Benbros TV Series & Mighty Midgets
No.16b Station Wagon
With the creation of the Mighty Midget collection, Benbros introduced two American car models, No.16b Station Wagon and No.18 Hudson Tourer.
Why the Station Wagon was given number 16 is not known but it seems Benbros decided that No.16a Express Locomotive would not upgrade into the Mighty Midget range so the Station Wagon joined as a new number 16 (now known as 16b). It was 61mm long, only just able to fit into a Mighty Midget box.
Modelled on the Chevrolet Nomad, the Station Wagon was not a brilliant representation of the real car and the size of wheels was sometimes too small, but it proved a popular toy. The body was a one-piece casting fitted onto an unpainted base. Initially, Benbros used a clip-fit assembly but it was not long before they turned to rivetting the body and base together and this was used for the remaining variations.
To give it play value, Benbros painted the Station Wagon in a range of different combinations of colours and wheel types, totalling 18 at the latest count. The first batch were metallic blue, pale-blue, pale-green and red. Silver trim was added to the front grille, headlights, rear lights and side flashes. The push-fit bases incorporated open-ended bumpers at front and rear. Small unpainted metal wheels were used, slightly treaded, on nail-head and crimped axles.
The bumpers on the type 1 base were prone to breaking so when the type 2 rivetted bases were introduced, these were strengthened.
Red models continued with the type 2 base but new colours followed, blue, orange-red and mid-green, all with silver flash trim. These had larger unpainted metal wheels more in scale with the model and some would say the best diecast wheels which Benbros used. Also, flat-head & crimped axles started to replace the nail-head type.
The next version had silver plastic wheels, the first time Benbros used them. The model was coloured dark-red and had no silver flash. Later this colour model was fitted with black plastic wheels.
Another interesting Station Wagon was a mid-blue model with silver flash and trim, and fitted with grey plastic wheels on push-fit axles. Grey plastic wheels were very rarely used by Benbros, in fact only one other model has been found with them, No.49 Coca-Cola Lorry. These wheels were identical in size and mould to the silver and black plastic versions.
Push-fit axles were also rare for Benbros, only two other models being known to have had them, No.33 Breakdown Lorry and No.44 Articulated Low Loader. They were possibly a late innovation to combat safety concerns over crimped axles.
Towards the end of the Station Wagon's production Benbros turned to a completely new colour scheme, a chrome-plated finish with red or blue roof, red or blue trim (side flashes and front & rear lights), and a coloured base which could be either red, blue, dark-green, orange or unpainted. Most of the coloured bases had matching painted metal wheels but some had black plastic wheels and the green base seems to have only had black plastic. There was also a chome variation with unpainted metal wheels.
With such a range of choices, the Station Wagon is interesting to collect and there is always the chance of discovering a variation not previously known. It was a popular toy so it is not hard to find but some variations are rare or very rare.
Benbros No.16b Station Wagon
All models had Mighty Midget boxes
(1) METALLIC BLUE SILVER flash unpainted type 1 base small umw
(2) PALE BLUE SILVER flash unpainted type 1 base small umw
(3) PALE GREEN SILVER flash unpainted type 1 base small umw
(4) RED SILVER flash unpainted type 1 base small umw
(5) RED SILVER flash unpainted type 2 base large umw
(6) BLUE SILVER flash unpainted type 2 base umw
(7) ORANGE-RED SILVER flash unpainted type 2 base umw
(8) MID-GREEN SILVER flash unpainted type 2 base umw
(9) DARK RED NO flash unpainted type 2 base spw
(10) DARK RED NO flash unpainted type 2 base bpw
(11) MID-BLUE SILVER flash unpainted type 2 base gpw (push-fit)
(12) CHROME BLUE flash & roof RED type 2 base BLUE pmw
(13) CHROME RED flash & roof RED type 2 base RED pmw
(14) CHROME RED flash & roof ORANGE type 2 base ORANGE pmw
(15) CHROME RED flash & roof BLUE type 2 base BLUE pmw
(16) CHROME RED flash & roof GREEN type 2 base bpw
(17) CHROME RED flash & roof unpainted type 2 base bpw
(18) CHROME RED flash & roof unpainted type 2 base umw
Estimated Price Guide
(MINT models in MINT boxes)
All variations £25-60
Variation 7 : orange-red