On January 25th 2020, we returned to America’s largest model train show to visit with manufacturers, explore new products, and find out exactly what we can expect in 2020 and beyond!
Organized by the Amherst Railway Society, the annual Railroad Hobby Show has grown to over 400,000 square feet in the last couple of years, making it twice the size of the next largest show in footage alone. Spread between 6 buildings at the Eastern State Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, it draws crowds from around the world, and features more than 60 operating layouts and countless vendors.
Athearn had several new releases on display, most notably the brand new standard SD90MAC in HO scale! This announcement had been kept under wraps until 24 hours before the show, and this was the first ever display of the productions samples of the type!
Coming available in Demo, Conrail paint, CSX, Conrail with CSX Patches, and in the Norfolk Southern scheme, this will be the second Genesis 2.0 model to come to market, following the impressive SD90MAC-H which arrived on shelves in the last weeks of 2019. Featuring the same level of stunning detail and functionality, these standard 90MACs will be available in the fourth quarter of the year!
Other upcoming models on display included a selection of additional modern freight locomotives, such as ES44DCs (including the CSX Western Maryland sticker unit), and a huge selection of new HO scale cabooses! Due to be shipped during the second quarter of 2020, this range of ICC cabooses includes both bay-window and wide-vision designs, all featuring prototype specific detail. Perhaps most impressive – these will be fitted with operational marker lights where appropriate!
The stars of the show at the Atlas booth were production samples of the upcoming Gunderson Multi-Max Autoracks in HO scale. Expected to hit shelves during this quarter, these will be the first representation of these modern auto-carriers to be released in the consumer market. Other notable announcements included the second run of the NJ Transit Modern Commuter Train in HO, featuring the Erie Lackawanna Heritage ALP45DP, and a new run of GP40 locomotives in both HO and N scale.
The buzz of the show surrounded the Bachmann booth this year, being just the second outing for their highly anticipated SC-44 Charger demo models! Expected for release this year, these all-new models will be the first ever representations of Amtrak’s latest regional diesels.
The release will feature the Amtrak Midwest, Cascade, and Surfliner variations, all with model-specific detail including regionally correct destination boards, and body differences such as the “spoiler” on the rear of the Surfliner units (to match the height of the bilevel cars they run with in reality). Highlights of these impressive locomotives include lit destination boards, working strobe lights, and a see-through bodyside vent with interior lighting and visible mock-prime mover. All examples will feature DCC and TCS sound, recorded directly from a Midwestern unit at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, CO!
Other items on display at Bachmann’s booth included their well-liked Geeps, some with new paint schemes, and a wide range of other recently released favorites in O, HO, and N scale!
As they continue to ramp up production once again, Bowser was eager to display some of their finest upcoming items, most notably their new SD40-2Fs in HO scale. Featuring a wide range of precision scaled detail, these Canadian built freight locomotives will be available for the first time painted and lettered for the Central Maine and Quebec Railway, including their Bangor and Aroostook heritage unit. These will be available within the year with optional DCC and sound!
Broadway Limited Imports
Always presentable, Broadway Limited Imports was once again displaying their latest items on their art-deco girder bridge themed table. Pride of the display were their recently released HO Scale GG1 electrics, their C&O J3A in the attractive Greenbrier Presidential Express scheme, and their recent line of N scale diesels including their SW7 – one of the smallest N scale diesels to feature full DCC and sound – and their newly released ES44 modern locomotive series.
Their currently available HO Scale ES44s were also on display, as well as a new line of steam locomotives including new HO Heavy and Light Pacifics featuring more paint schemes and tender variations. New to this show, their latest commemorative series was also on display – the President’s series – featuring Pacific style locomotives painted to commemorate John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
Intermountain once again had a wide range of new and future items on display. Several well-liked models from their range were featured, including their Paducah GP10, which will be available with new road names including Genesee and Wyoming’s York Rail and the Buckingham Branch, located in central Virginia!
New examples of their stunning HO scale TTX Autoracks were also on display, which are sure to compliment Atlas’s Gunderson types! These cars feature etched metal see-through siding, fully detailed interiors, and opening end doors to facilitate actual loading and unloading!
Rapido Trains Inc
Rapido possibly has more “irons in the fire” than any other locomotive or rolling stock manufacturer at this time! The first production samples of their latest announcements were available to see in person at the show, including the HO scale F59PH commuter locomotive, F40PH variations, MLW M420, EMD SW1200 switcher, EP-5 electric, Alco FA2, and more!
Along with these locomotive releases, some of their most anticipated rolling stock releases were also on hand – fully painted, and ready for us to drool over! These included the ACF Flexi Flo hopper series, 3800 series cylindrical hoppers, and of course, the Amtrak Horizon passenger cars! In keeping with Rapido’s production ethic, all models demonstrated a high level of prototypical detail, including many model-specific features, and full under-frame detail!
Walthers was back with their expansive blue table as always, demonstrating some of their latest building kits, vehicles, and structures, in addition to rolling stock. As for trains – highlights of their display included their upcoming GP9 variations in HO, including chop-nosed examples, cars from their Union Pacific business consist (including the Flag car) and a selection of their recently released SD9 locomotives!
Note: Due to the size of this show and the time available, we were unable to visit with every manufacturer. The selection mentioned above is in no way a demonstration of favoritism over other brands, all of which produce fantastic, exciting products!