Can Hornby take on the Model Tree Goliaths Gaugemaster, Noch & Faller? Are their new SkaleScenics trees worth your hard earned pennies? Lets find out…
Until recently, Hornby’s range of scenic products has been very very limited to say the least. Apart from its ever popular range of Skaledale Buildings which seemed to expand exponentially each year, anyone looking to add realistic scenery to their Hornby based layout was struggling to make any headway. It was a bit like Henry Ford and his Model T… You can have any colour you want so long as it’s Black. With Hornby, trees looked like bottle brushes, or foam tennis balls on sticks, and the grass scatter looked like nuclear fall out.
Well all that changed with the introduction of the Skalescenics range. Now the OO / HO modeller, British based or not, has access to a fantastic range of scatters, flocks, grasses, ballasts & gravels, and now finally… some very realistic trees indeed. Gone are the hideous Bottle Brush Pines et al… In are the Scots Pine, convincingly realistic Oaks, beautiful Beech trees, and perfect poplars.
So lets take a quick tour around the new range.
First things first… What’s the cost?
Prices start from around £5 for a twin pack of Economy Deciduous trees (R8931) which look great for bulking out wooded areas. For £16 you can bag your self a bulk pack of 24 Economy Conifers, Spruces or non-descript Decidous trees (R8928, R8929 & R8930), which gives scenic Stalwarts Gaugemaster a run for their money. For the more professionally finished trees the price increases up to a little over £12 for the pack of 2 Ash Trees (R8922). So all in all, the trees are mid-priced when compared to the current offerings from Noch, Gaugemaster & Faller.
What Trees Do Hornby Make Then?
The highlights from the current OO Gauge Tree lineup looks a little something like this…
Above are just 9 of the 45 variants of OO gauge Trees and tree kits from Hornby, which is nothing short of astounding. From in one fell swoop, Hornby have gone from producing THE worst trees in the Model Railway area to some of the best looking on the market.
What about the competition?
The Model Tree and Model Railway Scenery arena here in the UK has long been dominated by Gaugemaster and their excellent range of trees and scenic products. Manufactured on their behalf by German Scenery Gurus, Noch, you could never go wrong with any of their trees. It goes without saying that the even wider range produced by Noch has been very attractive to the UK modeller, along with the vast array of Standard & Professional trees from Nochs arch rival Faller. Price wise, Hornby are looking very competitive and comparing three like for like trees from each manufacturer we can see that competition is going to be quite hot this year!
Comparing these tree offerings from Hornby, Noch & Faller, it’s plain to see that Hornby are sitting smack bang in the middle price wise here. Appearance of all three is indeed very realistic, although the Hornby offering does show slightly less foliage than the Noch and Faller equivalents.
Are the Hornby Trees any good?
The samples we got our grubby mitts on here at Scenery Expert Towers were supplied by a local model shop and they look very good indeed. The trees are scaled such that they are suitable to both OO / HO gauge and N Gauge model railway layouts, plus they will also look the biz on any 1:76 Military Diorama or Wargaming terrain to. As with all things in nature, the size of the tree is relative to its growth, therefore mixing and matching different tree heights and different tree types will add a greater degree of realism to the scene you are creating.
Being professionally made, these trees are definitely not toys. So if you’re looking for a few trees to use with a non-permanent setup, then these aren’t going to be the best choice. A pair of £12 R8922 Ash trees isn’t going to last 5 minutes in the hands of a 3 year old. But if you’re going to be positioning these trees in a permanent home on your layout, then I have to give these trees a whopping 9.5 out of 10 for realism and value. Nice one Hornby, and about bloody time too!