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Home / News & Reviews / Product Reviews / Staff Reviews / 4-8-8-4 ‘Big Boy’ locomotive models in HO and N scales

4-8-8-4 ‘Big Boy’ locomotive models in HO and N scales

By Steve Sweeney, Trains.com Digital Editor | May 9, 2022

Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotives reviewed in recent years by Model Railroader

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Big Boy train model

Big Boy locomotive models: Union Pacific’s 25-strong fleet of 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotives evoke images of fast freight, vast Western scenes, and the pinnacle of steam railroading in North America during and just after World War II.

Model makers over the years have helped model railroaders capture the essence of that special 1940s to ‘50s era with scaled Big Boys aimed at tight radii and smooth operation, not to mention, accurate detailing. Here are the Big Boys that have passed through the hands of Model Railroader editors and contributors since 2001.

Trix HO scale Union Pacific Big Boy no. 4014

Reviewed in the December 2020 issue

Trix HO scale Union Pacific Big Boy no. 4014
The excitement created by Union Pacific when it brought Big Boy no. 4014 back to life can now reach your HO scale layout with this specially detailed locomotive model from Trix, the two-rail, DC subsidiary of Märklin.

Price: $999.99

Manufacturer: Trix Trains, Märklin Inc., 1406 Creek Trail Dr., Suite 100, Jefferson City, MO 65109 marklin.com

Description: 2019 to present as decorated ready-to-run locomotive

Road number: Union Pacific no. 4014

Features:

  • 14-3⁄16″ (360mm) minimum radius
  • Die-cast metal boiler and tender shell
  • Directional headlight
  • Engineer and fireman figures included
  • Lighted cab interior
  • Lighted train indicators
  • Metal knuckle couplers, at correct height
  • Multi-mode digital sound decoder (DC, DCC, and mfx)
  • 4014-specific details
  • Turned metal RP-25 contour wheels, in gauge
  • UP 4014 logo on cab floor
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 2.2 ounces
  • Wood presentation box and display panel

Read full review. Watch 2020 version, video

Rivarossi HO scale UP Big Boy 4-8-8-4

Reviewed in the March 2017 issue

Rivarossi HO scale UP Big Boy silver and black.
Just like the prototype, Rivarossi’s HO scale Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” is well equipped to pull long freight drags up and over the mountain ranges.

Price: $459.99 (with DCC and sound), $389.99 (direct-current, no sound)

Manufacturer: Hornby Hobbies, 3900-C2 Industry Drive E, Fife, WA 98424 www.hornby.com

Description: 1941 to 1959 ready-to-run locomotive

Road numbers: 4014 and 4018

Features:

  • Blackened metal wheels, in gauge
  • Can motor with dual flywheels
  • Directional light-emitting-diode (LED) lighting
  • Eight drive axles
  • Electrical pickup on seven driver axles (traction tires on third drive axle)
  • ESU LokSound Select sound decoder (DCC version)
  • Magnetic knuckle coupler on tender; swing-out dummy coupler on pilot
  • Weight: 1 lb., 10.6 ounces (engine alone: 1 lb., 2.6 ounces)

Read full review.

Hornby America, Inc. Rivarossi HO scale Big Boy

Reviewed in the May 2009 issue

Hornby America, Inc. HO scale Big Boy steam locomotive
This HO scale locomotive is the first Rivarossi Big Boy to come weathered and to include a dual-mode Digital Command Control sound decoder.

Price: $419.99 ($329.99, DC)

Manufacturer: Hornby America, Inc., 3900-C2 Industry Drive East, Fife, WA 98424 www.hornbyamerica.com

Description: Ready-to-run locomotive

Road numbers: (all Union Pacific): no. 4014 (DCC), no. 4007 (DC)

Features:

  • Dual-mode DCC sound decoder (DCC version only)
  • Factory-applied weathering
  • Five-pole skew-wound motor with flywheel
  • Metal RP-25 contour wheels in gauge
  • Minimum radius: 18″
  • Operating magnetic knuckle coupler mounted at correct height on rear of tender
  • Weight: 26.75 ounces (engine and tender); 18.5 ounces (engine only)

Read full review.

Athearn N scale Big Boy

Reviewed in the April 2008 issue

Athearn N scale Big Boy on a track.
Equipped with a Model Rectifier Corp. (MRC) dual-mode Digital Command Control (DCC) sound decoder, the Athearn N scale Big Boy brings user-controlled sound effects to both DCC and DC layouts.

Price: $424.98

Manufacturer: Athearn Inc., 1550 Glenn Curtiss St., Carson, CA 90746 www.athearn.com

Description: Ready-to-run plastic steam locomotive

Road numbers: Union Pacific nos. 4001, 4006, 4009, 4019, 4020, 4024, and undecorated

Features:

  • Blackened metal side rods
  • Drawbar pull: 2.9 ounces
  • Dual-mode Digital Command Control (DCC) sound decoder
  • Electrical pickup on 12 drivers and eight tender wheels (in gauge)
  • Five-pole skew-wound motor with dual flywheels
  • Micro-Trains operating knuckle coupler on rear of tender (at correct height)
  • Minimum radius: 11″ (15″ radius or larger recommended)
  • Weight: 8 ounces (engine and tender)

Read full review.

Athearn HO scale 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotive

Reviewed in the December 2006 issue

Black and silver HO scale 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotive.
Athearn’s model has a highly-detailed plastic superstructure that’s nearly filled with a two-piece weight that supports and encloses the mechanism.

Price: $449.98

Manufacturer: Athearn Inc., 1550 Glenn Curtiss St., Carson, CA 90746 www.athearn.com

Description: Ready-to-run steam locomotive

Road numbers: 4005, 4006, and unnumbered

Features:

  • Automatic dual-mode (DC/DCC) control and sound system
  • Cab interior with backhead and sliding side windows
  • Constant directional headlight and backup light
  • Coupled wheelbase: 124′-0″ (scale; requires an 18″ turntable)
  • Drawbar pull: 9.1 ounces
  • Can motor with dual, turned-brass flywheels
  • Engine and tender weight: 41 ounces (engine alone weighs 33 ounces)
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Magnetic knuckle couplers, mounted at the correct height
  • Minimum radius: 22″
  • Opening cab ventilator
  • Plastic and metal construction

Read full review.

Precision Craft Models HO scale 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotive

Reviewed in the December 2006 issue

Die-cast metal black and silver steam locomotive.
Precision Craft’s locomotive is made of die-cast metal with excellent detail throughout. This model includes a smoke unit and engine crew.

Price: $749.99 (with DCC), $649.99 (with DC), $129.99 (DCC/sound decoder upgrade kit)

Manufacturer: Precision Craft Models Inc., 4 Signal Ave., Ormond Beach, FL 32174 www.precisioncraftmodels.com

Description: Ready-to-run die-cast steam locomotive with smoke

Road numbers: 1941 versions w/DCC: 4002, 4019, and unlettered, 1944 versions w/DCC: 4023, 4024, and unlettered, 1941 versions w/DC only: 4003, 4014, and unlettered, 1944 versions w/DC only: 4021, 4022, and unlettered

Features:

  • Automatic dual-mode (DC/DCC) control and sound system
  • Cab interior with backhead and crew
  • Constant directional headlight and backup light
  • Coupled wheelbase: 125′-3″ (requires an 18″ turntable)
  • Die-cast metal construction
  • Drawbar pull: 8.8 ounces
  • Engine and tender weight: 55 ounces (engine alone weighs 43 ounces)
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Five-pole can motor with skew-wound armature and dual turned-brass flywheels
  • Illuminated train indicators
  • Magnetic knuckle couplers
  • Minimum radius: 18″
  • Opening cab ventilator
  • Sliding cab windows

Read full review.

Trix HO scale Big Boy 4-8-8-4 steam locomotive

Reviewed in the April 2002 issue

Trix HO scale Big Boy 4-8-8-4 steam locomotive.
The Trix HO Big Boy 4-8-8-4 steam locomotive is largely built of die-cast metal, with numerous added parts of plastic and wire. Märklin has raised die-casting to a high art and this locomotive reflects all of its builder’s expertise.

Price: $598

Manufacturer: Trix Trains, Märklin Inc., P.O. Box 510559, New Berlin, WI 53151, 262-784-8854, www.marklin.com

Description: Metal and plastic ready-to-run articulated steam locomotive

Features:

  • Bell-armature motor with flywheel
  • Drawbar pull: 5.92 ounces
  • 25-wheel electrical pickup
  • Engine and tender weight:
  • 3 pounds, 3 ounces
  • Minimum radius: 18″
  • Variable drawbar
  • Directional LED headlights
  • LED-illuminated train indicators
  • DCC decoder socket
  • Magnetic knuckle coupler on tender

Read full review.

N scale brass Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy

Reviewed in the January 2001 issue

Black N scale Big Boy locomotive
This N scale Union Pacific Big Boy locomotive is imported brass factory-painted and lettered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sakatsu Co.

Price: $1,390

Manufacturer: Sakatsu Co., Inc., Yamazaki Bldg. 2F, 3-25-12 Sugamo, Tosima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0002, Japan

Description: 25th anniversary ready-to-run brass locomotive and tender

Road numbers: Early versions: 4002, 4004, 4007, 4008 and 4011, Late versions: 4023 and 4024

Features:

  • Micro-Trains N scale coupler
  • Cooling pipes on pilot deck (early)
  • Coal boards on the tender (late)
  • Smoke deflector on cab roof (late)
  • Canon coreless motor
  • Constant headlight
  • Drawbar pull: 1.28 ounces
  • Engine and tender weight: 8 ounces
  • Minimum radius: 24”
  • Etched UP shield mounted below headlight
  • Wheelsets are nickel-silver plated according to NMRA

One thought on “4-8-8-4 ‘Big Boy’ locomotive models in HO and N scales

  1. I have to say when your largest competitor runs an op-ed about how the market is oversaturated with Big Boys and other large steam, asking for manufacturers to step it up in producing small steam; and that op-ed generates a massive surge of letters to the editor in support of its opinion… it seems a bit tone deaf to plop out a “greatest hits of Big Boy models” doesn’t it?

    Either that or its brilliant because this is actually proof positive that indeed big steam is way overrepresented in the hobby.

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