Benbros TV Series & Mighty Midgets
No.9 Fire Engine & Ladder
When Benbros added No.9 Fire Engine and Ladder to the TV Series, they based it on a Dennis F7 vehicle which In 1955 was only just starting to be introduced but before long became familiar in most towns and cities so it was a good choice. As to why Benbros chose the number 9, maybe one need look no further than Lesney who also ran a Fire Engine model at No.9.
The Benbros Fire Engine was a conventional design of cast body and rivetted base which held the axles. It was, of course, painted red but had widespread silver trim added to the grille, headlights and bumper, the side control panels, hoses on the top deck and sometimes the bells above the cab. The wheels were unpainted metal. 'Benbros' and 'Made in England' was cast on the base. The model measured 53mm in length and sold in a TV3 box.
There were few changes to the Fire Engine itself although the red paint varied from quite dark red on early and late issues to a bright red for most of the models. Metal wheels were used until the final issue which had small black plastic wheels. The axles were round-head & crimped to start with, then switched for a time to nail-head with the change to Mighty Midgets, and then back to round-head on later models including the last one with black plastic wheels.
The Ladder on top was a single casting to which was attached two painted metal wheels. In all there were four versions of the ladder but the first one was probably the most realistic, being unpainted metal with open rungs and two large bright yellow wheels. When the switch to Mighty Midgets was made, Benbros re-coloured the ladder and wheels to metallic light-brown or gold, but this first MM issue retained the open rungs and large wheels.
Next it was decided to close the rungs of the ladder, perhaps to improve strength, so the third type was a fresh casting with closed rungs and large wheels painted metallic brown. Finally, the fourth version, which was used with the last bpw model, had small metal wheels on a closed-rung ladder and was painted metallic mid- or dark-brown.
The Fire Engine was a popular toy so it turns up quite often but the ladders are harder to find in good condition.
Type 1 ladder, TV3 box
Benbros No.9 Fire Engine
(1) DARK-RED body & base, silver trim, umw, Type 1 ladder, TV3 box
(2) RED body & base, silver trim, umw, Type 2 ladder, MM box
(3) RED body & base, silver trim, umw, Type 3 ladder, MM box
(4) DARK-RED body & base, silver trim, small bpw, Type 4 ladder, MM box
(Type 1) UNPAINTED metal ladder with open rungs, large YELLOW painted metal wheels
(Type 2) METALLIC BROWN ladder with open rungs, large METALLIC BROWN wheels
(Type 3) METALLIC BROWN ladder with closed rungs, large METALLIC BROWN wheels
(Type 4) METALLIC BROWN ladder with closed rungs, small METALLIC BROWN wheels
small black plastic wheels, type 4 ladder
Ladder Variations: Types 1 -4 (left to right)
Ladder wheels: Type 1 (rear), Type 2 centre), Type 3 (front)
Shades of red
Fire Engine wheels - unpainted metal and black plastic