The onset for design of newly built diesel locomotives after orders placed by Freightliner meant that the birth of new traction was not far. With plans revealed in November 2007 for the Powerhaul loco, the anticipation was building. The anticipation and demand for a model equivalent was also quite large, leading Bachmann to eventually produce this new age machine. The Class 70 model is produced under licence in partnership with GE, producing a similar standard of detail matched by the Class 66s (produced by Bachmann in partnership with GM). This partnership meant that everything could be faithfully modelled, right down to the last engine door handle. The results are phenomenal.
Starting with the shape itself, the garish looks are shared with it’s prototypical sister, posing as slightly ugly and definately unique. Every last ripple, radiator edge and compartment door in the body work has been moulded to a very high standard, producing sharp distinct lines that do not detract from the quality of the model by looking plasticy. The finer details such as handrails have been turned from brass, producing more durable handrails compared the plastic rails of ages past. The etching of the roof fans and their respective covers is also quite fine. The model is fully glazed with flush glazing that really is flush! Sometimes you can find some parts of the glazing has fallen back on itself, but the windows contained all look rather secure.
The livery, the new and bold Freightliner livery, is very crisply applied. The swooshes on each end are evenly matched. The colours are true and accurate to that of the prototype, particularly the green. Green is quite a hard colour to get right on some models, especially those with as many grooves and ridges the Class 70 carries, however Bachmann have done a good job here. The paintwork is just the start. Take a closer look at this loco and you’ll notice the sheer amount of decals! Every single warning sticker and notice has been faithfully reproduced, and they’re at such a high standard, they’re almost legible! The amount is well into the 150 mark, a difficult job it seems, but the effect is well worth the effort.
Electronically, the Class 70 carries Bachmanns trusty 5 pole motor which has not changed in around 15 years. This motor has proved to be reliable in any loco – don’t fix what isn’t broken. Current is picked up via all the driving wheels on both bogies providing a smooth driver under any power amount. The lighting on this model stands out as being some of the best lighting I’ve seen a model carry. Headlights and cab light options are available using the switches underneath the loco (switches which are to be changed using a very fine screwdriver mind). The 70 sees use of bright white and red LEDs for the lighting, rather than some of the more “yellow” LEDs available, producing a clear and bright headlight which do actually work in darker conditions. The model is also DCC ready, fitted with a circuit board mounted 21 pin DCC socket. There is no DCC sound option available off the shelf however a provision has been made to allow owners to fit a speaker within the loco bodyshell.
Cosmetically, the Class 70 sports the usual standard of sprung buffers and NEM couplers. These couplers stem from the bogie, and not the loco chassis – a mistake that Hornby has made, meaning stock can often be dragged off the track. When bought new, the Class 70 can be found with a full snowplough fitted to the fan end of the loco, a detailing option which can be removed by unscrewing the plough. A spare set of these ploughs is also supplied, along with a small amount of dummy chain link couplers and respective brake pipes.
This is a hard feature to cover when it comes to model railways. 2 different people are able to pick up 2 identical locos at differing prices. If taken by the RRP, a quite high (but understandably high) £95, then this loco does well for itself. I think leaving the locos as DCC ready has been the best option, as then the locos really do cater for all users. It’s also not too bad when you consider that two different versions of the loco are available as standard release, with running numbers 70003 and 70006. The special edition 70001 has for now sold out at Freightliner, but I’m sure an EBay hunt could produce such an item.