It’s that time of the year when EU manufacturers release new items catalogues…an overview.
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:
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…).
…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…).
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!
More sound isn’t necessarily a bad thing if they also offer sound/decoder free options.
I’m not sure they’ll listen to you…but for now at least yes, most models are available decoder-free or sound-free at least!
The best (worst?) bit about the catalogs is their truly awful English translations. I still have some old Fleischmann catalogs from the 1980s, and they haven’t improved since then! Seriously guys, hire a translator? Viessmann’s English pages are now online, but only in kindof-English 🙂
Hi Chris, I’m with you on this, and I’m not even a native English speaker 😉 To be fair, viessmann is at least trying.
We mustn’t forget that model railroading – at least in Europe – really is a very German thing. With the exception of the U.K. (and maybe Spain), I’m not sure millions are at stake in other markets for those niche products… Pierre
You’re right that the German market is really huge compared to everywhere else. It is a great reason to learn German 🙂
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