Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Review: TRUX Mercedes Mini Bus


If you're a model railroader, then you've gotta love a model of a bus that displays the words THE TRAIN on the destination board. Parked out front of your model train station, this one simple prop conveys the idea that your model railway connects to something bigger in an instant. All too often however, you'll come across a hollow-shelled bright plastic toy bus that actually detracts rather than enhances an otherwise finely modeled station scene. Although now no longer produced, Top Gear put out a range of finely detailed Australian model buses under their TRUX brand, one of which was a Mercedes Mini Bus that makes a perfect candidate to add beside the train station on a model railway.

The TRUX 1:76 scale Australian version of a Mercedes Mini Bus for the Toronto Bus Service is finished nicely.

The 1:76 scale OO gauge Mercedes Mini Bus was made available in just a handful of liveries. The Toronto Bus Service model that I purchased on eBay is actually a model of the bus that replaced the 620/720 series diesel trains once used for passenger services on the Fassifern to Toronto Line in Newcastle back in 1986. I've also seen this model Mercedes Mini Bus painted for Surfside Buslines on the Gold Coast, Shorelink Buses on Sydney's North Shore plus one other that I can't remember but I think may have been a bus company based in Adelaide. True model car collectors would probably cringe at the sight of this model out of its box, but standing alongside Philden Station, the Mercedes Mini Bus looks right at home on my model railway.

The Toronto Bus Service replaced trains between Toronto and Fassifern near Newcastle back in 1986.

The model is quite well presented, with true to scale NSW license plates and a list of other details such as molded windshield wipers, emergency exit signage, a fully detailed interior and even the famous Mercedes badge on the front grille. To give the purist car collectors a pure fright, the tyres and bright red wheel hubs in my opinion look like they could do with a little weathering treatment.

8633 says g'day to the new Mercedes Mini Bus as it arrives at Philden Station to connect with the next train.

The resale price of these TRUX range of model buses varies greatly. There are two versions of NSW PTC buses as used in Sydney and Newcastle in the 1980's through to mid 2000's that I'd love to add to my layout. However, they can regularly fetch up to $100 each plus postage. For that price I'd rather be saving up for a new locomotive. Modelers looking to add a 1961 Leyland Atlantean double-decker or a 1952 AEC Regal Sydney single decker bus to their layout will be more easily catered for, as there are usually heaps available for around the $25 to $40 mark. Although the Mercedes Mini Buses tend to be listed around the $50 to $90 vicinity on eBay, I guess I got lucky when my buy-it-now offer of $25 plus postage was accepted. For that, I am grateful to be able to rotate between parking my Deluxe Coachlines 1981 Denning Road Coach and now my Toronto Bus Service Mercedes Mini Bus outside Philden Railway Station to connect with the train. It will be a little ironic when the 2 car CityRail 620/720 diesel train that I've pre-ordered through Eureka Models ever arrives at Philden Station. There may be some evil stares across the platform between the train, and the bus that ultimately replaced it!

Review Card: TRUX Mercedes Mini Bus by Top Gear (no longer available)

 (3.5/5)

Final Thoughts: This rare little model of a rare little prototype captured in OO guage 1:76 scale is becoming increasingly hard to find, making it highly collectable in its own right.

See also; Review: TRUX Denning Road Coach

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil