NG Models is the enigmatic brand that came out of thin air in the late 2010s, and almost immediately captured the spotlight of the 1:400 community. Their first mold was a 757-200 released in 2017, but by 2020 their catalog included 13 molds in 1:400 scale, plus some 1:200. For its size, their catalog had a lot of variety by having a good mix of current jetliners, as well some nice contemporary classics, being the L1011 TriStar series the sweetheart of the latter group.
Besides their quick expansion and variety, from the get-go NG established itself as an innovative brand that brought 1:200 scale level of detail to the 1:400 world, and took pride in putting out top-quality products: the NG standard.
NG quickly became a favorite among 1:400 collectors, and just as quickly also earned the hate and repulse of competitors.
The initial upswing that catapulted NG to 1:400 scale stardom started to flatten out sometime between 2022 and 2023 when they started failing to live up to their reputation of crowd-pleasers, and their release set started to include a rather high number of repetitive and odd choices.
However, just when it seemed that the NG craze was starting to wind down, things took a turn as they managed to continue being the center of many discussions in the 1:400 community. Not so much in terms of product innovation, but by taking a weird twist with their release choices and practices.
It has been a long-established practice by Aeroclassics to put out a set of hints of upcoming releases in the form of registration pre-fixes, and it is well known that they have taken this opportunity to have a bit of fun with collectors by throwing them off releasing aircraft registered in countries other than where they are based.
Typical of a newcomer, NG has adopted many practices from model manufacturers that have been around for much longer than them, and two of such practices include both, putting out reg. prefixes hints, and releasing aircraft registered in a different country than the airline’s home base. However, it appears that they are taking the practice a bit beyond simply having some fun. An example of this is the recent announcement of a Corsair 747SP registered in Luxembourg when they had released a French-registered example, in the same livery and all, not long ago. And all this while there are some interesting Luxembourg-registered 747SPs that had never been released in 1:400 scale.
It seems that NG may have intentionally sought to cause frustration in some collectors.
Besides teasing with reg prefixes, they also do the same with hybrid liveries. An example of this is how they have released multiple L-1011s in the basic Eastern chrome c/s, but with the titles of other operators, while the Eastern example itself is missing from their catalog.
There is no harm in a bit of playing around, but an unmeasured amount of it could result in them coming across as cocky.
Just about any model manufacturer has engaged in re-releasing, be it by putting out a slight variation of something they have released before, by releasing a duplicate of a competitor’s product, and everything in between.
I for one support re-releasing as it helps curb the overly inflated prices of the second-hand market (sorry, die-cast investors). But besides lowering the prices, NG re-releases of old models, with their improved quality and details, also enable collectors to replace their aging pieces with new generation ones, if they wish to do so.
However, NG is breaking the paradigm by engaging in frequent re-releasing of particularly rare subjects. Namely, their L-1011s wearing iconic liveries (plus some 757s too). In more than one case not even changing the registration; effectively re-stocking highly sought-after items.
I personally prefer to pay MSRP to retailers than an inflated price to a re-seller. But NG is taking things to such extremes that I, a strong supporter of re-releasing, am starting to have second thoughts about the practice.
Matching the demand for rare items and taking a slice of the pie that would otherwise be eaten entirely by the re-selling crowd is one thing. But flooding the market is another thing. What is going to happen with retailers that rely heavily on collection sales? Could the scale tip the other way and sought-after models start to devaluate? Not that NG should care about those questions, but they are certainly being bold.
It is too early to tell how far NG will go with this practice, and what effect will it have on the hobby. But it is definitely going to be interesting to watch as they continue to break the norm.
Fantasy models do have a place in the hobby, especially when they include potentially realistic “what if?” subjects, canceled aircraft orders, movie subjects, etc. Beyond that, I see very little reason for their existence.
It seems that I am not alone in thinking this, as a recent survey in which around 200 collectors participated clearly showed that fantasy releases are largely unpopular.
Yet, we have NG releasing an increasing number of fantasy models, with the latest one being as bizarre a release as you can imagine – a Southwest 737 MAX 8 in which the blue has been replaced with fuchsia.
Now, it is being rumored that the initiative to release this latest fantasy model by NG was actually started among the collectors. But still, why?
It can be that NG is, again, simply being playful and going a bit overboard in doing so. Or it could be something more macabre: “Collectors say they don’t like fantasy models, let's give them more of them and watch how they buy them.”
Whatever the case may be, the latest NG fantasy announcement is in line with their recent collection of unprecedented moves, which, besides what has already been mentioned here, also includes oversized release announcements, and models made exclusively for NG Model club members.
In the end, I hope NG has a bigger plan that will ultimately benefit collectors. As of right now, it is hard to tell if they are just enjoying having us by the strings.
Jorge A. Zajia