Author Topic: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review  (Read 8596 times)

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peteski

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TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« on: April 09, 2016, 12:16:22 AM »
+4
It is now time for another (highly-biased and opinionated) tech. review from Peteski. :)

When I first heard about it, the new TOMYTEC motorized N scale bus looked very impressive, so I ended up picking one up. Unlike their original motorized bus, which uses replaceable (non-rechargeable) button-cell batteries, this new version has a rechargeable battery. Not only it is rechargeable but finally, instead of using the old-school NiCad or NiMh cells, they decided to use a Lithium-Ion battery.

While I have not followed the latest developments of the Faller N scale bus system (the originator of motorized N scale vehicles), the last time I encountered one of those, they still use NiMh batteries. Thankfully TOMYTEC has now entered the 21st Century: Lithium-Ion batteries have much greater capacity (per volume and per weight) than the old NiMh batteries, and they are widely used in majority of portable computing devices, and even in most toys which use rechargeable batteries.

This current offering is fully compatible with the TOMYTEC roadway system, which was first made available couple of years back (along with their non-rechargeable motorized bus).  It should also be compatible with the Faller bus system roads (I have not yet had a chance to test the compatibility, but I will, as soon as I can try this model on a friend's NTRAK module which utilizes the Faller system). TOMYTEC's new bus also has a new feature which is not part of the Faller system. More on that later.

The initial offering in TOMYTEC's "The World Bus Collection" is U.S. prototype bus: the GMC TDH4512 bus. I'm not an expert on buses - I'll let the experts chime in about the overall accuracy of this model.

The bus itself is sold as a fully-detailed static model.  The motorizing chassis is sold separately.  First, I'll review the static model.  It has a full interior, and free-rolling wheels.  MSRP of the static bus model is $25 (I bought it for a bit over $21). For comparison purposes I'll show it next to a similar (shorter) version of this bus produced several years ago under the Mini Metals brand by CMW, as most modelers are familiar with that model. That model was only sold in 2-packs, and originally had a MSRP of $26, and a street price of around $20 ($10/bus).

The interesting thing is that unlike most Japanese-made N TOMYTEC scale models (which are made in a scale of 1:150), this one specifically states that it is made in 1:160 scale.  So it is targeting a non-Japanese N scale market. Walthers is currently the official US distributor for TOMYTEC, and they are already sold out of this model. Hopefully they will rerun these models and produce a wider variety of shells. Out of curiosity I checked my favorite Japanese eBay retailer (plaza japan) but they did not have any of these models for sale. Hopefully this doesn't mean that Walthers is the sole distributor.



The underside of the models: TOMYTEC model is on the bottom. The level of details there is similar on both models.  The CMW model has a metal chassis (not that this makes a difference in appearance). TOMYTEC model has a slightly more detailed suspension (not sure how accurate it is).  This is not something that is ever visible from a normal viewing angle.



This photo compares the wheel sizes. The CMW bus seems to have very undersized wheels and funny-shaped wheel arches on the body.  The wheel and thread detail is also rather sparse compared to TOMYTEC. And the CMW bus rides unnaturally (almost comically) high.  Measuring the rims (and subtracting about 1.5 scale inches from their diameter) the CMW bus has roughly 20" rims while the TOMYTEC bus has 25" rims.



The roofs.  While CMW has some panel lines engraved, (TOMYTEC bus has a smooth roof) those lines look quite exaggerated to me.

Next couple of photos show both buses in a 3/4 view.





The photo of the noses clearly shows how the thickness of the CMW model's body affects its fidelity. The unrealistic depth of the body is clearly visible in the narrow door windows, and also in the side and front destination boards.  The blanked-out corner in the right windshield pane looks much more realistic on the TOMYTEC model. The CMW one has the slanted blanked-out area simply painted over the windshield "glass".  The center windshield divider is also much better executed on the TOMYTEC model.

The CMW model features separately-molded and chromed bumpers, but I'm not really sure if in this instance that is a positive feature.  To me the TOMYTEC bumper looks more realistic.

Next few photos show both models from all 4 sides.









TOMYTEC seems to to be the winner when it comes to the overall level of detail and the fineness of details. The window "glass" is flush with the outside of the body, and the individual windows have silver or black frames. The thicker body shell of the CMW model makes it appear toy-ish. To be fair, CMW includes stainless steel photoetched windshield wipers and side mirrors with their models (which are not applied to this model). While I think that side mirrors would add some realism, the large holes in the front of the CMW bus will look odd (even when the tiny wipers are glued in.  In this case I think that the molded and hot-stamped with silver foil wipers in the TOMYTEC bus are the best way to go.

Comparing both models, I'm struck by the very different level of accuracy and overall quality of their build.  Both models were built in China. But I suspect that TOMYTEC model was designed in Japan, while CMW model was probably designed in China (or maybe in USA). Whatever it is, there is a big difference.

Now, let's move onto the mechanism.

The MSRP is $60 (I paid $51).  The package includes the complete mechanism, a pair of spare rubber tires and a short USB cable (for recharging).  It also includes a multi-lingual operating manual. The English version is fairly clear (but still suffers from a bit of Engrish).



This is the bottom of the chassis.  It has an adjustable wheelbase. It came factory-adjusted for the GMC TDH4512 bus.  Also visible is the micro-USB connector used for charging and a single small gray button used for power/functions.





Left and right view of the chassis.



The front of the chassis has a working white LED. But instead of facing towards the front, it faces down! This needs to be fixed.  I'll be replacing that LED with a front-facing warm-white LED (the stock LED is a bit too bluish for my taste).



The rear of the bus also has a working red LED. It is a bit dim (especially when illuminating the very tiny taillights of this bus). But at least it properly faces the rear of the bus. I'll see if I can replace it with a brighter LED.



This is the top of the chassis with the PC board exposed by removing the sticky protective plastic shield.  I also pulled out the battery show show it in more detail. The battery is wired to the PC board using a connector, and it can easily be replaced without taking the PC board out.  Very smart design!  This photo also shows the rather complex electronic circuitry. It is a microcontroller-based circuit which provides several cool features.    Think of this bus as having an intelligence of a DCC decoder.

BTW, when I reinstalled that plastic shield, it caused a rather tight fit of the shell. I removed the shield again and recommend leaving it off. After all, the bus shell is plastic so there is no possibility of shorting anything. I will probably replace it at some point with some black paper, to prevent the mechanism from being visible through the windows.



Bottom of the PC board.  This view shows the LEDs at the ends, the function button, and the battery connector.  The vertical PC board houses the USB connector. The small board soldered to the vertical one has a Hall-effect sensor on it (the tiny black chip).  It senses the magnetic field (magnet hidden under the roadway) and its polarity for activating couple of functions.  The gold-colored spring and hairpin-shape are the motor contacts. Again, clever engineering with no wires going to the motor.



Removing the PC board exposes the motor. Notice that the metal body and a metal end-cap are used for electric contacts. The motor is simply snapped into the chassis. Easy to replace if needed. More clever engineering. Also visible is the power button extension and a tiny metal weight (to increase the traction).



Since the motor pops out so easily I couldn't help myself.  While I have not taken it apart, it sure looks like one of those tiny coreless motors used in many of the toy quad-copters or even in small N scale locos.  When reinstalling the motor make sure that one of the 4 notches in the back of the motor fits over a key in the bottom of the motor cradle. If not seated properly the drive mechanism will be locked up.



The chassis with the drive-train removed. The entire drive-train is a self-contained module which comes out of the chassis very easily. Another example of clever engineering with some forethought given to the maintenance during operation. Another metal weight is installed inside that area. The 2 small L-shaped black pieces attach to the sides of the chassis and are latches for the model's shell.



The halves of the drive-train module are simply snapped together and can be readily separated for full access to the gears. All the gears can then freely be removed for maintenance. This is really nice because after some running time gunk can really build up in this area.

Installing the shell over the motorized chassis.



The shell can be easily separated from the floor by spreading the shell sides. There are 4 small latches on the sides.  If the interior molding remains inside, the latches will be catching it while being removed, so the sides need to be spread out again.  The "glass" is not glued in, so if someone wants to repaint the bus, that should be easy to do.



The static model of the bus includes couple of plugs with light conduits inside to adapt it to the motorized chassis and to send the light to the head- and tail- lights.  Those plugs simply press into the chassis. I had a really hard time trying to snap those plugs into the chassis. I noticed some flash at the mold-separation line on the pegs which fit into the chassis. Once I cleaned that flash off, I was able to fully press the plugs into the chassis.



At this point the shell can be smoothly placed over the chassis, and the bus is ready to run!



Just to show how easy the maintenance of the drive train will be, removing one screw and popping the gear-train is all that is needed, No need to even remove the shell!

Now I'll describe all the cool operational features of this model:  Pressing the function button activates the mechanism. After about a second the bus starts running and the lights come on. Just like the Faller vehicles, a hidden magnet or electromagnet can be utilized to stop this model. Once the magnetic field is removed, it will start running again. But it doesn't just jump to full speed - just like a real vehicle, is accelerates gradually. Another neat feature is that it has working brake lights. That's right, when it comes to a stop, the rear lights come on brighter (just as they do on real cars when brakes are pressed).  When the bus is stopped the headlight also dims. When it restarts, the brake lights turn off and the headlight goes back to full brightness.

The other feature is that this model has 2-speeds. By default it runs in slow speed. But when it passes a magnet (in the polarity opposite to the stopping magnet), it gradually speeds up to the faster speed. It will run at that speed until it either gets to a stop magnet or until it passes another speed control magnet. If it is running fast and it passes a speed control magnet, the brake lights will come on for a second and it will gradually slow down back to slow speed.  This can be repeated over and over, so you can have slow and fast sections of the road.  I just thought that this was a really cool feature (especially with the functioning brake lights).

There is another operating model TOMYTEC calls "battery saver", but is is just daytime mode (no headlight or taillight). However the brake lights still work when the bus either slows down, or comes to a stop.  This mode is activated by first turning the bus on normally, then pressing and holding the button again until the lights turn off.

That pretty much covers all the features of this model. According to the instruction, it will run about 80 minutes on a charge. Misread the manual! Running time not given.  It takes 80 minutes to fully charge the battery. Since it is USB-based, it can be charged from any USB charger or a host USB port.  But the port is only used for charging - can't access the on-board computer. :)

There are 2 additional LED indicators on the left side of the PC board. The red charge LED shows when the battery is charging and turns off when the charge is complete. When the buss is running, that LED will start flashing when the battery is running low.

The other (amber) LED indicates when the bus runs by the speed control magnet. I guess it is useful for aiming the magnet during installation, and maybe for troubleshooting later problems.



There was one thing that bugged me - the yellow colored wheel well openings. I quick swipe of a black Sharpie marker took care of that. Now the only thing left to do is to change the LEDs. I might also open up the front and rear extension plugs and paint them white on the inside (to maximize light reflection).

If it hasn't been clearly apparent, the design and execution of this model has really impressed me - and I'm not easily impressed.  Nice job TOMYTEC!  I hope that you make a wide range of motorized buses and even trucks based on this chassis.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 11:54:54 PM by peteski »
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nickelplate759

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2016, 12:34:11 AM »
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Nice detailed review.  I think I want one, but I don't know why.

When will you have it upgraded with working running lights and bell pull?

George
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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2016, 12:42:58 AM »
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Outstanding review @peteski and what a great design!

peteski

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2016, 12:43:12 AM »
+1
Nice detailed review.  I think I want one, but I don't know why.

When will you have it upgraded with working running lights and bell pull?

George

Sure, eventually. And a fully animated  driver.  :trollface:  ;)
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peteski

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2016, 12:50:40 AM »
+1
Outstanding review @peteski and what a great design!

Thanks John - this is fun for me.  I agree that it is an excellent design. I really like how the engineers considered how to make the maintenance as easy as possible.  That is something that 1:1 car designers should consider too (have you worked on any contemporary 1:1 car lately)?  :D
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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2016, 01:24:50 AM »
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Nice.
Now if only made modern US buses... Would be nice to a city bus or even a school bus running around the layout...
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2016, 01:36:46 AM »
+1
Nice.
Now if only made modern US buses... Would be nice to a city bus or even a school bus running around the layout...

Shapeways!  :D  Maybe Jimmo, Wutter or Lemosteam (or few other CAD designers here) could draw one up?
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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2016, 04:25:02 AM »
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Yea but I'm still not impressed with shapeways, and that could potentially jack up the price of what I'd be willing to pay, ya know? I am on a budget, and I swear some of the simple things I've seen on Shapeways are expensive!!
(not trying trying to be a downer, I am just poor. Lol)
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2016, 04:29:03 AM »
+1
That thing needs a radio and joy stick so you can haul passengers on any layout.  :lol:

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2016, 05:02:25 AM »
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I guess what I really would like is something like this with N or Nn3 scale wheelsets so that it could run around a small mini layout at a crawl.

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2016, 05:44:13 AM »
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That thing needs a radio and joy stick so you can haul passengers on any layout.  :lol:

Oh man RC Cars in 1/160th?!? That'd be epic!! I'll be needing a rock crawler and a race truck... (off road type, like the Rustler lol)
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2016, 07:44:07 AM »
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I am going to need a Shapeways designer to come up with an N scale Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench (D handle model from the 1950s, please) so I can change tires if it gets a flat.

The fact that I can see every lug nut on that wheel probably answers the following question, but does a WoT bus even compare, in terms of detail?  I have several, but they are still buried in boxes from the move.

Tom D

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2016, 08:51:38 AM »
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The WOT Mack bus is a strong model, as is the Athearn Flxible. But the TomyTec model is superior to all.

One note regarding availability — Walthers appears to be the exclusive source, in North America at least. The sticker on the back of the package states such. But the models also are available at MBK, so Walthers must be distributing them. Current availability status: @Walthers, the power chassis temporarily is out of stock, but the three static models show as available, as is the full bus set; @MBK, the first wave of chassis and buses sold out, but they got a restock on the green/white bus a day or two ago (probably because that was the first scheme to sell out). I suspect that the other two schemes will be back in stock at MBK this coming week.
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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2016, 11:06:54 AM »
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Great review Peteski, as usual! Thank you! The mechanism is a clever little design wonder... but I am wondering about durability of the nylon (?) worm/gear combo material...?

I have no need for the powered version, but will definitely buy a couple static models for "scenery". I do own a bunch of the CMW models, they are still in their bubblepacks. Now that I see how high they ride, I'll need to see if they can be lowered; it shouldn't be too hard for a nonfunctioning model...
Otto K.

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Re: TOMYTEC The World Bus Collection - technical review
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2016, 11:37:09 AM »
+1


I am going to need a Shapeways designer to come up with an N scale Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench (D handle model from the 1950s, please) so I can change tires if it gets a flat.

The fact that I can see every lug nut on that wheel probably answers the following question, but does a WoT bus even compare, in terms of detail?  I have several, but they are still buried in boxes from the move.

Tom D

You are asking to compare the level of detail?  Didn't the dozen or so photos with both models side by side clearly answer the question of which model is better made and has better proportions and details?  I thought the photos made this clear. :|  If not, the text of the review clearly stated my opinion on which model is better.  If you missed it, maybe you could reread the initial post.  :)  Not trying to be cheeky, but the question you asked is answered in the initial post.

Otto:  It is not just the ride height (funny to see that term applied to a model of a bus).  Even if you lower it, the wheels seem awfully small and the wheel arches look odd.  Even when CMW bus was the only model in town, I never liked its appearance.   Now I know why.

I looked at the CMW bus to lower it. First, you need to pull out the bumpers - they retain the floor.  Some prying with a single-edge razor blade between bumper and body might be needed.  Then the floor/interior piece pulls out.  The interior is glued to the floor. The axles are trapped between them.  I was thinking that I could try prying the interior piece off then file a notch for the axle to sit higher in it (to lower the ride height).

Bryan,
Like I mentioned in the review, I checked few online retailers in Japan (like plaza japan and HobbySearch) and I couldn't find these models. Like I mentioned in my review, I hope that Walthers is not the exclusive distributor, period.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 11:39:29 AM by peteski »
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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