Athearn Bluebox

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by nicknero, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. nicknero

    nicknero Member

    :cry:Well since athearn is getting rid of their kits its gonna be hard for my because I enjoyed putting together them for 50 dollars a month I got about 7 or 8 cars and Id have rolling stock but I need to know has anyone tried any other easy kits becuse I tried bowser and acurail but they are a bit to hard for me anyone know some EASY kits? for cheap
  2. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Athearn isn't getting rid of the BB's totally. They've just upgraded them from the "Real Easy, or beginer", to a mid level modeller. The newer BB's come with finer detail, better brake detail and metal grabs that have to be put on by the modeler. I have one of these kits, and in my opinion, BB's are no longer"Slap together in an hour", to one that'll take most of the day. But for $10:00-$12:00 apiece, instead of the $4:00-$6:00, for the older BB,they are pretty pricey, but worth it.
    Walthers, sells kits also, they aren't as cheap as the old BB's, but cost as much as the newer BB's. Details West also sells cheap kits that have nice detail(if you can find them), and I think Athearn is still selling Roundhouse kits that cost little money.
    I could be wrong though, I'm hope someone will correct me on this.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The "yellow box alternative" form Accurail is still relatively cheap, and has good detail for the most part. I am a big fan of their outside braced boxcars. They are usually CAN$12 to CAN$16 at my local hobby shop, but from time to time he has sale prices as low as about CAN$7 each.

  4. nicknero

    nicknero Member

    I have an acurail kit but its still hard to put together and I used to like the hour long kits I work at a hobbyshop that gets Horizon so I live by athearn lol but I like the old athearn kits
  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The Roundhouse kits were discontinued when Horizon bought the comapny. Some of the more modern prototype models have been re-released as kits under the Athearn name as the new Athearn BB. Some of the older prototype models (roughly before 1940) Roundhouse made have been upgraded and re-released under the Roundhouse name, but in RTR only. This applies to the well-know Roundhouse "Old-Timer" series, too. There are still numerous unbuilt Roundhouse and older Athearn BB kits available on eBay and at some hobby shops.

    The upgrades Horizon made in both lines are actually upgrades - improved trucks, Kadee compatible couplers (I wish they were the real thing!), separate grab irons and other wire fittings instead of cast-on, and improved paint and lettering.

    The kits I enjoyed best as a teenager (in the '60s) were the then brand-new Silver Streak plastic reefers. These were a cut above BB in detail and quality, but only a dollar more in cost. I think Walters still has these.

    I would encourage you to occasionally push yourself with the more "difficult" kits. That's how you improve your modeling skills (and your tool box!). Next year try a wood kit, a resin kit, or even one of the older metal kits (probably have to search eBay for the metal kits!) as a change of pace for even more learning and fun!

    having fun with kits
  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I'd agree with the above and stretching out and modifying cheaper Tycos and Bachmanns, usually had for less than a $1 when bought in lots. This was a Tyco project I did some time back>>>
  7. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    I am in two minds as to whether this is a good or a bad thing. On the one hand, the cheapy BB models were, and are, new modeller's first steps on their way to superdetailing and other model improvements, including correcting flaws. On the other hand, models these days are so accurate that superdetailing is becoming a thing of the past. Nowdays all you have to do is "add or replace" details with other details, so what good is it learning a skill you're never going to have to use?

    You could argue that correcting errors in cheaper models and superdetailing them to a high standard is an enjoyable part of the hobby for many. You could also argue that there is no "inbetween" anymore. It's either a toy or a very serious, delicate replica. Where's the stuff for the guys who are just starting to get serious, but aren't ready to spend that kind of money yet? Do those guys even exist anymore? If not, is that because there are no products on the market for them anymore, or is it because of the times we live in?

    Easy to ask questions, far harder to answer them. Off hand I would say, times have moved on a bit. The market is aimed at the recently retired who have as much spare cash as they do time and space. Technology is making the more profitable market of "serious modelling" a cheaper affair, meaning they can target more of the newly retired people. Is everyone happy with that? Maybe that's not the right question to ask - perhaps it should be; Is the majority happy with that? I'd say, yes, they are. Am I happy with that? I haven't decided yet.

    It's not unusual for a company to abandon one group of customers for another group of more profitable customers. Obviously the people who want the detailed stuff are more profitable than the people who want the cheaper stuff. Whether we like it or not, we'll have to lump it. Times change.
  8. alexander

    alexander Member

    Yes, times do change. But you tell me there is no market for Athearn BB kits? there will always be a market for them, moreso if we want to attrack young people (like me) to the hobby
  9. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    Indeed, there will always be a market - if you make anything there will always be a market. The question is profitability. It's apparantly not profitable for Athearn to make cheap models, even if they breed customers who will want more expensive stuff as they grow up with the hobby.. Athearn alone aren't a big enough force to really affect the market by pulling out of manufacturing BB kits - the real killer will be if they start a market trend that sees other manufacturers doing the same.
  10. nicknero

    nicknero Member

    ok Im going to start trying new models you guys talked me into it Im going to allied in culver city (those in california know it well) and Im gonna get a few blue blox one resin and one wood than a few of the other models what do you guys reccomend
  11. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    i'll agree with Nick, it is sad that the new Athrean has gone overboard I have a lot of P2K kit builts and they look great but one little derailment and you got to spend the next 2 nights reparing the fine detail. the old BB kits were just right for a large number of durable cars, then as said you could upgreade if you want to.
  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I would suggest getting the BB, and then pick a wood or a resin, but not both. You might even want to take on a more complex plastic kit such as Tichy before moving to wood or resin. Both the resin and wood kits are much more expensive than the plastic kits, and will take you several evenings of time. Neither resin nor some of the wood kits (there are exceptions in the wood kits) come prepainted, so you will do your painting and decaling as well.

    In wood kits, I would start with a Labelle box car or a Silver Streak caboose. The caboose would fit in better with the transition era, the wood box cars (except for sheathed steel underframe box cars) were pretty much gone by then.

    In resin, Westerfield and F&C are two good makers of kits.

    Hope this helps.
  13. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    F&C?!!?! Aren't these REALLY REALLY hard to build kits? Or am I wrong? (says the intermediate craftsguy)
  14. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    I think I AM "one of those guys"
  15. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I'm no craftsman, either. But I admire those who are. Having built one of the F&C passenger car kits, I saw it as much easier than some of the "box of sticks" or "box of sprues" structure kits. Some things I learned:

    - wash the mold release agent off all the resin parts, and clean any flash before doing anything else.

    - I prefer expoy glue; others may do differently.

    - this is an anti-American statement, but reading the directions first actually helped me.

    - having patience to get the car body square is critical. Reinforcement in the corners may be needed - I've used stryene, wood, and metal. Brass angles and strips for reinforcment are particularly useful in cars to build weight into it.

    - for me, an airbrush delivers a lot better paint job than brushing. This in spite of the fact that my airbrush is my tool I am the most scared of and paranoid about. I'd rather handlay a dozen turnouts than airbrush a locomotive or car.

    The above said, I'd think twice about buying an F&C tank car or stock car kit until I had built a few simpler ones. Box cars, reefers, and flat cars tend to be a lot less likely to be ruined as I am learning new techniques and materials.

    my experiences, your choices
  16. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Nick, if you think that Accurail cars are difficult, you might be better off building your skills a little more gradually than jumping into trying a craftsman-type kit. I would put Accurail right up there with Athearn for ease of assembly: no working doors to contend with, no separate underframe, except on the singlesheathed boxcars, and even then, it's only two snap-in pieces. The brake gear is three simple castings, plus a brakewheel (Same as Athearn). I'd rank Athearn, MDC/Roundhouse, Accurail, Bowser, and Walthers all as shake-the-box kits: some have a few more parts, but they all are pretty basic if you follow the diagrams. If you want to move up the difficulty scale, the Proto1000/2000 kits might be a good place to start. Again, everything is supplied, you don't have to fabricate anything. There are more parts, to be sure, but the most difficult comes in handling the slippery plastic grabirons (oversize, by the way) and removing the one-piece brake rigging from the sprue is a bit tedious. Once you progress beyond shake-the-box kits, you'll also need to expand your toolbox: besides the obligatory Xacto knife, and plenty of sharp blades, you'll need small screwdrivers, at least one pair of good tweezers, and a few styles of needle files. I'm told that sprue cutters are very useful for removing delicate parts from the casting sprue. A pin vise and a set of modeller's drills can also be very useful. Similar to the Proto kits, Intermountain, Red Caboose, and in some ways, Tichy would be your next step up the skill ladder. These three offer still more parts, with some options as to which should be used, such as different door styles or brakewheels, etc. The Tichy kits are the only ones, so far discussed, to offer metal grabirons, and for this, you need to drill the appropriate holes. Ditto for the brake gear, and you also need to construct the piping and rigging from wire, supplied with the kit. After this, you're into the realm of craftsman kits. Westerfield, F&C, Sunshine, and Sylvan, and countless smaller outfits come to mind. While many of these manufacturers are now offering one-piece body castings, most of these kits include a bunch of small parts, plus a bunch of material from which you're expected to create the rest of the detail. Instruction sheets can run to several pages, and often trucks are not supplied. Most of these kits are of models of prototypes which were not as common as those offered by the manufacturers listed previously. Older craftsman kits, many still available, came with two sides, two ends, a multiple-piece roof and a separate floor, plus all of the parts for the modeller to build the underframe. Often, the sides would be of slightly different lengths, or the floor width would require adjustment in order for everything to fit together properly. None of this is particularly difficult, but it does take more time and requires you to learn more skills, all part of the enjoyment of model railroading, in my opinion. Once you've assembled the car, you'll need to paint and letter it: more new skills and more new tools required.
    I'm not trying to make light of the difficulty that you may have assembling kits "beyond" Athearn BB, nor am I trying to dicourage you from trying a craftsman kit, but there is a learning curve here, and you can progress through it only if you want to. We all started out simple, and there's nothing wrong with keeping it simple if that works for you. On the other hand, if you push yourself, in measured increments, you'll gain new skills and new confidence in your abilities. In my opinion, this is good not only for your model railroading, but also for you personally. The key to success in this endeavor is patience. The skills will follow.
    And while I'm one of those "retired guys" refered to earlier, I only wish that I had the money to be able to afford more of those craftsman kits. While I've probably got way too many freight cars already, I still enjoy picking up stuff from the used table at the LHS, and fixing it up with added details and new paint and lettering. This is also an affordable way for you to move beyond "shake-the-box", and learn some of those new skills.

  17. FiatFan

    FiatFan Member

    Somebody get a rope! sign1
  18. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    The athearn not-so-quite-rtr kits are put togethers, just got 1 in the mail today, an undecorated SD50 early series anticlimber version. Paid $46 for it inc s/h, and its dcc ready. Opened the box, and theres all kind of parts, metal grabirons, brass sunshades, all fans, even the windows are seperate pieces. I was like "ok, maybe not rtr after all"
  19. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    Accurail has some time consuming kits. Try putting together 1 of their open autoracks in a day. There are approximately 60+ pcs in those kits. But I got 4 of em, and after the 1st one, you have a plan of attack for the rest.:thumb:
    I believe someone on here said that planning, planning, planning was the most consistent thing about this hobby.:D
  20. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    It would be cool if someone with a lot of money and business acumen could take the moulds off of Athearns hands and start producing them under a seperate company. It would be a massive undertaking, and may even fail, but it would certainly fill a gap in the model market that may get bigger in time.

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