Model Review Index
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All Model photographs kindly supplied by Phillip Jones
Review & NB4L vehicle photographs by Kevin Ellis

OM46601 New Bus for London Double Decker
OM46601 - Corgi's representation of New Bus for London LT1 (LT61 AHT)
The Real Vehicle

        The New Bus for London or NB4L as I shall refer to it from now on, is the result of a project started by Conservative London Major Boris Johnson. He announced during his first election campaign in early 2008 that he would look into introducing a new modern version of Routemaster if he was elected.

After winning the mayoral election in May 2008 Boris Johnston followed up his manifesto pledge by announcing an open competition to design a “New Bus for London”. The competition called for among other things, a red double deck bus with an open rear platform & at least one other doored entrance/exit.
The competition was divided into two categories, one for an imaginative design concept and the other for a full design that would meet all current vehicle legislation. A prize of £25,000 pounds was put up for the winning design along with smaller cash prizes for other worthy ideas.

LT61 AHT New Bus for London Double Decker at the very wet London Bus Museum Spring Gathering 2012
New Bus for London LT1 (LT61 AHT) the subject of Corgi OOC model OM46601

The main prize was eventually shared between two designs, one submitted by Capoco Design and the other a joint submissions from Aston Martin & Foster & Partners. However neither of these winning submissions resulted in any actual vehicles being built and instead the winning designs were passed on to bus manufacturers along with an invitation to submit a competitive tender to design and build a new bus. Among the conditions that had to be met, was the ability to supply up to 600 vehicles over a three year period. Although six manufacturers expressed an initial interest only four went on to submit tenders.

During December 2009 Transport for London announced that Wrightbus had been awarded NB4L contract and on the 17th May 2010 the Heatherwick Studio designed vehicle was unveiled to the public. The futuristic vehicle was unlike any previous London Bus and featured generous curves and asymmetric glazing. The vehicle had three entrance/exits which included a rear one that could either be used in a conventional doored form or as an open platform.
Internally the vehicle had a capacity of 87 passengers and had two staircases, one behind the drivers cab, and another at the rear like the Routemaster.

Mechanically the NB4L is a hybrid powered vehicle which was designed to be 40 per cent more fuel efficient than conventional diesel buses and 15% more efficient than the current generation of hybrid London buses.

NB4L nearside front review

A full scale mock up of the vehicle was constructed and unveiled to the press at the London Transport Museum's Acton Depot in November 2010. It was announced that a batch six pre-production vehicles would be built and as trial would operate on a central London route, this was later increased to 8 vehicles after further funding was made available.
The first of these bearing fleet number LT2 entered service with Arriva London on route 38 on the 27 February 2012, further deliveries arrived over the spring & summer months with the final two vehicles entering service in July.

At the time of writing (August 2012) no further vehicle orders had been announced despite Boris Johnston being re-elected London Mayor in May 2012 and pledging to do so in his election campaign.
The bus itself is still known by Transport for London as the NB4L, but the media have dubbed it the Borismaster or Boris Bus. An official name is still on the cards with a suggestion that a public competition may be run to decide it.

The Corgi Model

        Corgi announced it's intention to produce a model of the NB4L in their October 2011 to March 2012 catalogue, however delays in production saw the model deferred to the April to June 2012 catalogue and its release eventually occurred in August.

The first release depicts the LT1 (LT61 AHT) on route 38 bound for Victoria. The model carries the original TfL “Designed for Londoners” side advertisements. These were applied to the first six vehicles delivered and remained on them until July 2012. This first release OM46601 has the rear exit doors modelled in the closed position. A second model with the doors in the open position is set to be released as part of a three model set in September.

OM46601 nearside
OM46601 off-side
OM46601 front OM46601 rear

The futuristic design of the NB4L seems to divide opinions with some seeing beauty & others a beast, whatever your view, there's no doubt its a head turner. I'm afraid to say I'm not a big fan of the NB4L design, but I'll try not to let that swing my opinion of the model during this review.

Corgi have chosen to use a diecast & plastic construction for the model. The main diecast content is a single piece component which incorporates the roof, between deck side panels, lower side and the rear. The vehicle's design means this is quite an achievement in itself with just the diagonal off-side staircase panel supporting all the front end of the large roof structure.

The unique front staircase glazing and panel that supports the front of the diecast roof

Painted plastic is used for the front grille panel and area surrounding the destination display. The windows are clear plastic with some moulded detailing for pillars & the door structures. Black paint has been applied over the glazing to represent the bonded glazing.

OM46601 nearside front

The first thing to say is Corgi have done a really good job of capturing the external rounded shape of the NB4L, at first glance its difficult to spot anything that actually looks out of place, however lets take a closer look, starting with the all important front.

The front of the real NB4L

As already mentioned the front end is mainly plastic which has been used to good effect to produce the large one piece windscreen & upper deck front window, the glazed destination is also part of the same component and has the actual blind display nicely set back behind it.

Corgi have used clear plastic which has been over painted as per the recent Scania Irazir PB & Levante coaches. Red and black paint has been used to produce the relevant body panels and window frames. This has all been done very neatly with no sign of any paint bleed around the edge of each colour.
The distinctive circular headlights with the main central bulb & surrounding smaller LED's are moulded onto the front panel and have been painted silver to give a pleasingly authentic look.

OM46601 front off-side closeup
OM46601 front nearside closeup

The small moulded side lights below the headlights, and marker lights either side of the destination are also finished with tiny spots of silver paint. The side lights do however look a bit puny and would have benefited from a larger blob of silver paint.

A silver TfL roundel badge is tampo printed onto the grille above the registration plate.
The recessed registration plate itself is sadly rather poorly reproduced and looks far too thin in terms of it's height. The lettering has also been reduced in size to fit the space & is clearly well under scale as a result.

OM46601 headlamps closeup
Nice headlights but the under-sized registration & puny side lights aren't so good

Etched wiper blades are fitted and although these look a bit short for the large windscreen they do seem to match those on the real thing.
Black plastic components are used to represent the upper deck near side tree guard and both of the driving mirrors. Although all of these closely match the designs of those on the actual bus they do look a little too chunky from a scale point of view. The only other problem at the front is a very slight variation in the shade of red paint used on the metal and plastic parts.

NB4L nearside front review

On the nearside there are thin diecast pillars either side of the front & centre exits, these have been left in the red body colour which is a feature not present on the real vehicle. Painting these black to match the surrounding glazing would have probably been better option.
The other window pillars are moulded in to the glazing units and these are over painted on the outside of the model with black paint to represent the bonded window & door glazing. The NB4L actually has quite thick black pillars and those on the model appear a little thinner then they really should be.

The destination display by the front entrance door is printed on the inside of the glazing giving a fairly convincing appearance.
There aren't many prominent panel joints on the NB4L and on the model only those on the lower side panels have been reproduced. The long horizontal joint looks fine but the vertical ones do seem to have been over done when compared to the actual bus.

OM46601 headlamps closeup
Note the red pillars around the doors that are not present on the real NB4L and that the advertisement is missing a line of text

Various decals are tampo printed onto the both sides of the model including white Arriva fleet names, LT1 fleet numbers, the TfL “Buses” roundel and tiny Arriva London legal lettering. All are sharp and a look to be around the correct size.
Other tampo printed features include the door control switches, small side direction indicators and green hybrid logos, again these all seem to be in the right places and of the correct scale.

        “Designed for Londoners” advertisements are applied to both sides, these appear to be printed on a fairly thick plastic film material which sits noticeably proud of the body panels.
At first sight this looks like a rather poor decision by Corgi but examining photographs of the real vehicles shows that the adverts are indeed printed on thick laminated sheets which slot into the surrounding frame.
Sadly Corgi haven't bothered to model the prominent framework and the advertisements themselves are also missing the slogan “introducing London's latest landmark, the new bus for London” which should appear underneath the Designed for Londoners slogan.

OM46601 rear off-side grilles
NB4L rear off-side grilles
There's some difference between the size of the grilles on the model & real bus

The four air cooling grilles around the rear of the model are all moulded into the main casting, these all include some very subtle detailing for the individual grille slats.
The size of three of theses grilles doesn't seem to quite match those on the production vehicles. The one ahead of the rear off-side wheel is notably shorter in height while he bottom edge of the large one behind the rear wheel seems to extend down too close to the edge of the panelling. Finally the one above the rear entrance also seems wrong with a rather large surround and every small grille area.

OM46601 rear nearside grilles
NB4L rear nearside grilles
The cooling grille above the door is rather small compared to the real thing

In general all the glazing fits into the metal casting extremely well with no noticeable gaps present on the review model. This is particularly impressive at the rear where there are some tricky angles and curves to contend with.

The rear light clusters are moulded into the casting with the lights individually picked out with the appropriately coloured paint. Like the side destination the rear route number is printed on the back of the glazing. Happily Corgi have done a better job with the rear registration plate which is much better proportioned and has lettering that looks much closer to scale.

The brownish red wheel hubs are plastic and although the rear one looks OK the front ones seem to be missing the silver ring fitting found on the real vehicles. The rubber look tires do however look convincing.

OM46601 rear NB4L rear
The rear of the model & NB4L

The roof with it's white painted centre and large black radio call sign includes a raised central area which includes what I presume is an emergency escape hatch. The only other detail is a small raised strip which I suspect houses the vehicles radio antenna.

OM46601 roof
OM46601 base

The baseplate is metal and includes some representation of the underside components. There's no visible rivets or screws in the base or any retaining poles inside the model for that matter. Those thinking about repainting one of these models may find dismantling the model a bit of a challenge as a result.

The interior detailing on this model is somewhat disappointing, Corgi have to their credit have attempted to reproduced must of the high visibility yellow grab rails found throughout the bus. Unfortunately the effect is rather spoiled by the over scale diameter of the plastic poles. The poles are all connected to central ceiling & floor panel strips which have been left in the same yellow colour as the poles. The rest of the interior detailing is made of maroon coloured plastic and the only feature picked out is steering wheel which has been painted black.

Corgi have included clear plastic panels up the exposed sides of the two staircases which is a nice extra bit of detailing but sadly they haven't bothered to paint the interior front dash panel black and this omission rather spoils the overall frontal appearance of the model in my opinion.

OM46601 interior
Note the yellow floor and maroon interior

OM46601 The somewhat over scale interior yellow grab poles
The somewhat over scale interior yellow grab poles

OM46601 Not painting the red interior dash panel black makes a big difference to the frontal appearance
Not painting the maroon interior dash panel black makes a big difference to the frontal appearance of the model

Taking everything into account this is still impressive model which certainly captures the unique design of this futuristic bus. The interior detailing is the biggest let down and falls well short of what we've seen previously from the likes of say CMNL. Most of the other points are minor and many could be addressed with a little more thought at the production stage. The only real problems, that wouldn't be an easy fix, on the exterior are the under sized front registration plate and rather heavy vertical panel joints on the lower side panels.

Its fair to say that most of the issues mentioned above would probably go unnoticed if you didn't have photographs of the real vehicle to hand, but its still a seems a shame there are so many little errors that could so easily have be addressed with just a bit more care.
Would I buy one?, well taking all things in to account I think I would and I'm not even a fan of the real thing!

Captures the exterior looks of the real vehicle well
Good build quality
Generally good paint finish & decal application

Poor interior detailing
Under sized front registration plate
Quite a few detailing issues

Overall 8/10

New Bus for London LT 1 along side RT1 & RM1
Three London bus classes together at Wisley. Will NB4L gain the same ironic status as the RT & RM?

Additional Photographs
OM46601 off-side back
NB4L off-side back
OM46601 off-side front
NB4L off-side front
OM46601 nearside back
NB4L nearside back
OM46601 off-side front high view point
OM46601 nearside rear high view point
OM46601 off-side rear high view point
OM46601 close up of rear entrance
OM46601 the doors are in the closed position on this issue
OM46601 close up of rear off-side
OM46601 some of the decals in closeup
OM46601 off-side mirror & driver side window
OM46601 nearside mirror & upper deck tree guard
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