Photographed and Reviewed by Peter Brown
SunStar primarily does 1:18 and 1:12 scale models, but when you're making a vehicle that's almost 25 feet long in real life, you need a smaller scale to keep the model's size within reason. This works out nicely for those of us who collect 1:24 scale, because we get interesting subjects like this Bedford Vista bus. At about 12" long, 4¾" tall, and 3¾" wide, it's a big model; but still a manageable size for many displays.
The coachwork of this bus is by Duple, ergo the name, and it is truly magnificent. I love the sweeping curve of the side spear, and how it compliments the curved rear "fenders" which protrude ever so slightly from the body to give them better definition. Likewise, the way the roof curves down into the sides of the bus, and the sliding "Vista" roof are great design features.
The first thing you'll notice is the quality of the finish. All painted and chromed parts are glossy and smooth, and not a single flaw was evident. Clear and colored parts molded in plastic are very nicely done as well, and all tampos, decals, and other graphics and signage are perfectly applied and the lettering is easily legible. Fit and build quality are excellent overall, and all working parts operate smoothly and easily.
Starting up front, we see the nicely executed grille and headlight assemblies. The less than perfect fit of the hood (or bonnet) visible in these photos is my fault, as I did not close it properly after opening it to photograph the engine. While both left and right sides of the top of the hood are nicely hinged from the centerline, the side panels simply attach to the tops with a pair of posts that fit into the underside of the top panels. Due to this arrangement, special care must be taken to ensure the side panels of the hood are aligned with the body when closed. This was the only gripe I had with the model, and it's a relatively minor one.
From the driver's side, we see that window glazing is clear and relatively distortion-free. SunStar even replicated the clear "visors" with their chrome-trimmed edges, at the top of each window, which allow the windows to be lowered partially while keeping out the rain.
Notice how every rivet head on this considerable coach body is reproduced in detail. Also worth noting are the fuel filler and emergency cutoff, the working "trafficator" turn signals, and the nicely scaled external hinges on the emergency exit door. The outside rear-view mirror, missing in some of these shots, is packed separately from the model to be attached by the owner. This eliminates the possibility of breaking it off when shipping or unpacking the model.
Above and below we see the sliding roof in it's closed and open positions. This wonderful feature allowed passengers to enjoy lots of fresh air and an overhead view, and it allows us to get a good look at the terrific interior. Note the overhead luggage racks, and the nicely simulated, patterned seat "fabric."
In these close-up shots we can see the beautifully detailed engine compartment, and (below) you can even make out the lettering on the emergency exit door outside release lever, which reads "lift to open."
On the passenger side, the main entrance to the bus is a sliding door, which operates smoothly, allowing ingress and egress for the passengers. Inside we see the textured steps and flooring, and the chromed and painted handrails and door pulls.
In the aerial view below, note how nicely the seats are detailed, with realistic fabric patterns, and contrasting frames supporting the chrome-plated grab rails.
Below we enlarged the shot many times to show the legible sign over the interior door opening. Not shown here but equally impressive are the many interior panels, complete with window cranks, and the clock and mirrors at the front end of the ceiling.
The driver's compartment is done up nicely with fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and all the switches and levers the driver needs to keep things under control. The steering wheel operates the front wheels, and the stick shift is contained by a chrome railing, keeping it safely away from the front seats to the left of the driver. Also note the ashtrays on the seatbacks, and ahead of the first row of seats behind the driver's seat, and the window cranks.
Out back, the nicest feature is probably the taillights with their integral, arrow-shaped, turn indicators. Cargo doors, while replicated, are non-functional on the model. I love the detailing on the bumper, including the Manufacturer and Coachbuilders names.
Overall, the model makes a delightful presentation, and it has enough detail to satisfy even fussy collectors like me. The 29-passenger interior layout is so complete and beautifully reproduced, that it draws you in, making you wish you were taking an old-fashioned holiday tour. SunStar has a hit on their hands with the Bedford Coach, and I hope they will continue to produce models of this caliber in 1:24 scale. It's available in several color schemes/liveries, and at a price of around $100, it's quite a bargain. This one comes in a limited edition of 1,500 pieces, complete with numbered certificate.