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All photographs kindly supplied by Phillip Jones
Finally after a ten month delay Corgi have released the first issue of their much anticipated new modern coach casting. Following the success of the Scania Irzair PB Corgi chose to model the Caetano Levante coach, this striking vehicle was introduced in 2005 following a design brief set out by National Express for a new coach that had a wow factor and offered easy access that fully met schedule 1 of the Disability Discrimination Act.
The first release of the Levante model comes in perhaps not surprisingly the current National Express livery. The company's clean predominately white livery suits the model well and shows off that important wow factor. The vehicle modelled by Corgi carries destination displays on the front and nearside for a Wembley Stadium bound service W24 and is one of the vehicles delivered in 2009 (FJ59APF) to Hampshire based H Luckett & Co of Fareham..
The model is a mixture of diecast & plastic components which have been almost seamlessly combined to produce an outstanding finished product. The model has a substantial diecast lower half and most of the roof is also metal. Plastic is used for the rear engine cover and most of the front end. The rear roof section is also plastic and incorporates the stylish high level brake lights. All the plastic body panels are painted to match the diecast parts.
The joints around the luggage locker doors on the sides of the model are cast and are a little heavy compared to those found on the real thing. The cast vents on the nearside rear are recessed into the body on the model but on the real thing they are not.
The general level of detailing on the model is to a high standard, the lights on the front and rear are very finely detailed, the lower rear light clusters have each of the individual lenses picked out with tiny dots of paint. The orange side marker lights & indicators are all tampo printed and given their small size this doesn't really pose any problems.
The interior of the coach is less well finished and consists of a one piece floor & seating component. Despite containing a fair level of detail the allover grey finish gives it a rather bland appearance. There is one particularly nice touch however, a very delicate looking yellow grab rail is fitted to the nearside front dash panel. The model doesn't have any internal metal poles holding it together either.
The otherwise bland looking grey interior does include this delicate yellow grab rail
The livery application is very crisp and all the small insignia such as Levante and Caetano &badges on the front panel are fully legible.
On the model photographed the blue and red parts of the "national express" fleet name on the front of the model are out of alignment, this problem also to a lesser degree affects the large nearside fleet name.
The rear engine cover which is a separate plastic part doesn't sit completely flush with the surrounding bodywork on the sample model and seems slightly oversized for the area it covers.
The small nearside destination display is tampo printed onto the body panels but the front and rear displays are printed on panels set behind the glazing, all have orange dot matrix style displays that look authentic.
The front of the model is mainly plastic but the join
with the main die-cast body section is neatly done.
The join between the plastic and die-cast parts is slightly more visible on the off-side.
The engine cover which is plastic seems a little oversized and doesn't quite fit flush on the sample model.
Overall it's looks like Corgi have made a good job of capturing the unique shape of the Levante's eye catching body styling. The Levante is still a fairly rare beast and it remains to be seen whether Corgi can find a good array of popular livery options for future releases.
Fans of modern coaches shouldn't be disappointed by the Corgi's latest addition to the OOC range and although I'm not a great fan of the real vehicle myself the model is certainly growing on me!
Captures the vehicles design well
Good fine detailing
Combines plastic & die-cast parts well
Crisp livery application
Some minor finishing issues
Bland one colour interior
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