Review by Kevin Ellis
Corgi's latest OOC tooling brings us the distinctive lines of the Scania Irizar PB coach. Originally announced in the 2007 catalogue, the model's release has been delayed almost 11 months by the problems that preceded Corgi's takeover by Hornby earlier this year.
The model reviewed here is the National Express NXL Shuttle OM46201 with Birmingham destination: this particular model is a certificated run of 2932 pieces, half of which have an alternative London destination. The coach modelled, YN04 GPF, was one of fourteen such vehicles purchased in 2004 by National Express principally for use on the newly introduced London to Birmingham 420 service. The vehicles were delivered in the latest National Express livery although for a time YN04 GPF carried a special Irish shamrock livery similar to that depicted on the other OOC Irizar PB release OM46202.
National Express were obviously impressed with their new Irizars and purchased a further larger batch of vehicles during 2005: this second batch differed from the first fourteen by having their front destination equipment mounted on the roof rather than behind the windscreen.
This model has a high die-cast content giving it a nice weighty feel: the main plastic content is restricted to the glazing and internal detailing. Like the recent OOC Plaxton coaches the plastic glazing components have been over painted with the body colour to form the subtle curves on forward side windows and windscreen surround, most of the other glazing detail is applied in the form of black tampo printing; this does a good job of recreating the vehicles sleek flush glazing.
The NXL Shuttle version has the destination display in the front windscreen. On the model the actual destination information has been printed on the outside of the glazing rather than the inside which is a little disappointing. A second version of the model has also been released in the special green and white Irish livery and this has an alternative roof mounted destination box, this plastic addition fits very snugly onto the curved front end of the roof air-con unit.
Etched wiper blades are fitted to the clear front windscreen: apart from this and the forward-most side windows all the other glazing on the model is tinted black. The distinctive rabbit ear mirrors are nicely reproduced and are combined with a smaller driving mirror assembly below the drivers cab side window. These all have silver detailing applied on the reverse to represent the several individual mirrors they house.
The front headlamp units are single piece components that convincingly capture the correct look and shape. Orange paint has been used behind these clear inserts to produce the direction indicator lenses and a similar process has been repeated to produce the large rear light clusters. All the other lights on the model have been added using tampo printing: however their appearance has been much improved by the fact they are applied to raised or recessed points on the casting giving them a more authentic three dimensional appearance.
The large front mounted air-conditioning unit takes up nearly half of the roof space on the model and has a good level of detailing that includes grilles and fan housings. Two escape hatches are reproduced on the ribbed rear section of the roof.
The rear engine cover is, in fact, a plastic component, but like the glazing this has been painted to match the rest of the body colour and doesn't stand out as such. The evenly applied paint finish is extremely good and thin enough not to mask any of the finer details of the casting. The tampo printed decals are also perfectly applied and have a very crisp appearance. The minute legal lettering and unladen weight details present on the lower near side panels are all fully legible although to actually read them you'll require a strong magnifying glass!
The internal detailing is probably the most disappointing aspect and appears to be a single piece grey plastic component containing all the seats and drivers dashboard, apart from the black steering wheel everything else remains undecorated, luckily the tinted glazing does a good job of disguising this somewhat bland feature. The model doesn't have any internal fixing poles or visible external fixing points.
Overall the shape of the coach has been well captured and can't be seriously faulted. There are however a few very minor short comings. The must noticeable of these is the rather heavy reproduction of the recessed groove on the waistband below the side windows. This is very distinctive on the model but doesn't appear to be such a strong feature on the real vehicle. The other minor problems are encountered on the front - firstly there should be a pair of thin air intake slits above the bumper, although these are present on the casting (I believe they would be better represented if picked out with some black paint as they are actually very prominent on the real vehicles), and, secondly, I feel the front side lights would have looked much better if they been recessed more deeply into the lower corner panels.
This new casting is certainly up there with the best of the OOC offerings. The first two releases were much anticipated and appear to have sold well. Corgi under its new Hornby ownership will certainly have plenty of livery options available for future releases. Two further releases have already been announced and Galway Citylink and Johnson Bros Tours models are expected to be released towards the end of this year. It will be interesting to see what's planned for this model in the forthcoming 2009 catalogue.
The opinions offered in the reviews on this page remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the of views of the Model Bus Website.