Fox Valley Models HO Scale GP60

Fox Valley Models GP60
Fox Valley's HO GP60 captures the many variations in prototype details combined with great sound and performance. ©2015 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Fox Valley Models has entered the HO diesel market with an all-new GP60. Setting their models apart from previous releases of this locomotive from Athearn and Life-Like / Walthers, Fox Valley's models capture the many variations seen in the prototypes across their production run.

The new GP60s are available DCC-ready or equipped with ESU LokSound decoders. Fox Valley has already released several variations of the standard GP60 as well as the GP60M and GP60B in multiple roadnames and roadnumbers for each.

Retail price is $199.95 for DCC-ready and $299.95 for DCC / Sound models.

Prototype Background

EMD introduced the GP60 in 1985. They would be the last new four-axle freight locomotives released by the builder. EMD completed 294 of the units before production ended in 1994.

Designed for high-speed freight service, the GP60s were marketed for the booming intermodal traffic of the late 1980s. By the early 2000s, six-axle units had largely replaced them in these priority roles. today, many can be found working in yard and local service.

In addition to the conventional GP60, Santa Fe ordered additional locomotives equipped with the new safety cab. These GP60Ms were joined by equally unique cabless GP60B locomotives. These were purchased for cost-savings and were the last of the "B" units built by EMD. 

Paint and Details

Fox Valley has paid close attention to matching the variations in prototype details.

This includes features like the style of dynamic brake housing, fuel tank sizes, traction motor blower ducts and numerous road-specific options like headlights, air conditioners, antennae and other roof-mounted details.

The Cotton Belt unit purchased for this review represents an early-production model with the early dynamic brake housing.

(Later production SP and Cotton Belt units will be coming in a future release.) This is a noticeable variation from GP60s released by other manufacturers. 

Overall, the detailing on the model is very nicely done. The cab includes an interior, but no crew figures. Walkways have detailed tread. Fan housings are nicely done with fans underneath.

The only area where the details fall a little flat in my opinion are the truck sideframes. The EMD Blomberg trucks lack depth and are missing some details like air lines to the brake cylinders and the speed recorder as found on the SSW's units. A weathering wash of black paint may help the depth issue and the other details can certainly be added by the modeler using wire and appropriate detail parts.

Paint is evenly applied and color separations are sharp. All of the lettering is crisp and easy to read.

Operation

While the new details are great, it is performance where these GP60s really shine. The ESU LokSound decoders sound and slow-speed performance are simply amazing. Even when operating conventionally, the start up sounds and slow-speed creep of the models are superb.

Even at full speed, the motor is quiet and the locomotive runs smoothly. Speed control, especially at the low end, is very fine.

The rotary beacon on the cab roof operates realistically in both DCC and conventional operation. All of the lights are LED.

There is very little that the modeler will need to do to these locomotives to enhance them. A little light weathering would benefit the models, especially around the trucks.

Fox Valley has a great entry into the HO diesel market with this locomotive. With the tooling used to create the many variations in the GP60, they should be able to expand into additional locomotive models with a much lighter investment. It will be interesting to see if they do this and challenge Athearn who has already produced most of these models in their Genesis line.