Tonight we are looking at something rather different and another first for LocoYard in the form of a wooden train review and not just any wooden train; the Mid-Hants own Black 5 45379.Class: Stanier Black 5 (5MT)
Use: Mixed Traffic
4767 (BR 44767) George Stephenson – North Yorkshire Moors Railway
4806 (BR 44806) Kenneth Aldcroft – Llangollen Railway
4871 (BR 44871) – East Lancashire Railway
4901 (BR 44901) – Vale of Glamorgan Railway
4932 (BR 44932) – West Coast Railway Company
5000 (BR 45000) – National Railway Museum
5025 (BR 45025) – Strathspey Railway
5110 (BR 45110) – Barrow Hill Engine Shed
5163 (BR 45163) – Colne Valley Railway
5212 (BR 45212) – Keighley and Worth Valley Railway
5231 (BR 45231) The Sherwood Forester – West Coast Railway Company
5293 (BR 45293) – Colne Valley Railway
5305 (BR 45305) Alderman A. E. Draper – Great Central Railway
5337 (BR 45337) – East Lancashire Railway
5379 (BR 45379) – Watercress (Mid-Hants) Railway
5407 (BR 45407) Lancashire Fusilier – East Lancashire Railway
5428 (BR 45428) Eric Treacy – North Yorkshire Moors Railway
5491 (BR 45491) – Great Central Railway
In terms of overall appearance compared to the real life locomotive, BigJigs has done brilliantly in capturing most of the overall shape of the Black 5 and her tender. The wooden version has all the correct features of the real life locomotive with the only bit where it goes wrong is the lack of a step down from the smoke box to the buffers. I can understand the reason why this wasn’t featured as it would have majorly affected the overall running and play quality of the train. The locomotives design is rather clever in that the only wheels that actually make contact with the track are the main 6 driving wheels. The bogie wheels are there purely for cosmetic appearance with the locomotive having a slightly larger magnet coupling on the back to balance out the train.
In terms of capturing the details of the Black 5, this little wooden train does well again. It features all the steam pipes, domes, handrails, smoke box door style and the wheel arrangement. Having the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement is an impressive thing for a wooden train as you wouldn’t believe my surprise when purchasing a wooden Henry from the Thomas the Tank engine range to notice he was a 0-8-0! The only downside is the steam pipe that runs along the boiler on both sides of the model but is only on the right hand side of the actual locomotive.
The first part of this review was looking at the model from a railway enthusiast’s view-point and a good percentage of people buying these trains will be granddads or dads (like myself) who are enthusiasts and want something a bit more special than the typical generic wooden trains you usually find on the market. The next part of this review is a bit tricky because as a 27-year-old man I felt I wasn’t the best judge when it came to play quality and its durability. This meant I had to call in not only my 5 and 1-year-old kids but also my 8 and 3-year-old nephews to test the locomotive. Another important question would be to see if they recognised that the locomotive they were playing with was a locomotive they have all seen in trips to the Mid-Hants.
Play factor: 5/5
In order to get a fair overall assessment of the play quality I gave the locomotive to my kids and nephews for a week and then asked what they thought. All the children loved playing with the locomotive as they said it felt like a “more grown up”, “real” and “fun”. The major thing I did notice when watching the kids play was that because of the size of the locomotive they were able to grip the locomotive with their whole hand, so were able to push it around at a fast speed. With some of the small trains they tend to only use a couple of fingers to hold the locomotive which means it derails easily when it goes fast.
With the Black 5 also being tested by my 1 year old, the locomotives durability and quality would be tested to the extreme! After a week I had a look the locomotive to see if I could see any defects and the only thing I did notice was that a bit of paint had come off the edges on the locomotives coupling to the tender. The rest of the locomotive was faultless and far out performed the other locomotives on the train board.
Final score: 4.6/5
Overall the Black 5 turned out to be a brilliant locomotive and has become a kids firm favourite. All the older children recognised that the locomotive was one based at the Mid-Hants and my daughter even managed to correctly identify it as a Black 5. The kids have asked for another train like the Black 5 so its safe to say I will be getting another one soon.
Where to buy one:
Traditionally we don’t mention where to purchase products we review, but with Bigjigs I have made an expectation. This is because orders placed on the Bigjigs Toys website are mostly fulfilled by independent toy shops based on their stock levels and geographical location. By purchasing from the website, you are helping to support your local high street and, more importantly, your local toy shop. I was actually chatting to a shop owner in Winchester who stocks Bigjigs products who told me he gets lots of orders he wouldn’t have got without the Bigjigs website.
Improving the Black 5
One night my daughter came up to me whilst I was working on some wagon kids and asked if she could do anything to improve her Black 5 like I do with my trains. The only thing that was wrong with the locomotive was the steam pipes on the left hand side which shouldn’t have been there so I gave my daughter a felt tip pen and she coloured it in so you could no longer see them. My daughter has actually been on the footplate of the real life locomotive it’s based on so the final touch was to print out the photo and stick it on to the back of the locomotive. This little project was some great fun and made the locomotive far more personal.
Disclosure: The team at Bigjigs rail very kindly supplied me with the Black 5 for the purpose of a review. This review was written by me and all opinions are my own.