Every now and then, a product comes along that you just have to have on your railroad. When I first saw this vehicle from Busch, that was precisely my reaction. What better detail for the portion of my layout that is modeled as a night scene?
Busch offers more than a dozen vehicles like this, with both American and European prototypes. Retail prices range from $21.99 to $25.99 in U.S. dollars.
For this review, I purchased the 1997 Cheverolet Blazer (Item #5658). Even with the lights off, this is a nice looking model.
All of the body details are nicely contoured. Windows have a tinted "glass" look which helps hide the bulbs inside. There is even a spare tire beneath the trunk.
Paint on the model is very crisp and appropriate for the vehicle. Many of the details are carefully hand-painted to enhance appearance. Busch has apparently made multiple colors for the vehicles, but there is no way to differenciate when ordering.
Wheels feature rubber tires and are free-rolling, although with the wire leads you won't be moving it anywhere.
Overall, this is a great little model worthy of sitting in the foreground of any scene.
The lighting details on this model are what take things to the next level. The SUV features working headlights and tail lights. The miniature bulbs are connected to a pair of wire leads which exit the floor of the car just ahead of the rear axle. Once mounted on the layout, these wires are invisible.
The lights are designed to operate on any AC or DC current, up to 16 Volts. Busch says to hook the car up to a 14-16 Volt source, but it will work on much less. I found the lights came on at about 2 Volts however and stayed at a constant current up to 14 Volts. I operate the rest of my lighted accessories at 12 Volts to conserve bulb life - so this works well.
The constant lighting feature is a great bonus. And the light level looks just right too me. The lights are bright enough to be noticed with room lighting on, without being overpowering. With lights dimmed or off, the headlights are just bright enough to cast a realisting pattern on the road ahead.
Hooking Up the Wiring
Installing the model on the layout couldn't be easier. Whether you use commercial road products or make your own, simply pick a location and drill a small hole through the road and the platform.
You only need a small hole for the two wires. Keep it small and you'll be able to patch it easily if you ever move the car.
A small drop of white glue on each tire will also keep the car in place, but the bond is easy to break if you change your mind.
Attach the other end of the wires to a bus wire to all of your lighted accessories and connect this bus to your power supply. As stated, this car will work on many voltage levels.
While $25 might seem like a lot to spend for a small detail like this, the quality of the model speaks for itself. Actually, compared to the cost for similar vehicles in HO scale without the lighting effects, you could argue that these are quite a bargain!
The model exceeded my expectations once I had it installed on the layout. It definitely adds a lively detail to the scene. I may even have to look for a few more locations to add more!