The DF4DK is the latest Bachmann offering as of January 2016. They have produced six different versions with a seventh on the way. Two special versions have been produced, both of which are called "Youth Civilization" which is a bit odd as there are quite a number of different decorated versions (A side note, one of Bachmann's regular DF4D's is also named Youth Civilization!).
The body shell is completely retooled and captures the good looks of the DF4DK. Some of the better features are separate metal roof grilles, machined brass air horns, roof glass panels and windshield wipers. The paint work is generally very good, although there are a couple of fuzzy lines where the maroon and cream merge. The lettering and logos are very nicely done as usual. What I do like is the subtle individuality between units with different sized China Rail logos, the positioning of the side numbers, etc. The front handrails are painted maroon which is better than plain steel, however DF4DK's are painted in both maroon and cream to the same design as the body work - see prototype photo above.
3094 "Youth Civilization"
In my eyes, the decorated version 3094 is the disappointment of the bunch with the large front brass characters painted on which gets hidden by the overall paint of the rest of the locomotive. and the Youth Civilization separate badge far too thick, hence my decision not to buy one (although this was also in part to the huge cost of these models).
The color scheme of 3113 bears a more yellow livery than the rest of the versions. This was supposedly a locally applied color scheme by the Tianjin local railway, an outfit which liked to paint their locomotives in their own flavour. I have found the real 3113 twice in my recent travels to China, but never in this rich yellow color scheme (see photo above in the "prototype information" section) so possibly the model is based on an earlier time (however, it is worth noting also that the model bears Beijing bureau markings).
All of my samples are super quiet and as smooth as silk. They are quite heavy at 656 grams and should pull a decent length train. Wheel flanges are still deep, but not as bad as previous releases and I will leave my units as is. No traction tyres are fitted.
The lighting is directional from LED's. While not the 'sunny bright' LED's that my locomotives all get replaced with, the color is not too bad being a peach color - the same as their recent SS7C locomotives. They are quite strong, although the main headlight could probably have been a bit brighter.
Installing a decoder for DCC operations is very easy - remove the couplers and lift off the body shell. Bachmann are still sticking with the 8 pin plug. There is also a provision for a speaker to sit inside the fuel tank, with some guides moulded on the inside of the fuel tank shell where to drill holes.
All versions will accept long shank (#56/156) Kadee couplers. A very fine amount should be shaved off the top of the shank for free movement and a tiny bit on the bottom at the back of the head to avoid clearance with the centre un-coupler stantion.
All versions are still fairly available, which is probably attributed to CMR's surprise release of DF4DK's at the same time at a much lesser cost and a huge plethora of versions to from.
Despite them not being sold out, it is sad to see a number of the Hong Kong retailers have simply given up on trading Chinese models as they're less attractive to stock these days. Of the retailers I've spoken to recently, they have stopped or severely limited stocking Bachmann products due to one factor - cost. Models have at least doubled (nearly tripled in Australia thanks to the value of our dollar) in price. I sincerely commend Bachmann on these models as they are very good, but I would love to see Bachmann work on their decorated models to at least make me feel I'm not being taken for a proverbial ride!
CMR Line's DF4DK's cost significantly less than Bachmann's by some 30 - 40%. I apologise for not being able to review both types at the same time for a comparison. Most people will tell you that the higher COST of the Bachmann models is worth it for the extra quality, however after my recent experience with CMR Line products I would suggest that it's not the quality that is CMR's problem as such, but the quality control.