Horse-drawn models were popular in the 1950's so No.5 Gypsy Caravan in the Benbros TV Series was a logical choice. Like the previous Stage Coach, there was not much play-value in a simple horse and caravan and Benbros did not include a gypsy figure like the coach-driver of the Stage Coach. So several colours, and colour combinations, were used to brighten up the model.
The Gypsy Caravan basically comprised a caravan with a separately cast roof, painted metal wheels, shafts at the front, and a horse. The horse was another new casting, the fourth of five different horses in the TV Series. The caravan (with little windows and decorative features) was painted green with a yellow roof or yellow with a green roof and had red wheels, red shafts and a brown horse and appeared in a TV box without number (TV1). 'Made in England' was cast under the caravan.
The wheels on this early model were different sizes with the rear ones being larger and decorated with crenallations on the outer rim. One innovation to the Gypsy Caravan was to have moveable front wheels and shafts. Previous horse-drawn models in the TV Series had been made with fixed front axles, even the Log Cart. With the Caravan, a central pin under the body to which the shafts and front wheels were fitted enabled side movement.
Benbros used two different designs of shafts for the Gypsy Caravan. The first was only used on the first models and had no axle. Instead the front wheels were fitted directly onto extensions each side of the shaft, and this was done prior to painting. The rear wheels had a conventional nail-head & crimped axle which was clamped in place by two extrusions under the body.
The second type of shaft had a separate axle for the front wheels and this was used for all subsequent models. Flat-head or round-head type axles were used for most of the caravans after the first issue but nail-head axles were used again with the last issue in metallic blue. One example has been found with a double-crimped rear axle which is surprisingly rare considering how many thousands of crimped axles were used over the years.
Benbros soon started to introduce new colours or combinations. A yellow caravan with red roof, red wheels and shafts was added next using the second type shafts and only the smaller size wheels, a change which continued for all later models.
More colours were added, yellow or green with a red roof and red wheels, and red or green with a yellow roof and black wheels, all with brown horses.
Eventually, when the Mighty Midget range was started, the Gypsy Caravan received a fresh new look with metallic green or metallic blue paint and a darker yellow roof, red wheels, pink shafts and metallic brown horse. The blue version had thee different wheels, the standard size and a smaller version, both red, and smaller size black ones.
The Gypsy Caravan was the last model to be sold in all three types of TV boxes. This was because the next model in the Series, the Milk Cart (No.6), had its own special box to start with and by the time the Electric Milk Trolley (No.7) appeared, Benbros had decided to number all models (but only the boxes!).
In addition to the standard types, the Caravan was also sold in boxes which had 'Gypsy Caravan No.5' labels stuck over the details of other models (TV4 type). These could be affixed to both sides or just one. Either are quite scarce.
Good examples of the Gypsy Caravan are not hard to find but some colour combinations are a little scarce.
Benbros No.5 Gypsy Caravan
(1) GREEN caravan YELLOW roof RED shafts (type 1) RED pmw (large rear wheels) BROWN horse TV1 box
(2) YELLOW caravan GREEN roof RED shafts (type 1) RED pmw (large rear wheels) BROWN horse TV1 box
(3) YELLOW caravan RED roof RED shafts (type 2) RED pmw (small rear wheels) BROWN horse TV1/TV2 box
(4) GREEN caravan RED roof RED shafts (type 2) RED pmw (small rear wheels) BROWN horse TV2 box
(5) RED caravan YELLOW roof RED shafts (type 2) BLACK pmw (small rear wheels) BROWN horse TV2 box
(6) GREEN caravan YELLOW roof RED shafts (type 2) BLACK pmw (small rear wheels) BROWN horse TV3/TV4 box
(7) METALLIC GREEN caravan YELLOW roof PINK shafts (type 2) RED standard pmw MET. BROWN horse MM box
(8) METALLIC BLUE caravan YELLOW roof PINK shafts (type 2) RED standard pmw MET. BROWN horse MM box
(9) METALLIC BLUE caravan YELLOW roof PINK shafts (type 2) RED small pmw MET. BROWN horse MM box
(10) METALLIC BLUE caravan YELLOW roof PINK shafts (type2) BLACK small pmw MET. BROWN horse MM box
Estimated Price Guide
(MINT models in MINT boxes)
All variations £15-40