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1/32 1929 Orient Express Sleeping Car No.3533 LX - Amati

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1/32 1929 Orient Express Sleeping Car No.3533 LX

Catalogue # 1714/01





Ok, I know this isn't a ship kit, but it is very much a wood and photo-etch model, and from Amati. I hope you enjoy!


The Orient Expresswas a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL). The route and rolling stock of the Orient Express changed many times. Several routes in the past concurrently used the Orient Express name, or slight variations. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name became synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul) the original endpoints of the timetabled service. The Orient Express was a showcase of luxury and comfort at a time when travelling was still rough and dangerous. On June 5, 1883, the first Express d'Orient left Paris for Vienna. Vienna remained the terminus until October 4, 1883. The train was officially renamed Orient Express in 1891. In 1889, the train's eastern terminus became Varna in Bulgaria, where passengers could take a ship to Constantinople. On June 1, 1889, the first direct train to Istanbul left Paris (Gare de l'Est). Istanbul remained its easternmost stop until May 19, 1977.

1929 Sleeping Car shown from 4.00minutes (new upholstery)


The onset of World War I in 1914 saw Orient Express services suspended. They resumed at the end of hostilities in 1918, and in 1919 the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed the introduction of a more southerly route via Milan, Venice, and Trieste. The 1930s saw the Orient Express services at its most popular, with three parallel services running: the Orient Express, the Simplon Orient Express, and also the Arlberg Orient Express, which ran via Zürich and Innsbruck to Budapest, with sleeper cars running onwards from there to Bucharest and Athens. During this time, the Orient Express acquired its reputation for comfort and luxury, carrying sleeping-cars with permanent service and restaurant cars known for the quality of their cuisine. Royalty, nobles, diplomats, business people, and the bourgeoisie in general patronized it. Each of the Orient Express services also incorporated sleeping cars which had run from Calais to Paris, thus extending the service right from one edge of continental Europe to the other.


The kit






Amati had been publishing videos and photos of this then-upcoming kit on Facebook for a few months, and even though trains aren’t really my thing, this one looked intriguing with its 1920s/30s wooden opulence, so when Amati said they would ship one out to me to look at, that was very exciting. I knew this was going to me one large kit, but I had no idea! The model itself is 1/32 and the box is the same size as their1/72 HMS Vanguardthat I recently took a look at. Whilst the box doesn’t weigh as much as that kit, it’s certainly packed out with some heavy metal. The box lid itself is decorative, depicting the finished model and some period imagery. You will also note that this model has a section of track on which to display the sleeping car. Lifting off that large lid uncovers a complete box with a tabbed, lift up lid, adorned in the Amati logo as standard for these large releases. 

Chassis parts


Inside the box, we have plastic trays full of parts, two smaller Amati boxes, a large thick plastic sleeve with paper/wood/metal components, and sleeves full of timber strip and brass section strip. There are also a series of folded plans and TWO perfect-bound, full colour instruction books which look sumptuous. Lifting all of these out uncovers two card covers that when removed, show a whole swathe of photo-etch brass and nickel-silver sheets, and a bag holding three sections for the base onto which the rail tracks and sleepers will mount.


Amati’s 1/32 Orient Express Sleeping Car kit consists of:


  • 1 x gloss card for carriage ceiling mouldings
  • 1 x decal sheet for carriage signwriting and stencils
  • 2 x gloss paper sheets with printed interior wood panelling and carpets. Also contains illustrations of exterior coach work for reference
  • 2 x laser-cut ply sheets for the carriage chassis
  • 5 x laser-cut ply sheets for all side and internal walls/construction of the carriage.
  • 1 x tape of yellow self-adhesive trim of different widths
  • 2 x white trays of cast and turned components, chain and wire. Parts include radiators, tissue dispensers, towel rails, wall mirrors, bottles and holders, soap racks, door handles, coat hooks, locks, eyelets, cabin lights, ventilation panels, electrical sockets, decorative cast exterior crest, spring-leaf shock absorbers, nuts, bolts, boiler, etc. 
  • 2 x boxes of components, contains parts such as sofa/bed carcasses and cushions, cores for the armrests and hanging headrests, rolling stock wheels and axles, sink units, stools, carriage entry tunnels, etc.
  • 1 x pack of brass strut sections
  • Various timber lengths of varying size and type
  • 3 x MDF track base sections and stirrups
  • 4 x sheets of photo-etch nickel-silver parts (internal main carriage wall panelling and hinges etc)
  • 17 x sheets of photo etch brass parts (chassis, bogies, roof and roof sheathing, exyerior main carriage walls, etc.
  • 1 x sheet of pre-cut acetate for windows
  • 6 x parts and plans sheets
  • 2 x full-colour instruction books

Now, a little about the model itself. Whilst the Orient Express is known for its amazingly high standards, these sleeping cars only had a single WC for the whole carriage. Amati has created an entire, accurate interior to this model kit, of which the toilet and small boiler closet are also included. To be able to see all of these details, the lid, constructed from photo-etch and rolled brass, is removeable.


White card inserts for she shaped interior ceilings are included, and this would provide an amazing opportunity to add some soft lighting which would set off each of the cabins. Each of those cabins is intricately detailed, and whilst have no per-cabin toilet facilities, each cabin does have facilities for passenger ablutions. These come in a stylish curved-door unit which contains sink and other things which you’d expect to see in this area, all intricately reproduced in this kit. The walls of the cabins are wooden panelled, and all of the cabin creature comforts are present, including seats, cushions for arms and head etc, and ceiling racks for storing luggage. Remember, these cabins were pretty compact as passengers spent the day in other areas of the train too. An access corridor runs alongside the cabins, and of course, these are fitted out with radiators etc. In all, an impressive piece of rail history that Amati has gone to pains to recreate here.








The sleeping car is based on two lengths of laser-cut timber which sit atop each other to produce the main frame of the carriage. On the real thing, this would of course have been metal, so bear that in mind when building and ensure you seal any timber and rub down before filling, priming and painting in black. Added to the metal framework are lengths of heavy-gauge photo etch that create the authentic appearance of the carriage chassis. Other plates etc. are fitted out with miniature nuts and bolts. Brass section strips are also fitted to the entire length of the exterior frame, adding authenticity and some rigidity to the model. There is also a main bolt towards both front and rear of the carriage, onto which the moveable, wheeled bogies will mount. After all, your train won’t just roll in a straight line!









The underside of the sleeping car is incredibly complex with some superbly engineered and cast leaf-spring suspension for the buffers, couplings, photo-etch battery housings, compressed air tank, etc. Assembling the rolling stock/bogies themselves is broken down into over EIGHTY separate stages in around 20 pages of the first construction manual. Of course, all of the parts for this are manufactured from either photo-etch, cast or turned parts, and a photo-etch bending tool really should be mandatory if you wish to tackle this model. After all, if you are willing to shell out 890€ for a kit, then it’s foolhardy not to progress with the required tools. 











For the base, Amati has supplied three parts on dovetailed MDF which is profiled for display purposes. The positions of the sleepers is also engraved onto the top. I have to say that the fit of these is so precise that virtually no joint can be seen when they are put together. If you flip them over, you’ll note that there is a pencil mark to show you which part is the best match. Two MDF splints are then to be glued into the underside channels. Now, I don’t think that MDF is a strange material for the base, as you may wish to paint this, but one omission, for me, is any material that can be used to infill between the buffers, such as the gravel/stones. This would have been a nice addition so as to hide the MDF.





The tracks themselves are supplied as brass sections which need to be cut to length. As per the real thing, the tracks are attached to the sleepers by the correct hardware. I would use an assembled wheel/axle section to properly ensure that the tracks are equidistant at both ends, as well as traditional measuring. I would also look at either painting the tracks in an iron colour, or if you can immerse them in a shallow bath of burnishing fluid, then that would also fit the mark.





With the base of the model now built, the time has come to assemble the carriage itself. This initially starts with the Head A and Head B bulkheads, followed by the fitting of the interior corridor wall. Onto this are fitted the interior compartment walls, creating the cabins. Please note that a lot of paper cutting will be required as the internal walls in their antique finishes, are printed matter and will need to be fixed to the pre-sealed internal plywood walls. This will also be enhanced with actual timber framing too. The printing of the wooden walls is very, very nice and should look as good as trying to emulate this using precious timbers.


Besides, this approach means we all stand a level chance of success. Actual timber will be used to line the panels, adding to the realism. The carpets are also to be cut from paper. You will need to pick up some paper-crafting skills too as the numerous head rest and arm rest cores, sofa/bed chassis and stools, will need to be wrapped in the same matching paper and neatly fashioned around corners. There are some good techniques to be found online, such as dampening the paper to make it easier to mould around corners etc.









Each cabin will also have its own wash locker, and these are constructed separately and then installed. As well as having all the mod-cons, for the 1920s, the doors on these will actually hinge open and closed. You won’t have this option for the cabin doors though, but these can be posed in any position using the nickel-silver etched parts. The main carriage exterior walls are sheathed in photo-etch brass which will be painted, and the trim/decals added. Internally, those same walls are plated with the nickel-silver panels. I don’t know the reasons for change in material from brass, but the panels are superbly produced. Remember, there’s no actual silver in those parts. Instead, it’s an alloy of zinc, copper and nickel. 






























To construct the carriage’s roof, a series of photo-etch frames are interlinked with longerons that have raised pips. Once the basic frame is assembled, a series of individual brass panels are then rolled into shape and the holes in these used to lock over the raised pips of the longerons. Whilst you can use CA generally, I would suggest that the pip areas are soldered and filled before then being filed back flush to the roof. The roof is then painted white. Internally, the card mouldings are then shaped and sealed/sprayed white before decorative wooden edging is applied.




Instruction manuals


Two full-colour instruction manuals are included, showing the various stages using photographic images and clear text in English, with Italian also. Each step is very easy to understand, in the way that magazine part-works are designed to be straightforward. There’s nothing here that should catch any modeller out, meaning that the only thing you need to have some experience with is photo-etch. Each manual is landscape in format, and perfect-bound, as a novel would be etc. Paint references are used where necessary and supplied in FS codes. 









A number of these sheets are simply for helping the user to identify the various PE parts and wood parts, with a couple of others showing the rail carriage in various plan formats. All line drawings are clear to understand shouldn’t provide the modeller with any issue.






A single sheet of waterslide decals is included for the exterior livery signwriting etc. Print quality looks excellent. It could be worthwhile trimming any of the clear carrier film as close to the actual decal as required.



This isn’t a cheap kit by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an epic one in every sense. The Orient Express kit is a sort of crossover between vehicle and doll’s house building, with some beautiful period features in the mix. It’s certainly a project that will command a lot of time from you in order to achieve the very best outcome. You really do have to be reasonably adept with photo-etch metal in bending, curving and folding, and although you don’t strictly need to, some elements would be better soldered than glued. A lot of attention to detail has been made here, from the kit detail itself, down to little things like the cut-out paper décor not lying across folds in the sheet paper. The instruction manuals are also a work of art and should be a cinch to follow. Projects like this are usually once in a lifetime, so if you fancy doing something pretty unusual, then this has certainly got to be a major contender. These kits are hot off the press, only having being released within the last 2 weeks, so get them whilst their fresh!


My sincere thanks to Amati for sending this kit out for review on Model Ship World. To purchase, check your favourite Amati shop or online retailer. Tell them you saw the review here on MSW.






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  1. All they need now is some scale figures of the cast of 1974's Murder on the Orient Express to complete the kit. (Not exactly a bunch of unknowns!) B)

Here is that main cast listing: 

Albert Finney Albert Finney ... Hercule Poirot
Lauren Bacall Lauren Bacall ... Mrs. Hubbard
Martin Balsam Martin Balsam ... Bianchi
Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman ... Greta
Jacqueline Bisset Jacqueline Bisset ... Countess Andrenyi
Jean-Pierre Cassel Jean-Pierre Cassel ... Pierre (as Jean Pierre Cassel)
Sean Connery Sean Connery ... Col. Arbuthnot
John Gielgud John Gielgud ... Beddoes
Wendy Hiller Wendy Hiller ... Princess Dragomiroff
Anthony Perkins Anthony Perkins ... McQueen
Vanessa Redgrave Vanessa Redgrave ... Mary Debenham
Rachel Roberts Rachel Roberts ... Hildegarde
Richard Widmark Richard Widmark ... Ratchett
Michael York Michael York ... Count Andrenyi
Colin Blakely Colin Blakely ... Hardman
George Coulouris George Coulouris ... Doctor
Denis Quilley Denis Quilley ... Foscarelli
Vernon Dobtcheff Vernon Dobtcheff ... Concierge
Jeremy Lloyd Jeremy Lloyd ... A.D.C.
John Moffatt John Moffatt ... Chief Attendant


“You’ve just got to know your limitations”  Dirty Harry

Current Builds:  Modified MS 1/8” scale Phantom, and modified plastic/wood hybrid of Aurora 1:87 scale whaling bark Wanderer.

Past Builds: (Done & sold) 1/8” scale A.J. Fisher 2 mast schooner Challenge, 1/6” scale scratch built whaler Wanderer w/ plans & fittings from A.J. Fisher, and numerous plastic kits including 1/8” scale Revell U.S.S. Constitution (twice), Cutty Sark, and Mayflower.

                  (Done & in dry dock) Modified 1/8” scale Revell U.S.S. Constitution w/ wooden deck and masting [too close encounter w/conc. floor in move]

Hope to get to builds: MS 3/16” scale Pride of Baltimore II,  MS 1/2” scale pinky schooner Glad Tidings,  a scratch build 3/16” scale  Phantom, and a scratch build 3/16" scale Denis Sullivan.

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