Click the small pictures throughout the review to view larger versions.
Review & Photographs by Kevin Ellis.
Model reviewed was a randomly purchased example.

Oxford Diecast: 76DC001 - Southdown Duple Commander II Coach - click to view super hi-res image
Oxford Diecast: 76DC001 - Duple Commander II Coach

   Expansion of Oxford Diecast 1/76 scale Omnibus range continues at a steady pace with it's release of a new model coach tooling of a 1960's Duple Commander II coach.

The first release reproduces Southdown's Leyland Leopard HCD385E (1785) which was part of a batch of twenty five 41 seat vehicles delivered to the operator between January & March 1967.
These vehicles arrived in the operators familiar livery of Apple Green with dark green skirt and were adorned with the traditional gold scroll style Southdown fleet names. They seem to have initially been used on the companies tours & excursions, but in later life they were also used on the operators express coach services & some gained white National Express livery in the early 1970's.

The Commander body style was originally introduced in 1964 by Duple and was initially built at the manufacturers' Hendon factory in North London. The new design took full advantage of the then recent changes to the permitted length & width allowing bodies to be produced up to the new maximum of 36ft & 8ft 2.5in wide.

The re-styled Commander II was introduced in 1966 and this was followed by a revamped mark III for the 1968 season.
All production of the Commander bodies subsequently moved to Duple's Blackpool site following the closure of the Hendon factory in 1970.
The Commander was replaced by the first variant of what would become the long running Dominant range of bodies in 1973.

Nearside front view - Click to enlarge Off-side rear view - Click to enlarge
Off-side front view - Click to enlarge Nearside rear view - Click to enlarge
Oxford Diecast - Duple Commander II HCD 385E in Southdown Livery livery.

The Model

At first glance the model does seem to capture the overall style of the coach well, the livery application & colours all look fine and the large amount of chrome trim has been precisely applied with no sign of any paint bleed onto the surrounding panels.
The front grille and wheel hubs are chrome plated and although slightly more shiny than the other painted applied features, these don't look out of place in comparison.

A close up of the front detailing - Click to enlarge Close up of rear detailing. - Click to enlarge
Close up of headlamps & tampo printed grille detailing - Click to enlarge Close up of rear emergency door detailing - Click to enlarge
The model has a good representation of the chrome trim

Construction wise the model body is a mix of plastic & diecast metal, plastic is used for the baseplate & upper body.
Once again Oxford has over painted the clear plastic to produce the roof panels and window pillars, this method allows a good to scale reproduction of the thin support pillars.

The lower body has quite a high metal content & this results in quite weighty feel to the model.

Lights are all cast features on the lower body, all have been over painted to represent the lens colours. There are no mirrors as per usual for Oxford models, but silver painted front windscreen wipers are features cast into glazing.

Most other body details, such as the locker & rear emergency door handles are either over painted cast features or tampo printed. This method is also used on the front to reproduce the bumper grille & black air intakes below the main grille.

The destination display is tampo printed directly onto the front panel, this is acceptable given the that different operators fitted various sizes & layouts.

Nit picking there are a few issues however, firstly the front windscreen doesn't appear raked back enough and results in a rather flat front profile, the wheel arches are also noticeably flayed out to towards the lower edge & the tops have an odd downward slope towards the rear, the real vehicles appear to have had much more vertical sides to the arches and these certainly don't match those found on the Southdown vehicles at least.
Finally the roof centre is rather flat on the model, pictures suggest a more round profile was present of the real vehicles.

Interestingly, the line art originally issued by Oxford when the model was first announced shows a much greater windscreen rake, less flayed wheel arches & a deeper roof.
The real coaches also appear have had lower side panels that had a very subtle inwards tapper towards the bottom edge, this feature is also absent on the model giving it a rather square look.

Nearside view of model - Click to enlarge The original Oxford artwork for the model - Click to enlarge
A close up of the front wheel & tampo printed legal address & fleet name - Click to enlarge Close up of rear wheel & arch - Click to enlarge
The windscreen rake & wheel arch shape appear a bit off

One other slight error regards the roof air intakes, these appear to have been fitted back to front, with the intake opening on the rear instead of the front. The vents are actually separate parts which are glued on, so this may simply be a factory fitting error with this particular release.

Compare the model pictures above & below to these flickr hosted images of real vehicles from the same batch:
HCD 385E (???) Colour off-side view of HCD 385E. Possibly the reference source for this model
HCD 386E (Mega Anorak) Nearside view showing wheel arches
HCD 386E (Steven Hodgson, John Soutar & Mark McCann) Colour picture
HCD 393E (Alan Farrow) Shows the skirt panels inward tapper
HCD 384E (Steven Hodgson, John Soutar & Mark McCann) Shows the windscreen rake well

Front view of roof vent - Click to enlarge Rear view of roof vent showing the air intake - Click to enlarge
Front view, note the vertical side skirt profile - Click to enlarge Rear view showing vertical side skirt profile - Click to enlarge
The roof air vents appear to be fitted back to front and the skirt lacks the subtle inward tapper.

The interior detailing consists of is a single plastic component which includes 41 passenger seats, drivers seat, & dashboard. There are also steps from the passengers door up to the main central gangway, all the flooring has been highlighted with tan paint whereas the seats have been painted light green. A separate black steering wheel & floor mounted control lever compliment the drivers seat.
Dashboard detailing is limited to a couple of raised mouldings to represent the main instrument display & a single dial, there are also a couple of switches to the right of the driver seat. The dashboard below the windscreen has been additionally sprayed light grey

There's basic detailing of the entrance area & cab - Click to enlarge Cab includes some raised dashboard details, separate steering wheel & lever - Click to enlarge
The interior detailing - Click to enlarge
Although the interior detailing is fairly basic all the main features are present

Assembly wise, the model is easy to dismantle with just two cross-head screws in the base holding everything together. The seats are fixed to the upper plastic body by four small clips which can be freed with the use of a small screwdriver blade.
The front grille appears to be fixed in place with a glue and has two small lugs on the rear which locate into holes in the metal lower body. A similar fixing method is used for the roof air vents which are secured in place by a generous blob of glue on the underside of the roof.
Overall the construction of the model is very good with the gap between the two body halves being barely visible, this is further disguised by the trim below the windows.

The model consists of four main components held together by two crosshead screws & four snap fit clips - Click to enlarge
There's barely and noticeable gap between the upper & lower body sections - Click to enlarge Four snap fit clips secure the interior to the upper body - Click to enlarge
The air vents would seem to be an optional extra - Click to enlarge The front grille is located by two rear lugs & probably some concealed glue - Click to enlarge
The model is easy to disassemble & re-assemble

Packaging is by the way of the standard Oxford plastic display case & Omnibus range branded card sleeve.
Overall this is still quite a nice model, but certainly not one of Oxford's best offerings, nevertheless it's a welcome addition for those interested in the 1960's & 1970's era.

Duple has long been the poorer cousin to Plaxton in terms of models produced despite the similar popularity of both marks with UK operators. So once again it good to see Oxford addressing this imbalance.

Oxford appear to have allowed for some vehicle variations as the follow up Grey Cars version has a different upper casting with smaller central roof light & additional cove window lights. It also features an alternative front grille without the number plate mounting.

The second release features a different front grille & roof with cove light windows - Click to enlarge
Nearside front view - Click to enlarge Off-side rear view - Click to enlarge
Off-side front view - Click to enlarge Nearside rear view - Click to enlarge
Front & rear - Click to enlarge The models Oxford Omnibus packaging. - Click to enlarge
Model off-side - Click to enlarge Roof - Click to enlarge
Base has some chassis detailing - Click to enlarge

  • No visible gap between upper & lower body components
  • Good paint finish of trim application
  • Easy to dismantle
  • Keenly priced
  • Model likeness not perfect
  • Wheel arches look non standard
  • Roof air intakes fitted back to front
  • interior detailing average

Construction: 9/10
Livery Application : 10/10
Decal Application: 9/10
Interior Detailing 7/10
Likeness to Subject: 7/10

Overall: 8/10

 Model Review Index