Review: LEGO Trains - concepts and techniques for realistic models

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LEGO Trains - concepts and techniques for realistic models

LEGO Trains - concepts and techniques for realistic models

©2016 LEGO Group

LEGO Eisenbahn – Konzepte und Techniken für realistische Modelle is a new book by Holger Matthes, published by dpunkt.verlag.

Holger is one of the most respected builders of LEGO trains in the world. He was involved in the design of the Hobby Trains set 10183, and he and I participated in Power Functions train workshops in Billund in the late 2000s that resulted in the release of the Emerald Night, so you can be sure that this is a quality book.

I had the pleasure of meeting Holger again at the Fan Weekend in Portugal last weekend and attending his presentation on LEGO trains as well as viewing some of the models featured in the book.

This won't be much of a book review because it's in German but even if, like me, you can't read the language, you may still find it of interest due to the excellent building instructions and images.

It's a 280 page paperback book that assumes no prior knowledge of LEGO trains or building techniques. After an introductory chapter, Holger explains the different train systems that LEGO has made over the years, from the 'blue rail' era of the 1960s and 1970s to the Power Functions system of today.

This is followed by a chapter on LEGO basics: types of bricks and their geometry, building techniques including SNOT, offsetting and micro-striping. You will probably know most of this already but it doesn't hurt to have a refresher, and it's beautifully illustrated.

LEGO Trains - concepts and techniques for realistic models

The main body of the book covers how to design and build realistic looking trains, while ensuring they run on tight LEGO curves. I am sure this is extremely informative and interesting, given Holger's expertise and experience but unfortunately I can only judge by looking at the pictures.

LEGO Trains - concepts and techniques for realistic models

Finally, the last third of the book provides instructions for a number of models which can of course be understood regardless of your ability to read German.

The models are all based, unsurprisingly, on German prototypes and include a 6-wide ICE high speed train, a 7-wide open freight wagon, a 7-wide BE6/8 crocodile locomotive and finally a very nice 7 wide dark green passenger coach complete with internal fixtures and fittings.

LEGO Trains - concepts and techniques for realistic models

As you can see, the instructions are very well presented and would be very easy to follow.

I can only judge this book on its pictures and on what I know about the author but even so I can tell that this is a quality book written by an expert. If you can read German and have an interest in LEGO trains then it's an essential purchase.

If, like me, your understanding of the language is lacking, you may still find it a worthwhile purchase for the instructions alone, which teach a great deal about building realistic trains. However, Holger told me that negotiations are underway with a US publisher to republish it in English some time in the future so it may be better to wait until then before purchasing.

It can be ordered from Amazon.de or the publisher's website and more information about the book and Holger's trains is available at his website.

 

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16 comments on this article

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By in Switzerland,

I've had this book for a couple of weeks - it makes for a superb read for anyone interested in LEGO trains. There is tons of information, useful tips and tricks in here. I've been a fan of Holger's website for a long time and the book really takes it to the next level. Highly recommendable!

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By in Germany,

Huw, thank you for your "review"! My website offers the table of contents of the book in English so you might get a better idea what it is about. Also I offer two building inductions for steam engines as PDF download on my website.

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By in Greece,

"He and I participated in Power Functions train workshops in Billund in the late 2000s that resulted in the release of the Emerald Night."

I kept looking at the curved Medium Azure parts in the 10252 VW Beetle and thinking about a Garter Blue coloured Mallard train. What are the chances of LEGO producing an Garter Blue Duck train?

Medium Azure is not a perfect match for Garter Blue, but there is a really good range of curved parts in this colour.

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By in Australia,

As much as I want this book, yeah, I can't speak German, so I figure it'd be wasted on me. Gosh, I hope it gets a release under a US publisher. I'll buy that thing so fast I'll leave after-images.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'll get this if it comes in English.

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By in United States,

I'm looking forward to the translated edition!

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for the review - it looks and sounds fascinating and, like others, I would snap up an English-language version straight away.

@FlagsNZ - here's hoping that the Creator Expert train line returns with an A4 'Mallard' in the near future!

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By in United States,

What Dedgecko said. Too, a set similar to the Emerald Night, or even a reissue, would be fantastic.

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By in United States,

Translated version highly anticipated!

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By in United Kingdom,

I'd be all over this if it were in English - even though I'll never have the space for the layout I would like, I have an enormous soft spot for Lego trains and am constantly impressed at some of the MOCs I see from others (@Huw - have you seen that even Fareham train station has been immortalised in Lego?)

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By in United Kingdom,

There are at least two AFOLs who are Brickset members and German-to-English translators by profession... Shame I don't know anything about train terminology!

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Yes I have, I know Michael Gale, its creator, well :)

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By in United States,

I too would buy an English version. I already downloaded the instructions. Now I only need to find the time and check inventory to start building.

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By in United Kingdom,

It's rather a shame that the front end of the official ICE (60051) was built with one single mega-piece rather than using the technique Holger's used!

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By in Australia,

Ahh train spotters and AFOLs.

A winning combination of pure man-child geekery.

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