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OOC's new castings for 2007 were all based on modern single deck coaches, the first of the three new castings to be released is the Plaxton Paragon coach. The Paragon is still one of Plaxton's current body designs and shares a close family resemblance to the Panther variant which has a more raked windscreen. A Panther version of the model is due to be released by Corgi later this year.
Both the Paragon and Panther were launched by Plaxton in 2001 superseding the earlier Premiere and Excalibur designs which have both been earlier subjects of OOC models.
The first release of the Paragon Coach OM46101 comes in the striking red and gold livery of the Derbyshire based operator Felix Coaches. The model carries the companies traditional "Felix Cat" emblem and depicts one of a pair of Pagagon coaches purchased by the operator in March 2006 for use on Holiday Tours and Excursions.
The model seems to employ the same basic construction as the Van Hool T9 with the baseplate, lower body panels and roof all being die-cast while the side glazing is a single plastic component that has the window glazing bars printed on to it. This printing has been nicely applied and seems much more to scale than those found on the Van Hool T9 models.
The main difference compared with earlier coach models is that of the whole front end of the coach from the door forward is a clear plastic moulding that has had the body detail printed onto it. This has no doubt been done to allow the fitting of the alterative Panther front end to the main casting when required and isn't really problem that normally affects the models appearance, however under certain lighting conditions light can pass through the plastic and paint giving the impression that a lighter shade of red paint has been used on this area of the model. This method of construction has also left a small joint across the front of the roof, fortunately this isn't too obvious and appears to be a feature of the real vehicles anyway.
The roof join between the plastic and die-cast components
The interior of the coach is once again a single plastic component in this case light blue, Corgi have however painted the front dashboard area light grey which does improve the appearance somewhat. Another first on this model are separate the luggage racks, blue plastic again, that have been fitted to the underside of the roof. Sadly however the interior detailing can still only really be described as 'basic' in comparison to that now found on models produced by CMNL & Britbus.
Most of the body details such as the cooling grille, side indicators and door handles have been printed on to the flat body panels and on the whole this has been neatly done. The front and rear lights are cast and have been picked out using orange and silver paint. The roof is fitted with a large detailed air conditioning unit which although plastic has been painted to match the red body colour.
The wheels on this model are fitted with decorative hub caps, these are finished in satin silver and have black centre discs. I suspect on the real coach these would actually had a chrome finish so the model versions are a little disappointing in that respect. The model also lacks the poseable front wheels found on the earlier Plaxton coach models but does have some nicely reproduced mirrors and the now standard etched windscreen wipers.
Overall I'd say this model is without doubt OOC best modern coach casting to date, there's very little to find fault with although I'm sure some will bemoan the omission of the poseable wheels and lack of interior detailing. I'm certainly looking forward to the First Eastern Counties and the National Express Panther models and on the basis of this casting the much anticipated Scania Irizar PB coach.
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