Benbros Zebra Toys
104 (30) Routemaster Bus
Benbros Zebra Toys Routemaster Bus
RED body & base, BLUE-GREEN tinted windows, jewelled headlights
'FINA', '6' route (front & rear), and 'London Transport' decals
Wheel variations :
(1) UNPAINTED metal wheels
(2) RED PAINTED metal wheels
(3) RED plastic wheels
(4) BLACK plastic wheels
(5) YELLOW plastic wheels
(6) BLUE plastic wheels
The most successful model in the Zebra Toys range was the ever-popular Routemaster Bus. It was based on the AEC vehicle familiar in London for about 30 years.
Benbros designed the Routemaster model in two substantial parts, an upper casting which included the top deck, sides, driver's windscreen and offside front wing, and a base section comprising the engine, front grille, mudguards, base, and rear access platform. On the base the number '104' was cast with 'Routemaster Bus', 'Zebra Toys' and 'Made in England'.
London buses were always painted red in the 1960's so that was the only colour used for the model. Inside blue-tinted windows were fitted (shades varied from almost clear to quite dark) and on the outside 'Fina' advert decals were added to each side. The destination decals on front and rear were for route '6 Piccadilly' and on each side below the windows were the logo decals of 'London Transport'.
The only variations of the Routemaster were in the types of wheels which Benbros used. The first models had unpainted metal wheels similar to other early Zebra Toys. Next Benbros continued with metal wheels but painted them red along with the model. Finally there was the switch to a variety of coloured plastic wheels which could be black, red, yellow or blue. All wheel types had black treaded tyres fitted.
The Routemaster was sold in a typical black & white Zebra Toys box with a picture of a bus on both faces. The end-flaps were orange and carried the number '30' although what this represented is not known as there was no number sequence with Zebra Toys boxes.
Examples of the Zebra Toys Routemaster are not hard to find though mint & boxed models are scarce. Some of the wheel variations are becoming quite rare.