In April 2023 GeminiJets announced a new mold in 1:400 scale, the 767-400, making it one of the latest in the scale. Gemini's first release using their brand spanking new 764 mold was a Delta Air Lines example wearing the Ron Allen livery in May 2023. That model was reviewed and also compared against its Dragon Wings counterpart by Richard Stretton at Yesterday's Airlines. It was a good review and comparison; you can read it here.
The following month, June 2023, the second release came, this time a United Airlines example wearing the Continental Globe livery. This release really excited me as it gave me a genuine reason to take a look at this fresh-from-the-oven mold. I live in Houston, a city in which these relatively rare birds have been adorning the skies since the 2000s when the then hometown airline, Continental, became the first company to place the type in commercial service. Today these sexy airplanes continue to grace the Houston skies daily wearing the United Airlines titles.
Only a handful of 767-400s have been produced in 1:400 scale, the majority are around 20-year-old releases. I happen to own one of those releases, a Continental Airlines example produced by Dragon Wings, the brand most associated with the type up to this point among collectors. It was released in 2000, just about the same time the actual aircraft was delivered!
Since both models wear essentially the same basic livery, except for the airline titles and some details, I thought I would share some pictures comparing them so that we can see the effect a 23-year gap has on 1:400 diecast model making.
Take a Look at Them:
What do you think? Which model do you think is better overall? Tough choice.
I have always liked my Dragon Wings example, and continue to do so, but I have to say that there is very little you can do to hide the fact that 23 years have passed. Below are my observations.
DW Pros/GJ Cons:
The DW sits at a better height above the surface. The GJ nose landing gear is too short. This is also evident by looking at the engine clearance.
The wings on the DW are thinner and look more refined. The GJ Wings are too thick and the leading edge looks chunky.
The DW one has a better wing dihedral. The wings on the GJ do look too flat when seen from the front.
Solid printing. While the DW lacks many details, all the elements present are neatly displayed and fit tightly for the most part. I particularly like how the cockpit windows look on the DW example. The GJ cockpit windows are a bit oversized which makes them look wonky from certain angles. Also, my GJ example has a minute paint chip on the First Officer forward window and the height of the artwork is not symmetrical (!). Quality control is something that has not aged well at some brands, including GJ.
Another DW strong point is its properly shaped, sized, and positioned engines. GJ placed the engines too forward along the pylon. They are also missing the inboard strakes, whereas they are present on the DW model.
Below are some pictures highlighting the attributes of the Dragon Wings model.
Notice how the GJ sits too low, its engines are too far forward, and its wings look chunky. I also tend to favor the DW cockpit windows from this angle:
GJ's artwork is shifted upwards about .5mm on the starboard side. This is virtually impossible to notice when the model is seen from the sides, but it is a big disappointment when the model is seen from the front. From this angle, you can also see the more refined shape of the DW wings.
The real deal:
Alright, so, are you getting the feeling that for the most part, Dragon Wings is winning? I do, but it is a tight competition and GJ still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
GJ Pros/DW Cons:
While the GJ livery is asymmetrical (at least on my example) overall it seems to adjust better to the real aircraft. The golden line present on Continental's globe livery is justified with the bottom of the main passenger doors. This means that on the 767 it should be positioned just slightly below the midpoint of the nose. On some aircraft, it seems to cut right through the middle of it (depending on how precise the application job was done, I suppose), but never above it. This means that GJ, with its asymmetrical application at least managed to get a correct version of it on either side. On the DW example, the golden line seems to be positioned slightly above the midpoint of the nose. It is otherwise properly aligned with other elements of the livery and mold, so it could be a case of the wings sitting a tad high on the fuselage, or the nose not being precisely shaped. Whatever is going on with DW's mold it is almost negligible, but this livery exposes it. Now, the Dragon Wings model, though not technically correct, looks a lot better than GeminiJets' effort, which has a slanted golden line. However, I am placing this as a pro for Gemini, because it seems that their fuselage is better shaped/constructed, whether they apply the liveries correctly or not is a different issue.
GJ accurately molded the flap track fairings extending aft of the wings' trailing edge. DW did not.
Besides GJ's element misalignment and sizing issues, their artwork is as neat as DW's. Furthermore, GJ's amount of detail is very good and, as far as I can tell, accurate. This will ultimately push GJ's version over the top for me, it is just a better model overall, I think. DW's version is very bland. All the important elements of the livery are present and correct (except one underbelly detail that I will mention later) for when the aircraft was delivered, but besides that, there is not much more to it. Oddly enough, the rain gutters on top of the entry doors are among the few details DW decided to include, a rather innocuous element.
The GJ landing gear is more detailed. While the questionable dimensions of the nose landing gear were already discussed, the higher level of detail does give the model a nice look, especially when compared with DW's simplistic, though well-proportioned, landing gear. Also, the nose landing gear doors on the GJ version are better shaped and positioned than DW's.
Below are some pictures highlighting some of the attributes of the GeminiJets example:
Not only GJ's belly has more detail, but they also caught the different placement of the PACK ram air intakes on the 767-400 vs. the -300. On the -400 the intakes are aligned with the fuselage centerline, whereas on the -300 they are shifted toward the port side. Given that this is a detail accurately represented on their -300s I am glad to see that GJ didn't just transfer the artwork (kudos to GJ!).
Unfortunately, DW's belly is not only overly simplistic but in the case of this particular livery, also inaccurate. Many Continental aircraft in the globe livery do have that bare metal stripe you see running along the belly of the Dragon one, but not the 767-400s. I looked at pictures of these aircraft from the early 2000s, and their bellies seem to have always been completely grey making GJ's version detailed and correct.
Barring GJ's artwork quality issues, their excessively short NLG, poor engines, and chunky wings, their finish, level of detail, and accurate fuselage shape save their face. They could and should have done a better job though.
While the photos below show the models at an odd angle that they probably won't be looked at from, it highlights the advantage of the current level of printed details.
The fact that a 20-year-old model from 2000 can hold itself against a brand-new one made in 2023 is a testament to how good some early Dragon Wings models were and explains why they hold their value so well. It also shows how quality and craftsmanship have suffered over the years.
Now, of course, these are two different models, even though they share the same basic livery. Dragon Wings was effectively out of the business by the time Continental and United merged, so I have no regrets about getting the new GJ 764 with the United titles, as there will never be a DW alternative. Herpa did release a United 764 in the Continental globe livery in 1:400 scale and, based on pictures that I have seen online, it looks like a potentially better alternative to this new GJ example, depending on your priorities as a collector. But the Herpa model lacks the "new mold" enticement, and if you want it you will have to hunt for it (not too hard to find), whereas a few weeks before this writing I was getting bombarded with emails from retailers allowing me to preorder the new GJ example with only one click, at MSRP, and with tons of discounts codes.
The fact of the matter is that both models fit the bill for me, and I am getting what I want out of them.
The real question is, what would I do when GeminiJets releases a Continental example (and I think it is pretty safe to bet that they will do it sooner than later)?
The answer is it depends on what else is being released at the time, how my model budget is looking, and what mood I'm in when it happens. Honestly, right now I'm leaning towards the idea of saving my money and keeping my Dragon Wings example.
Now, what would I do in that same scenario if I didn't already have a Dragon Wings example? I would probably just get the GJ version.
In the end, it is a United 764 alright
I didn't get this model with the intention of doing this review, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to complement/corroborate Richard's opinion. If you read his review also, you can tell we are pretty much on the same page in regard to GJs new 764 mold.
I did get this model because United 767-400s, especially in this livery, are starting to become part of my cherished aviation memories. I won't bother you with a personal dose of nostalgia right now, but I will leave you with a photo that I took in 2013. I always remember this photo because the aircraft (the second largest type in Continental's fleet at the time) was operating a 1-hour flight to New Orleans. I don't recall ever finding out if it was a special flight or a regular schedule.
Yeah, the engines sit way too far forward on the pylons...
Jorge A. Zajia