Click the small pictures throughout the review to view larger versions.
Review & Photographs by Kevin Ellis.

Bus By Bono: 100102 - Dennis Dart Northern Counties Paladin Bus - click to view super hi-res image
Bus By Bono: 100102 - Dennis Dart Northern Counties Paladin Bus Review
Click image to open hi-res version in a new window

   Bus by Bono is a relative new comer to the world of model buses, it's first releases were a pair of Dennis Dragon/Condor Alexander R tri-axle double deck models. These Hong Kong related models were supplemented by a second new tooling of a air conditioned Northern Counties Paladin bus during 2017. Bus By Bono's first UK themed model was released towards the end on May 2017 and depicts the UK version of the Paladin without the roof mounted air conditioning unit.

The 1/76 scale model has a retail price of Ł56.99 which includes delivery in the UK. Construction of the model is almost entirely ABS plastic and this particular release is limited to 250 pieces.

Near side front view - Click to enlarge Off-side front view - Click to enlarge
Off-side rear view - Click to enlarge Near side rear view - Click to enlarge
Bus By Bono: 100102 - First Eastern Counties Dennis Dart Northern Counties Paladin Bus

The Real Buses

The Paladin body was produced by Northern Counties between 1991 & 1998, some of the later vehicles were badged as Plaxton products following Northern Counties takeover by Plaxton's owners, the Henley Group.

Paladin bodies were fitted with three different windscreen designs, two of these were wrap around types, one had a flat profile while the other had a double curvature.
The third type was a flat design which featured distinctive side quarter-lights. All the screens remained an option throughout the vehicles production life.

Various body lengths were produced, ranging from 8.5 to 12 metres (28 to 39 feet). All were built to the standard width of 3.1 metres (10 feet). Seating capacity went from 27 on the smallest midi-buses up to 45 on the largest vehicles.
All the Paladin vehicles had a step entrance and it was the introduction of new low floor vehicles by Dennis & Volvo that saw the Plaxton discontinue the Paladin and concentrate on it's Pointer 2 low floor body range after 1998.

Bodies were mounted on chassis from various manufacturers including Dennis, Volvo, Scania and DAF. A small number of Flyde Transport Leyland Atlanteans were also re-bodied as single deck vehicles with a modified version of the Paladin body.
Most Paladin bodies were built to single door layout however, a small number of dual door vehicles were produced, one of the largest batches went to London operator Metroline Travel.

The Paladin proved to be highly successful and all three of the main UK bus groups at the time, Arriva, First & Stagecoachw brought substantial quantities. Stagecoach only bought Volvo B10M version of the Paladin and these all had the quarter light style front windscreen.

These vehicles became a very common sight across much of the UK and many passed to smaller operators after withdrawal by their original owners.

The Model
Bus By Bono: 101002 - front offside - Click to enlarge

The model depicts First Eastern Counties vehicle 40256 (N624 CDB) on route 70A bound for Ipswich. It carries the standard version of the First Group's “Barbie” style white, pink & blue livery

This vehicle was delivered to Greater Manchester North as 1124 in May 1996, this was just a couple month after the company had been sold to the First Group by it's previous management owners.
The full batch of twenty 9.8 metre 39 seat vehicles were numbered 1119-38 (N621-38CDB) and were used on services in Bury. They were some of the first vehicles delivered in the revised orange livery with blue Greater Manchester Firstbus fleet names & waistband stripe.

The Manchester vehicles were eventually transferred to other First Group operations and N624 CDB ended up with First Eastern Counties where it received the livery depicted.

Off-side rear - click to view super hi-res image
Click image above to open hi-res version in a new window
Off-side front view - Click to enlarge Near side rear view - Click to enlarge

As already mentioned, ABS plastic has been used for the construction of this model and is made up of three main elements, the body shell, the interior detailing & a baseplate. Indeed the only metal parts are the mirror brackets, axles and two small cross head screws. The result is a very light weight model compared to a similar sized die-cast product. ABS does however allow much finer detailing and this is particularly noticeable on the front corner window pillars, these are much more to scale than would otherwise be possible on a die-cast model.

Front nearside view  - Click to enlarge
The model captures the looks of the real vehicle extremely well, the livery application looks very convincing and the pink area's transition into the white colour has been superbly done. A semi-gloss paint finish has been used which looks more authentic than the full gloss usually applied to models in this scale.
Rear off-side view - Click to enlarge

Exterior detailing includes clear plastic headlights and orange tinted front, side & rear direction indicators. Red tinted tail and brake lamps are present on the rear.
Also modelled on the off-side is a fuel filler cap, the rear engine grilles and the emergency exit door. There also a printed on water filler cap. On the nearside there's an access flap on the lower skirt panel.

Close up of the front lights. - Click to enlarge Close up of side indicator - Click to enlarge Close up of rear lights cluster - Click to enlarge Close up of legal address & access flap - Click to enlarge

The destination displays are all glazed with the displays recessed into the body. On the sample model reviewed the front destination masking on the edge of the glazing slightly obscured the first letter of the Ipswich destination. Other than that the displays are sharp & glazing doesn't produce any unwanted distortions.

Close up of front destination - Click to enlarge Close up of side indicator & front wheel - Click to enlarge Close up of rear route number display & window - Click to enlarge

Close up of side window & no smoking sign - Click to enlarge All the windows appear to be individual components which have been inserted into the main body. The frames are outlined with black paint to represent the black rubber retaining gasket.
Some windows have vents or black courtesy masking on the lower edges. Each of the side passenger windows has a tiny centrally positioned non-smoking sign. Again like the destinations all the window glazing is extremely good.


Nearside view - Click to enlarge Front & rear views - Click to enlarge
Off-side view roof view

Text decals are been added for the filler caps & emergency exit. A “Countrybus Paladin” badge is present below the windscreen while the first name and “f“ logo can be found on the front & sides. The fleet number 40256 is prominent displayed and www.firstgroup.com has been applied across the rear window.

Close up of the drivers mirrors & cab - Click to enlargeThe driving mirrors and support arms look just right and are to scale. They are finished in bright yellow paint and have a silvered finish to represent the actual mirrored area.

Close up of the windscreen wipers - Click to enlarge Etched windscreen wipers are present and although small have a very high level of detailing. In fact I'd say they're the best I've seen on any 1/76 scale bus model to date.

Close up of engine grilles & emergency exit - Click to enlargeThe various air cooling grilles are reproduced using a punched insert which has been precisely applied and give a good representation of the mesh used or the real vehicle.

The flat base of the model doesn't have any detailing of the uderside components at all, there's just the model unique QR code.

The base & QR code - Click to enlarge

The wheels rims are silver plastic and mounted on metal spindles, they have a good level of detailing including the small retaining nuts and central hubs. Soft plastic tires are fitted and have trend detailing.
A minor point I noticed with the tires was that they seem a little on the lose side and while photographing the model they had a tendency to move about on the rims.

The rear wheel rims. - Click to enlarge The tyres. - Click to enlarge

Moving on to the interior detailing this is pretty good given the models price.

The driver cab area is finished in light grey and includes the internal partitions behind the black drivers seat and the side access/anti-assault panel . There's a blue ticket machine & black steering wheel, but there doesn't appear to be any detailing of the dials or controls on the dashboard. A green handrail is modelled leading up from the entrance door to drivers cab. Green grab rails are also represented on the inside of the door, although these are only a printed decals.

Close up of the passenger entrance - Click to enlarge Another view of the entrance area - Click to enlarge The passenger doors & handrail decals - Click to enlarge

Moving on to the passenger seating area, again green grab rails are reproduced throughout and some of these also have the small bell push bottoms modelled on them.

The seats have silver painted frames and the seat cushion motif has been reproduced using transfers which have been neatly applied & give a very pleasing overall effect. The floor and seat backs are finished in matt black while the interior side & roof panels are left white.

The passenger interior area - Click to enlarge Close of seat detailing - Click to enlarge Some of the green interal grab rails - Click to enlarge The interior without the body - Click to enlarge

Although the model base is just held in place with two small cross head screws, the interior seating component is secured into the main bodyshell with several spots of glue. So it's worth bearing this in mind if your planning to add some passengers & a driver for a diorama display.

Overall the model captures the essence of the real vehicle, there's a good level of detailing both externally & internally, the internal detailing isn't quite as high as that found on the much more expensive Jotus models however.
There's no detailing on the base, but to be honest this really isn't something your ever really going to notice in most normal display situations.

The review model which was kindly by Bus By Bono for this review and came well packaged in a custom made foam block & card box. It survived the journey from Hong Kong to the UK without any damage to the model, display case or card sleeve.

The mailing box - Click to enlarge The foam mailing protection - Click to enlarge The model packaging & display case - Click to enlarge

The model isn't supplied with a traditional card certificate, instead each model has a unique QR code printed on the model plinth and the base of the model. This includes the model number and total quantity produced in the centre.

The model & plinth both feature a unique QR code - Click to enlarge

Scanning the QR code with a smart phone will take you to a unique page for each of the models produced.

Each model's QR codes takes you to a unique web page - Click to enlarge

Here's the link to the page for the review model 004 http://busbybono.com/qr/v/5/4

The models are only available direct from Bus By Bono in Hong Kong or the sole UK distributor TTC Diecast. The model price is the same either way after taking the postage into account. Do bear in mind that UK import duties & VAT may be applied to goods sent from Hong Kong by UK Customs & Excise. The review model dodged them however.


Here's a further selection of photographs of the model

Rear nearside view - Click to enlarge Drivers side window - Click to enlarge Rear engine cooling grilles - Click to enlarge
The display case - Click to enlarge The model, plinth & QR code - Click to enlarge

    Pros:
  • Captures the vehicle's appearance well
  • Good value, given detailing & finish level
  • Excellent paint finish and detailing
  • Great lights, wipers & mirrors
  • Good clear distortion free glazing
    Cons:
  • No detailing on base
  • Tires a bit lose on rims

Marks:
Construction: 9/10
Livery Application : 10/10
Decal Application: 10/10
Interior Detailing 9/10
Likeness to Subject:10/10

Overall: 9.5/10

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