By Tony Cook
A new name arrives in the North American model railroading market with the debut of HO-scale containers from Aurora Miniatures. The company is an established Chinese firm that has already produced many models in HO. The efforts up to this point have focused on prototypes outside those used in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The story behind Aurora Miniatures move into the North American arena is an interesting one, and I invite readers to listen to the November 30, 2020, episode of “A Modelers Life” (amodelerslife.com) podcast with host Lionel Strang, your MRN editor, and guest Ben Wang. Ben discusses how he became involved with the company and his efforts to have a Canadian-prototype SD60F diesel locomotive made in HO scale (see the preview of this model on page 21 of your January 2022 copy of Model Railroad News).
If you’ve followed the news much in the last year or so, you’ve likely heard about challenges to shipping and a need for more of everything from ports, to truck drivers, to shipping containers. Containers are an integral part of contemporary domestic and international movement of nearly everything. Containers cross the world’s oceans on gigantic ships, travel from coast-to-coast in well cars on priority stack trains, and can be seen rolling along highways coming and going with goods.
Aurora Miniatures tosses its hat into the 1:87 container market with what is also its debut in North America. The reproduction is a 45-foot container sold in packs of three models. The container is a contemporary prototype (L561/ISO 6345-1995). My research indicates this container is an unventilated example that stands 9 feet, 6 inches and is 8 feet wide (and runs 45 feet in length as noted in its labeling by the hobby company). This is a general purpose shipping container and lacks any refrigeration equipment and is thus labeled a “dry” example. This style container is used for carrying products across the oceans, and features a maximum payload ability of approximately 60,500 pounds for its bit more than 3,000-cubic-foot capacity.
Aurora Miniatures promotes its HO-scale container replica as the “world’s first” with operating doors. This may be the first 45-foot hi-cube dry container for HO scale with this door opening feature, but it’s not the first time this popular scale has seen a container with working doors. Off the top of my head, Hornby’s 20-foot containers (sold in the U.S. by American Train & Track) had crude doors that opened; though you could agree these are technically OO scale (1:76) and sold as HO… I’ll keep thinking and looking and will call my assertion a draw.
How Cool Are They?
I discovered Aurora Miniatures did a direct shipment to the Chicago-area’s Lombard Hobbies (lombardhobby.com) of its first production of HO containers. Model Railroad News will be receiving samples for review as more are available, but I couldn’t resist adding a 3-pack set to a Lombard Hobbies order and getting one to preview in this issue and on the magazine’s website and Facebook.
I found plastic container model weighed .9 ounces and measurements closely match the prototype. The body appears to be the roof, side walls, and back end as one piece, with the floor a separate cemented section. The two doors are snapped into the shell; separate rods enhance the doors and handles are provided to user installation. In addition to Maersk Sealand in two logo versions), look for a dozen additional decorations. Watch for more from Aurora Miniatures in MRN.
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