Saturday, 25 February 2017

Review: TRUX Mercedes MkIII Bus

I finally added a third member to the bus fleet on my layout. This time a NSW State Transit Authority 1981 Mercedes-Benz MkIII bus with the destination board reading Newcastle via Gateshead West, or Route 327 on the Newcastle Buses network.

Although new-in-box models are highly valued by collectors, this one's coming out to go on my model railway layout.

Once more, the model is a 1:76 OO scale bus produced by Top Gear's TRUX label in 2011, no longer produced and now becoming increasingly collectible. Once more, I totally ignored the brand-new-in-box collectible factor of these models, by opening it and plonking the bus outside Philden's railway station.

There's not much detail beneath the TRUX models, but who's going to see it anyway?

Underneath, the TRUX models are no more detailed than a toy Matchbox car. Believe me, this one is the most detailed TRUX model I've purchased so far. But when placed on a model railway layout, who's going to see the underneath detail anyway?

There's some nice detail on the front of the model that can only be appreciated through the lens of a camera.

Standing in the gravel car park outside my railway station, the detail of this die-cast model really comes to life. The grooved tyres, moulded headlights, printed windshield wipers and simulated rubber door gaskets lend a bit more realism to the sharply painted model, and the fine print can only be appreciated up close through the lens of a camera. This paint scheme is reminiscent of the 1980's government operated State Transit Authority, and other models painted in the later 2000 era Sydney Buses livery can still be tracked down through eBay or die-cast model vehicle collectors.

Ever been stuck behind a bus in traffic? This view may be more familiar.

The rear of the bus will look familiar to Sydneysiders or Novacastrians who have ever been stuck in good ol' Australian peak hour traffic. These days however, buses in Australian capital cities are more often plastered with vinyl wrap advertising that makes our buses look like giant, ugly, moving advertising billboards.

The frost-printed aluminium window frames give the model a real lift.

The driver's side of the PMC built Galvatress MkIII body is a little more simplified than the double doors on the passenger side. But the frost-printed aluminium window frames and rear mesh panels still provide an attractive finish to the model.

And finally, here's a side-on comparison of the 1:76 OO scale bus with my 1:83 HO scale Sydney double-decker train.

The size difference between the 1:76 OO scale NSW bus and the 1:83 HO scale Sydney double-decker train is negligible. The bus would be dwarfed by the train in real life, and on my layout the size comparison is a case of near enough is good enough. After all, there are no Australian HO scale manufacturers that I am aware of that produce Australian prototype buses of this quality. The TRUX models of this type can generally fetch between $75 and $125 on eBay, something which I had baulked at previously. Fortunately I was able to pick this model up still new-in-the-box for much less.

What the TRUX NSW State Transit Authority Newcastle bus does offer, is a realistic model with which to simulate a connecting bus service with an arriving passenger train. Given that I now have a waiting Route 327 Newcastle via Gateshead West bus to position outside my upper level suburban station, I thinks its safe to say that the expansion level on my layout is going to be purely fictional. Either that, or the 327 bus is going to have to travel a long way down the M1 from inner-suburban Sydney. Whatever unfolds on my upper level adventures, for now, the 327 bus is simply pulled up alongside Philden, perhaps lost after making a wrong turn at Broadmeadow. And if I'm lucky enough, I might just be able to pick-up a 2000's era Sydney Bus at the right price sometime in the future.

Review Card: TRUX Mercedes-Benz MkIII NSW Bus by Top Gear (no longer available)


Final Thoughts: The pleasing detail on this model makes it a great foreground prop for any New South Wales inspired urban model railway scene. If you're lucky enough to find one that is.

See also; Review: TRUX Mercedes Mini Bus

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