EFE Re-tooled Routemaster Review
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31601 & 31501 the first pair of re-tooled Routemaster models
31601 & 31501 the first pair of re-tooled Routemaster models

   It been almost a year since EFE announced it was going to improve and expand it's range of Routemaster models, well the wait is now partly over with the release of the first re-tooled models. The first two models have several improved features over the original castings and portray a standard RM and the Prototype RM1. The models form part of the 8 model "Routemaster Series" and come in special themed boxes.

   In this review I've compared the original casting with the re-tooled version, it has to be said that the original castings were always fairly good reproductions of the real buses, the only major failure being the omission of an authentic rear platform bulkhead and window. The pictures below show the last release of the original RM casting (15638) and the new re-tooled version (31501).

15639 original RM model
31501 re-tooled RM model
15639 original & 31501 re-tooled spot the differences!

   Starting at the rear we have a totally new rear platform bulkhead complete with glazed window, grab rail and used ticket bin, this new insert is a plastic component and on my model there is a very slight difference in the shade of red paint used on it and the rest of the model. There is a joint around this component which is visible on closer inspection although the gaps are not excessive.
The main platform upright grab rail also appears to be thinner than before however all the platform rails are finished in plain silver whereas on the real vehicles these would have had various gaps covered in white webbing.

The biggest change is the new rear platform bulkhead
The biggest change is the new rear platform bulkhead

The new window handrail & used ticket bin, note also the thinner grab pole
The new window handrail & used ticket bin, note also the thinner grab pole

Better with or without the driver's mirrors?
Better with or without the driver's mirrors?

Nearside mirror Offside mirror
Close up of the new mirrors

   The next must noticeable new feature is the driver's mirrors these will come in two styles representing either the more modern, or the original versions which are featured on the first two releases. I'll have to be honest and say I'm rather disappointed by these, they somehow look a bit out of place and are somewhat crude in design, to my mind they also appear to protrude to far out from the main body and look a little oversized.

Close up of the front showing the main changes
Close up shows the main changes at the front

The upper deck windows now seem shorter in height
The upper deck windows (original castings nearest the camera)

   The top deck casting appears to have undergone a number of changes, on the negative side the individual destination blind apertures are no longer reproduced on the casting, instead the blinds are just tampo printed on the now flat panels. The bead that used to appear above the side destination blind has also been removed no doubt to allow its use with the forthcoming RMA model. One thing which is also notable is that the upper deck windows are now slightly shallower and some of the pillars between them also appear to be thicker, this is most noticeable on the front corners of the model. The forward most upper deck windows on each side also seem to have been modified and now have a rather over rounded appearance on the front .

   On the plus side the new flush glazing is a snug fit all round and doesn't seem to have the lensed effect found on some of the other EFE models. The drivers windscreen now has a raised wiper blade that is neatly picked out in black paint, the front and side window vents are represented by silver tampo printing that unfortunately looks far to thick. side.

Prototype RM 1 original & re-tooled versions
Prototype RM 1 original & re-tooled versions
30201 Original & 31601 re-tooled RM1

   Moving onto the prototype Routemaster the same changes have been made to this and all that's already mentioned equally applies to this model. Sadly the fuel filler cap still remains incorrectly positioned as before, it should be on the nearside. On the plus side it's nice to note that EFE have correctly positioned the side fleet names further forward as found on the real RM1.

Offside rear
Offside front
Nearside rear
31501 London Transport RM837

   On the whole the changes to the model outwardly at least are pretty limited, the flush glazing and platform bulkhead definitely improve the models appearance, however the mirrors really seem a bit outdated when compared to those found on other current 1/76th scale models.

   One surprise is that the front traffic indicators are still represented by a blob of orange paint and really look poor when compared to the detailed versions found on the recent OOC RTW. It's difficult to judge whether the smaller upper deck windows are more accurate or not, but the pillars on the front certainly look more chunkier than they used to and seem to be a bit of a backward step.
It could be that I was expecting more changes on what was already one of EFE's better offerings, but I still feel a little disappointed that the model isn't as good as it could have been.

   I just hope EFE make all the necessary changes to the RT model which is next in line for re-tooling. The RT has several more short comings over and above those found on the Routemaster that need to be suitably addressed.

 Model Review Index