Heljan Model Railway Locomotive Reviews -
Class 57 Locomotive - First Great Western (5704)
This was my first Heljan
model and so I was slightly worried. I had no reason to be
though. Aside from the odd blemish the Heljan Class 57 is an
The most striking characteristic is the weight of the
locomotive. It seems incredibly heavy - much more substantial
than a Hornby, or even a Bachmann locomotive typically seems.
The weight reassured me, and when I went to run the locomotive I
was impressed by the smoothness of acceleration and
Model Number: 5704
Running Number: 57 604
£37.50-£83 inc VAT (Yes, rather ridiculous I know!)
Other Liveries in Range:
Virgin Thunderbirds (but without 'Thunderbirds' licence)
Top speed at first seemed
a little on the slow side, but running the model in, soon saw an
improvement and it is now one of my favourite locomotives.
So, there's nothing wrong with it? Well, sadly there are a few
Firstly, there is the issue that it is slightly out of
proportions. The Model is, apparently, wider/fatter than it
should be by something like 2mm on each side, giving a total of
4mm, which means that in real life it would be one foot wider
than the real class 57. Had I not learned this through another
forum I would not have noticed. I might have noticed, had I then
purchased a Bachmann 57, but I am impressed enough with the
model not to let this worry me. The flaw has resulted in the
Heljan 47/57 range being described as "TubbyDuffs".
Secondly, the directional lighting is really rather pathetic.
The mechanism definitely exists (when you take it apart you can
see the bulbs and wires etc.) but the lighting seems weak and
'underpowered'. The red lights are particularly hard to see.
Therefore, this is something I am in the process of fixing by
replacing the bulbs with superbright LEDs (see
this thread for details).
Thirdly, and this may be a one-off problem with my loco, is that
the buffers are only sprung at one end. I am awaiting
clarification on this issue.
Aside then from this models slight 'obesity' and rather poor
lighting, the model is very good. It has a good amount of detail
and the livery seems well-applied with all the various warning
My final observation is that the locomotive retails for anywhere
between £83 and £37.50. At £83 the price is too steep given the
two flaws already identified. But, at the £40 mark it does seem
like a bargain - and with some stockists having something of a
clear-out it is now possible to pick them up for £37.50. Indeed,
I was so impressed with "Pendennis Castle" (57 604) that I have
subsequently ordered "Totnes Castle" (57 605).
In summary then, provided the price is right (£40 or less) it
really is a bargain. The detail is high, the motive power is
smooth and plentiful, and with a bit of work the lighting can be
Furthermore, the model comes DCC ready - complete with DCC
At a Glance
Further Observations/Other Reviews
Model Rail (Source:
Suchampal) in their review have criticised the bogies for
not being accurate. This view seems to be backed up by
this post on Electric Nose.
Highly Recommended - an
absolute must for those modelling a 57 era and FGW geography -
and best of all, it can be found at very attractive prices. The
only caveat: if the thought of fixing the lighting, or of having
a slightly 'obese' loco on your layout frightens you, you may be
better off looking at Bachmann.
Real Train with Running Number:
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