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Review & photographs by Melvyn Gosberg.
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Hatchette Routemaster fully built - click to view super hi-res image
The fully built Hatchette London Transport Routemaster Bus

This is the first time I have ever assembled a part works model. The project started in January 2018 and finished in July 2020 the dates being inclusive, so overall it had taken two years and seven months to complete the model, in one hundred and thirty (130) weekly parts. The parts for the model came with a weekly magazine, with assembly instructions on how to construct the parts for that particular week. All parts are assembled with screws and even a screwdriver is provided.

The model is very heavy, as the chassis is made up of metal, as well as the side frames and the upper frame, the upper frame holds the upper deck floor, this sits on the lower deck roof.

The outer frames of the model are then, like the real bus, covered in aluminium panels, and screwed to the frame with tiny screws.

All the outer panels are pre-painted red with the appropriate London Transport and all legal lettering already applied. The interior is made of a heavy-duty plastic, already pre-coloured, but I repainted the entire interior for a more authentic look, the only exception being the seats which have a very convincing moquette covering finish applied that matches the real seats.

The model has lots of features, including, detailed engine, steerable front wheels, interior lighting, working bells, front and rear working lights, destination display lighting, working front destination blind, so you can change the route. There's even a realistic engine noise sound effect.

Building the model started with the chassis frame and onto this goes various parts, to bring the whole chassis together, the front springs are very solid, to hold the suspension, as well as the rear axle mountings, which give a very strong structure for the body of the model to be attached at a later stage.

Onto the chassis, goes the driver's floor, then the main lower interior floor with side panels, seats and windows are added, along with the bulkheads and the rear stairs, which has already been constructed. Next the upper deck floor, interior and seats with the windows are fitted, along with the interior roof.

Lower deck progress after 14 issues - Click to enlarge The wiring for the lower deck lighting - Click to enlarge
The engine has a high level of detail - Click to enlarge The body frame structure nears completion - Click to enlarge

The upper interior was made wrong, all Routemasters have the interior light bulbs above the windows in the roof section, but for some reason the back nearside window did not have a fitting for a bulb. A bulb was instead fitted to the rear bench seat side panel, shining onto the stairs, this would have never been fitted when this Routemaster was in service at the time. The hole in the side panel was filled and repainted, while a new hole was drilled in the roof for a light, the light from the rear bench seat was then rewired, soldered and fitted into the new position. Also, the upper bell was omitted too, so a new working bell was sourced, rewired and fitted.

The roof top panels were next fitted and screwed into place, unfortunately, the panels are supplied as three large sections, but the actual bus would have had seven smaller panels. To correct this, new beading was made to reproduce the additional panels.

Finally, wing mirrors and indicators are fitted, then adverts were applied to the sides and front of the bus. For some reason no adverts were provided for the back of the model, so some after market adverts were applied, as well as new side adverts which were made magnetic and applied over the original supplied adverts.
I also bought an after market stand for the model too and had some Routemaster name plates made for it.

Overall a very good model, the shape of the bus has been captured well, some modelling experience would help to build the model, but even with no modelling experience, a good model can be produced from the instructions. When completed the model measures Length: 699mm, Width: 203mm, Height: 365mm and has 1182 parts with 4853 screws.

Rear view of the completed model - Click to enlarge Offside front view - Click to enlarge
The interior lower saloon - Click to enlarge Front nearside view of the completed model - Click to enlarge

I give the model 8.5/10 for build and fit of parts and would recommend it very highly.

Postscript: Although the model and all 130 issues were still advertised on the Hatchette Partworks site at the time of posting this review in August 2021. Around 20% of the issues were already either sold out or marked as low stock items.

Update: December 2021 - The kit is now available once again from Agora Models, it features the same vehicle with identical route & fleet number.
it is now being offered with either a 12 or 24 month delivery plan. The Agora versions has 120 stages to the build, with either 10 or 5 stages being delivered per month depending which subscription plan is chosen.

The 12 month subscription plan is priced 99.99 per month for the 12 months, the first month is however discounted by 50%, for the 24 month plan the price is 54.99 per month with the first month discounted to 49.99.

Please note, The Agora Models version is parts only, there are no magazines or printed instructions included, the instruction are only available as digital PDF document files which have to be download from the Agora Models site, these can be viewed on a tablet, mobile phone or computer/laptop, these files can also be used to produce printed copies if desired.

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