Side-by-Side: HO Scale Railgon Models

Models released in 2020 from Arrowhead Models and Walthers Mainline.

In late 2019 Walthers quietly announced a new gondola in HO scale, to represent the popular Railgon cars, in their Mainline series of models.  In July of 2020, Arrowhead Models popped into Lombard Hobbies for a live facebook event announcing their version, which they promised to be the most accurate.  Read more about the model on it's own here: Quick Review: Arrowhead Models Greenville 2494 Railgon

This article is intended to be a supplement to the quick review, and allow the buyer to compare the models without having to buy both.

Packaging varies, as seen above, Arrowhead's box is plain, just a simple description label on the end.  Walthers has chosen to use a clear front style of box, with a larger but not all that more descriptive end label.  With current model manufacturer practices, I'm preferential to Athearn's newer labels with full color diagrams of the model printed on them, but that's another story.

Comparing the models directly side to side, one can see why the Arrowhead model is nearly 3x the price.  Details abound and are all separately applied.

  Arrowhead Models Walthers Mainline
Price (MSRP) $54.95 $27.98
Weight 2.4oz 3.0oz
Details Individually applied Cast on, separate partial brake

100 Ton with metal 36" wheels

Added Brake details

100 Ton with metal 36" wheels

No brake details on trucks

Couplers Kadee Scale head Walthers plastic knuckle
Paint schemes

3 Individual numbers, 2 Schemes (1st run)

12 numbers, as delivered scheme (2nd run)

A least 13 schemes, in 2 runs, multiple road numbers per scheme.


Walthers quickly announced a 2nd run right after the Lombard Hobbies exclusive release of the Arrowhead cars.  In total I count 13 different schemes on the Walthers car.  Arrowhead did 3 cars in the first run, one in CSX paint, CSX patch, and Railgon as delivered coming in the 2nd run.

As you can see above, both cars suffer from lack of weight.  the NMRA Recommended Practice for a car of this length, says the cars should weigh 4.75oz.  Read more on Arrowhead's response directly to me in the quick review here:
Quick Review: Arrowhead Models Greenville 2494 Railgon

The Walthers car costs considerable less, but lacks most details.  Grabs are cast on, brake rigging is mostly invisible save for piping between the reservoir and triple valve.

Both cars have appropriately set couplers, Kadee on the Arrowhead, and Plastic knuckle couplers on the Walthers.  Metal 36" wheels on plastic trucks of similar construction on both cars, however the Arrowhead includes brake rigging on the trucks.

Arrowhead cars have an interesting composition, the flat car sides are actually brass mated to plastic ribs.  Walthers went more traditional to keep costs down.

The deciding factor between the cars is really price vs. detail.  A modeler who may be more concerned about their budget should likely choose the Walthers Mainline.  If you're not overly concerned about the details, again the Mainline is right.  Availability is another factor, as the Walthers Mainline runs are much larger, more cars will be available on the market.  The 1st run of Arrowhead cars sold out in one day at Lombard Hobbies, with the 2nd run still awaiting arrival, but fully sold out direct from Arrowhead.

Here's a few remaining photos of the Walthers Mainline car.  For more of the Arrowhead please visit the quick review:
Quick Review: Arrowhead Models Greenville 2494 Railgon

©2020, Josh Baakko,