I can't comment on the number of faulty examples, but one only has to look at the sheer numbers of these models available for sale to realise that there is a problem.
A3s and A4s are very large locomotives in 7mm scale. Most people who do have 7mm layouts don't have layouts large enough which are suitable for what is a large, express locomotive which requires large numbers of coaches in tow. I suspect that is why there are so many available - it was a poor choice on the part of Hattons and people just don't want/need them.
If you look at what Heljan and Dapol have produced, the diesel scene is well covered and there have been some good choices in steam locos from small to medium in size. Not sure about Dapol's 3MT - I would have thought an Ivatt 2 or a Std 4 tank would be far more popular as they were far more widely used across the country.
I take it you are talking about OO gauge, in which case I can help. As usual Hornby A3 and A4 models have good track manners, I dod not over use these and as such I have not had much bother with any of them, I had quite a number from my father and bought others as well, the later A4's seem to be well modelled and well presented such as Sparrowhawk which came with sound (although I never use it) as I have 8 circuits and about 380 locos to get a slot on the railway takes loco charm and more recent models such as the A2/2 have been getting a good run.
I think they are not for tiny model railways although being Hornby they'll take R2 upwards, so very little bother whilst I am wearing out the black 5's, B1's and other mixed traffic types, but either can be a nice deal and you could probably get a good secondhand one from Hattons whilst some other models are simply not to be found secondhand.
I cannot find a photo of an A4 or A3 so they are still on Photobucket I left when they started charging but here is the A2/2 which is good despite the extreme length however the front bogie proved too sensitive for my track and I later swapped the wheels out.
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