Benbros TV Series & Mighty Midgets
No.13 Austin Champ
Second of the four miltary models in the Benbros TV Series was No.13 Austin Champ. This was based on a 4x4 vehicle powered by a Rolls Royce engine which the British Army developed during the 1940's to replace wartime Jeeps. It was in use until the 1960's.
The Benbros model was a detailed and accurate casting of the original Champ and had good play value. It was an all-in-one casting including the screen and like the Scout Car had a separate driver which fitted into a hole in the driver's seat (right-hand drive) although he did not have a steering wheel! The large metal wheels were also shared with the Scout Car. 'Benbros' and 'Made in England' were cast underneath and the length was 55mm.
The first issue was painted a glossy olive-green and sold in a TV Series box with a large number on the picture (TV3). Later, at about the time when Benbros introduced the Mighty Midget range, the colour was changed to dark-green including the driver.
As the little driver was easily lost, Benbros eventually upgraded the Champ to have a cast-in driver but the result was a poor representation and detracted from the otherwise high quality of the model. The cast-in driver, who this time was given a steering wheel, was on the left side (left-hand drive) because the model was primarily made for the Australian and other overeas markets.
The final issue of the Austin Champ was bright green in line with other military models, and this variation also had a cast-in driver.
Being a popular toy at the time, there is not much difficulty finding models of the Austin Champ today but they are often playworn. The TV box can be scarce and the final models with the cast-in driver are quite rare, especially in the UK.
Variation 1 : Olive-green with separate driver, TV3 box
Benbros No.13 Austin Champ
(1) OLIVE-GREEN including separate driver, TV3/MM box
(2) MATT DARK-GREEN including separate driver, MM box
(3) MATT DARK-GREEN including cast-in driver, MM box
(4) BRIGHT GREEN including cast-in driver, MM box
Variation 2 : Matt dark-green, separate driver, MM box
Variation 3 : Matt dark-green, cast-in driver (L/H drive)
Left to right ; Variations 1, 2 & 3
Undersides : With and without driver hole