The Dapol class 121 -review

The prototype

The class 121 Bubble cars were built from 1960 by the pressed steel company of Oxford. They were double ended with a cab at each end. A class 121 was still in use in 2017, on a heritage line. They had a top speed of 70 mph and were used mainly on the Western Region. Lightly used lines in Cornwall being their main area of operation.

The class 122 was similar although built by Gloucester RC&W in 1958. They also made a further nine single ended trailers.

The model – £99 approx.

The amount of detail for the price is amazing. The masking is crisp and the under frame painting adds a lot of visual appeal.

The height of the floor is a compromise and adding a few passengers would help to disguise this. Separately fitted detail includes windscreen wipers and handrails. The glazing is flush and has printed details. Door handles are picked out in silver.


Certain versions of this model had problems with the bogies catching on the chassis detail, causing derailments. The version tested here did not have this problem. In fact it ran OK on first radius curves!

The gearing is low so that in runs slowly, even at half speed on the controller. The model does speed up once the lubrication warms up.

The model is Named Thunderbird 1

Thunderbird 1


As a consequence of the low gearing the lights ,on DC, are rather bright even at medium speed. The cab ,carriage, head and tail lights can be switched off by internal switches. They are on by default, on the DC version. All the light can be controlled individually on DCC.


The model is great value and runs well once it warms up. It ran using an ancient Triang controller with no problem.