British Manufacturers - Kestrel Designs


Kestrel Designs

Kestrel Designs make a range of N plastic structure kits.

Address

Kestrel Designs
Unit 9, the Old School, Station Road,
Narberth, Pembs. SA67 8DU
Wales

About the company
I know virtually nothing about Kestrel other than they’ve been around for at least a decade or so. I have some old models made by them, under the name “Kestral” Designs. All their current advertising has the name “Kestrel,” so I assume they realized the spelling error at some point and corrected it. But you might see them listed under the old name.

Catalogue
They don’t have a catalogue so far as I know, but do have a printed list available for an SAE. I haven’t got it. Since they’re distributed by Peco’s PPP agency you can see the complete list in the PPP catalogue, along with a few sketches. (not photographs of finished models - at least, not in the catalogue that I’ve got.)

What I think of their products
Kestrel make an assortment of injection-moulded styrene construction kits, mainly buildings. They have some trackside items - signal box, small stations, etc. And models of terraced shops, etc.

Unfortunately the standard of tooling is not particularly brilliant. Doesn’t even begin to compete with the quality of, say, Ratio’s products. The lines are handcut and sometimes of inconsistent depths. The smooth portions lack a convincing texture. Thick pieces (eg: chimneys) tend to be bowed inwards, as though there wasn’t enough pressure forcing the plastic into the mould. A fair bit of flashing you’ll need to trim off. In all, it reminds me of the kind of stuff that European makers like Pola produced - back in the 1960s. Annoyingly, they package their products by taping the components to a piece of card. This is a problem because if you buy a kit that’s been sitting around in a shop for some time the glue on the transparent tape turns into this thick yellow resinous grot that’s difficult to remove from the model’s surface.

Now, to be perfectly fair, I have noticed that newer Kestrel products are of a higher quality than their old merchandise. But they still suffer from three basic problems - fairly crude lines, thick windowframes and so on and inwards bulging of components such as chimneys that should be thick.

Mediocre quality aside, the chief value of Kestrel’s product line is that they produce very generic buildings that serve as useful raw material. It can be a big timesaver to buy a handful of Kestrel terraced houses, throw them together, add some reasonable detailing and there you go. It won’t stand up to close scrutiny terribly well, but for filler models at the back of the layout they’re great. Scratchbuilding is necessary if you want to produce the museum-quality models you’ve always wanted.

If you’re interested there are photos of a Kestrel small station and some terraced houses on the N Gauge Society pages.

Summary

OK as a source of parts for building (what American modellers call kitbashing - taking pieces of a commercially available kit and producing new designs with the components). Mediocre mouldings.

Usual disclaimer

Because we live in an absurdly litigious world, please note the following. First, I have no personal financial interest in any companies mentioned here, one way or the other. Second, all trademarked names are owned by their respective owners and are mentioned here purely for identification purposes. Third, no guarantees, express or implied, are made regarding the accuracy, fitness, whatever the hell about any of the information or opinion presented here. And finally, much of this is opinion of the author; nothing more.

Text copyright © 1997-98 tela design.


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