Plarail ES-08 C12 - First Look

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The box is 40 x 56 x 350mm, compared to the regular 40 x 70 x 410mm, but it's still way too long for this train which is just the C12 locomotive and a single carriage.  A big cardboard insert down one end stops it sliding about in the box. There's no foam block in the bag between the loco and the carriage, nor is there any at either end.

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The C12 loco is identical in almost every way to the familiar new-style C12 which first appeared in the 50th anniversary C12 Steam Locomotive Arched Bridge and Rail Set back in April 2009 (hence the loco number C12 50), and since 2001 has been available individually as item KF-01.

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The only difference is that the front and rear light lenses are unpainted; these are supplied as stickers along with the the number plates and the cab front windows. As it's not a new mould, unlike the other ES-series models, there are no recessed areas to help the user apply the stickers, but it's only the side number plates where it's not immediately obvious where they should go.  The handles in the middle of the smoke-box door are still painted gold for you.

There are no instructions in or on the box to tell you where the stickers go. You have to find your way to the relevant pdf file on the takaratomy website - the url is given on the box:

The cab front window sticker is actually an improvement on the one that comes pre-applied to KF-01 since it has the two distinctive high round windows as well as the lower ones with the hoods.

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The plates provided are for loco number C12 514. Given that were 282 C12s were built and the highest number was C12 293, this number is entirely fictional.
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The front light sticker goes on reasonably well even though you're sticking it down over a slight dome, but the rear light sticker is really a bit of a bad joke since you're expected to stick it over the top of five finely moulded vertical ribs. I'll remove the sticker before it falls off and paint the light silver instead.

Turning now to the carriage, it turns out that it's an OHaFu 33, the same as the ones that came with the 2002 (old-style C12) S-29 Pla-kids C12 Steam Locomotive.  Although it's a new mold I'm very pleasantly surprised to find that it's just a modification of the old one. I was expecting it to have suffered the same sad shrinkage as the intermediate cars in the rest of the ES range, but it's actually about 1mm longer.

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The front end has been re-modelled to incorporate the ES-series hook coupling slot, and the rear end has been very slightly changed in that the ladder is wider. It doesn't have the opening roof and seating for a Pla-kid inside, but this is no great loss. The two rear light lenses are unpainted rather than red, and there is no OHaFu33 (オハフ33) number on the side - it would have been nice to get a choice of stickers for these (though the old ones had no numbers on them either).

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Underneath, the changes are more pronounced. The chassis is completely new, re-designed to accommodate wheels that are fixed to their axles rather than freely rotating. The axles themselves are much less constrained, they now have freedom to rotate up to 10 degrees laterally away from a straight line along the length of the chassis.  I have yet to assess the effect of this new arrangement on their rolling resistance and general behaviour both around curves and in a straight line.

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I understand that this release is for the moment proving popular among Plarail enthusiasts in Japan as a source of good new carriages at a price that's little more than buying the C12 KF-01 by itself.
[-] The following 3 users Like chrisjo's post:
  • generic_truck_69420, HanoibusGamer, Super
Thanks Dr Chris for this detailed review. I am also quite surprised with this being the same size as the regular release.
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
I guess it makes sense not to decrease the length of the cars as there are only two in a box usually for three.
Interesting that they don't even put foam buffer between the cars given the generous space, but it's just an ES thing.
But that begs the question though, my N700S did came with the foam buffer, why though? Probably has something to do with ES sets "made in Vietnam" and I'm already there.
Hunting Shinkansen for life (but not at all costs) :>
[-] The following 1 user Likes HanoibusGamer's post:
  • Super
(11-24-2022, 02:24 PM)HanoibusGamer Wrote: "made in Vietnam" and I'm already there.

Do you know where the factory is?
[-] The following 1 user Likes chrisjo's post:
  • Super
From some quite old Vietnamese news article (2010), Takara Tomy has 5 factories in Hai Phong, which is not too far from the capital city, where I am (and bought the trains)
Hunting Shinkansen for life (but not at all costs) :>
(This post was last modified: 11-24-2022, 06:17 PM by Super.)
[-] The following 2 users Like HanoibusGamer's post:
  • chrisjo, Super

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