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4mm scale Isle of Wight 1938 Underground Stock Units

EFE 1938 Underground Stock IoW 2 Car unit 005 in NSE livery

Exclusive First Editions are best known for their very large range of 4mm scale diecast metal model buses, coaches, lorries (plus a few cars) which aside from the Collectors' market are also very useful to populate roads on model railway layouts. In 2002 they diversified into unpowered injection moulded plastic models of 1938 London Underground stock. Over the following two years models of 1959 and 1962 series stock were introduced. These models can readily be motorised by an averagely competent modeller with kits or parts available from the likes of Branchlines, Roxey Mouldings and MARC Models (see our Modelling Contacts list).

Although publicised when the 1938 stock range was first introduced, Isle of Wight 2 car versions have been a long time coming. However they started being released in 2009. First to become available, in the summer, was a rendition of unit 007 in the current retro-LT red livery. Then in November, unit 005 in late Network SouthEast livery - the colours in which these units were first introduced to the island - appeared. The final version is in the "popular" (maybe with families with young children but not necessarily with railway enthusiasts) Dinosaur promotional vinyls which filled the period between the previous two liveries.

The mouldings are to a very high standard, as is the painting and graphics. However, in the opinion of the reviewer these models are somewhat let down by their over prominent moulded-on grab rails on the car ends. It would have been far better to have used separately applied metal grab rails (as with some of EFE's better detailed open entrance buses) or to have left them off altogether. Being plastic they could be sliced off and replaced with something finer, however extreme care would have to be taken to avoid having to do a large cosmetic repair and patch-paint job.

On the cab fronts the top two LT marker lights are merely painted over whereas they should have been filled in. A little bit of filler, careful rubbing down and an equally careful patch-paint job could rectify this.

Note the interiors of the cars are very well reproduced.

There is an issue with 4mm scale bogies concerning whether they are modelled to a true 4mm scale width or narrowed for OO/HO gauge track. With Southern Electric models the width of the bogies will govern the position of the pickups - do the pickups align with a conductor rail affixed to the end of true to scale sleepers or with a conductor rail fitted to the end of OO/HO gauge track? In the case of this model the pickups appear to be aligned for true 4mm scale track, certainly the shoebeams are aligned well outside a conductor rail mounted on the end of sleepers on OO/HO gauge track. The pickup shoes themselves are also mounted far too low even for code 100 running track let alone track finer to scale.

These days packaging of models can be fiddly to open and tricky to extract/replace the models, but at least they protect the models well in transit. In the case of these models the display case boxes are fiddly but are also rather flimsy so may not provide adequate protection for heavier accidents.

These models are made in limited quantities as the market for them is said to be small (though the LT red version became sold-out very quickly) so their price as two coaches is a little high. However, with the cost of motorising them added it is in the ballpark of the cost of a ready to run diesel/electric loco plus a coach (provided to do not cost your own labour).

If you have ever fancied a "modern image" Isle of Wight layout, with some simple renumbering and motorising you can have a fleet of units quickly and at a reasonable cost.

photographs by Colin Duff

EFE 1938 Underground Stock IoW car unit 007 in Dinosaur promotional vinyls livery
EFE 1938 Underground Stock IoW " car unit 007 in retro LT red livery