British Manufacturers - Langley Miniature Models


Langley

Langley Miniature Models make locomotive bodies, a lot of detailing items, and low-relief building kits, mainly in cast white metal.

Address

Langley Miniature Models
166 Three Bridges Road,
Crawley, Sussex. RH10 1LE
England

Phone from within the UK: 01293 516329
Phone from outside UK: +44 1293 516329

Web: http://www.langley-models.co.uk/

Catalogue
Langley sell a hand-typed (remember typewriters?) catalogue, photocopied on A4 paper. A few pictures as colour photocopies are included. The N scale catalogue includes their "Masterbuild Handbook" which consists of detailed instructions on building their low-relief shops, and costs £3.10.

What I think of their products
I’m afraid I have to say that I’m not overwhelmingly impressed with Langley’s products. I’ve bought a modest number of their castings, but none have been of particularly high-quality. I hate to say that, because it’s good to see a small cottage manufacturer turning out such a wide variety of interesting and useful kits in British N, but that’s really how it is.

Now I realize that this is, in part, owing to the nature of the medium. You simply can’t get the sort of crisp detailing in white metal that you can with injection-moulded plastic, and white metal is a fairly fragile material, so detailing items tend to be a little oversized. Items have to be thickened somewhat, because they’d be too delicate if made of prototypical thinness.

But having said that, I’ve bought a number of white metal kits over the years, and Langley’s stuff really was pretty bad. Mouldings are often offset, which is a problem you can’t always correct by filing. Pieces are distorted, straight lines are anything but straight, there are odd random holes here and there caused by not enough metal being poured into the moulds, textures are rough and primitive rather than being smooth where they should be, etc. etc. I ordered a pair of their N scale canal boats and both were pretty well unusable. One was just terrible - the prow of the boat was bent downwards, but since the bottom had been filed flat you couldn’t just bend it up. I phoned them about the problem, and to their credit they sent me another casting at no cost, but the replacement was barely better - there were huge gaps between the two components that made up the casting, the gunwales were all wonky instead of being straight and parallel, and so on.

In short, their stuff is clumsily-made and frankly amateur. When I received the bulk of my order from them, and opened up the damp-swollen cardboard box that smelt of a musty storage shed and which was laced with dusty cobwebs (honestly! cobwebs!) I felt like I was opening a box of products made in 1952 and left to moulder in someone’s loft. When you put the stuff next to contemporary high-quality injection-moulded plastic kits from Germany and Japan, Langley’s castings are really rather sorry and embarrassing.

Again, I hate to say it, because they make models of British-outline stuff that’s simply not available commercially elsewhere. But nearly all the kits I purchased from them were so poor-looking that I may as well have scratchbuilt the lot. Sorry, Langley... I mean you no ill-will, but I can’t bring myself to sugar-coat a poor (and expensive) product line. And again, I’ve purchased white metal castings from other manufacturers that were quite detailed and accurate - I’m not complaining about limitations of white metal casting technology here.

They do have a very wide range of products. They produce steam locomotives of all of the Big Four operating companies, and a few pre-grouping railways as well. These include fairly well-known locomotives such as the LMS streamlined Coronation, the bizarre-looking Bulleid Southern Railway Austerity locomotive and a GWR 14xx and autocoach. They also produce common detailing items for stations, canal boats, Scammell Scarab vehicles, and a wide assortment of windows and architectural features for their Masterbuild line. (some of which are appalling and some of which are fine - the vacuum-moulded plastic pieces are ridiculously overpriced and are verging on useless, whereas their etched brass pieces are actually very good and nicely detailed.)

Usual disclaimer

Because we live in an absurdly litigious world, please note the following. First, I have no personal financial interest in any companies mentioned here, one way or the other. Second, all trademarked names are owned by their respective owners and are mentioned here purely for identification purposes. Third, no guarantees, express or implied, are made regarding the accuracy, fitness, whatever the hell about any of the information or opinion presented here. And finally, much of this is opinion of the author; nothing more.

Text copyright © 1997-98 tela design.


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