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NPE001 - Oxford Diecast's first Plaxton Elite wears the mainly white livery of National Express
NPE001 - Oxford Diecast's first Plaxton Elite wears the mainly white livery of National Express
A Brief History
The Plaxton Elite Coach

   Plaxton unveiled the new Elite at the 2008 Euro Bus show in Birmingham, initially it was produced as a high end three axle vehicle based on a Volvo B12R but shorter two axle versions were later developed for mounting on the Volvo B9R & B13R.

The vehicle was designed by automotive design specialists Capoco design and features a distinctive domed roof and large front windscreen. The first finished vehicles were delivered in 2009 and 100th body had been completed by May 2011.

The existing Panther coach design was also updated with an Elite style front grille, while the previous high end Paragon body was eventually dropped in favour of the Elite.

The Elite is already becoming a familiar sight in the UK with examples now operating on National Express services and growing numbers are also entering the fleets of smaller independents.




The Model

   Oxford Diecast has quickly developed a range of N scale models which include many vehicles they've previously released in 1:76th scale, it's range of bus & coach models have so far all remained exclusive to the N scale range however.

Since the first Routemaster & Bedford OB models were released in late 2008 the "Omnibus" range has grown at a fairly steady rate. All the previous models have had diecast bodies that in some cases have given them a slightly chunky appearance.
The Plaxton Elite model breaks this tradition and has a completely different construction which sees the body and window glazing incorporated into a single tinted clear plastic body shell. The body panels are then reproduced by painting over the plastic with further detailing such as window pillars being tampo printed.

The first model released wears the predominantly white National Express livery, The model depicts Selwyns Travels FN10 FKV a Volvo B9R which is depicted on route 550 bound for London.





   Given the small size of this model it has a remarkably good level detailing moulded into the plastic body.
There are textured engine air vents on both sides at the rear and the panel joints are reproduced using fine recessed grooves. Various access hatches are also present on both side of the model.

The emergency exit on the offside rear is present and even has detailing for the hinges, it's frame has been picked out with white paint on the glazing which is very effective.

The near side destination display is printed on to the flat side panels and has a suitable dot matrix appearance.

NPE001 Nearside view
NPE001 Off-side view

   Moving on to the rear of the coach there is lot of detailing which includes both moulded and tampo printed features. The engine access panels and lights are moulded features, silver paint is used to pick out the bright work on the engine cover and the main light cluster mountings. All the individual lights are tampo printed and these include some very tiny roof level brake lights.

The rear destination has been applied in the same way as the side one, the rear also has a tampo printed red & blue fleet name and even a tiny Plaxton name badge.

NPE001 rear close up
The rear has been well detailed and contains some neatly applied tampo printed features

   The front of the model is dominated by the large windscreen which forms the front of the distractive domed roof section. Due to the construction of the model all the glazing is tinted, on the real vehicle the windscreen, drivers cab, and passenger door glazing would of course have to untinted to be road legal.

The windscreen wipers are moulded onto the glazing and on this version a front destination display has been tampo printed onto the lower part of the windscreen.

There is a relatively small front dash panel below the windscreen that has moulded panel joints and recessed light clusters. Again here tampo printing has been used to represent the individual headlamp lenses to good effect.

Like many modern coaches the Plaxton Elite has fairly substantial rabbit ear type driving mirrors, those on the model look about right in terms of size although I suspects these are probably a little chunkier than reality.

NPE001 Front & rear views

   The passenger door frame is cleanly tampo printed on to the glazing and panels below, the windscreen pillars are also painted on and on the review model the paint coverage is a little thin giving a slightly different colour match.

NPE001 front nearside close up
NPE001 front off-side close up

   The air con unit is recessed into the roof dome and again this is a moulded feature which has four tampo printed fan vents. Towards the rear there are two roof vents which on this model have been painted over in the white body colour. I suspect if required these could be left unpainted on feature releases to represent glazed versions.

NPE001 roof detailing
The roof air con unit and roof vents are all moulded features

   The base plate is the only diecast part on this model and includes some basic chassis detailing.
The wheels look fairly authentic despite being solid plastic with silver painted hubs. The spindles are the right length also, so there's virtually no sideways movement on wheels either.

NPE001 The diecast baseplate detailing

   The National Express livery has been well reproduced with all the fleet names correctly aligned and cleanly applied, they also look to be the right size. The silver flashes on the sides and rear are to the same standard and overall give a very pleasing appearance.

Considering this is a N scale model Oxford have to be congratulated on the detail they've managed to include, this is best exemplified by the Selwyns Travel legal lettering on the near side which is actually fully legible if you can find a strong enough magnifying glass!

The model can be dismantled with ease
The tampo printed decals are excellent with even the tiny legal lettering being legible

   The interior detailing is fairly basic and consists of a single black plastic component which has passenger seats, drivers seat & dash panel. Steps from the entrance are also included as is the steering wheel.

To be honest the tinted windows obscure most of the interior detailing but fairly substantial interior columns are used to hold the model together and the front one is still clearly visible through the windscreen.

The interior seating
The interior detailing is limited and made of black plastic.
NPE001 Drivers area & dashboard
The drivers area has a simple dashboard and black steering wheel.

   The model has a SRP of 6.95 which given the attention to detail seems a very fair price. I've avoided N scale until now but have to say this model has made me reconsider that position, looking at the photographs on this page you'd have to agree that the model is almost comparable with something previously released in the larger 1:76 scale and is quite an amazing achievement.

The model is only around 8 centimetres long
Oxford have pushed N scale models to a new level with the Plaxton Elite

   Overall this is a good product which has very few problems, the plastic body certainly works well and suits the subject's needs. It will be interesting to see whether Oxford repeat the plastic body on future N buses or return to diecast, personally I feel plastic is more suited to these small models and allows far finer detailing.

The model can be easily dismantled by removing the two cross head screws in the base, the one piece plastic body may however make it less than ideal for repainting and will probably make striping it near impossible.

   Oxford are planning some eye catching liveries for future models and if they can match the standards achieved on this first example we should be in for some real treats.

Oxford Diecast have used there standard packaging of a plastic present case with card sleeve.
The model comes packaged in a plastic display case

    Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Captures the distinctive design of the coach
  • High level of detailing
  • Easily dismantled for modification
  • Good paint finish and excellent tampo printed decals
    Cons:
  • Large internal support columns inside model
  • Plastic body may cause problems for re-painters
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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