The SS1's were Haidar's first release. No (visible) production numbers were given to them. They were announced well ahead of their release and customers were given an option to pre-purchase at a very good price. Unfortunately, this was pretty much open to the local market, so many western collectors missed out on these. This run comprised of ten different road numbers and only fifty pieces of each number were made. Apart from the road number, These limited edition runs are identified by the box label which displays all 10 road numbers, with a number (from 1-50) stamped next to the applicable version. The second run was released shortly after and was not a limited edition, although still quite scarce. Three new road numbers over three beureaus were produced. The final version was a decorated locomotive, which apart from the brass plaques and number/beureau plates, had some very nice etched metal walkways on the roof. This was again a limited edition version.
These are really beautiful models, albeit - delicate; a trait starting to become tradition for Haidar. The paint work is beautifully applied, and the physical details - particularly the bogies and clutter on the roof is very nicely made. Unfortunately, these happen to be the areas that one should be very careful when handling. The pantograph system is particularly fragile and If they are overly used or moved in the wrong direction, they will spring out at such a force that you will most likely lose the small brass tube that runs parallel to the pick up. The ladders on the bogie sideframes are also EXTREMELY prone to falling off. I recommend all owners to gently test each one to see if they come free, and if so glue them in place. The only other criticism I have relate to the wheels where the holes are simply painted on!
These models are very heavy and on level track should easily haul a 10 car passenger train. Electrical pickup is perfect, motors are very quiet and the throttle is very responsive - however due to the drive system, the wheels seem to 'fall' into the teeth of the gears, creating a very slight hiccup at very low speeds.
They have very bright LED's for headlights and marker lights (directional), so strong they actually shine through the headlight housings. A simple and effective remedy is to remove the body and apply some heat shrink cable over them. The color itself, while not common, is not un-prototypical on some engines, which give of a very bright green/blue light.
On the PC board is an 8 pin plug for a standard HO scale sized decoder.
The stock couplers are dummy knuckle couplers, that no words (profanity is an exception) can begin to show my dismay. For operations, these will need converting to a working coupler. I use Kadee's for mine, and long shanks (#56/156) should be used to provide adequate clearance. These aren't a simple drop in conversion, and some filing of the shank may be needed to give the coupler a more smooth action. (Good luck!)
These highly collectable locomotives are one of the nicest looking locomotives for their era and despite the minor problems, one can't help but appreciate the SS1's for their aesthetic and performance qualities. Considering this is the first release from a brand new company, they've done a fantastic job and (in my eyes) picked one of the nicest prototypes to model.
October 2011 saw the release of a non-powered version of these locomotives. They have been seen recently on eBay, however the sellers only mention the 'non-powered' bit of information in very small print! Prices seem to indicate they cost about the same as a powered one did/should - ($120US - 160 at the time of writing) - a pretty expensive dummy engine!