Recently I attended Airliners International 2023 and one of the treasures I found there was a 1:400 scale model of Viasa DC-10 YV-135C in their early 1990s livery. This is the fourth copy I acquire of this model; my favorite aircraft model ever. Every time I find one of these rather rare models for a reasonable price, I feel the same rush that I felt the first time. But don’t worry if you are also after one of these moderately sought-after orange-tailed gems, I am just about done hoarding them.
This model is the one that got me into 1:400 scale. Before I knew what I was getting into, my goal was to get one of these as a decorative item for my bedroom. It was 2009 and these were hard sold out. They did pop on eBay every few months, but always commanded high prices in the $70-$90 range and even more (much more) in some cases. So not quite an ultra-rare model, but not an easy one to get a hold of either.
After missing out on a few eBay auctions, I won one auction about nine months into the hunt. Even though nine months is nothing in terms of hunting down a rare model, at the time it felt like an eternity. As it turns out, the model was Todd Johnson’s example, he was one of the 400 Scale Hangar owners at the time, and the model had already gotten some fame thanks to his signature photos. This particular model has a unique birthmark: a small paint chip behind the wing on the right side. It is the one YV-135C, out of the four I have, that I keep on display.
Lo and behold, only a few months later I got another one from one of the Waffle Collectibles collection sales for dirt cheap. I used these two models to recreate some very nostalgic scenes of Maiquetía Airport.
Then I stopped looking for these until I decided that I needed to expand my diorama, and thus would eventually have enough space to fit the entire Viasa DC-10 fleet (5 aircraft).
So, after a decade had passed, I found my third copy of YV-135, also from a Waffle collection sale, but for about three times the price that I had paid the last time. Still, it was considered a somewhat reasonable price for this model. I ended up getting a store credit because the model arrived with significant damage around the tail area, due to a loose stabilizer that created several scratches (a first for me).
And then on the morning of the second day of Airliners International 2023, I was greeted by Paresh, the new owner of the 400 Scale Hangar, who told me that Scott from the Squatchy’s Diecast Hangar store had just set up a collection full of rare stuff on his table and that a Viasa DC-10 was there. I ran to the table and Scott offered me a deal that I just couldn’t pass.
In the photo below you can see all four of them. The damaged one, which is still waiting to be painted, can be easily found.
There have always been some questions about this model since it comes in an Aeroclassics box, but it was cast using the GeminiJets mold. Neither brand has ever claimed the model as one of their releases. But as luck would have it, Andrew Klein, the owner of Aeroclassics, happened to be walking by right after I purchased the model, so I took the opportunity to ask him what he knew about its origins.
This model was exclusively produced for AdamJets by GeminiJets. Apparently, it is because of this that it was not included on the GeminiJets corresponding set of releases: October 2005. No one seems to know exactly why the models ended up being packed in Aeroclassics/LatinClassics boxes. But it could be a case of “it was what was available,” since the two companies shared a factory at the time, or a cost-saving alternative to the GJ flip-top boxes. What we know is that Andrew only found out that these models were packed using his boxes only after it had already been done. The LatinClassics boxes in which these models came are the only ones that I have seen with the airline logo and aircraft type printed on them.
This purchase was perpetuated by Todd from GeminiJets who is very active on Instagram and was hard at work documenting the convention via social media.
I’m not sure if I will ever get the fifth one to complete the Viasa DC-10 fleet, maybe I will if a deal comes my way, but I’m not actively looking for another one at this time, and I am certainly not willing to pay the prices that some retailers are asking for currently (there are a couple at $100+ online). I also don’t think I will modify the registrations (except the one that came damaged, which needs some work regardless), but rather just use composition and software to prevent duplicates to be seen on diorama scenes. By the way it is going to be a while before I have my new diorama ready, but since I am talking about it, I will share a sneak pic:
Jorge A. Zajia