by Eliot R. Brown
Introduction: The Search For An Off-The-Shelf
Prisoner of Azkeban Triple Decker Bus Toy
I had just taken my son to see the third Harry Potter movie — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban. I had fallen in love with the whole Harry Potter series on the strength of seeing the Knight Bus for the first time. I have had a love affair with double-decker buses since I was a kid. I had seen this crazy British Rocker movie that featured a bunch of “kids” who seemed to live and travel around in a double-decker bus! Seemed like a cool lifestyle to me. Of course, double-deckers had been used in Manhattan a long time ago, but had been phased out after World War II. Then, in the mid-1970s when the Borough of Manhattan attempted to make use of British Leyland double-deckers — and for the same route in Manhattan they were famous for in the 1930s — I discovered that at 6'-3&0034; I had out-grown my dreams...
Along comes Harry Potter and poof! there was the Knight Bus in all its electric purple glory — and not a “double” but a triple-decker! Well if double-deckers barely fit in urban settings — triples surely did not. I learned that the filmmakers had to unbolt and bolt back the top sections of the pair of buses fabricated to get them into the smaller center of London where various scenes were filmed.
But no matter! Off to the various kid shops to find what surely must be a wonderland of Harry Potter Knight Bus replicas... big, small, cheap and solid brass! Why the redoubtable Corgi toys — an English mainstay — must have a dozen versions alone!
After a painful scouring of the local shops and then a long internet search, I realized there was no Knight Bus toy. There was a horrid clunky and overwrought Bus that was a figurine carrying case. That was it? How could the toy franchises that had flooded the market with enough Star Wars toys to cross a nerd-geeks eyes have failed me?
But fail they did. So badly that Warner Brothers — the owners of the Harry Potter movie world — have changed their "master" licensors. Harry Potter's Knight Bus is a slam-dunk idea that should have been high up on the list and may yet be. [Ed. Note: In late 2007, Cards, Inc. a division of Corgi International Ltd., did indeed start making “die cast metal collectable” Knight Buses. But I was first!]
While staring at the psychedelic colors of shelf upon shelf of crazy toys, I did note there were one heckuva lot of radio-controlled (r/c) vehicles. Cheap too. I thought, that too, was an “obvious” Knight Bus toy idea — an r/c version that would scoot around just like the real thing. Resentment foamed up within me — I wanted this badly. I was muttering to myself by this point — at an altar of awful X-Men movie toys. How badly? I asked. Badly enough to make one yourself... ? Hmmm — the cheap r/c car body just popped right off the little r/c car. I did run a vacuum forming company after all... I was looking for interesting subjects...