The recent January 2018 release of the 36' foot fish belly under-frame wagons by Auscision Models includes the NCX/NCNX/RCNF coil steel wagons with or without the tarp support hoops designed to hold Auscision's coil steel loads. The models are amongst the shortest modern Australian prototypes, (save for going back to the 4 wheel wagon era), and measure just 13 cm over the couplers. As such, the model has been high on my hit list since first being announced for a future production. Unfortunately, (in my case anyway), the long wait didn't really live up to the hype.
|The Auscision Models NCNX fish belly coil steel wagons are VERY delicate! So handle with care.|
While it is a visually interesting model, the prototype wasn't exactly ringing with an enormous amount of detail from end to end, and aside from the depressed coil steel cradles built into the deck of the wagon, neither is the model. Take a look at the above photo, and you will soon realise that the model has had three coats of weathering wash applied to it just to get the existing detail to stand out in a photograph. Without the initial first treatment of weathering, the model appeared shiny and plastic, and reminded me of many earlier 1980's paint finishes we were once accustomed to. Accurate? Yes. But the detail when transferred to a 1:87 model form wasn't all that noticeable. Even on the inside of the triangular end headboards, I could easily see the circular release mould marks, something I've never seen on an Auscision model before. Compared to some of Auscision's other releases, I felt this one looked a little spartan underneath and particularly on the sides, in part I suspect to the all-over one colour finish.
The model does however, have blackened metal wheels (RP25-110 according to Auscision's website), rolls freely through a set of medium PECO code 100 points, comes with scale-sized metal knuckle couplers that latch on perfectly like all their other models and has separately applied metal ladders and grab irons depending on whether we're talking about the MLV van, NCX steel wagons or PCT cement hopper varieties.
The model comes in packs of 4 wagons, in the now familiar Auscision blue packaging and retails for $260 Australian. What you won't see in any of these models is just how fragile the tarp hoops and end headboards are. Noticing that 3 of the 4 tarp hoops were loose on one side of the model I was photographing, I inevitably fumbled the model in my hands while making a repair and broke all 4 plus both end headboards off, instantly performing an accidental conversion to a NCNX without the tarp supports. I could have left the model like this as an accurate representation of the prototype, but as I already had some tarpaulins waiting around for this model's release, out came the super glue. The wagon is designed to hold the steel coils that Auscision sell in packs separately, only wider rolls don't fit between the support posts. I used their size 4 (14.8 mm wide coils) in the photo you see above. I've been told the support posts can be re-positioned wider to accommodate the larger rolls, but after repairing the tarp support hoops I wasn't going to tempt fate twice.
|The VR style tarpaulins need cutting away at the corners to clear the white grab rails and sit flush above the brake wheel.|
The wagons are very similar to their previously released Victorian Railways counterparts, the CSX/VFSX/RCSF coil steel wagons, of which there were sets of plastic sit-over tarpaulins designed sit in place atop the model. Having bought a variety of these several years ago in the anticipation of this model coming out, I soon discovered that the CSX wagon tarps aren't exactly the right fit for their New South Wales cousins. The problem is due to the white grab rail that is mounted to each end of the deck frame. What this does is cause the tarpaulin to sit a little too high, with a slight gap noticeable above the end headboards. To correct this, the end corners need to be cut back so that the tarp corners clear the white hand grab rail and enable the tarpaulin line to come down flush above the NCNX data signage beside the brake wheel.
Overall, this isn't a bad model. It just wasn't Auscision's best either. Certainly not compared to their NCNX open steel wagons which I thought were worthy of 5 stars. What is needed is a heavy coat of weathering to rid the model of its plastic finish and add some depth to the plainly detailed nature of the prototype. (I'll put some photos up in my next post of one that I've finished). Oh, and some super glue! Unless you want to mimic real life and cut the tarp hoops and end headboards off every time you handle the model.
Review Card: Auscision Models NCNX 36' fishbelly underframe wagons
Final Thoughts: A visually interesting model that can only benefit greatly from some heavy weathering to lose that shiny plastic finish.
See also; Auscision Models' NCTY/NODY Wagons