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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been reading the reviews in February's Model Rail and the reviewers seem to be adopting the approach of talking more about negative points than positive points. Whilst accepting that models are never perfect I don't see why they should ram it home in a way that seems to replicate some of the extreme views that often appear on the internet.

No longer is a "if it looks right it is right" approach adopted and it now appears that every reviewer is out to make a name for himself. Basically it seems that they are under instructions to find fault from the off, and then having found fault, only then start looking for the good things. If this is an approach that they consider sell magazines and advertising then in my view they are wrong. Its a big turn off.

It is almost as if the reviewers sneek into forums and see what the rivet counters are saying, and then go away and write something that then allows the rivet counters to say "I told you so!"

Basically I am looking at the prototype images and I am looking at what the reviewers are attempting to say and I am thinking "what on earth are they on about?"


Wrong approach.

Better that they approach the manufacturer whilst preparing the review and seek comments if they deem it necessary to adopt a nick picking rivet counting approach. This way we can get a balanced view. The hobby is not so big that it can allow a few primadonna reviewers to turn people off!

I am very glad that manufacturers want to offer us fantastic new models however the way some of these reviewers write about the models you do have to wonder why the manufacturers take the trouble!

My own opinions.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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The manufacturers only take the trouble to improve product BECAUSE of critical reviews!

If no criticism were visible, manufacturers would hardly bother to improve their products. Why would they if everything in the garden seemed rosy?
They need a carrot AND a stick.

It's quite obvious that there are enough buyers seeking improvement that the magazines feel it worth mentioning the salient points and we can clearly see that the manufacturers do, in turn, respond by trying ever harder.

Naturally we all have our very individual thoughts with regard to required level of detail and adherence to scale. When detailed reviews are made available to us, we are enabled to make up our own minds as to whether our opinions coincide with those of a particular reviewer and base our purchasing decisions accordingly. This fundamental principle applies whether the item under review is a model train, a car, a film review, a theatrical play, a DVD player or a camera etc - the list is endless.

While, just like anyone else, I may on occasion think that a reviewer has gone over the top, I would absolutely defend the reviewer's right and, even more, his absolute duty to his readers to NEVER gloss over weak point or faults. There is no point whatever in writing a review that blandly suggests everything is wonderful when it isn't. Might as well not bother printing the review at all if it doesn't fulfill its purpose of informing as fully as possible.

By the sound of it, this particular review might well surpass my contentment level too. I can see me now having to get up off my lazy backside and go buy the magazine myself to satisfy my own curiosity! And me looking forward to a nice lazy Saturday!


You getting a commission on extra sales from this, Gary?


But regardless of my personal reaction to the piece, I will continue to defend the reviewer's right and duty to inform his readership to the very best of his ability.
It's his job, it is what he is paid for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
QUOTE You getting a commission on extra sales from this, Gary?

Sadly not however if anybody from Model Rail does happen to read this....


Subscribers in the UK get theirs about a week ahead of it appearing on the racks so don't rush down to the shop just yet.

I am deliberately keeping a bit coy about the content for the moment as I don't want to spoil it for those who are unable to get a copy just yet. Read the reviews and lets see what you think.

OTT or spot on with the balance of good and not so good?


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Perhaps the manufacturers should enlist the help of some of the more puritanical nit pickers amongst the modelling press before releasing new models into the shops. All anyone in the press says on the subject of the mock-ups when they are seen at exhibitions is usually very positive. Are the clangers dropped after the mock-ups are released or is it that reviewers don't get the same access to them as they do the finished article.
I'm surprised that the class 33 was so bad as to warrant the first single yellow rating i've seen in model rail. Even the Bachmann 57 was only good enough to get double yellows.
I believe a certain more critical publication has been threatened with legal action in the past when approaching bachmann about errors on a loco.
It don't know which loco it was but all i'll say is the peaks were notably absent from review when launched in any magazine.
Why if reviewing a loco can't they take the trouble of finding a suitable photo taken from a good angle to put the point across(stand the model next to the real thing). I suppose there's a danger of us finding out how trivial some of the criticism really is.
 

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I suppose one way of looking at things is that if the modelling press raved about every release the buying public would be rather suspicious and no doubt the rivet counters (you get them in all kinds of pastimes) would cause a fuss.Saying that,I do agree with you Gary that in trying to avoid the aforementioned often the criticisms do seem rather pedantic.
I personally have no interest whatsoever in the overwhelming majority of diesel or electric locomotives but I always read the magazines I buy cover to cover at least once,including reviews of all products released even if they are not steam period related.Having read the reviews of the Bachmann class 57,Hornby class 60 and Heljan class 33 at least Chris Leigh has taken the trouble to include a photograph of a Class 33 to illustrate the points he makes.
On a positive note,is it not a good thing that comments (whether you consider them to be constructive or not) are being made about models that have improved in quality and detail almost immeasureably over the last few years.The competition between Bachmann and Hornby along with Heljan is only of benefit to us,the railway modeller.
Regards
(Bulleid Pacific Rivet Counter
)
 

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I don't know whether its purely a diesel thing and because so many of the prototypes that models are based on are still in existance and easier to get pictures of but it seems to me that i never read many negative comments about new steam releases reviewed by magazines and when there are they seem to be almost questioning whether the reviewer is right about an error things always seem a little wrong unlike diesel reviews with glaringly wrong and such phrases used.
Perhaps its because so many diesels are readily available to be viewed that this occurs. In defence of reviewers you have to ask yourself why the designers are so capable of getting things so obviously wrong in certain instances when this is the case. Maybe the first stage of a design should be a trip to a depot or preserved line to get a good idea of what you are building (maybe this is the case anyway).
I don't know whether this is purely a British issue and perhaps a couple of the overseas members might add a few comments.
 

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RIVET COUNTERS
Are they 'wrong'?

"There are a few more rivets on the
end on the Hornby loco to the right "


Some people might think that the quotation above was an example of promoting Hornby at the expense of Bachmann. That would be a fair interpretation.
But it is also absolutely fair to make the quoted comment if it is true, and the quoted comment IS true.

But, by the same token, it would be every bit as fair and true for someone to actually count the rivets on the prototype and compare the review model with that.

Maybe this is an example of nitpickers nitpicking other nitpickers
and therefore they are equally . . .

insert your own phrase!
 

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There are times when I feel that some of the magazines have merely churned out PR releases, and not taken the trouble to offer constructive criticism.

I have bought both Hornby and Bachmann locos, and I am impressed by the levels of detail, but I do find it infuriating that reviews have glossed over the difficulties associated with fitting DCC chips.

If a loco is marketed as "DCC ready", but still requires major work to remove capacitors, and great care to fit chips to sockets, something is not quite right. Doug Teggin's review of the Hornby Flying Scotsman, highlighted part of the problem, Steve Jones has shown that the Ivatt Mucky Duck is not easy to work on, because of the internal design of the socket on that model.

How far is DCC an afterthought for the Bachmann designers at the moment? The modelling press need to be more critical about this issue of locos being DCC ready. I feel that Bachmann have a very interesting range of steam locos but they do not make it easy for the novice modeller to consider DCC conversion.

The other issue I feel that the magazines do little to improve is associated with the NEM pocket, are the manufacturers working to a common standard for the provision of non tension lock couplings or not? I feel that the magazine teams ought to be less silent about this issue.

Criticism and feedback play a part in advancing standards in this and other hobbies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
In terms of the MRF comparison between models its about choice and the Hornby model is brand new and the Bachmann model 4 years old. Technology and production methods move on. It was a Hornby review and it was considered fair to point out why the Hornby model was more expensive than the Bachmann model. Folk can either go for the value Bachmann model or the detailed Hornby model. Both represent remarkable value for money.

Bachmann have recently bought out a superdetailed Jinty and if a comparison was made between that and the Hornby version then the scenario would be reversed. Again both offer choice and are remarkable value. If Bachmann or Hornby are reading this then why not send us a review sample?


This discusion is about comparisons made between the prototype and the model and how this is put over.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Remember that these are models made in plastic and metal that run on electrified rails.

At some point the perfect scaling down of the prototype has to be compromised when you endeavour to mass produce a working model train.

There will always be people who nitpick over fine detail - when they ignore big issues such as wheels, suspension and the bits under the loco. Just let them get on with it - I'm sure they get some pleasure out of it.

Personally, if I see a reviewer nitpick over rivets, window frames or late / early crest... I don't really care - If I still like the loco I'll get it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have looked at reviews of new models from 30-40 years ago in some of the old magazines that I have around the place. In the light of this topic they do make interesting reading!

I don't know how the rules stand and the models are clearly no longer available in the form offered then but would you like to see one or two reviews of old Tri-ang and Tri-ang Hornby models so that you can judge for yourselves how things have moved on?


It would be very interesting to see how one of todays crop of reviewers would react when reviewing a model of the type offered by Tri-ang Hornby 40 years ago!

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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I would be very interested indeed to see the old reviews - for themselves.


However I don't think it would be appropriate to use them to try to make a score here. Consumer expectations and their fulfillment have altered so much in 30 or 40 years that it would be pointless in this context. A little bit like comparing a computer with an abacus in the middle of a group test of cutting edge PCs.

But, by all means let's see them as interesting items in their own right and perhaps more deservingly in their own topic. I imagine other readers may well have some to add also. It could prove to be an invaluable historical archive.
 

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Here is an example of the self righteous nature of one particular reviewer.
Bachmann class 37/4.... nose too curvy, cab doors too recessed, overall reviewer screaming like a stuck pig about how scandalous and stupid the errors were.

Bachmann retooled class 37/0 reviewer now takes the credit for forcing bachmann to retool this item correcting the too deep cab doors.Totally ignores the fact that the new one looks as bad(in my opinion) due to the front end being changed to fit the bufferbeam cowlings, the model has also lost its directional lighting so should in my view retail for about 8-10quid less.
Reviewer obviously happy to have got his way and the model changed.
Personally i would rather have a few body errors that can be ignored and directional lighting.
I think the magazine in question would do well to divert its energy back to the real railway world that it is supposedly aimed at as the model section of the magazine now accounts for over a third of its pages each issue. If this is not the case they would do well to look at their own failings as a publication before slating other people especially when they don't have the balls to put their real name to such comments instead hiding behind some pathetic pseudonym.


The above are the thoughts of Ian Hirst(my real name) and don't necessarily reflect the views of model rail forum.
 

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Negative reviews are OK if presented factually and fairly. Clearly if something is terrible then people should be told and indeed will probably find out anyway. I mentioned in an earlier posting not recalling a bad steam review, the bachmann A1 springs to mind a couple of years ago due to the motor being incapable of hauling a decent rake of carriages without frying itself. That review was also put across in a nice sort of way without berating the company or the very attractive loco and look where that led. A very costly recall and remotoring exercise.
 

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What I have found is that often the reviews are inconsistent. I'll read a review where they will go on and on about this detail and that and gloss over the fact that the locomotive won't pull more than 3 cars! Or that it can't negotiate a certain radius curve without stopping.

Other times they will promote an initial glance as if it were a complete review. Interestingly I find Doug's reviews more comprehensive than some that I read in various magazines all done with 1/10 of the resources. So my vote goes more to inconsistency rather than extremism.
 

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Its about time that we had some guidlines for reviewing new models.
Such as comparing to (an accurate) drawing and giving marks out of ten for things like livery and performance. Quite often the reviewers' own personal opinion is focused on too much and we get the "bee in a bonnet" approach. (Like the Hornby LMS red debate)
Cheers.
Pete
 

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You have to compromise a bit here and there. Reviews take time. Sure magazine editors are paid, but we hare are not.

I must admit that I know very little about railways, not like some of you anyway. When I review, my aim is to present the model as well as possible so that the experts can make up their own mind.

I will spend a few hours looking for prototype data, but I do not have encyclopedic data at hand with 3-view scale images to compare shape and quite often there is little prototypes data on the Internet with colour photos to describe if the paint is right or not.

I don't mind working to a guide, answering points that are required - Amps drawn, pulling power, track radii etc.

If you guys would like to look at the reviews that we've done and list some points that you would like to see included, I'm sure that we can work something out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The very big advantage of the internet is its capacity to allow people to have a visual feast.

We have all seen it with the Model Rail Forum Hornby 2006 review. Compare that with the news offering in traditional magazines. Would you rather read about it or see it and make up your own mind?


As Doug says, you don't have to be an expert in trains to provide good pictures of models which allow members and visitors to make up their own mind. Why have a long narative?

Surely its better that web reviews focus on providing plenty of images and offering info on running qualities and the installation of any electronic devices. Again with good pictures there would be little to say on this last point.

The current crop of traditional magazines seem to have this habbit of acting as hangmen. And they only publish a small number of images so generally you have to rely on the written word and the language used can make an issue seem far worse than it really is. When you actually handle the model and see it for yourself then you can sometimes wonder what all the fuss was about.

Some may say it is more interesting to have an open discussion here about a new model after looking at the visual feast.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Today, I finally dragged my idle self out into the wider world, did a bit of shopping and picked up a Model Rail magazine. I got soaked in the process and this didn't improve my demeanour a great deal!

I was quite impressed that my stockist had fourteen rail or model rail magazines in stock, though disappointed to find no International Modeller in that rather good selection. Still, must look on the bright side, that saved me a few quid! And the free plastic bag kept some of the rain off me on the way back to my car - small mercies.

Eventually, dried out at home and, having just finished a good long session reading the review section, I am almost disappointed to say that I find absolutely not a thing wrong with any of the reviews, their style, their approach or their verdicts. I was kind of expecting real hatchet jobs after what I had previously read here! But my own view is that the reviews are excellent, informative, well written and evenly balanced. They are not afraid to offer praise where it's thought to be deserved and nothing unpleasantly untoward in criticisms of the not quite so good. An excellent job job done, imho, I can't fault it.

Incidentally, while I like Railway Modeller and, in my view it is a sturdier product than Model Rail in the quality of paper used etc, their product reviews are comparatively very lean, not telling the reader a great deal. Better by far than NO review, but comparatively lacking in depth.
 

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I have to agree with you rail rider, the reviews in model rail are by far the fairest appraisal available at the moment. The problem for me arises with one particular magazine which is a supplement of an increasingly lightweight publication supposedly about the real railway scene, ie Rail Express and its tabloidesque approach to all matters model. No regular letters section in that magazine, merely an acidic view of everything from local newspaper reporters to manufacturers.

Perhaps if they had been reviewing the real things back in the 50' and 60's so much of the garbage churned out for BR at that time might have survived longer than 5 years in service.
 
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