So I thought I’d do a review of the most recent purchase to arrive from my “local” hobby store – Hatton’s of Liverpool. I’d actually been going online to buy some short shank NEM couplers and was tempted by a pair of the DJM Mermaids. They were in “Dutch” grey and yellow livery whereas I’d prefer black (which is much earlier in their life) but I figured it isn’t hard to paint something black and in any case I have some Modelmaster Transfers which will suit so another UFO joins the pile….
Anyway, as these are the first examples of some models from DJM that I’ve obtained I was curious to see what was different from the Dapol offerings which Dave Jones had overseen at his time there – and what hadn’t really changed much at all.
So first impression – the boxes were nice but not as sturdy as I am used to from Dapol. No plastic boxes here. More like Farish although I felt the window was a little small to allow a reasonable view of the model. A bit like Ixion before him, Dave has gone for a slogan – theirs was “Own the Finest” his is “ Setting Higher Standards”.
As far as the model goes, it looks pretty good. The necessity of the plastic moulding process and the nature of these wagons (being side tippers) does mean the representation of the support structure and the tipping bits are a bit over – if they were scale I am pretty sure there reject rate would be uneconomically high. Turning the wagon over I was very impressed with the brake gear and what not – stuff which unless you have really bad track laying skills you won’t see but adds to the authenticity (and having spoken to a professional model maker it actually doesn’t add to the cost of the tooling – and adds only a little to the design CAD stage).
The ballast load is well modelled too – and easily removed for those wanting to run it empty or to replace with something more realistic (like actual crushed up ballast). Having a pair they do look a little to alike (but again the cost of having more than one mould for this is not economic – and then you are still relying on luck to get two different loads although with the different running numbers it shouldn’t be that hard).
For me the biggest let down was the coupling spacing. As is now the industry standard, NEM pockets are fitted but the choice of coupling length is, frankly, ridiculous. I don’t know if DJM only do one size of coupler and I get the cost of a mould has to be covered but when the gap between the buffers measures at 9mm this is way too big. Not setting higher standards at all. Now I understand the Rapido coupler isn’t that great – but I think we can all acknowledge that for RTR British N we are stuck with it. Farish provide a short shank NEM coupler (the item I was actually buying from Hatton’s when the siren song of the mermaid called to me) and fitting a pair of these brought the gap down to 4mm. It is still too big – and I would expect at 4mm it will go around “trainset” curves (which I define as anything under 12 inches radius – my layout runs 15” on the hidden sections and much, much larger on the visible) so why DJM thinks a 9mm gap is setting higher standards boggles the imagination. I would like to get mine down lower than 4mm but at this stage that’s where they are until after the repaint.
Overall 8/10 with the buffer gap accounting for all the lost of marks. Once they are painted to match the Dogfish, Grampus and Shark they’ll make an interesting addition to my ballast train.
Pictures of the two gaps: