Early this week I had an unexpected e-mail asking if I would be interested in reviewing train sets. The communique was from Tommy George of Idealo UK (more about them later) who seemed to be pleasantly surprised at the level of interest and comment there is in the UK model railway scene; an area his company are expanding into.
For a variety of reasons I chose the Piko G scale starter set to take a look at. It's a complete start from scratch set, comprising loco, a DB BR80 0-6-0 tank engine, a couple of bogie hopper wagons, circle of track, transformer, controller, and all the wires to hook the power supply up to the track. Here's what it all looks like.
As the set came from a German supplier the transformer was fitted with a two pin euro-plug. Not having a suitable adaptor I cut it off and replaced it with a UK standard three pin jobbie, all of five minutes work. Another five minutes clipping the track into a circle, and connecting transformer to controller to track and I was in business. Putting the loco on the track the first thing I noticed was how heavy it was, being more used to the mass of 4mm to the foot scale models. Come to that the track is pretty hefty too. The mass certainly tells once loco and wagons are on the move. The motor is pretty quiet which allows the clickerty-clack as the wheels pass over the rail joints to be appreciated to the full. I tested the set indoors, but I feel that its real setting should be in the garden where it could occupy the middle ground between model of a real railway and a small real railway in its own right. It has a chunky robust quality that should fit it for the harsher environment of the great outdoors.
Now what of Idealo? Well it's a price comparison site or service, they don't supply the products directly, but point you in the direction of retailers who will. As far as I can tell it works on the same or similar basis to those car insurance comparison sites but without amusing meerkats or annoying opera singers. Though it wasn't part of my brief to review Idealo I thought I should at least see if it gave credible results. I'm pleased to say on my test against Google's shopping results and a search on e-bay it came up with a keener price for the Piko starter set.
Now it won't replace the local model shop, with it's supplies of small items, materials, glues and paints, but I could see it being a worthwhile port of call, an alternative to Google shopping, e-bay or the big mail order houses as the range expands.