2019: Model Railroading Year in Review

As 2019 draws to a close, we’re taking a look at products and innovations which have stood out to us over the past year. With new locomotives, rolling stock, and continued technological advances, there’s no doubt that 2019 was a great year to be a model railroader! 


2019 was arguably one of the best years yet for locomotive modelers. New consumer models which had previously only been produced in brass were released in ready-to-run form, old favorites were reimagined with new details, and a selection of more recent sold-out models made a welcome return to production.

HO Scale

Broadway Limited Imports Big Boy

The Big Boy has been a favorite of manufacturers for decades, owing to it’s distinction of being the largest steam locomotive in US history. With the return of Big Boy #4014, it only made sense that this would be a good year for Big Boy models. While countless examples have been produced in the past, Broadway Limited Imports was the first to release a model of the preserved version. Sporting an oil tender and die-cast metal construction, this release was also the first to feature a smoking whistle!


Broadway Limited Imports Pennsylvania Railroad P5A

One of the most striking models to be released in HO was the PRR P5A from Broadway Limited Imports. This was the first ever consumer release of this locomotive types, realizing the hopes of many fans of electric power. Also featuring die-cast construction, this detailed model proved that there was indeed a demand for locomotives which were previously considered “niche” pieces.


Rapido Trains Inc Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson

Rapido Trains Inc made it’s first foray into steam locomotive modeling with it’s stunning Royal Hudson. All paint schemes seen on the prototype were produced, complete with a wealth of separately applied details. Like the P5A, this was the first ever consumer offering of this locomotive in HO scale.


Athearn Genesis EMD SD90MAC-H

Yet another never-before-seen model made it’s debut in the final month of the year. The Athearn Genesis SD90MAC-H followed a healthy succession of other more widely recognized EMD models, all featuring new LED lighting, laser sharp detail, and precision driving mechanisms.


N Scale

Bachmann 4-8-2 Light Mountain

The Bachmann Light Mountain was relaunched in 2019 with factory installed DCC and sound. Featuring plenty of bodyside components and a smooth running motor, this model was a great example of the detail that can be achieved in N scale thanks to modern manufacturing techniques.


Atlas Master Line Bombardier ALP45DP

Following the success of their HO model in 2017, Atlas brought their modern commuter train to N scale in 2019. Based on modern locomotives used on New Jersey Transit and Exo Commuter Rail in Montreal, the ALP45DP was a welcome addition to the N scale market for modern passenger and commuter fans.


Broadway Limited Imports USRA Mikado

Similar to the Bachmann Light Mountain, the Broadway Limited Imports Mikado was a perfect example of just how much detail can be achieved in N scale today. Both Light and Heavy versions were produced, featuring realistic die-cast construction.


Rolling Stock

HO Scale

Bachmann Amfleet Passenger Cars

The Bachmann Amfleet has been around since the 1980s, seeing various upgrades in it’s 30+ year existence. In 2019, the model was brought up to date to reflect the latest Amtrak passenger scheme, while also receiving new details. Both a coach and cafe car were produced, featuring Amtrak’s current Phase IVb paint scheme, and all models received features such as new painted diaphragms, window trims, and much more.

Broadway Limited Imports Stock Cars

Returning for their second run, the Broadway Limited Imports Stock Cars were equipped with built-in cattle sound effects in addition to realistic detail. Two new additions for the 2019 season are the Holiday Stock Car and Christmas Car, featuring additional festive sound effects.

Intermountain Railway Company Evans Coil Cars

Used on freight trains from the 1960s to today, the Intermountain Evans Coil Car brought a frequently seen car to the consumer HO scale market. Several body styles were produced, featuring removable hoods for load placement, and the addition of metal weights.

N Scale

Broadway Limited Imports PRR P70 Passenger Cars

The P70 passenger cars first made an appearance in BLI’s catalog several years ago, but had been out of production until making their return this year. The cars come available either individually or in multi-car packs, featuring a fully molded interior and realistic warm glowing LED lighting.

Kato CNW 400 Series Gallery Cars

Released as part of Kato’s new 400 Series train sets, several variations of the classic Chicago Northwestern Gallery cars were produced: Coach, Buffet, Parlor, and Coach/Cab. The Cab Car features directional LED lighting which works in conjunction with the E8 locomotive also available for the set.

DCC and Sound

Advances in quality and performance continued to be made in the DCC and sound world during 2019. Broadway Limited Imports continued to update their range with the new Paragon3 system, which works in conjunction with their Rolling Thunder subwoofer system to produce earth-shakingly realistic sound. Athearn continued to introduce new, louder speakers to many of their models, and has finished the year by releasing their first ever Genesis 2.0 model with the HO scale SD90MAC-H.

Alongside these conventional DCC advancements, Lionel has expanded it’s range of bluetooth equipped HO scale steam passenger sets, which can be run wirelessly through an included remote, or on a mobile device.

Detail and Realism

The push for realism has continued to become more evident with the introduction of new patched and weathered rolling stock from Athearn. Branded as “Primed for Grime” models, examples can be found in both their Ready-to-Roll and Genesis ranges. Rather than taking a “one-size fits all” approach, Athearn and other manufacturers have additionally continued to diversify their offerings with more road-specific detail on both locomotives and cars, while Rapido has continued to push the boundaries of realism on their new releases, including small details and underside features which are often overlooked on models.

As we prepare to move into a new year and a new decade, we’re looking forward to what the future of the hobby holds. Do you have ideas or predictions for innovations or future models? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page!

Happy New Year from all of us at Modeltrainstuff.com!