Bachmann's SS7C is possibly the biggest release of 2013 with not much on the way (that we know of at least) and is the first Chinese model with the Bo-Bo-Bo wheel arrangement. These are particularly difficult locomotives to handle as there is no fuel tank to grip, it is inadvisable to grab the center bogie, and if you pinch the center of the locomotive a fraction to high, you run the risk of popping out some of the window panels! The packaging has had a facelift, but is basically the same system as previous releases. There is now a gold paper sleeve that slides over the box which looks great, if a little unpractical!
The details on this locomotive can be summed up as simply saying - "best locomotive ever!" (at least for plastic models), it really is that good and has been worth the very long wait. It would take pages to describe every little part, but I've added extra photos to drool over. A small parts baggie is included with the antenna and bogie traction bars. One omission that has been apparent from some of the more recent additions is the lack of crew. If there was one criticism that deserves a comment, it is the pantograph system. It doesn't extent to its full position and there is no upward force. Clearly Bachmann forgot to install some viagra into the mix. My sample reaches the catenary of a test layout, but only just.
Paint work is simply stunning. There are six versions on the way, each with it's own unique lettering including two special versions. So far only one (0082 Guangzhou) is available, and exclusively through Lee Kwon Hobbies Co in Hong Kong. Lettering is razor sharp.
On my test track, my sample ran very nicely indeed - super smooth, quiet and responsive. I am worried about the long term performance wise however. They are very heavy, however pick up/drive is only from the two outer bogies (the center bogie simply floats, and has a very large travel!) To top it off, two of the outer wheels also have traction tires - The first Bachmann model to employ them. Pulling power is very good and my sample was able to pull a 6 car passenger train up a 2.7% gradient with relative ease. LED color has changed once more, this time its peach color! This is however a huge improvement over previous models and are quite acceptable.
Electricity is moved around the engine via a PC board and wires. They can be operated from wheels or pantographs/wheels via a selector switch on the PC board. The lighting is directional.
Shell removal is easy - 4 screws on the bottom of the chassis and coupler removal. There is an 8 pin plug for decoder installation and a speaker hole in the floor.
I've not yet converted my couplers, but they will happily accept medium shank (#58/158) Kadee couplers or long shanks (#56/156). Installation is a little tricky, but not overly difficult.
For Chinese modellers, these are one of the best locomotives Bachmann have produced to date that you should have in your fleets! At the time of writing, the retail price is over $150US - so definitely not the bargain of a lifetime, but well worth it.