch to be a smart and friendly people (that many of them speak English also helps for us language challenged Americans).  


It could be the distinctive paint schemes of the Dutch railway; the massive interurban system of rail transport in the Netherlands, the diversity of its fleet, and the general rarity of these locomotives in N Scale considering the much greater supply of German, Swiss, and Austrian prototypes (or North American or Japanese! But those are different continents, so we'll stick to Europe for this post).

So in addition to being an interesting railway, this is a really interesting looking locomotive.  These locomotives were produced in the early 1980's by Alsthom, and are based on the French SNCF Class BB 7200.  Minitrix also does several versions of what appear to be the same shells for the the French versions as well.  Contemporary locomotives have gotten much sleeker, which makes the distinctive design of this engine something of standard bearer of 1970's industrial (European) design in my view.

Looking at this Minitrx model, I think the detail is a bit of a mixed bag.  While some aspects, like the "Endhoven" heraldry are sharp and crisp, some the yellow paint shows over-spray and is not very sharp.   You can see a bit of this above the cab in the below two photos of you look close enough.

Compared to the prototype, there are also a couple of other things that stand out.  The grab iron (I think that's its purpose) below the windshield is really thick and is too prominent, and apparantly the wrong color (the Fleischmann version of this locomotive appears to be a little better); the number on the front of the cab is actually a raised rectangular area on the prototype but just a stamped box on this model (perhaps a short-cut compromise from the casting of this for both an NS and SNCF versions?).  Finally, the trim around the lights is painted a bright silver, which I cannot see on any prototype photos (it appears to be black on the real thing, although its possible that's just road grime and they come from the shops with these clean silver trimmings which don't last?).  To their credit, Minitrix is doing a pretty good job with the color on this locomotive in terms of its opacity.  Compared to an older Minitrix model of the Class 1200 that I have, the sharpness of the paint on this version is remarkable (of course, any comparison of any model more than 10 years old in N Scale will probably be the same).

On the plus side, converting to DCC was a cinch.  The below photo shows the NEM 651 connection with the decoder installed.  I experienced no problems at all with this conversion and it took me less than 5 minutes from taking the shell off the locomotive to running a newly added DCC loco to the layout. Yeah, I wish I could say that more often!

Operation of this locomotive is a treat.  As with every Minitrix locomotive I own (well, the new ones, not the old 1200 Class from the eighties I mentioned earlier!), it is QUIET and has flawless slow speed movement.  It glides through all my Kato switches (both #4 and #6) with no difficulty and seems to have enough power to pull trains in the 20 to 30 car range.

My enthusiasm for this locomotive is only slightly tampered by some of the cosmetic disappointments.  I wish I had the chance to see the Fleischmann version up close and/or do a side by side comparison.  Fleischmann's reputation (and the 30% higher cost!) would seem to indicate a much higher level of cosmetic detail and potentially a more fulfilling purchase.  I do think I'll ultimately apply some light weathering to this engine to make it look a little less toy-like, which is the only real drawback I have found.  On the other hand, this locomotive is on the low end of the price spectrum for Minitrix (USD $130 ish), so for a 'value' purchase, these are some trade offs I can also live with, or attempt to overlook.  Overall, a 4 out of 5.

19 comments:

  1. This design is for me a classic. A pure beauty. Too bad they will have to get decomissioned in the near future. The new locs are fine but not as striking.

    If you want to know, they are nicknamed "broken noses" by french rail fans.

    The NS version is quite classy but I must say, I like her better with this livery: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:SNCF_BB_15014.JPG

    Enjoy your new model! :)

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  2. "Broken noses" is right! I agree, this is really a classic...in the same league as the first generation EMD F units, Series 100 Shinkansens and few others!

    I actually was considering (and still am!) the French version, but I couldn't decide between the two schemes being offered! Someday.... :-)

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  3. True I forgot they were offering the Beton, the Fret SNCF and the red liveries.

    If you want, Minitrix also produces a diesel version of this design, the SNCF CC72000. I saw it in some parisian shop. Nice model too.

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  4. Yes! I got the CC72000 - another favorite of mine! I was surprised to see it as it was an uncatalogued (I think France-only) set that Minitrix released several months ago! I love that locomotive (my son loves it more, he is only 11 but so far French diesels are his favorite!).

    By the way, since you seem to know Paris, can you recommend any good N scale shops in Paris? I will be there next summer with my family, and would be fun to visit a good store if there is one in the Paris metro area? Thanks La Saucisse!

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  5. Hi Jerry,
    Your blog is great as usual.

    For your shopping in Paris, you should have come 10 years earlier, here's what I know is left:

    1) Transmondia (48-50 Rue de Douai, 9th District). Very very small shop, but a real N specialist. Don't hesitate to ask, the stock is larger that the shopwindow! The couple holding this shop is known in all France for their N expertise (although, I kinda doubt they would be very helpful in English ;) ). They also produce or sell some very limited French editions models.
    3 other train stores in this street: one is 1 minute away and also does a bit of N (lots of Kato/Tomix).

    2) Only a 3 min walk from the above, "Au Pullman" (70 rue d'Amsterdam, 9th district). Small N choice but you may find something interesting there.

    3) In the heart of the "new 13th district" (facing the large new "Bibliothèque Nationale de France"): Orpherline (16 rue Raymond Aron). They're not particularly nice, but they have a really huge rolling stock in all scales.

    When I was a kid there were at least 10 big train shops in Paris...not anymore. I just moved to Brussels with only one shop selling N, so each session of "Shopwindow licking" in Paris (from the French expression) is a good occasion to take the real Thalys !

    Last note.
    Bear in mind that selling model trains is a "kitsch" - if not dying :-( - business. As such, the stores are opened as in the old days:: Tuesday to Saturday, with the notable exception of Orpherline (from Sunday to Friday).

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  6. I do to think it's a France only model. I never saw it listed anywhere on Minitrix's catalogs but they are everywhere in the shops.

    Speaking of which, I don't know any good shops in Paris since I don't live there anymore. But the last time I was in the city I visited two shops. They looked okay or okayish to me.

    I didn't write down the adress (because I know where to find them) but that's what I found on the Internet.
    - Central train: 81 rue de Réaumur (in between the metro station Sentier and Réaumur-Sebastopol, the nearest one is sentier). Here the rue de Réaumur is borded by some trees and a side allée on one side, the shop is there. The front is small but the shop is big and there is a good deal of N stuff.

    - Citerne: 21 bd du Temple. It's written trains in big letters on the front. Real french place, I don't think they are going to speak english over there. The last time I was there it smelled like old people and fresh train. But they did have choice. And anyway it's Paris, you are not going to be treated very nicely by sellers and waiters. That's a general rule. The shop is near the Place (and metro) République.

    Also, a well known adress:
    - Le Petit Train Bleu (Loco Motiv) 276 Rue de Charenton. They also have a website. www.lepetittrainbleu.fr

    And a last one :
    - Trans-Europ Trains, 48/50 rue de Douai. I heard good things about them on the Internet.

    I can also give you some tips on the city if you want. But for the time being, please, make a review of this CC72000 of yours. ^;)

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  7. My previous post is almost redundant after the one from Pierre and it seems that the last shop on my list was renamed.

    And I can concur is saying, you should have come ten years ago. The hobby is dying in Paris and the shops usually are a bit depressing.

    You'll have a hard time dealing with the people in the shops but, anyway, it's not as if you really need to speak to buy a train. Pointing and paying, that's universal.

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  8. hi "La saucisse", nothing redundant actually. "Trans-Europ-Train" = "Transmondia" (well, actually, it's their H0 boutique, separated by 10 meters). www.transmondia-transeurop.com

    Central Train is good indeed, plus it's close to the touristic Rue de Montorgueil, which doesn't hurt.

    Train shops are like "boulangeries", every one has got favorites places with no real explanation.
    When I'm on a short trip in Paris I usually do Transmondia (for the rare stuff and the advice), au Pullman (just because it's close to Transmondia), and then Orpherline on Sunday for the choice (but not their smile).

    I don't know the other ones you quoted, but I now know what I am going to do next Saturday !

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  9. La Saucisse and Pierre..Wow! This is really good information! I will have to check these locations on a map to see how easy it will be for us to visit. We are staying in Paris 5 nights so there is plenty of time for la Tower Eiffel, Louvre and some train shopping! :-)

    I was in London on business about two months ago, but I have to say the opportunities seem a lot better in Paris...I could only find one shop in the London metro, and this one was not all that great and I only picked up some Oxford diecast cars and some Hobbytrain containers (although good on my wallet!). I was actually going to write a post on that visit, but it did not seem like I had a lot to share, but perhaps I will...it will make a nice 'comparison' to the Parisian experience this summer (I hope).

    I think the hobby we have chosen is in decline in many places...not just Paris. There is only one shop left in all of Manhattan! I know that one local shop here in the Seattle area closed down a couple of years ago (things are still good here though for American locomotives in all scales, at least 4 solid shops in the region). Perhaps, based on my experience in London (and New York), and from what you share about Paris, is any indication, hobby shops in metropolitan/urban areas are no longer able to afford the rents or generate business they once may have had from the populations there.

    Oh yes, the shop owner in London was not all that friendly either. :-)

    Anyway, thanks for the good advice on the shops! I did try and search with Google, but nothing came up, so this is very encouraging! I'm very intrigued by some of the unique French models (I've seen some photos of some of the 1950's / Era III early diesels and electrics and they look very cool!) so it should be very interesting!

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  10. Yeah, you can't really find a thing on Internet about those shops. It seems that the owners are not very acquainted with the Internet.

    All of them are in the center and very easy to access by metro or foot. You need to keep in mind that metro station in Paris are spaced every 500m. On straight portions you can see up to three or four station in a row.

    @Pierre: I agree with you, they are like bakeries (and they sure have the same feeling about them) and my favorite was the on the rue de la Roquette. But that was ten years ago. :(

    @Jerry: If you want to go somewhere where the hobby is still alive and kicking you should visit Germany. But it won't last long, they are on the way down but there is still a lot of shops and choice.

    As far as Paris is concerned, I hope you will have a good time. It's really a nice city during the summer.

    If you can't go to the Eiffel Tower be sure to visit the terrace of the Montparnasse Tower (59th floor). It's free and you will have a nice view of Paris with the Eiffel Torwer in it. Plus it's not as crowded as the Eiffel Tower. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_Montparnasse

    And around is the old breton district, where you can easily find a crepes restaurant.

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  11. Hey, (i'm dutch myself ;) )
    If u enjoy our models so much i would suchest that u take a look at the newest version of the 'koploper' / 'doorloopkop,' or headwalker as the most accurate term in english ;) would be, from minitrix.
    It is a limited editon in the colours of the dutch olympic banners in 2008.

    http://www.treinreiziger.nl/userfiles/image/artikel/600/Koploper_sport.jpg

    http://www.trix.nl/nieuws/goud-voor-de-koploper/

    The original version isn't fabricated in 1:160 anymore, but still widely available from 2nd hand resellers.
    For people who like dutch trains i would say either one is a must have, because of its revolutionairy design in which u can walk under the drivers-cabine from one trainunit to the other. also, like the 16-, 17- & 1800-series it's a symbol in dutch railway history.
    Greetz,
    Laurens

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  12. @Laurens - Thanks for your comment, in fact, interesting timing... I was just able to get the original blue/yellow version from 2004 from Minitrix and the older KLM Version! I agree, they are very iconic versions of Dutch railways and I'm very pleased to have finally got my hands on these! I was actually surprised that I found both at the same time...certainly my finances aren't happy about it, but I couldn't pass the chance up.

    I have been debating the "Olympic" version, but I think I really wanted the other version more, so it was good that I waited!

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  13. Haha :).. Well, i hope u didn't pay too much.. The prices can fluctuate enormously on those things, from €180 (+/- $225) and €300 (+/- $400) or even more :)

    And indeed good that you didn't take the olympic version.. i've bought that one myself (the koploper is one of my favourites.. so i have the normal-, the KLM-, the MartinAir- and now the olympic-edition ^^ ).. But i've noticed several severe flaws that aren't easily overlooked. which i think are a big shame.

    Anyways..I'm looking forward to see some photo's and the review of those two u have now :).

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  14. I have both the Fleischman and Minitrix version of the NS Class 1800. The biggest problem is that the Minitrix version is larger than the fleischman. I suspect that Minitrix did not get it right. Side by side they look goofy. I say, either or, but which one do I dump? I have been trying to figure out the dimensions but no info yet.

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  15. @ Anonymous: Wow, that is bad! I had never heard this before! That may explain the relatively lower price of the Minitrix model? I've considered getting one of the Fleischmann versions of this model, but now that you bring up this issue...yikes! I have an older Fleischmann French version of this loco...its getting a decoder installed, but I'll compare this myself as well. Thanks for the info!

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  16. @ Laurens.

    You're right Laurens. this sport-version of the koploper looks to have "Screen printing" than the other versions. I wonder if it was because the original train has itself less things written on it. Living in Alsace myself, I don't meet this train very often to check it out :-) In another hand this is a colorfull train, with one extra passenger car, against one, with the two other version of koplopers. Dutch trains are quite good looking, I like the "Mat 64", but there's only Handicraft or shapeways version. Thank you for your nice Blog Jerry, Cheers

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  17. @ Marc -Thanks for your comment! Thanks for posting your thoughts on the "Olympic Koploper". Even though I don't have this version, I know what you mean. It seems for the more complex graphics seems on modern trains, manufacturers are using this 'printing method' that leaves quite a few 'dots' at close viewing (I have some trams from Japan that this is noticeable on). Even on the new SNCF logo you see these 'dots' as well.

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  18. @Jerry. You're very welcome !
    You're right about the dots...I meant also that there're less writings than in the older koploper versions. Like maybe in the original train. Though this Olympic version has a quite smooth motion. I plan to drive it with an arduino system ("Analog" programmable setup) as a first slow-down & speed-up test. Cheers for everyone - Marc

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  19. A bit late (^^;) but I just saw this post and the piece of plastic underneath the cab (no idea how it's called) isn't there in prototype at all.

    Also I think the silver ring around the lights are correct, but there's a weird cab behind them if I look at your photos.

    Note that 1800's are converted 1600's and only used for passenger trains and have an airco unit on the cabs, and the 1600 for freight trains don't have them. So the model is not entirely correct in that sense too.

    Reference:
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:NS_Class_1600
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:NS_Class_1800

    There's also a class 1700, that's follow-up order and almost the same but only used for passenger trains.

    Btw, Minitrix has announced the 1600 in DB Schenker (former Railion and NS Cargo) and HUSA (former ACTS) liveries, the latter was bought from DB Schenker. They are only being used for freight trains.

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