Brick Fanatics takes a closer look at The LEGO Trains Book to see if it is on the right track or if it goes off the rails
Author: Holger Matthes Publisher: No Starch Press RRP: $24.95 Available: Now
As the AFOL market continues to expand amidst the current golden age that the LEGO hobby is enjoying, it’s not just more plastic product that gets produced. There is a growing demand for physical publications and No Starch Press are happy to cater to our needs with an ever-increasing catalogue of interesting and unique book titles.
The LEGO Trains Book has a clear focus on a key part of the hobby that has a dedicated fan base. Anyone with a passing awareness of the different track systems that were introduced over the years will know just how complex LEGO trains can be. This book promises to offer the newcomer something that will make the sometimes confusing world of brick based locomotives less intimidating.
A 248-page hardback beauty, it’s evident from the moment you open the first page that a lot of care has been taken in the presentation of this book. The full colour layout is very easy on the eye and the spacious nature of the text means you don’t feel overwhelmed with small print too miniscule to fully take in.
Originally published in 2016, it was first available in the author’s native language of German. This is the first time it has been translated to English, no doubt greatly appreciated by the legions of trains fans within the English-speaking LEGO world.
A brief foreword and introduction to the book then takes you the first chapter, “A History of LEGO Trains”, which was one of my favourite to read. Matthes certainly knows his trains and that is evident in his very nicely documented chapter on everything from the “blue era” of the 60s and 70s, through to the 9-Volt of the 90s, up to today’s current iteration of Power Functions.
Not just a book for LEGO historians, Matthes is keen to get you building with your bricks, and the subsequent chapters dive into the variety of LEGO elements and how you can use them within your train models, as well as how to start designing your own trains with a fair bit of detail on differing building scales.
It would be easy for many a LEGO book to be quite dry when it comes to detailed explanations of building techniques, but there are plenty of well-rendered images scattered throughout giving clear and colourful examples. Some techniques mentioned, such as microstriping, may be familiar to more seasoned MOC builders, but there’s a wealth of information here sure to be invaluable to even the most experienced LEGO builder.
To further aid with the vast amount of knowledge that’s been shared, Matthes takes you through several ‘case studies’ of his own designs to help identify how he put his models together, drawing from his years of experience within the LEGO trains hobby. With plenty of photographic references, I found this to be very insightful into his process and certainly felt inspired to want to make my own.
The remaining sections of the book are devoted entirely to building instructions very cleanly rendered in an easy-to-follow fashion, not too dissimilar to LEGO’s own instructions.
Whilst LEGO books are certainly more commonplace now than they were 10 years ago, they are also getting more niche and focused on particular areas of our beloved hobby. This is definitely a good thing, and whether you have a passing interest in locomotives or would like to delve deeper into the world of L-Gauge, pistons and pantographs then this book comes highly recommended as a must-have bible on all things LEGO trains.
This product was provided for review by No Starch Press.