Vcff Hopper Car

Published on
September 23, 2012
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Italeri - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: MRC - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

Italeri produces a number of HO scale (1/87th) railroad items, all featuring European rolling stock or motive power. The Vcff Hopper Car is another item in that successful and excellent line of kits. If you are an aficionado of European trains, specifically Italian equipment, then there is no question that this kit is of interest to you.

But why, you may ask, would I be interested in this offering? Foremost, the quality of this model is very high. The molding detail is excellent, showing lots of bolt heads, and the final product is quite accurate. In fact, placing it on my layout (yes…I’m an IPMS member and a model railroader, all at the same time!), I found that the gauge on the wheel sets included in the Italeri kit matches up with my Atlas track, and the model rolls properly on my layout. Beyond that fact, there are those who enjoy building plastic kits of railroad equipment, and this item makes an interesting addition to any railroad collection.

Making a note of an insignificant error on the decal sheet, the box identifies the model as a Vcff Hopper, while the instructions label it as a Vccf Hopper. It is actually “Vcff”, but this typo has zero impact on the assembly of the model.

The Parts

All of the parts are contained on four sprues, with the wheel sets being loose. A number of the parts are not going to be used on this particular model and they are clearly indicated as “not used” on the kit instructions.

The parts are well molded with virtually no flash. For example, the handrails did not show any mold separation lines and required only a little clean-up at the sprue contact points. The wheels and axles are molded as single units. I found that the wheels needed no attention of any kind. I placed them on a length of sloped track and they rolled down the track smoothly and evenly. Fit was not an issue at any point. The parts fit very well and required, as previously mentioned, only a swipe or two to remove the sprue nubs after separation from the sprue.


Assembly is straightforward with no surprises. Because of my unfamiliarity with the actual Hopper Car, I decided to follow the instructions, step by step. Assembly is aided, not by locating pins, but by grooves, brackets, and holes. The holes are for the various levers, which on the real item would open and close the load discharge doors, and also the hinges for those doors. I found it to be important to study the images on the instructions not only for correct placement but also for orientation of the part (which surface of the part contacts other parts and where that contact is to be made).

Assembly is not time-consuming, taking about 5 hours, and that includes time to allow the cement to set up. Using superglue, one could slam this kit together in about 90 minutes or less. (A special note: you may notice the absence of couplers in the associated images. The couplers are “European” in style and are, therefore, not compatible with my Kadee-equipped rolling stock. While it is not operationally correct or prototypical, I plan on operating this Hopper on my layout. I did not attach the kit-supplied couplers for this review and did not add the Kadee couplers until after the images were taken for this review. I thought that seeing the Kadee couplers in the review images might be confusing.)


A painting guide is provided on the reverse side of the box. The overall color of the car is a flat light gray but, for no particular reason, I chose to paint my Hopper a medium brown color. The box color guide indicates that some weathering can be accomplished with flat rust, flat black, and gloss silver, but the images of the finished kit on the box show a very clean machine. That is not a problem. For those who are familiar with railroad equipment, you already know how to weather hoppers in general, and for those who don’t, just spend some time near (but at a safe distance!) a railroad track and take a camera!


The decals provide a variety of markings that, for the modeler who builds multiple copies of this Hopper, would yield different I.D. numbers for up to four or five cars. The decals needed less than a minute in water to loosen and reacted well to Walther’s Solvaset. A decal guide, identifying the decals by number, is provided on the instruction sheet. This guide is very helpful since it is easier to read the markings on the guide than it is to read them on the decal sheet itself.


This kit is highly recommended for its detail and quality. Thanks to MRC for providing the review sample to IPMS, and IPMS for passing it to me for review.


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