Real railroading marches onward to find more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly locomotion to cut pollution and add Benjamins to the bottom line. As these new locomotives have a toehold in the marketplace, O gauge manufacturers like MTH Electric Trains have responded quickly to the changing face of the industry.
The General Electric (GE) Hybrid Evolution series of locomotives is setting a standard for reliable, high-horsepower and low-emission operation. The locomotive’s main claim to fame is its ability to capture the energy dissipated during braking and store the power in batteries.
The energy is then reused, reducing fuel consumption by as much as 15 percent and emissions by as much as 50 percent compared to most freight locomotives in use today.
That isn’t a shabby accomplishment.
MTH’s model also offers a GE Engineering Developmental Laboratory car that was a steady companion of the demonstrator while making its rounds.
Opening the box
I’ve written that often a model’s core paint scheme color will obscure detail that may make the locomotive appear less appealing. No such problem with this unit. The green-and-blue tapestry lets you note every detail point with ease.
The nose is an example of this eye-catching detail, starting with black-on-white lettering above the six multiple-unit connections mounted on the face of the pilot. The uncoupler arm is black with white accents, and on the face of the nose you’ll find warning placards and a safety note on the door. The lime green paint makes the latches on either side of the ditch lights stand out.
The handrails and grab irons leading up the front of the nose are white, again permitting easy spotting on the lime green. Grab irons on the angle of the nose, above the windows and on top of the cab, are painted green.
The painting on the body also accentuates the latch, seam, and hinge details cast into the shell. There is great air filter detail on the body and louver detail on the side of the locomotive cab.
The roof of the cab is dominated by the thick, wide overhanging radiator wings. Each side is thick enough for General Electric to slap an “Evolution Hybrid” slogan on it, which would easily be readable by a driver sitting at a grade crossing of either 1:1 scale or 1:48 scale.
The roof has see-through screens both on top of the wings and just ahead of them. There is an exhaust stack, too. You’ll find add-on details like horns and what I presume are a GPS/communications receiver and an air-conditioning unit on top of the cab.
The locomotive has lights along the frame that on the real locomotive illuminate when the batteries are being charged. The few videos I’ve found online of the Hybrid don’t show this (it probably looks better at night), but on your layout this is an eye-catching feature.
Execution of the paint scheme on the locomotive is outstanding. Dark greens are also used for the leaf on the sides and the GE logo on the cab sides and nose.
The blue provides an interesting contrast to the green. There are many informational placards on the body as well as the eagle/lightning bolt shield of the U.S. Department of Energy.
The laboratory car is a streamlined baggage/RPO car (the mail pickup arm is on the narrow side door). The graphics complement the locomotive and are flawlessly executed. The car has a plastic shell and die-cast metal trucks and couplers. It isn’t a perfect match for the prototype car, but to me, it is a satisfactory substitute. Oh, MTH offers this car in two road numbers just in case you bought the Lionel GE Hybrid and need a mobile lab for it!
On the test track
This General Electric was a fun locomotive to operate. Mechanically. it was responsive and powerful. The unusual color and flashing lights are real dazzlers that will make the locomotive the lead actor in any 1:48 scale layout drama.
As has been mentioned in previous reviews of ProtoSound 3.0 locomotives, there is a slight hesitation when initially powering up the model as it charges its onboard capacitor. I will say that the startup delay for the Hybrid locomotive in conventional mode was long enough to have me wondering whether something was amiss (it wasn’t). Our sample logged delays ranging from 4 seconds in command mode, to 11 seconds in conventional mode. Go figure.
The sounds are outstanding, and the horn is a real attention-getter– just like what you would experience while stopped at a grade crossing.
Our command-mode low-speed average was 3.7 scale miles per hour, while the conventional mode low-speed average was 4.6 scale miles per hour. The high-speed average was 66.9 scale miles per hour.
Drawbar pull was 2 pounds.
In the hard-to-articulate department, having the matching laboratory car in tow was, in my mind, almost akin to running with a dummy B unit. It was visually like having more locomotive, even though the car didn’t really contribute anything beyond looking good.
The MTH GE Hybrid is a fine model that salutes a singularly innovative modern diesel locomotive. If “latest and greatest” are part of your O gauge railroad strategy, give this model a close look!
Price: $529.95 (no. 20-2986-1)
Features: O-42 operation, two can-style motors, ProtoSound 3.0 sound and command system, coil couplers on locomotive