Quickview: Heljan Class 56 Co-Co for 'O'

29 April 2022
Everything you could possibly want from a 'Grid' in 7mm:1ft scale? Howard Smith shares initial thoughts...

As if by magic, a Class 56 from Heljan has weaseled its way onto my desk for review. Who needs a gym routine when you can lift this hefty piece of kit onto, and from the rails? For what it's worth, I've no intention of ever having a gym routine, besides, this locomotive is far more attractive than dumbells...

Based on the later Doncaster & Crewe-built examples covering numbers 56070 to 56135, it has allowed the manufacturer to introduce the many liveries carried by these locomotives. Annoyingly, during privatisation, and due to high operational costs and an EWS monopoly on the Class, their lives were cut short, some being placed into store, others exported for use on the continent, but their soul lives on in the new re-engineered Class 69 locomotives recently introduced.

What we like

Heljan's efforts have resulted in a fine-looking model, and you can see the Class 47 bodyshell influence in its design, well. The cab is particularly well-designed and I'm really quite fond of its appearance. In true Heljan fashion, the cab interior is modelled at its best. Note - we didn't install ahandrails on our sample ahead of photography, but trust me, these are equally excellent. Just look at the way that cab door to bodyside shape has been captured – it looks the 'mutts nuts'!

Heljan Class 56 O

Ahoy there! The view from above is great, and let's face it, you'll be spending most of your time viewing the model from this angle if you're fortunate enough to purchase one. The grille detail is captivating – sturdy enough to withstand careful handling, yet fine enough to offer a glimpse of the twin working roof fans.

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Heljan Class 56

Every model has its pros and cons – it wouldn't be fair if we didn't mention the latter. Truthfully, I struggled to find cons, but this side view highlights an aspect of the model which had me 'on the fence'. The bogies. They're wonderfully-complex things, and I feel Heljan has them 'right' where their outer shape is concerned, as per the above image, but from this lower angle, the geartrain housing is visible, which detracts a little from its otherwise highly-convincing appearance. Perhaps weathering is a solution?

Class 56

All told, a great new addition for the post-1970s era modeller. Read Howard Smith's full review in the July 2020 issue of BRM, on-sale June 17.


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