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Versus Series Vol. 7: United Airlines 777-300ER Aviation400 vs. NG Models

Updated: Dec 20, 2023


This is an excellent model comparison opportunity since it involves two recent - almost simultaneous - releases of virtually the same aircraft, except for the registration, by two brands that have a strong following. However, one of the contenders happens to be my first model made by the most recent reincarnation of Aviation400. Because of this, this piece will also serve to share my opinion (spoiler alert: not a good one) of the brand that has captivated so many with its innovative level of detail and numerous gimmicks.



United Airlines 777-300 airplane models in 1:400 scale by NG Models and Aviation400
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER in 1:400 scale. Left Aviation400 N2534U. Right NG Models N2331U.

My first 777-300s


Before getting these models I had never owned a 77W replica in any scale. I prefer the proportions of the shorter -200 family, plus it fits better the classic leanings of my collection. However, living in Houston, it is easy to come up with excuses to add post-merger United models to my collection. While UA 77Ws don't currently visit IAH regularly, when they were introduced they were put on the IAH-LHR route for a bit. I also had the opportunity to fly on one under peculiar circumstances: In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, one of these birds (which still smelled like new) operated an airline-employee-only charter from IAH to ORD to take stranded employees to their homes, and others to work out of non-flooded hubs (I was in the latter group; at the time I was flying for a UAX regional airline). So with that, I had more than a perfect excuse to drop some cash on get not one, but two long triple-sevens!


The models came safely packed and in great shape from my friends at West Coast Diecast. Their selection, (most) prices, loyalty rewards program, and free shipping on large orders to the U.S. and Canada, make them a good option. Check them out!


Let the Battle Begging!


Below are photos of the two models, and their boxes, grouped according to the angle they show. I also sprinkled some real 77W photos in there just to get a general sense of which model better replicates the real aircraft.


Boxes


Boxes for United Airlines Boeing 777-300 airplane models in 1:400 scale by NG Models and Aviation400
Front

Boxes for United Airlines Boeing 777-300 airplane models in 1:400 scale by NG Models and Aviation400
Back

While it is the content of the box that matters, and I do buy models without their original box as long as the condition is good and the model is priced accordingly, if boxes are present it is fair game to throw them in for comparison.


NG is well-known for using sturdy boxes with stylish designs, and this one is no exception. Something that caught my attention was that the United titles and the aircraft name "New Spirit of United" do not contrast too well with the blue portions of the enlarged Continental Globe that serves as background.


I don't know what to think about the Aviation400 box design. At least it has all the important information prominently displayed on it.


Aircraft


An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U made by NG Models in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U NG Models 1:400

An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 1:400


An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U made by NG Models in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U NG Models 1:400

An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 1:400



Looking at the profile pictures above looks like the titles on the NG example are a bit compressed vertically. While the colors on both models look fine to me, it seems that AV400 might be closer to what the real thing looks like.


I do like NG's engine profile better, as well as their cockpit window printing. The sockets for the rear-facing white nav lights on the tip of the blended winglets look oversized on the AV4000 example, as do most of their other accessories (antennae, beacon/jewels, etc).



An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U made by NG Models in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U NG Models 1:400

An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 1:400

From the angle of the photos above it is evident that NG's wing joint is much more refined and realistic than AV400's effort. Below is one of my photos of a 77W at IAH that supports my observation.



An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U made by NG Models in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U NG Models 1:400

An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 1:400

In the two photos above seems like AV400's horizontal stabilizer joint resembles the real thing better, though it doesn't fit as neatly as NG's.


An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U made by NG Models in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U NG Models 1:400

An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 1:400

The angle of the photos above is always flattering and both both models look fine from that vantage point. The fuselage shape of the NG one looks better to me though.


An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U made by NG Models in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U NG Models 1:400

An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 1:400

United Airlines Boeing 777-200 at IAH
This is a 777-200, but it shares the exact same front section with the 77W. My photo

NG wins when the models are seen from the front. I have seen some collectors state that the fuselage of the AV400 77W is not wide enough, and I think that is correct. Oh yes, AV400 has see-through engines and that is nice, but it doesn't help if the overall look of the airplane is off.


An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U made by NG Models in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2331U NG Models 1:400

An aircraft model of United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 in 1:400 scale
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER N2534U made by Aviation400 1:400


And of course, I could not talk about these two models without highlighting the tilting main landing gear trucks that the AV400 77W comes with. It does look nice, but with the flaps fully retracted, and the nose landing gear strut compressed, having the main landing gear in an extended-in-flight position is as unrealistic as it gets. The stand I used to take the two photos above is the one that comes included with the AV400 model, which is a nice carryover from the original Aviation400.


Wrapping Up


The two models are very nice, and scrutinizing them is nothing but another way to enjoy them and appreciate the level of accuracy and detail that these models have.


However, there is a model I prefer: the NG Models one.


Despite the AV400 having the upper hand in the title font and, maybe, the colors, the overall look of the NG example is more refined and sober, and the model as a whole is ultimately easier on my eyes. AV400 numerous oversized details, including the beacon jewel, combined with the unrefined cockpit windows, wing joints, and engines make it seem as if they are trying to enhance a rather ordinary product with gimmicks; smoke and mirrors if you will.


It does not help that my experience with the original Aviation400 was not what you would call memorable (though they are the brand behind the number one subject in my current "most-wanted list," the Lan Chile 747-100). From what I can see the essence of the original Aviation400 is alive and well in this modern version of the brand.


Now, if you are a collector who is fascinated by tilting main landing gear bogies, lights represented with jewels, and tons of molded-in details in 1:400 scale, that's alright. I have to admit that I never thought I would see such features in these tiny models and I applaud AV400 for trying to raise the bar. However, excessive level of detail is just not the main reason I collect airplane models. Plus, I think many of the features AV400 has added to its 77W need to be refined. I have heard that their A380 is indeed a true masterpiece of 1:400 scale, and maybe the larger size of the aircraft lends itself better to the amount of detail AV400 seems to specialize in. Keep in mind that I am just speaking based on my experience with this United 77W.



United Airlines 777-300 airplane models in 1:400 scale by NG Models and Aviation400
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER in 1:400 scale. Left NG Models N2331U. Right Aviation400 N2534U

United Airlines 777-300 airplane models in 1:400 scale by NG Models and Aviation400
United Airlines Boeing 777-322ER in 1:400 scale. Left NG Models N2331U. Right Aviation400 N2534U

Jorge A. Zajia

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