Jeff Silver is a self-professed “bus nut” whose enthusiasm formed when he was behind the wheel as a summertime tour bus driver and guide for Brewster Grayline, driving tour groups through the Canadian Rockies between Calgary and Vancouver. His passion led him to collect model buses and ultimately to manufacture them.
Silver is now chief of design and development at Industrial Diecast Design (IDD) of Boca Raton, Florida. IDD has become the largest manufacturer of diecast model buses in North America. In terms of volume, it is among the top three manufacturers worldwide.
IDD is the only company in North America licensed to produce diecast replicas of some of the best-known names in bus manufacturing, notably MCI, New Flyer Industries, Prevost, Temsa and Van Hool.
For nearly 20 years, Silver’s industry experience has been built into the quality of the work of IDD, which is devoted to making replicas that are accurate down to the tiniest details.
The goal of IDD’s Iconic Replicas brand is producing relevant and interesting products for a global community of discerning collectors and manufacturers who value attention to detail, quality manufacturing, accurate graphics and exact replication of real vehicles in miniature.
Models designed by IDD begin with computer-aided-design (CAD) files supplied by manufacturers so the replicas will be exactly like the real buses–only in 1:87 scale.
Constructed of diecast metal, the models feature high-quality, pad-printed graphics, rolling wheels and accurate interiors. During the production process, each model goes through several stages of checks, including three-dimensional design approval, tooling samples and manufacturer verification. IDD approves models for production only after each of these quality checks are complete.
When asked what motivates him, Silver responded, “The idea that someone, somewhere is going to really appreciate the accuracy, attention to detail and sheer beauty of our models.” He views each model as much more than a promotional item or a toy; he sees it as a work of art and finely detailed design.
The effort is appreciated by customers who post reviews on the company’s retail website, AwesomeDiecast.com.
“This is the most realistic and accurate model reproduction of a MARTA bus I’ve seen in my time working with MARTA,” said one buyer. “Even down to the correct vehicle series number. Also very well-made!”
Another reviewer wrote: “Excellent detail. Paint color is perfect. And graphics are colorful, vivid and as realistic as I remember on this bus I rode as a kid!”
Build your own
Committing to commission diecast models, like any promotional product, requires a financial investment. A diecast model is clearly more expensive than, say, plastic bus banks or imprinted pens, but much more affordable than might be expected, Silver said. A limited-edition, diecast replica often becomes a collector’s item that will last for decades, too, so that is a strong argument for commissioning a diecast model.
Manufacturing a diecast model involves overseas logistics, but IDD makes the process easy. They work with a variety of large and small companies and public agencies. No matter the customer size, IDD project managers build an individual relationship with each of their clients, Silver said. That relationship is based on a foundation of careful listening and fully understanding the client’s needs and then replicating it in miniature.
If IDD already has tooling for a model, it requires a production minimum of 300 pieces, making the process viable for smaller companies or transit agencies. In the larger world of custom diecasts, minimum orders are usually in excess of 2,000 pieces, Silver said.
Customers receive a price quote, which includes the design, graphics set-up and a production sample. IDD can handle all aspects of the job.
“We make it very easy,” Silver said. “Not to boast, but we’re proud of our hands-on approach with every customer. That’s what makes us different… that and great products!”