All About Postage Stamp Trains
Perhaps the best way to describe Faller's city bus is a loose cartoon mash-up—emphasis on loose—of the 1965 Mercedes-Benz O-302 urban and country buses (right), with a mix of doors and arched side windows, a fishbowl windshield, and some totally random, make-believe retro grille. Curiously, it also resembles a "New Look Era" ATA Flxible (below), although this is merely coincidental, since the ATA is an American bus that appeared in 1973. In a way it presaged the current craze in Japan of "shorty" versions of mass transit vehicles.
The bus came in four colors, and bus sets may contain any one of them. Yellow buses are solid yellow; red, green and blue buses have white tops. The shell is two parts glued together; chrome-plated bumpers are applied separately, and headlight inserts are either clear or the same color as the windows. The shell halves occasionally come apart, the white plastic may yellow with age, and the chrome may flake off and/or corrode a little.
There are three types of windows: blue-tinted, dark amber-tinted, and very pale green-tinted, bordering at times on clear; the pale green/clear windows have printed artwork of a driver and passengers (and had to have been rendered by someone's kid). Yellow buses only have pale green/clear; red buses have either blue or pale green/clear; green and blue buses have either amber or pale green/clear. There may be a cream on red bus (right), although I can't tell if this is a genuine color, or if the white plastic suffered extreme discoloration.
An open-frame motor mounted on its side drives the rear wheels through a worm/gear and spur gears. There's not much gear reduction, so the buses tend to be speed demons. Depending on how much use the bus saw and/or how carefully it was stored, the rubber tires may have dried out and fallen off the hubs. Also, the phosphor bronze pickup shoes are prone to oxidation and corrosion, especially when they're in prolonged contact with decomposing foam rubber; an extreme case is shown below.
Faller's original stand-alone buses came in two-piece plastic boxes with a clear top and a red or green bottom. The bus rests on a piece of foam rubber that decomposes over time, so most boxes now contain a crumbling mess. The box lid has a clear rubbery spacer to keep the bus in place atop the foam rubber. Quite often the adhesive degrades and the spacers drop off. Since the foam rubber is shot, there's nothing to keep the bus from bouncing around inside the box; thus it can be hard to find mint, undamaged buses. A bright orange Faller sticker applied to one end sealed the box, although the sticker may be applied elsewhere. A small instruction sheet is folded up and tucked in either beside the bus or under the foam rubber. Box size: 1" x 3" x 1-3/4"
The instructions explain how to operate two buses on one track; additional information is provided in the bus set instruction booklet. Also, at one time you could order parts for the buses from Faller.
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Postage Stamp Trains is a Trademark of the Aurora Plastics Corporation.