Model Railroader’s 2021 Essential Product Guide

Sponsored By: Industry Partners of Model Railroader magazine

There has never been a better time to be a model railroader. Advancements in product technologies have made the hobby more realistic, easier to operate, and frankly more fun than ever before! This article highlights some of the top products on the market for 2021, accumulated from partners of Model Railroader magazine. Please check back often, as we will continue to add new items to this essential product guide!

The power of a steam engine is guaranteed to be what you need to master any rail yard shunting job with ease. An 0-6-0 locomotive with Union Pacific’s® distinctive greyhound color scheme and slope tender sends a puff of smoke skyward as it prepares to position rolling stock for pickups, much like a game of strategy. Plan your moves, assemble a consist, and send freight on its way with the Yard Master!


This ready-to-run train set includes:

  • Baldwin 0-6-0 steam locomotive with operating headlight, smoke, and slope tender
  • Gondola car
  • Off-set cupola caboose
  • Body-mounted E-Z Mate® couplers
  • 36″ circle of snap-fit E-Z Track® including 11 pieces of curved track and 1 curved plug-in terminal rerailer
  • Power pack and speed controller
  • Illustrated instruction manual

2-6-2 locomotives were manufactured in the early 1900s to be used on railroads in the midwestern United States. A total of 1,500 2-6-2s were built with many of them sent for use on short lines. Bachmann’s HO Scale 2-6-2 arrives in a variety of road names with model-specific tenders, along with an operating headlight and smoke unit. Now in five new road names!


Additional features include:

  • prototypical 2-6-2 locomotive design
  • die-cast chassis
  • highly detailed body
  • metal wheels and side rods
  • E-Z Mate® Mark II couplers
  • performs best on 18″ radius curves or greater
  • HO Scale 1:87

Bachmann’s new GP38-2 diesel locomotive in N scale arrives equipped with an Econami Soundtraxx® sound decoder and is factory-set for GP38-2 realism. Its diesel package offers a choice of 5 prime movers, 16 airhorns, multiple variations of 7 bell types, 2 air compressors, 3 couplers, plus a function-activated grade-crossing signal—all in 16-bit polyphonic sound. The Econami sound system includes adjustable auto-notching sensitivity for prototypical operation, adjustable master volume, individual sound effect volume levels, advanced consisting, and more. The GP38-2 arrives this spring in four new road names. Arriving May 2021


Additional features include:

  • DCC sound-equipped with Econami Sound Value package
  • dual-mode NMRA-compliant decoder
  • directional headlights with Rule 17 dimming
  • precision motor
  • flywheel
  • die-cast frame
  • fine-scale handrails
  • separately applied detail parts
  • E-Z Mate® Mark II couplers, front and rear

Building on the decades of success of the Atlas Code 100 track line, the New Atlas Customline® Mark V Turnouts – 390 Series bring modern features to an industry standard. Like their predecessors, the New Atlas Customline® Turnouts are prototypically accurate and feature blackened metal frogs and rivetless switch points that provide superior electrical conductivity. 

The newly tooled, DCC friendly Mark V turnouts feature realistic scale size spike heads, cast metal points and frog, and separately molded guardrails that allow for a much more realistic appearance. The guardrails and scale sized throwbar are molded in a dark color to mimic the appearance of metal. A frog contact lug has been added to make powering the frog easier than ever. These new 390 Series turnouts are 100 percent compatible with the existing 280 Series Mark IV turnouts to allow for easy upgrading and drop-in installation. 

The points on these turnouts can be thrown using any of the following Atlas products: undertable switch machine (item #65 or 66); standard remote switch machine – Code 100 (item #52 or 53); or standard manual switch machine – Code 100 (item #62 or 63). 

You can find our new Atlas Customline®Mark V Turnouts – 390 Series and all of Atlas’ time-tested, well renowned track & accessories in the NEW 148 PAGE 2021 Edition of the Atlas All Scales Track & Accessories Catalog launching this month!  Contact Atlas or your local hobby shop for your copy today! 

Check out the NEW 6 Amp Z21 XL Series

Automate your railroad with the Z21 Control System from Roco!

The Z21 brings all elements of your model railroad system together for seamless control. This intuitive control system from Roco allows you to operate your railroad via tablet, smartphone, or a handheld controller.

This steam locomotive was the strongest tender locomotive ever procured by the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft. In total, 45 examples of this gigantic machine were built. Its nickname “Bergkönigin” (mountain queen) was the result of its predominant use on lines such as the Sonneberg-Probstzella, the Spessart Ramp, the Franconian Forest Railway, the Geislinger Steige, the Schiefe Ebene and the Rübeland Railway.

After the Second World War, 31 locomotives were acquired by the Deutsche Reichsbahn. The Eisfeld-Sonneberg railway line was their last area of operation. The last of these engines remained in service until 1981.

This eye-catching blue and yellow train initially was used as a Swiss-Dutch type RAm / DE IV multiple unit in the TEE traffic. Four trainsets were exported to Canada in 1977, where they operated on the Ontario Northland Ry. between Toronto and Timmins, Ontario. But the extreme cold adversely affected the diesel engines of the power cars and after two years the motorized cars were replaced.

Thanks to Swiss and Dutch TEE fans, two control cab coaches and three intermediate cars of the “Northlanders” escaped scrapping and now are back in Europe. Currently the cars are in the Netherlands awaiting restoration.