2023 is coming to an end, and with all manufacturers having announced their December releases, it's time to reflect back on the past year. There are already threads on the forums about what the best and worst model / release is, which is entirely subjective. So instead I will be taking an objective look at what manufacturer had the best releases. I will do this based on the amount of variety of the five main manufacturers: Aeroclassics, NG models, JCwings, GeminiJets and Phoenix. Massive thanks to Jorge for helping me out with calculating the scores.
I will look at the following criteria:
1) Geography: how many regions are covered?
2) Aircraft types: how many different aircraft manufacturers are used?
3) Airlines: how many different airlines are used?
4) Modern/retro ratio: what is the ratio between modern and retro aircraft?
- Everyone has different collecting criteria, meaning that the results say nothing about one brand being the best or worst for all collectors. It only shows averages based on variety.
- Everything is calculated in percentages, as otherwise manufacturers with larger releases would have a huge advantage from the start.
- I did not take "future releases" into account as it would be very confusing to determine which model belongs to what month. Instead I looked at the full release lists posted on the forums and/or social media.
- I did not look if a model has already been made before, as this would take a huge amount of time.
We start by rating the variety in geography. There are 7 regions I count seperately: Europe (including all of Russia and Turkey), North America (USA & Canada), Latin America, Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Middle East. For every region included in the release, the score goes up by 14,3%.
More models usually means more regions covered, which is why NG is on top here with on average 5 regions each month. JCwings and Phoenix are in the middle with 4.5 regions on average and GeminiJets is on the bottom with 3.3. Not surprising as their releases are relatively small and targeted to the North American market.
For this criteria the score goes up by 20% for every aircraft manufacturer included in a release. 5 different manufacturers is enough variety for 100%. This method is not as detailled as it could have been, but I did not have enough time to count actual aircraft types for every release.
In this category it's clear that larger releases does not always equal more variety. Despite NG's releases being about twice as large as JCwings, they are still noticably behind when it comes to using their entire mould catalogue. I did not expect Aeroclassics to be this low, considering the large variety of moulds they have, but the most likely reason for this is that some of these moulds don't have many liveries left that sell well enough.
This one is a little more complicated to explain, so let's use an example:
When a release is 20 models and 2 models are of the same airline, there are 19 unique airlines and 1 duplicate, so the score is = 19/20*100 = 95%
Here JCwings is again on top, but this time by a large margin, even approaching a perfect score. NG's strategy to split one livery into different registrations is not helping them here, but from a business perspective it makes perfect sense to not have one large batch of the exact same model. The other three manufacturers are close to eachother, but nothing unexpected.
Each manufacturer has both modern and retro moulds available. I consider any aircraft introduced before or in 1990 as retro, unless still in production like the A320. A ratio of 50/50 scores 100%, after that it goes down 1% for every point difference. For example: 39/61 = 22 points difference, score = 78%.
For the first time the winner is Phoenix. GeminiJets and JCwings are not far off as they rougly have the same ratio of modern:retro moulds available. Aeroclassics is slightly behind, for obvious reasons, but still far ahead of NG. Despite having the moulds, they are barely using them, which is a huge shame as the quality is better than the competition.
Winners and losers per criteria
Now we know the scores, let's sum up who the winners and losers are for each criteria.
Best: NG models (72,7%)
Worst: GeminiJets (46,5%)
Best: JCwings (83,3%)
Worst: Phoenix (58,3%)
Best: JCwings (96,5%)
Worst: NG models (73,7%)
Best: Phoenix (56,2%)
Worst: NG models (17,8%)
Who is the best overall?
The graph below shows the overall score of each manufacturer:
NG models is last with 59,4%. Aeroclassics is 60,5% and then GeminiJets with 61,2%. Phoenix is second place with 65,3% and the winner by far is JCwings with 74,3%! The scores are much closer than I expected with the bottom three being seperated by only 1,8%!
2023 from my perspective
This year had lots of great models, but those I was seriously interested sometimes had major issues. Hopefully next year we will see less issues as prices continue to increase here in Europe. It's difficult to make decisions as it's very unlikely some of these models will ever be made again, but I refuse to pay today's prices for the quality of 20 years ago. Besides that there have been quite a few frustrating moments when the hints were promising, but I ended up dissapoined with re-releases over and over. Now on the more positive side; lots of new moulds have been introduced in 2023 (most of which are not modern twinjets!) and I have hope they will make the 400 scale more diverse again. Ignoring Gemini's very cheap B767-400 and NG's "B747 classic", there is clearly still interest by manufacturers to fill the market with new moulds that have the quality we may expect in 2024. Massive props (no pun intended) to JCwings for the AN-26 and AN-32, which for me are the best of all new moulds. I'm quite confident they have AN-24's in the pipeline aswell, perhaps even the AN-30?
Despite skipping on some models, my wallet still lost plenty of weight (2023 releases only):
3x Aeroclassics DC-10 (Swissair, Hawaiian Express, RNLAF)
1x Aeroclassics B767-200 (Air New Zealand, Hangar Club exclusive)
1x Aeroclassics B737-200 (Wien Air Alaska) 1x Aeroclassics C-46 (Canadian Pacific) 1x Aeroclassics A320 (Kingfisher)
1x NG models L-1011 Tristar (Atlantic International)
1x JCwings B747-400 (KLM with Aviationtag)
Predictions for 2024
Now we have the statistics for 2023, what do I predict for 2024?
I think Aeroclassics will be pretty much the same. Maybe one or two modifications or returning moulds, but the same amount of variety and quality. Hopefully some re-releases of sought after 747's, because we need those.
With the "Year of the classic" theme that was announced not long ago and recent mould announcements, I have hope we will see a lot more retro aircraft. Besides that I think the A330neo, A340-200/300, B747-400 and MD-80 will enter the market plus two new mould reveals: MD-11 and A340-600.
Not much will change in 2024 if you ask me, but considering their deal with GeminiJets and their already good releases, not much change is needed in the first place as they have the best variety already. No more than one new mould revealed, but it's completely new in 400 scale.
Nothing new for GeminiJets, just loads of American models with a few other random continents here and there.
One new mould, which is an addition to an existing aircraft type, but no improvements to other existing ones. The great variety stays, including a couple that fit my narrow buying criteria.
Wishlist for 2024
Finally my wishlist 2024:
Aeroflot AN-26 (JCwings / GeminiJets)
Aeroflot AN-32 (JCwings)
Aeroflot IL-18 prototype (Aeroclassics)
Aeroflot TU-104 white/silver livery (Retro Models) Aeroflot TU-104 orange livery (Retro Models)
Aeroflot IL-62 with KLM titles (GeminiJets, even with the wrong engines I would buy)
KLM DC-7 diagonal striped tail (Aeroclassics)
Transavia A300 (Aeroclassics)
Transavia DC-6 (Aeroclassics)
Martinair DC-7 (Aeroclassics)
Martinair F28 (Aeroclassics)
Martinair B747-400BCF PH-MPS latest scheme (JCwings)
Pulkovo TU-154 (NG / Phoenix / Aeroclassics)
Pulkovo IL-86 (JCwings)
Air Pacific B737-200 rainbow livery (Aeroclassics)
Retrohangar Diecast on Instagram
Mark22 on MAF, 400SH, DAC and DIMA
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