Heljan GWR 61XX ‘Prairie’ 2-6-2T

27 February 2019
01-LEAD-23768.jpg Heljan GWR 61XX ‘Prairie’ 2-6-2T review
We explain the key reasons why the Heljan 61XX is a brilliant O Gauge replica of the prototype….


Manufacturer: Heljan

Catalogue Refs:

HJ6100  61xx No. 6110 GWR livery lettered Great Western

HJ6101 61xx No. 6106 GWR livery lettered GWR

HJ6102 61xx No. 6144 BR Black unlined early crest (Shed 81A)

HJ6103 61xx No. 6111 BR Green unlined late crest (Shed 81F)

HJ6104 61xx No. 6132 BR lined green late crest (Shed 81C)

RRP: £699.00

Gauge/scale: 32mm gauge, 1:43.5 scale O

Era: Great Western 1931 – British Railways Western Region 1965

Company/Operator: GWR, BR

Weight: 1598g

Construction: Body – plastic, chassis – metal

Minimum Curve Radius: 1028mm

Couplings: Working sprung screw-link

Accessories: vacuum and steam pipes, cylinder inserts, fire irons, shovels

Drive System: 12V DC 5-pole motor

DCC Provision: Loksound L4.0

Pick-ups: Contacts to rear of driving wheels, hidden by chassis

When announced at the Gauge O Guild’s Telford show in 2015, the Heljan 61XX captivated the minds of GWR and potential GWR modellers alike. Heljan have released this model in seven liveries, with each livery only receiving a limited production run of fifty.

Here are the reasons why the Heljan 61XX is a brilliant O Gauge replica of the prototype….

Running and Performance

Powered by a five-pole motor coupled with the locomotive’s weight, performance from this six-coupled locomotive is more than adequate. Inside you’ll find an ESU motherboard decoder, pre-fitted with a blanking plate for DC use. This means that if sound is required by customers, it’s a plug and play scenario rather than cutting and soldering wires.

An ESU Loksound L4.0 decoder fits with ease. To the underside, space has been provided for a speaker.  The model is fitted with a flickering light fitted inside the firebox. In addition, when in motion the valvegear looks fantastic.

Heljan GWR 61XX Prairie 2-6-2T review

Content continues after advertisements


Ask anyone who models in O gauge their main reason why and it's usually the detail. In this department, Heljan’s 61XX doesn’t disappoint. Everything about it is convincing and nothing looks out of place.

We are particularly fond of the correctly scaled handrails, brass-coloured safety valve bonnet, valves, whistles and cylinder drain cocks and the copper-clad colour of its chimney. Even the pipes running to the whistles are correctly painted a copper colour. The bunker numberplate is sharp and its raised edges are neat, just like those on the bunker lip, cab roof and around the running plate.

Inside the cab you’ll find a brilliant display of dials and pipework. It’s a shame that the Collett cab hides most of them from view. The cab roof slides open and shut, with enough room to squeeze a crew through the openings with tweezers.

Heljan GWR 61XX ‘Prairie’ 2-6-2T interior


The tampo-printing of the ‘Great Western’ lettering is neat, more importantly, accurate in colour and scale. Heljan’s 61XX presents itself well. The red of the bufferbeams has a punch and hides the base colour well. The green is slightly too matt, but this seems common with many other RTR releases in O gauge.

Correctly printed on the sliding cab shutter is the blue route colour classification. The 61XX locomotives were at the top end of this band which permitted a maximum axle loading of up to 17T 12cwt. Either side of the cylinders are the letters CHR – indicating that No. 5184 was allocated to Chester shed.

Heljan GWR 61XX ‘Prairie’ 2-6-2T rear


If you are fortunate enough to have pre-ordered, you will be extremely proud of your decision. With the limited production run we think those who decided to wait will have to move fast to get their hands on their own 61XX. We are very much looking forward to Heljan’s future offerings.

Click here to see more reviews of Heljan models.

BRM magazine prides itself on providing unbiased, in-depth product reviews in every issue. Click here to download the BRM Digital Edition.