Following the popularity of my previous reviews of the BigJigs heritage range, they have kindly sent me another loco to review and this time I went for one of the more famous locomotives in the range – the A1 Steam Trust’s Tornado.
Class: Peppercorn A1 Pacific
Use: Express Passenger
Region: London and North Eastern Railway
Era: 1948-1966 & 2008-present day
None, but one new build:
60163 – Tornado (The A1 Steam Locomotive trust)
In terms of the overall looks of Tornado, BigJigs have done a great job with the shape. This is down partly to the A1’s quite simple shape compared to the more complex lines of Bulleid and Pannier tank locomotives. Her boiler looks great, the shape of the cab is spot on, but the tender being undersized does stick out more noticeably then on the other models. The only other downsize is the missing set of wheels which should be under the cab, but this is another compromise that had to be taken as not to affect the overall running and play quality.
Tornado has some great detailing on her, with the highlight being the nameplate on the smoke deflectors that look very clean and crisp. She also has painted on handrails on the sides, both her number and builders plate on the cabside, painted and detailed bufferbeam and a fully detailed smokebox. In terms of detailing this is the best from BigJigs and it is easy to see why it is one of their best sellers. The only downside which seems typical with the range is the green roof, which should be black.
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 grandads 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 that I wasn’t the best judge when it came to play quality and durability. This meant that 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.
Play factor: 5/5
As I did with the rest of the range, 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 them what they thought. The children loved playing with the locomotive, as like the other locomotives in this range, they again said it felt “more grown up”, “real” and “fun”. The locomotives’ slightly smaller tender compared to the Black 5s did make for better play as it was able to take the tight corners faster than the Black 5 without hitting things. Tornado is now joint with Sir Archibald Sinclair as the biggest train in my kids collection, so the children were able to grip the locomotive with their whole hand, so were able to push it around at a fast speed. This isn’t possible with some of the smaller trains as they tend to only use a couple of fingers to hold the locomotive, which means it derails easily when it goes fast.
With Tornado also being tested by my 1 year old, the locomotives’ durability and quality would be tested to the extreme! After a week of pretty much solid play, I had a look at 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. She performed brilliantly even surviving being thrown in the bath… it’s a safe bet to say my Hornby version would not have!
Final score: 4.75/5
Overall the locomotive performed very well and gave Ironclad a good run for its money. When I first received the locomotive I knew it was going to do well because of the simple shape of the locomotive it is based on and its brilliant detailing. BigJigs had a very simple/clean design to work with and they produced something which captures it perfectly. It’s easy to see why this locomotive is very popular and is a very welcome addition to my kids growing collection.
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.
With the only blemish I could find on the locomotive being the green roof it was an easy daddy and daughter project to improve the locomotive. A quick lick of black paint on the roof and Tornado became faultless and a welcome addition to our growing collection.