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THE SELNEC PRESERVATION SOCIETY

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EFE PRODUCE FIRST MODELS OF EX-SELNEC/GMT standard VEHIcLES

As we have become  the leading authority on the design and development of the SELNEC/GMT Standard body and now have a total of 20 of these vehicles in our ownership, we have for a number of years been in contact with the Managing Director of Gilbow Holdings Limited who manufacture the EFE models, and for a period of time had been encouraging them to cast a SELNEC/GMT Standard Vehicle.  The basis for this suggestion was that not only would this lend itself to a number of different liveries within the Greater Manchester area but also a considerable range of colour schemes depicted by second and subsequent operators.

We first invited the Managing Director of Gilbow Holdings to our premises in Leigh to take appropriate measurements of what was then a growing collection of ex-SELNEC/GMT Standard vehicles to ensure correct representation on 11th February 1998 and thereafter on 22nd March 1999, 19th September 2000 and 8th March 2001.  Unfortunately, these offers were not taken up but then we read on Page 14 of November 2002 edition of Bus and Coach Preservation that the Chairman of the Museum of Transport had advised EFE on every detail on the GMT alloy bodied Atlantean they have in their collection, 8706 (A706 LNC) in order that a 1/75th scaled down example could be manufactured and created, which it was and it was relaunched for sale.  However, a number of our members have looked at this model and were most disappointed indeed at the inaccuracies of the casting of the vehicle and some of the application of transfers.  They reproduced their assessment in full below.

8706 (A706 LNC)

Given the enthusiasm with which many have awaited this new casting, it is therefore unfortunate that they will be probably be deeply disappointed with the finished EFE product.  It looks like a “Standard” at first glance, but it certainly does not look like the alloy-bodied vehicle that it is supposed to represent.

A striking problem is the line right around the model on the mid-deck panels, which marks the join between the two halves of the casting.  There is no such line to be found anywhere on the mid-deck panels of an alloy-bodied “Standard”.  Had EFE chosen to depict the metal-framed “Standard”, this would have been more correct; indeed on some of these, a metal-trim strip featured at this point.  Otherwise, the side profiles of the “Standard” have been well replicated, the window glazing being particularly attractive although the internal grab rail mid-way up the front upper deck windows has not been included. Whereas EFE’s recent release of the Leyland Titan B15 oddly misses beading between panels upon which advertisements would be regularly affixed, the model of the “Standard” omits beading on the lower panels too.

The greatest concerns are with the front profile of the model.  The ever-present mid-deck line makes the front blind display look hunched.  The roof profile looks too deep and this is not helped by an oversized transfer depicting the ventilation grill on the front dome.  The offside wing-mirror is set just a little too far back and the front licence plate looks too small.  The windscreen bulges out in the middle and lacks the characteristic wrap-round look of the curved-screen “standards”.

It looks like an uncomfortable cross between the early flat-screened “Standards” and the later type that it is supposed to represent.  On the lower front panels, there is clearly a line marking the join between the orange and brown colours which, like the mid-deck trim line, only featured on the metal-framed body.  The windscreen wipers are not actually fastened to anything.  There is too much distance between the indicators and the headlamps / fog-lights and these are also too small. 

At the back of the bus, the area where the badges are affixed to the bonnet is too large, whereas the advert panel above this area looks too small.   The ventilation louvres on the top of the bonnet have been ignored, and the exhaust should protrude from the rear offside valance corner.  The upper rear emergency exit door should have three hinges, not two.  Whilst a number of aspects of the casting are questionable, however, the reproduction of the orange, white and brown Greater Manchester Transport livery is very good – despite the painting over of side indicators and the door control flap.   Nevertheless, there are again glaring errors with the application and size of transfers.

Apart from odd experiments, the large fleet numbers on front and rear domes were only a feature of Greater Manchester Buses (South) Limited.  This was not formed until 1994, but 8706 had been renumbered three years earlier as 4706, together with all “Standards” whose number began with either a “6” or an “8”.  So it is clearly erroneous to place a large “8706” fleet number – smudged on our review sample – on the rear dome.  The “Emergency Engine Stop – Press” and emergency door transfers are also in GMS, not GMT, font and their size is questionable.  The “Leyland” scroll and “Atlantean” badge on the bonnet are too big. 

The legal address, nearside and offside fleet numbers and especially the “push to open in emergency” transfers on the white entrance doors are far too large and the latter in particular looks ridiculous.  The legal lettering should be one panel further towards the back of the bus.  Even the distinctive GMT blind font has not been particularly well reproduced with the route numbers appearing a little too curved.  The lettering on the “via” blind is too bold and the destination should show “MANCHESTER “ in a large font and then “Piccadilly” alongside in smaller lettering, not in brackets.

This model gives the impression of something that has been rushed out with a minimum of attention to detail.  Comparing it with the high quality of the recent release of the Titan B15 leaves one with the impression it is more important to produce accurate models of London Transport types than of a provincial vehicle design, however significant.  Maybe subsequent releases of the “Standard” model will show some improvement.   It certainly needs to – but unfortunately the major casting errors are probably here to stay.

A write up similar to the one above on the model of 8706 by Elliot Stuffins and other members of the SELNEC Preservation Society appeared in the December 2002 edition of Buses Magazine under the Reviews Section on Page 27.  The second and third EFE examples of Ex-SELNEC/GMT Standards are 8658 (4658) and 8043(4043) which are reviewed below:

8658 (4658) (A658 HNB)

The second release of EFE’s Flawed GM standard arrived in the attractive livery of First Pennine as it’s ex-First Manchester 4658 (A658 HNB). With the aforementioned faults set aside this is a neat model. The livery application is very good and the logos are accurate too.  Legal lettering states First Manchester’s address, which is correct.  The wheels are that of the PDR Atlantean, probably borrowed from older moulds. A nice detail of this model is a sticker in the rear lower saloon window, which correctly states ‘Please let my bus out’ with a little hand symbol. The model was originally depicted carrying ‘005 First Pennine’ on its blinds, but this was rectified to show ‘350 Hey Farm’ before it was released. Apart from the nagging casting joins this is a well-researched model.

What is surprising is that such a minority second hand livery application has been applied, especially as First Pennine only had two ex-Greater Manchester Standard Atlanteans, 4616 and 4658, and as yet we have not seen a casting in SELNEC Sunglow Orange and Mancunian White or a Metropolitan Orange and White GMT example.

8043 (4043) (ANA 43T)

Enthusiasts on the Wirral, and indeed in Merseyside, would have been delighted at the news that EFE was to honour GMS’s short lived Birkenhead & District operation from 1994 – 95 by producing their first casting of the metal-framed Northern Counties-bodied Daimler / Leyland Fleetline in this livery.  Moreover, GM standards operated with a significant number of independents in the area over a period from deregulation in 1986 into the new Millennium.  Local enthusiast and driver Terry Morris has undertaken a review of this model.  Sadly, the Birkenhead Fleetline has turned out to be even more of a disappointment than the first issue of the Standard as Atlantean 8706 (A706 LNC).

The most striking error is that the shade of blue used is totally wrong!   EFE have used the “Peacock Blue” that was used by Birkenhead Corporation and is represented on their other Birkenhead releases of PD2, Arab and Fleetline.   As a result the model appears much darker than the prototype.  The route numbers and destination blinds are again erroneously coloured, replicated in white on black whereas they should be yellow on black.

The “Birkenhead & District” lettering, on a blue background that covered the “via” displays, is of correct style but is white again whereas it should be yellow.   The sticker in the front nearside windscreen should read “Travel All Day £1” but the model claims you can “Travel All Fares £1” which doesn’t even sound right!

Moving to the nearside of the bus, the fleet name has been reproduced in gold block, again aka Birkenhead Corporation, instead of the correct font in cream.   The legal lettering, which on the real thing was deliberately positioned behind the nearside wheel so that the locals would not notice the Stockport address, has been applied behind the front wheel.  The unladen weight should be located below the legal lettering, again towards the rear of the bus.

At the rear of the bus, the fleet number has been applied in the correct location and the painted out rear route number has been correctly replicated with the rubber mounting left exposed.   However, now it is time to look at the casting of the new model and here EFE have made a huge mistake.

The metal-framed body has not been particularly well-replicated, although at least the casting joins are more forgivable than on the model of an alloy-framed example.  The window pillars appear too thick and EFE should remember that all metal-framed Standards had the earlier design of shorter hopper opening windows.  Terry’s photographs of 4043 taken at Seacombe Ferry in June 1994 show that the rearmost nearside upper deck hopper window had been changed for plain glass on the prototype.  Another feature of the metal-framed body was translucent roof panels.   Two were fitted to every Northern Counties body on a Fleetline chassis, with the exception of the rebodied alloy-framed 6912 (PTD 640S) which is part of the Society collection – and most Atlanteans with the metal-framed body too before being phased out in 1980 – 81.  Again, Terry’s photographs clearly show these to be present on the prototype.   However, these errors are not as striking as the major one – the fact that the only way that those unfamiliar with the numbering sequences could tell a GMT Standard Fleetline and Atlantean apart was by looking at the engine bustle.   The distinctive Fleetline bustle is not there and instead we have an already flawed Atlantean bustle.  Even by changing the fleet numbers to represent an Atlantean, EFE cannot redeem themselves.   The only blue Birkenhead & District buses were Fleetlines – all 21 remaining GMS examples in passenger service, and the only Atlanteans that ran from the Birkenhead depot, albeit mostly on services in Liverpool, wore GMS or GMB orange livery and had alloy-framed bodies.   The box says that this is a model of a Fleetline, but it transforms itself into a sort of Atlantean as soon as one opens it!  Finally, the wheels are again taken from a PDR-type Atlantean model and do not accurately represent those fitted to Greater Manchester Standard vehicles.

EFE have let themselves down incredibly with this particular model.  Merseyside enthusiasts may have been pleased to see them eschewing the large Manchester-based market to produce instead an example of a relatively short-lived but attractive scheme.   With the recent price escalations that appear to be pushing the RRP of these models close to the £20 barrier, one should be entitled to expect perfection.    However, would-be purchasers will probably be inspecting newly released models before parting with their hard-earned cash.  Given that EFE’s press release describes the next Standard model, of a Maidstone & District metal-framed Atlantean as the first release of their new GM Fleetline, one dreads to think what this might turn out like!

7679 (ONF 679R) in Maidstone & District Livery as their 5725

This is EFE’s first release of the metal-framed Northern Counties Standard body on the Leyland Atlantean chassis.    Because it does not include the horrendously wrong Fleetline bustle, it offers some improvement in quality over 8043 the model of that type.   However, there is still much to comment on.

The square translucent roof panels have still not been included.   The side windows do not feature the beading on the pillars making them look like those found on the alloy-framed examples.  The Leyland “dinner plate” type of wheel hubs, only found on the prototype Standards EX1 to EX6, are still there!  EFE has included the “shorter” type of hopper windows to good effect.  On the bonnet can be found an Atlantean badge, but this is not in the normal place found on Atlanteans, but slightly further down.  It is not the correct font either, although it is correctly distinct from the later version, and it looks like EFE have removed the “Leyland” scroll as found on the model of 8706 (A706 LNC) and inserted the M & D fleet number in the same place.  Perhaps any members who are particularly familiar with the ex-GMT Maidstone Atlanteans would care to enlighten us as to the correct arrangement of these items.

The Maidstone & District green and cream livery and fleet names have been well replicated, the model also depicting the large fleet number on the front dome favoured by that operator, and the revised pseudo-NBC front destination arrangement and the removal of the rear display, this being replaced by a plain panel with the rear licence plate applied centrally.   The front destination display, being printed white on black, appears to include the route number and destination as one whereas these items would have been separated by black masking.   The adverts featured on the model have been well reproduced.

LUT 511 (GMT 6927) (PTD 655S)

We have previously reviewed the GMT Standard models produced by EFE and commented upon the disappointing reproduction of both the Standard body in alloy-framed form on Atlantean chassis, and the metal-framed body on the Fleetline.

The model of a Lancashire United Fleetline in that concern’s fine red and grey livery continues to incorporate almost all of the errors found on the casting first issued wearing Birkenhead & District livery on 8043.   However, some matters have received attention.   Unfortunately, most of these are still wrong!

The square translucent roof panels have now been included, but a striking mistake shows them as rectangular rather than square!   They are applied as part of the paintwork on the model with the translucent aspect painted grey and edged in black.   The Leyland “dinner plate” type of wheel hubs have been ditched, for the first time, but they are still not of the Daimler type found on the Fleetline vehicles.  A third aspect that has received attention is the replication of the opening windows found on the metal-framed vehicles.   EFE has included the “shorter” type of hopper windows thereon, which is correct, but although the upper deck looks good, the lower-deck window configuration is not correct.  Here, these vehicles had a mix of hopper and slider windows.   On the offside, a long hopper has been included in the small window above the rear wheel arch and ahead of the emergency door, whereas this should feature a slider opening.   The nearside should feature two hoppers and then two sliders, from the doors back along the side of the bus. This prevented passengers seated on the rear-facing rear wheel arch seat from banging their heads on the hopper framework.  However, the model has a plain window in the first bay occupied by the luggage pen, and then three hoppers in the remaining bays.

The model now includes the silver lower deck beading between midway up the lower panels, but a nearside photograph of 511 in service with LUT shows that this vehicle, in common with many similar LUT standards, had a mesh nearside engine grille on the nearside pod, which has not been replicated.  Instead, we again have the ridiculous hybrid arrangement of Atlantean side engine pods and a bonnet that supposedly resembles that of the Fleetline, despite having an Atlantean type of handle alcove.  Given that LUT purchased no Atlanteans and had a very obvious preference for the Fleetline, these continuing errors are doubly unfortunate!   Again the beading on the window pillars is absent, making the side profile look rather more like an alloy-framed standard than a metal-framed example.

It is quite clear that EFE have used the real 511, in its preserved form, as their template when producing the model.  This is despite the fact that they would not produce a model of our preserved Bristol VR, 408 (AJA 408L), the only survivor of the batch and fully restored to original condition, preferring to use photographs of sister 409 instead, and then of 402 for the “deluxe” version of their SELNEC Cheshire-liveried models.   The owners of 511 have restored the bus in Lancashire United livery and very fine it looks too, having made its debut on the rally circuit during 2002.  However, they have used some poetic licence when restoring the vehicle, and it appears that EFE have replicated these aspects without referring to photographs of the original specification used by LUT.   The model depicts 511 on route 644 to Warrington via Ashton Road, Newton and Winwick.  This reflects the fact that 511 has been restored to represent a Hindley Depot example of the type.  In fact, 511 was new to Swinton depot in Salford, where it would regularly have been found on routes such as the 10 and 12.  Similarly, its seats have now been retrimmed in LUT’s tasteful maroon flower-pattern moquette, looking very fine but a case of what-might-have-been rather than true authenticity, as all LUT standards had GMT orange moquette seating, with leatherette seating upstairs on the earlier examples.  In the model, the seat moulding has been coloured red on both decks.   Other aspects included by 511’s owners in its restoration, and replicated by EFE, are transfers that are slightly different from the original, and a Daimler badge on the rear.  Only the first ten LUT Fleetlines, 485 to 494 (later 6901 to 6910) had Daimler scrolls, these giving way to Leyland Fleetline badges on the remainder.

Despite the above aspects, EFE have truly excelled themselves with replication of the fine and distinctive LUT red and grey livery which looks superb.  The distinctive LUT capital letter typeface on the blinds has been well reproduced, though the lettering on the “via” blind on the actual model used for the purposes of this review is not quite straight.  The distinctive LUT rose is very small as indeed it is on the prototype, but looks quite good.  

Some improvement with this model therefore, but still a long way to go!

7552 (HNB 42N) in East Kent Livery

We have commented previously on the casting errors that have accompanied every release to date of EFE’s Greater Manchester Transport Standard design models and this example is sadly no different.   However, this second steel framed Atlantean release is very attractively turned out in East Kent’s post-deregulation livery, prior to acquisition by the Stagecoach Group, reflecting the period when many operators up and down the country seized the opportunity to acquire mid-life double deckers either to update their existing fleets or to allow for expanded services or those secured by tender.  HNB 42N ironically gained fleet number 7842, which would make it Park Royal bodied in GMT terms, with East Kent but was effectively a normal Northern Counties metal framed Standard Atlantean.  The bus is depicted on route 9A to Birchington and the advertisements for trips to France are a nice local touch.  The rear of the bus is spoiled by a Leyland scroll and later style “Atlantean” strip, as introduced on GMT examples between 8624 and 8628.  As such, they could be found on 8706 (A706 LNC), EFE’s first release of their Standard model, but NOT on 7552, unless East Kent added these embellishments themselves, something of a luxury which we somewhat doubt!  The other transfers, although in correct grey, are mostly to be found in what looks suspiciously like GM Buses (South) font. 

The side profile of the model is the greatest cause of concern however.  As with the Fleetline releases, the window pillars are far too thick and look exactly like those found more correctly on the alloy framed Standards.  EFE have continued to ignore the different configurations of opening hopper windows on the Standards and have again wrongly used the long hopper version in the same places as found on 8706.   In short, the entire side profiles have been lifted from the model of that particular vehicle, which is entirely incorrect.  After a token attempt to show the roof translucent panels, these have again been omitted on this release.   The wheel hubs and the bonnet design, as noted in previous reviews, are still wrong!   All in all this is another half-hearted effort by EFE.

8658 (A658 HNB) in PMT (Pennine) Livery

This model is effectively a re-release of the previous model of this particular vehicle, one of the least well-known liveries to be carried by standards, which makes it a curious choice, especially for a second run.  The opportunity has not been taken to improve any of the previous errors that we have reported on, and instead the model is exactly the same with a number of minor detail alterations in terms of livery and transfers.  8658 was numbered 627 in the PMT fleet, later gaining interim number 7627 when the Pennine fleet first came under the control of First Manchester, before being numbered back to the altogether more logical 4658, in the same series as First Manchester’s “own” Atlanteans.  The front fleet number is still not in the same place as most commonly found on Atlanteans, though the prototype reveals that it should indeed be a little higher than normal, but not as high up – close to the air horn grille – as it is.  Another local Ashton Under Lyne route has been depicted, this time the 348 to Carrbrook.  Side advertisements are now carried, for clara.net though curiously for the same concern on both sides.  The legal lettering is now on a yellow strip which is wider than the lower yellow band and looks a little odd, though this may be correct, and the operator is shown as PMT Limited rather than First Manchester Limited.  Our review sample features a messy splodge of yellow on the same yellow band on the corner of the nearside engine bustle.  The First fleet names look a little more tacky than they should.  Otherwise, this is merely a rehash of a model that, one suspects, did not sell as well as expected, leaving plenty of stock available for a slightly different version to be rolled out.

7480 (LJA 480P) in Warrington Borough Transport Livery

Another Fleetline release by EFE, this time of 7480 (LJA 480P) in its subsequent guise as Warrington Borough Transport 54.  Warrington’s smart red and white livery has been well replicated and the bus is depicted on route 3 to “Bus Station”, with intermediate “via” points of “Manchester Rd”, “Bruce” and “Woolston” being displayed in the appropriate “via” blind position.  The WBT blind typeface does not look exactly correct, however.  Nor does the characteristic “Welcome Aboard” message in the first bay window on the nearside lower deck.  Those oversized transfers on the front doors are back again, and the Warrington Borough Transport fleet name vinyls applied to the side and rear route number glasses look rather indistinct and messy.  Again, the rear licence plate looks as if it is superimposed on top of the glass in which it is contained on the prototype.   The Sainsbury’s adverts would be quite reasonable if they were clearly distinct from the bodywork.  Instead, the lettering appears to have been imposed as transfers directly onto the white mid-deck panels.  This is especially the case on the offside where the proclamation “Open late 4 nights a week” (how times change!) on the red staircase panels is on a white background of a watery composition, and is clearly separated from the rest of the advertisement by the mid-deck casting join.  T-shaped advertisements like this would, of course, have been applied directly over the mid-deck strip on the prototype.

EFE just do not seem to be able to get the window configurations right on their Standards!  Here we have the correct type of hoppers for this era of Standards but there are no translucent panels and not all the hoppers that should be present are shown!   There is no improvement either with the repeat of that deeply awful rear engine bustle which has been mostly copied, totally incorrectly, from the Atlantean casting, resulting in a continuing situation of a Fleetline that looks, from the rear, like an Atlantean.

5001 (GBU 1V), as preserved by the  SELNEC Preservation Society

The Society has reviewed every release of EFE’s ‘GM Standard’s to date, so we are pleased to have an opportunity to evaluate the recent release by Corgi of a model of our very own 5001 (GBU 1V), Greater Manchester’s first Metrobus, in its original condition, to which it was restored during 2002. 

We had in fact shortly after the restoration of 5001 in September 2002 been in contact with Corgi to see if they would in fact produce a model of 5001 on the basis that from the original ten hydraulic brake Metrobuses delivered 5001 to 5010(GBU 1V to GBU 10V) they had already produced two models in non-Manchester colours, being 5009 (GBU 9V) in London red and 5010 (GBU 10V) in Stevenson’s yellow, bearing in mind that we had taken the front panel off 5009 as a spare and used the whole front end of 5010 in the conversion of 5001, we felt the model in the actual Greater Manchester orange and white colours might be appropriate and Corgi readily agreed.

The model of 5001 depicts the vehicle as featured in Bus and Coach Preservation Volume 5 Issue number 6, November 2002, showing photographs taken when the newly restored vehicle visited the centre of Manchester during the 2002 Trans Lancs Vehicle Rally at Heaton Park.  The livery and transfers on the model have been as stunningly replicated as on the real restoration project and the side and rear profiles of the model are both convincing and impressive.  Of note is that the pre-production issue of the model featured orange wheel hubs, but following the advice of the SELNEC Preservation Society, Corgi had these changed to the correct shade of brown carried on these vehicles, prior to general release.  Also on the pre-production issue which was presented to the SELNEC Preservation Society it was noted that the upper deck front windows did not have the central retaining bar in place making them look like a single piece of glass.  This was also corrected before the production models were released.  The Metrobus badge has not been replicated on the rear end of the model, however.

Corgi have previously released a GMT Metrobus, in the guise of 5182 (ANA 182Y) in the later GM Buses livery with a black skirt.  Unfortunately, since that time, the casting of the MCW Metrobus has been altered and now incorporates a West Midlands style raised blind box.   This created the situation whereby Corgi could not depict the traditional Greater Manchester three box destination layout without substantial re-tooling costs.   Discussions with the SELNEC Preservation Society ensued, as to whether it was considered worthwhile to proceed with the release in the light of this difficulty, but we considered that it was indeed so and hence the first model of one of our very own vehicles has been released.  The front destination display on the model merely shows the “via” and route number blind boxes, which read “Old Trafford – Stretford – Sale” and “264” respectively, this being one of the routes displayed for the benefit of photography during that special tour of Manchester in 2002.   The font on the number blind does appear to be too large.  The two blind boxes have been neatly printed into the space afforded by the raised area as per the West Midlands style, but there is regrettably no room for the characteristic destination display underneath.  The absence of this and the presence of the raised profile upon which the other two blind displays are printed on the front of the vehicle is unfortunate, but we are very appreciative of Corgi’s willingness to discuss the problem with us and for their agreement to issue the model in the first place.

Asianbus (Britbus) model of Greater Manchester Transport MCW Metropolitan Scania 1425 (GNC 277N)

A new Far Eastern manufacturer to enter the UK model bus market is Asianbus, who under the banner of Britbus, have issued a casting of the almost legendary MCW Metropolitan Scania, a popular double-deck type built in the 1970s and once found with some significant British operators, but withdrawn prematurely in most cases.  The casting is aimed at the higher priced, super detailed market for such models.  A number of the best known Metropolitan operators, including London Transport which had the highest number of the type, at 164 examples, have been featured in the early releases.  Therefore, It is perhaps a little surprising, but pleasing nevertheless, that Greater Manchester PTE has been included thus, with a model of one of the only ten Metropolitans that they ever operated.   All ten GMT Metropolitans operated from Tameside depot, principally on Trans Lancs Express service 400 between Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Stockport.  Sadly, they were withdrawn at an early age during 1983/84 (Metropolitans were particularly prone to chassis and body defects) before the advert of the SELNEC Preservation Society.  All ten were scrapped. 

The vehicle depicted is the first of the ten, number 1425 (GNC 277N).  It is produced in GMT orange and white, in the version carried by the Metropolitans, which is applied in slightly different portions to the GMT Standards.   The orange on the lower panels on the Metropolitan is carried up to the lower deck windows, rather than merely as far as the beading line mid-way up the lower panels on a Standard.  Consequently, the nearside fleet name is coloured differently, featuring a white (rather than orange) wavy “M” and “Greater Manchester Transport” in black.   Another feature of the Metropolitans was the uncommon black on white square depot codes, rather than the transparent version normally found with the code itself printed in black.   Both these unusual aspects of the presentation of this type of vehicle have been nicely replicated.  The cast windscreen wipers and mirrors look realistic - though the headlamps and fog lights look less so - while the model’s rear engine cover can be opened, should the owner so desire.

However, bearing in mind that the retail price falls within the upper levels of the price range for UK model buses, there are a number of aspects that have not been satisfactorily addressed.  Not least of these is the printing of the rear licence plate incorrectly as “GNS 277N”.  The side and rear route number blinds authentically show “400”, but the side depiction is too small.  The front destination display features an impressive but flawed attempt at a more realistic depiction than the printed displays on most model buses.  The distinctive GMT three-box display has the “blinds” shown behind a glass casing, as destination blinds on buses generally are.  However, either the “blinds” themselves are set too far back or else the glass is too thick, as the effect doesn’t look overly convincing and the font on the “blinds” is possibly a little too chunky.  They do, nevertheless, authentically show “Trans Lancs Express” (via blind), “400” (route number) and “BOLTON Moor Lane Bus Station”” (destination).

A major problem with this noble attempt to make the blinds look more like a proper destination display is that different operators, naturally, had different blind layouts.  Adapting the casting to each operator’s specifications would be both complex and expensive.   The solution to this is to have a rectangular cut-out slot into which each different blind layout can be slotted.   However, this leaves an unsightly joining line on the mid-deck front panel of each model Metropolitan issued, regardless of operator, which is most noticeable and unfortunate. 

Although the livery has been accurately replicated in terms of its application, the GMT Metropolitan Orange and white does look a little bright and it is possible that the model was based on a colour photograph taken of an actual GMT Metropolitan in bright sunshine.  Certainly, it does stand out when compared directly with other models in the various GMT liveries, although this is the only model to date of any manufacturer to feature this particular livery style.   Indeed, the varying shades of orange which are found in a fleet of “GMT” models of various manufacturers are quite striking when compared directly. Some of the Metropolitans gained the orange, brown and white GMT livery and so there is the possibility of a further Greater Manchester release, we hope!  The casting itself looks a little chunky compared with the very similarly-proportioned Metrobus as modelled by Corgi, but it is a convincing and impressive addition to any collection nevertheless and a worthwhile tribute to one of the most distinctive types of double-decker ever operated by Greater Manchester Transport and, indeed, British operators as a whole.

6917 (PTD 645S) in Lancashire United Red/Grey livery

The second release of the GMT Standard Fleetline in Lancashire United red / grey livery by EFE is, as with the First Pennine Atlantean re-make, a re-hash of a previous EFE model in the same livery, in this instance formerly preserved LUT 511 (PTD 655S).  The new model depicts 6917 (PTD 645S), with a different destination display.  The choice of 6917 is appropriate because this particular example carried this livery well after all its peers had become orange, gaining some status as a celebrity vehicle / depot pet at the time.  She was the last double-decker to carry the LUT livery in service.  The vehicle is depicted on service 980 to Blackmoor, a rather obscure choice of route – perfectly correct, no doubt, but a bit of imagination beyond the consultation of photographs might have produced a more representative illustration of an Atherton-based ex-LUT vehicle in service.  However, the resultant inclusion of only two points on the “via” blind – Atherton and Tyldesley - is a nice touch and does add a bit of extra character to the model.  Or at least it would do if the two names didn’t take up the whole blind-box, without the correct space for the missing location within.

Otherwise, its exactly the same as the previous release with the same good and bad points.  The poorly replicated Fleetline bustle has not been rectified nor have the misshapen rectangular roof translucent panels. The wheel hubs have not been corrected nor has the configuration of the opening windows.  The livery is again very finely replicated. However, although the vehicle would have had “Lancashire United” legal lettering when new and numbered in the LUT fleet numbering sequence, the era when it was numbered 6917, though still in LUT livery, would have seen it bear “Greater Manchester Transport” legal lettering.  Again a “Daimler” badge would only have been found on 6901 – 10, other subsequent examples being correctly badged as Leyland Fleetlines.  The typeface on the “6917” numbers is incorrect and should be smaller, in LUT style.  It is also possible to see where this previous “511” fleet number has been covered over with a square patch and “6917” applied on top. Generally, however, it isn’t a bad attempt and it does look very evocative of a much missed-era.

7796 (UNA 796S) in GM Buses City Central Branded Livery

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear.  This appalling creation by EFE cannot ever be what it claims to represent – a model of Northern Counties-bodied GMT Standard Leyland Atlantean 7796 (UNA 796S).  7796 had a metal-framed Standard body as did all the Standards built prior to 1981, whereas this model features EFE’s casting of the later alloy-framed body.  As such, not only is this seriously incorrect but it also shows a  lack of knowledge of the prototype subject matter by EFE.  Just to underline the point therefore, for EFE’s benefit, the alloy-framed body is only found on later Atlanteans.   As many members will know themselves already – these are 8433 / 37 / 38 and then 8443 up to 8765, plus solitary rebodied Fleetline 6912 (PTD 640S). 

However, if you can pack the idea into your head that this is really a model of something like 8496 (SND 496X) and not the travesty that it is, you’ll probably half like it, at first glance anyway.  Which is not to say that it is not full of the usual inaccuracies and gaffs that we’ve come to expect from EFE’s line-up of Greater Manchester Standard models.  Indeed, it is absolutely riddled with them.

The model is meant to represent the immediate post-deregulation era when, in advance of the launch of the new GM Buses “People On The Move” identity, a stop-gap was employed which saw vehicles carry local area flashes and names, colour-coded, above the entrance doors together with a band in between the brown and orange on the lower panels. Although it is possible that some vehicles had this band omitted, it is not present on this model which detracts from the image it is meant to be portraying.  The omission is accentuated by the bright work beading found on the metal-framed standards, in this location on the bodywork and elsewhere, being entirely absent on EFE’s model.  The colours used on the GM Buses fleet names and local area identifier - “City Central” in this case, for Hyde Road depot – are too weak.  Worse, the flashes and the fleet names are not the same colour; they should be!  The period “GM Buses VHF routes” advertisements have however been very nicely reproduced.

Everything else about the model can be summed up by cross-referencing with the previous review of 8706 (A706 LNC), the first release of the alloy-framed casting by EFE.  This is quite simply because what EFE have done, once again, is to attempt to re-brand models already produced with a new identity.  The casting is exactly the same as that on 8706 which thus includes the errors already made thereon, and even pretending that this is actually 8496 doesn’t work – because the later full-length window hoppers have been employed and the badge, as we will see, is not the correct one.  At the rear of the bus, the full extent of the rehash becomes evident.  The large (and incorrect on the model of) “8706” fleet numbers are plainly visible underneath the white paint on the top deck offside.  The route number and destinations (service 192) depicted on the model of 8706 are also visible in every blind box, especially at the front!  As with the LUT reissue, a patch in the area where the fleet number has been applied betrays the fact that the identity of the actual models has been crudely altered.  The model retains the far-too-large Leyland Scroll and Atlantean badge, which are quite incorrect anyway for 7796, only appearing on later standards in the 86xx and 87xx series.  The one-line strip Atlantean badge that was used for the type for many years is what should actually be applied.  Since EFE have used this on other GM Standard models, such as that of The Delaine, this implies a lack of attention to detail and that the models have simply been churned out as quickly as possible.  The front fleet number is applied too high up the front panel, while the side and rear fleet numbers are in the wrong typeface and so are the various bodyside transfers - where these have been applied at all - and those on the doors, together with the destination blind.  The print on the “via” blind is a little too large.

EFE might have been forgiven if they’d simply re-issued 8706 as seen during the early GM Buses era.  To re-use the same casting and models already produced of 8706 and change their identity to show a vehicle that is completely different is completely inexcusable.  This has to be the worst of the Standard models released yet and one wonders why EFE even bothered!

7534 (GDB 181N) in the Delaine, Bourne, livery

This is actually one of the better ones so far – GMT Standard metal-framed Northern Counties Atlantean 7534 (GDB 181N) in the fine livery of much-loved Lincolnshire independent The Delaine of Bourne, as their fleet number 102.  The Delaine operated a number of ex-Greater Manchester Atlanteans although this one has been gone for quite some time. 

The attractive two-tone blue and cream livery with scroll fleet names and encircled fleet numbers has been very nicely reproduced.  The side route number blind has been authentically removed/panelled over.  The GM style rear mid-deck panel has been changed for a plain one with the rear licence plate behind glass at the bottom centre thereof.  The front blind boxes have been changed to The Delaine’s own in-house style showing the fleet name and a destination but no route number.  An additional wire-mesh grille has been applied to the nearside engine pod, all these items being modified similarly on the real thing.  What is less certain is whether the roof translucent panels were similarly removed, or whether EFE have simply omitted to include them as they have on a number of previous releases.  A correct and nicely replicated Atlantean strip badge has been applied to the front panel, again in line with company practice and this is also applied on the rear bonnet in correct fashion. 

For once, it is hard to criticise this excellent effort by EFE and fans of The Delaine will be pleased with their purchase.  There are one or two errors, however.  The completely incorrect font used for the “Emergency Engine Stop Press” transfer on the rear of the vehicle so far on every EFE Standard released has once again been used, this time in Gold.  The side emergency exit door does however have gold “Emergency Exit” transfers applied in the correct style.  The side profile of the model remains too clean-lined to pass acceptably for a metal-framed Standard and the bright-work is missing, but otherwise this one gets the thumbs up.

8224 (ANA 224T)

This is actually a re-release of Delaine 102 (GDB 181N) (7534) which was detailed in Newsletter Number 26 of September 2004 as a GMT metal framed Standard Northern Counties Atlantean 8224 (ANA 224T) in the fine livery of much loved Lincolnshire independent The Delaine of Bourne, as their fleet number 119.  8224 arrived from GM Buses North Ltd and entered service in full Delaine colours during April 1996.  Ironically the nearside corner fibreglass panel from the actual bus has been used in our rectification of 6990 (DWH 706W). 

The attractive two-tone blue and cream livery with scroll fleet names and encircled fleet numbers has been very nicely reproduced.  The side route number blind has been authentically removed/panelled over.  The GM style rear mid-deck panel has been changed for a plain one with the rear licence plate put in the centre behind a glass panel.  Curiously this is also put in the centre of the main rear mid deck panel below a glass unit not stating the route number as you might expect but simply the word “Delaine”.  As with the previous model the front blind boxes have been changed from GMT style to The Delaine own house style showing the fleet name and a destination but no route number.  An additional wire mesh grille has been applied to the nearside engine pod as with 7534, all these items being modified similarly on the actual vehicles.

A correct and well replicated Atlantean strip badge has been applied to the front panel, again in line with company practice and this is also applied on the rear bonnet in correct fashion.

For once it is hard to criticise this excellent effort by EFE and fans of The Delaine will be pleased with their purchase.  There are one or two errors however; the incorrect font used for the “Emergency Engine Stop Press” transfer on the rear of the vehicle as with all EFE Standards released has once again been used and not been adapted to the style operator of the vehicle except that it has been put in gold.  The side emergency exit door does strangely however have gold “Emergency Exit” transfers applied in the correct Delaine style.

In total Delaine had eight ex-Greater Manchester Atlanteans, many parts of which we secured on 15th June 2002:

Fleet No. Registration Chassis Chassis No Body Date Acquired Previous Operator
101 GDB 180N Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R 7405507 Northern Counties H43/32F 03/87

Ex-GM Buses (7533)

102 GDB 181N Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R 7400007 Northern Counties H43/32F 03/87

Ex-GM Buses (7534)

119 ANA 224T Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R 7803881 Northern Counties H43/32F 04/96

Ex-GMN Buses (8224)

120 FVR 256V Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R 7900016 Northern Counties H43/32F 04/96

Ex-GMN Buses (8256)

123 ORJ 384W Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R 8001148 Northern Counties H43/32F 10/96 Ex-GMN Buses (8384)
124 ORJ 365W Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R 8000410 Northern Counties H43/32F 12/96 Ex-GMS Buses (8365)
125 ORJ 380W Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R 8001184 Northern Counties H43/32F 12/96 Ex-GMS Buses (8380)
126 ORJ 362W Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R 8000285 Northern Counties H43/32F 01/97 Ex-GMS Buses (8362)

6911 (LUT 495) (PTD 639S)

PTD 639S has been chosen by EFE to depict the livery of Northumbria Motor Services as its 599, in the company’s distinctive white livery with a three quarter red roof along with red and grey stripes that criss-cross each other lower down the vehicle.  Northumbria ran eight ex-GMT Fleetlines from Jesmond Depot in Newcastle Upon Tyne, purchased after deregulation in Greater Manchester around October 1986 when many buses leaving Greater Manchester were purchased by other operators.  PTD 639S was new to Lancashire United Transport as its 495 and was delivered in LUT red and grey livery but with orange seats in anticipation of the amalgamation of LUT vehicles into the main GMT fleet. 

The Northumbria livery has been replicated reasonably well and the front of the model incorporates the Northumbria front destination box conversion with just a number and destination box side by side.  The bus is operating on route 45 to Newcastle but with the first of the three track display set to white.  A “Please give way to the bus” sticker is replicated over the offside rear light cluster which is a nice touch.  However the fleet name font is not correct, as EFE previous models of a Northumbria VR and a National and the bold black fleet numbers are not quite as bold as they should be.  EFE have still not put right their mistake on replicating the rear end of Fleetlines, continuing to use an Atlantean bustle and valance.   

This model includes the almost forgotten translucent roof panels!  It seems as if EFE may only have got this right because this vehicle is in the same registration series as a previous model of 511 (PTD 655S) which did feature them, despite their omission from many other examples that should have carried them. 

8564 (North Birmingham Busways 54) (ANA 564Y)

When it comes to producing models, EFE are slightly hit and miss.  The London DMS and Leyland Titan TN15 for example are almost perfect but the ECW Olympian (the top deck at least as its almost lifted straight off the Titan) and the GM Standard Atlantean are not and it is not just the casting either, the detailing can be inaccurate or missing altogether!

Casting wise, this representation of an alloy framed Atlantean as North Birmingham Busways 54 (ANA 564Y) ex-GMT 8564 has the same casting problems as in previous releases, but when you start to look closely the detailing has been vastly improved. Why?  Well it seems that EFE have either actually been to see and measure up this vehicle or they have been sent a superb set of all-round and close-up photographs. From the front, the most noticeable addition is the replication of the interior front grab rails upstairs albeit tampo printed.  The Centro windscreen notices are correct and make sense this time.  NBB fleet names appear to be very well replicated in gold with green shadowing.  The only thing strangely not replicated is the slightly elongated lower destination box, which NBB lengthened to fit the names for 8564’s new home. The vehicle is shown on route 104X to Sutton Coldfield, via the Expressway, Erdington and Wylde Green.

Moving around to the offside and the detailing gets slightly better again; all flaps and legal texts are present and correct and there is a rather nice orange advert for Natwest Bank produced here too.  But something different is noticeable about the window arrangement.  EFE usually take the approach that one bus is the same as the next and the same window layout is used as per each type regardless of the actual vehicle itself. But this time it represents the era of window replacements and how they do not always follow the pattern from when they were new. Hence we now have (correctly) a mixed set of long and short opening windows and even a few plain glasses where hoppers once were. This is much more authentic. The only faults here are the overly long side air intake and the radiator hole in the top of the pod is not picked out.

The rear is a little bland but correct nonetheless, the rear emergency exit rail is present and the Atlantean badge on the bonnet is very well produced. All legal texts are correct and include a ‘Please let my bus pull out’ sticker next to the lower deck window.

The nearside is very good with the paintwork overall being very well executed.  As well as the mismatch window layout, the small ‘No Smoking’ stickers have been included and yet are also missing here and there as on the original vehicle. The nearside advert is for the Playstation Portable™. There is a small advert for ‘Low Fares’ in the first lower deck window and all legal texts, including the address all seem correct. Other than its usual casting flaws, this is a very good model from EFE.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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