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In-Box Review
BR86 detail set
Dave Shick review Alliance Modelworks detail set for Trumpeter's BR86 locomotive
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by: Dave Shick [ ILLINI ]

Originally published on:


Recently, I reviewed the Trumpeter BR86 here. In that review, I noted a lack of detail in some areas, and that other details were just plain missing. I also noted that three companies are producing aftermarket upgrade sets for this model, and that I would do reviews of them. This is the first of those reviews.

I will go over the contents of the set, and comment on various aspects of the components, such as: ease of use, appropriateness, comparison to the kit part it represents, etc. I will NOT usually make any judgment about accuracy of dimensions, rivet counts, that sort of thing. I only have access to “walk around”-type photo essays, which were mentioned in the original review, and are repeated below. I certainly don’t have access to an actual locomotive, but there a few in museums that I hope I might visit someday (you know “bucket list” stuff).

My goal here is to provide enough information, primarily visually, that you can decide for yourself if this upgrade set is appropriate for your needs, and skill level.

The set

The set comes packaged in a nice, sturdy cardboard box, with plenty of protection for the parts. It consists of:

• Resin parts
o Headlamps and separate bulbs (six)
o Sand valves (2 sets of eight)
o Oil distribution pump (the square bit – mostly pour block below)
o Pressure relief valves (base and valve – crown looking thing)
o Whistle (I think) (cylinder and piping base)

• Photo etch
All Frets are sandwiched in clear plastic that has a light adhesive that holds tiny bits after they are cut free

o Fret A – platforms, steps, fenders, misc. straps and such
o Fret B – steps, boxes for the tender, water tank access
o Fret C – tender platform and supports, cab bits
o Fret D – two sizes of bolt heads (right of Abe)
o Fret E – structure bracing, wheel “covers”, number plates, boiler straps
o Fret F – forward platforms, support structures, firebox parts, rivits
o Fret G – paint masks, wheel spoke fillers, emblems (left of Abe)
o Fret H – cab roof vent, water tank access covers
o Fret X – dials for cab, various pipe connections and covers (above Abe)

• Clear plastic dial faces

• Instructions – twelve dual color pages. The full instructions can be seen here, along with photos of a completed model.

The review

Between the resin and photo etch, this set provides details for just about everything that might need enhancement. The one exception is the pre-heater and water pump at the front of the engine, which I mentioned in the original review. The only questions would be: do you personally “feel the need,” and do you have the skill set to pull it off (I know I don’t).

To help with these decisions, here’s my take on various “subsystems” of the set:

• Resin - I think all of the resin parts are essential, and are easy-to-use (even I can do it). This is especially true of the pressure relief valves; the kit parts are pathetic.
• Platforms and steps - All of these have a much better look than the kit parts. For example, the anti-skid pattern is much finer and more realistic-appearing. Most of the kit parts just sort of “float” with no support; all the PE ones have proper support. The only issue I saw is that the front platform is significantly larger than the kit part, and I can’t find any photo evidence to support (pun?) this size (but it does look good).
• Structural supports - The set provides replacements for one of the three cross supports for the boiler, and other parts. There’s also one that just supports platforms at the front of the boiler. In my opinion, only this front one is worth using. The other structural one just doesn’t match the “beef” (right or wrong) of the two that remain. I think it would look out of place.
• Fenders – The fenders just get lost under other stuff; the kit parts are a bit heavy, but fine.
• Placards, emblems, etc. – These will really dress up the model.
• Boiler straps – For all the trouble it would be to remove the molded-on kit parts, I don’t see this as worth it.
• Cab interior – A large number of parts are provided to detail the cab interior, and fire box. The only issue I have is with the hand wheels for the various controls: these are, of course, flat being in PE, and would have been better in resin with some dimension to them. You can try building up the dimension with CA glue, but that’s tricky if you aren’t careful.
• Cab exterior and tender – Again, lots of stuff is provided to detail the cab exterior. This will be an area of personal taste and skill. For example, the ladders will be a bitch to build, and the kit parts aren’t that bad.
• Water tanks – The instructions from AM point out the top of these should be smooth (no anti-skid), which is correct. Other than the access hatch, most of this is simple and will enhance the kit. I’m not sure I see the value in all the work needed for the access hatch.


This set provides just about everything one would need to super-detail the Trumpeter kit. The only missing items are replacements for the water pump and pre-heater at the front of the boiler. It will be up to the individual to decide what they feel works and is within their skill level. The AM site mentioned above should be visited to review the instructions, and include pictures of a completed model. It also provides an excellent reference for use of the parts, and construction sequences.

"Wings and Wheels" has an excellent “walk around” book of this locomotive, which I reviewed here.

I also purchased a DVD from Libor of LZ models awhile ago before he created his company, and just sold his “spares.” I understand it will be available soon from LZ. The photos of the actual locomotive are from this DVD, and are used with Libor’s permission.

The Internet is a bit disappointing for this subject. There are lots of pictures of models, but not so much the actual locomotive.
Highs: A comprehensive detail set that upgrades most of the soft or missing details of the Trumpeter kit. Allows correction of some of the worst aspects of the kit.
Lows: Missing some of the worst issues by Trumpeter. Some features will require advanced experience with PE. A bit pricey.
Verdict: For those wanting a seriously-detailed BR86, a set like this is a must.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: LW35063
  Suggested Retail: $75
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 29, 2011

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About Dave Shick (Illini)

Copyright ©2020 text by Dave Shick [ ILLINI ]. All rights reserved.


Dear Dave, Nice reviews. You say you’ve noticed there are 3 company offer the aftermarket upgrade sets for Trumpeter’s BR86. I should say E.T model from china is the first company to release the sets in Jan,2011, after 4 months, Alliance released their set in May. If you have checked the sets from these 2 companies, you should really find striking resemblances between them.
OCT 29, 2011 - 09:19 AM
I believe Dave is planning on reviewing at least one of the other AM upgrade sets for this locomotive.
OCT 29, 2011 - 10:22 AM
Zhang, sound like a "conspiracy" thing. Do you have ET model frets layout? I like your nickname, btw
OCT 29, 2011 - 10:03 PM
Speaking of conspiracy theories, wasn't there a thread (now deleted) over on Missing Lynx about Echelon and Bison being copied by AM? I remember the Bison and Echelon owners were not amused. ET Models might want to contact Johan Lexell and Lawrence Goh for more info. Cheers, Christophe
OCT 29, 2011 - 10:11 PM
I'd like to politely remind people that any talk of conspiracy theories or anything else does NOT belong within this thread. What was posted on ML does not belong here either i'm afraid. It's also worth reminding you that since Mr. Domanski is no longer a Site-User of Armorama, he is in no position to reply to or refute any allegations of this type. So, please, keep the comments related to the product itself and not those of other manufacturers...
OCT 29, 2011 - 11:39 PM
nice review only "issue" I have with alliance modelworks is that they do not supply wire / rods for hinges and such like some other companies.
OCT 30, 2011 - 02:27 AM
Enough said, Jim, thanks.
OCT 30, 2011 - 05:17 AM

What's Your Opinion?

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