Budgie Models No.704
Routemaster Bus 'Shop Linker'
In April 1979 London Transport, the operators of the capital's bus services, started a new circular bus route linking the main shopping areas of the West End, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Knightsbridge.
The service was sponsored by shops and stores along the route which enabled a low fare of 30 pence to be charged for any length of journey. To promote the service a slogan was devised stating 'Buy almost anything in London on this bus' which was an ambitious claim!
Buses used on the route were identified by a bright yellow upper section in contrast to the usual all-red vehicles operated at that time by London Transport.
Sadly, the service was not a success and it was withdrawn just five months later in September 1979.
The models were painted in the Shop Linker livery of red and yellow with silver trim on the front grille. The roof and base remained red. Windows were fitted and the wheels were unpainted metal with treaded tyres. Side and corner labels promoting the 'Shop Linker' service were added and a label also replaced the usual 'London Transport' decals below the side windows. On the destination panels at the front and rear the three main shopping areas served were listed on yellow labels with a '30p fare' taking the place of the route number.
Starcourt issued this model in 1984 which was some years after the service closed. One possibility was that Modern Products had already manufactured the models during 1979 but when the Shop Linker service was cancelled the models never went on sale. Starcourt therefore took over this stock and decided to release them to collectors with a new number 704.
A total issue of 10,000 models was planned for the Shop Linker bus in a Limited Edition but unlike the earlier Road Roller and Scammell Scarab models, there were no numbered labels on the boxes.
No.704 Shop Linker Routemaster was packaged in a yellow Budgie window box with an inner blue packing piece. On the back of the box beneath a Union Jack there was a printed strip giving the model number 704 and a brief history of the Shop Linker service. The base of the box carried 'Made in London by Budgie Models' and the phone number ' 01-800-1185'. There was no mention of Starcourt on the box.
No.704 Shop Linker Routemaster Bus is quite a common model but the original box is less easy to find.
Budgie No.704 Routemaster Bus 'Shop Linker'
RED & YELLOW
'Shop Linker' labels
Budgie window box with rear descriptive strip