It’s that time of the year when EU manufacturers release new items catalogues…an overview.

Digital & DCC: a few new ideas

No revolution this year in the digital model railroading world. Here are a few items from main European (and as always, mostly German or Austrian) manufacturers:

  • ESU hasn’t published a new items catalogue as I’m writing this, but the new even smaller LokPilot Nano Standard is now available for order. A good idea for ESU fans in small scales (N, Z…) who are short on space. Product page here.
  • Uhlenbrock has released a few digital decoders with just an update for more power capacity, good thing for people in slightly larger scales (TT, HO…) who like to use small decoders without burning them. Leaflet (German) here.
  • Zimo is also in the race for very small decoders for small scales, announcing the MX616 with smaller site. Details on homepage (English/German) here.
  • CtElektronik/Tran are already known for the very small size of their decoders and are praised by N or Z fans. The new DCX77L decoder isn’t the smallest, but boasts 4 full power outputs. The already available SL76Next18 by the way is still the only N scale sound decoder with Next18 interface that actually fits regular sized (not sound ready) Next18 engines. Details here (German).
  • Viessmann is releasing a new command center, the Commander 2. A few words about this item below.

The Commander 2 from Viessmann is an interesting product on paper. I had the Commander 1 and was underwhelmed by the machine. It could do anything, and was powerful for people who didn’t want to use a computer, but overall felt clunky and out of touch with it’s release date. It was not a bad machine per say, the screen was nice; but it’s lack of connectivity with a computer meant it was a huge investment that was never meant to evolve with the hobbyist.
The Commander 2 is a totally different approach. From the descriptions and pictures, Viessmann is giving up on the screen altogether. The Commander 2 is basically a “headless” command station, similar to the Fleischmann/Roco Z21. The interesting difference is, they are using a hybrid design, where the command station can be used as a “stand” for your tablet or smartphone; basically replacing the clunky cheap screen they might have built themselves.
Of course, the quality of the device will depend on the default mobile apps provided and the ability of the Commander 2 to be used with existing PC layout control software (for advanced users). No words on that yet, but it’s an interesting concept. Details here in German (English pages still not updated as of today, Viessmann still isn’t as international as ESU…).

The usual N scale new items…

…half of which probably will be cancelled and never released.
Yep, it’s annoying. You’d think German firms would be able to keep a schedule, but the truth is most announced products will likely either be released in 2 years or be scrapped altogether. I must admit I’m not even looking at those catalogs that much, since many of them are meaningless (yes manufacturers, that’s a cue for you to be more realistic about the market and your production capacities…).

  • Brawa has interesting new items. Sadly the very nice Twindexx Vario EMUs in HO and N scale (announced more than a year ago) is barely reaching production in Q4 2017 (theoretically!), with many of the announced declinations and additional coaches scrapped. New items catalog (German) here.
  • Fleischmann also has a strong new items catalog, with sound in N scale being more and more easy to find. New items catalog (German) here.
  • Arnold N (now Hornby) had a new items catalog but at the time of writing is down. Apparently the “Internet” is still a new thing for these guys, check it out if it ever gets repaired.
  • Trix/Minitrix has a few new goodies as well. In fact it is my – undocumented impression – that the brand usually delivers new items reasonably well, and they are nice enough to provide catalogues in many languages. New items catalogs in several languages here.
  • Lemke Collection (also importer in Europe for Kato) is always a nice manufacturer to look at for fans of the modern area. In N scale, the new ICE 4 of the Deutsche Bahn is announced, and last but not least the gorgeous new Eurostar trains in blue livery (based on the Siemens ICE train, replacing the old Alstom trains used until now). New items catalog in German from the home page.

There are many other small or niche manufacturers with interesting items. The only thing to note in N scale at least is really the growing number of engines pre-fitted with sound. A good news for those who like it, less of a good news for your wallet.

Be sure to check out your favorite model train brands, as new items are still being announced in these few weeks of January.
Happy 2017 with your trains!