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  • From artwork to model: 1:400 Aeroclassics Pulkovo TU-154M

    For my reviews I normally look at the model, write what's good and bad and end with a final score. This time it will be a little different, because I will compare the model with the artwork, check what feedback they used or ignored and determine whether an issue is related to QC. Please keep in mind that this article is about the Hangar Club release, which is a TU-154M, unlike the regular Aeroclassics release, which is a TU-154B. If you are interested in becoming a member and get access to these very limited models, let me know with a comment below or send a message on any of the forums. Operational history of the aircraft This TU-154M was delivered to SKA Slovak Airlines in January 1998 as OM-AAA and then flew for Abakan-Avia under the same registration. In the summer of 2004 it was taken over by Pulkovo and got painted into the blue livery that this Club model wears. Pulkovo merged with Rossiya in October 2006 and in 2007 the aircraft recieved the large red Rossiya titles, while keeping the blue colors. Its final operator was South East Airlines in August 2011, but two years later it was put into storage at Saint-Petersburg and eventually got scrapped. The artwork Now lets take a look at the first version of the artwork, which was made in January 2024, and check what they did with the feedback I provided. I was quite pleased with how everything looked. The colors, titles, details and registration are placed pretty much perfectly, so no complaints here. There were still plenty of improvements, so let's go by them one by one and see if and how they fixed it. Picture by Pertti Sipilä: https://www.airhistory.net/photo/193516/RA-85834 1) Firstly the font of the registration. As can be seen in the pictures above, the "RA", "5" and "4" are clearly off. Which is weird, because for the small TU-154 sticker underneath the cockpit windows they already used the correct font. The factory fixed the "RA" and "5" on the wings, but not the "4" and nothing changed for the registration on the engine. On the regular Aeroclassics Pulkovo TU-154B (RA-85552) everything is correct though, so this is another example of inconsistency from the factory. 2) The blue color already looked decent, but a little too dark. Using some references I showed what the blue color should look like and they got it pretty much spot on. When looking for Pulkovo TU-154's on internet, you will find other tones of blue aswell, but this one is the most common. At first I thought the old GeminiJets release was way too light, but there are pictures where it matches quite well. Was it just the camera? Who knows... 3) In the artwork there were no raingutters above the doors. In my feedback I marked each door that should have one and they did exactly that. They didn't just put one above each door, which I expected them to do, so I'm happy to know they can fix things the correct way and not take the lazy route. I hope it's visible in the pictures 4) Add the silver square element above the engine. Not sure what it is, but it's present on the model. They added it on both sides though, which is incorrect. It's also placed too far forwards. See the pictures above to see what I am talking about. 5) Add a thin curving line underneath the red sticker, behind the cockpit. Something you will barely notice, but more details is always better. The old GeminiJets version has this too, so it would be embarraring when a 20 year old model has more detail. 6) Two pitot tubes underneath the red sticker were added. Aeroclassics normally doesn't add these for their Tupolevs as far as I know. It's no secret that NG has much better fuselage details on their TU-154's, but something simple like this is already enough to make me want to buy it. Without tiny details like these, the fuselage would feel so empty and the model appears cheap. 7) The red light on top of the vertical stabilizer was missing in the artwork. Again a small detail, but it's such a simple thing to add. Maybe 20 years ago it would have been acceptable, but in this day with 2024 prices it's the minimum amount of detail you may expect. Unfortunately not all of my feedback was used: 1) No door handles, which could have been a simple grey line. Now the doors look empty, so I hope that future models will have at least something to make them somewhat competitive with Phoenix' TU-154's. 2) No registration number on the nosegeardoors. The numbers would have been so small that I doubt the AC factory could print them straight and readable, so maybe it's better like this. Conclusion My expectations were low, as the factory messes up quite often, which made me worry that this sought after model (for me) would be another victim. Luckily they got the most important things right, but still it has some obvious flaws that could and should have been fixed. If this was a regular review, it would score a ~7 out of 10, which is not bad at all. Thanks to Andrew for letting me check the artwork of the TU-154's and allowing me to share the artwork poster. I'm very happy that someone made this livery as it was high on my wishlist and I don't expect Phoenix or NG to make this livery anytime soon. - Mark Retrohangar Diecast on Instagram Mark22 on MAF, 400SH, DAC and DIMA Want to collaborate or let me review your product? Send me a message via the channels mentioned above! All pictures are mine (unless stated otherwise) and may not be used without my permission! Sources: Pertti Sipilä https://www.airhistory.net/photo/193516/RA-85834 Kas van Zonneveld https://www.airhistory.net/photo/363936/RA-85834 Eduard Brantjes https://www.airliners.net/photo/Pulkovo-Airlines/Tupolev-Tu-154M/910024

  • Elmo Car by Tomica Exclusive for Universal Studios Japan

    If you follow YankeeVictor400 on Instagram (@yankeevictor400) you might have recently seen a post showing something a bit different from the usual content. When you are an avid airplane model collector you start to develop an appreciation for miniature replicas of other objects. The toy in this article is not a replica per se, as it does not attempt to resemble a real object, but it is extremely well made. My son loves Elmo and cars, so when I came across it on a fortuitous visit to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka I knew I had to get it. When we finally opened the box back home in Texas, I realized what a little masterpiece of a toy this was. I decided to take some photos before it succumbed to the hands of a toddler, which it quickly did, unfortunately. The car received the same photographic treatment that my most cherished airplane models usually get. Enjoy:

  • Historias Coli-naranja: El DC-8-53 YV-132C de Viasa

    La vida de este aparato fue bastante simple, pero eso no impide extraer interesantes anécdotas de su historia. El avión, un Douglas DC-8-53, fue entregado a KLM el primero de mayo de 1961 - exactamente hoy hace 63 años, y no lo planeé. En ese entonces llevaba la matrícula holandesa PH-DCK y el nombre Admiral Richard E Byrd (reconocido aviador pionero Estadounidense). En junio de 1976 avión pasa a manos de Viasa bajo arrendamiento, y recibe la matrícula venezolana YV-132C. La cooperación de Viasa y KLM fue extensiva, lo que hace que la lealtad que KLM mantuvo por muchos años hacia Douglas (y luego McDonnell Douglas) haya sido reflejada en la composición de la flota que Viasa tuvo durante los setenta y ochenta. Viasa devolvió el avión en marzo de 1984, pero este nunca volvió a servir con ninguna otra aerolínea o en alguna operación comercial. Cuatro años mas tarde fue desguazado en Miami. Otras matrículas que el avión portó incluyen N9605Z y N4980Y. La primera utilizada por Douglas para los vuelos de prueba, y la segunda por la International Air Leases Inc., empresa que se encargo de su desguace. La matrícula YV-132C luego fue utilizada en un Boeing 727-287 que Viasa operó entre diciembre de1995 y noviembre de 1996. En mi colección poseo dos réplicas de este avión en la libra de Viasa, uno en escala 1:400 y otro en escala 1:200. Ambos producidos por Aeroclassics. Foto del avión real el primer día de la década de los ochenta en el Aeropuerto Intercontinental de Houston (IAH) por George Hamlin. Foto contiene enlace a la fuente:

  • Up Close and Personal with NASA's Flying Science Laboratory: DC-8-72 N817NA

    NASA's SEAC4RS study, which stands for Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys, was conducted in Houston, Texas between August 1 and September 30, 2013. More info here. Several aircraft participated in the study collecting atmospheric samples. For aviation enthusiasts, it was quite the show. Even though Ellington Field in southeast Houston is home to several cool NASA aircraft, SEAC4RS brought some interesting visitors from the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. I was lucky to be working at Ellington Field at the time, but anyone in the Houston area could watch the aircraft flying some unique patterns. My favorite one was the Electra (N426NA) spiraling up from low altitude over the morning traffic near downtown. On August 22, 2013, NASA hosted a press conference, and I managed to get a pass as a photographer. A friend and I published a short article about the event on the now-defunct SVZM Spotters site. One of the most iconic aircraft that participated in the study was N817NA, a heavily modified Douglas DC-8-72, originally delivered as a -62 in May of 1969 to Alitalia. It also flew for Braniff as N801BN before joining NASA in 1986 as N717NA (it got re-registered later). N817NA landed at Palmdale, California three days ago (April 1, 2024) after finishing its last mission in Asia. As the aircraft readies for its retirement, I thought it would be appropriate to dust off some of the photos I took of it in 2013. Enjoy: All the subsequent photos show NASA DC-8-72 N817NA on August 22, 2013 at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas: If you would like to share photos from this article, please credit them to Jorge A. Zajia

  • Orange-tailed Tales: Viasa DC-10-30 YV-135C

    DC-10-30 YV-135C by LatinClassics in 1:400 scale. The real airplane was delivered to Viasa on July 26, 1978. Together with YV-136C and YV-137C, it became one of three DC-10s acquired in the aftermath of the oil boom brought up by the OPEC embargo of 1973. With these three airplanes, the DC-10 fleet grew to five, as two other original KLM airframes had been operating for Viasa since 1973/1974. This aircraft suffered an accident at Buenos Aires - Ezeiza on November 26, 1993 when it overran the runway after landing amid inclement weather. There were no fatalities, but the airplane never flew again. An ex-Iberia DC-10 with registration YV-139C joined Viasa to replace YV-135C. The scale model sports Viasa's thre-shades-of-blue livery from the late 1980s. It was produced by GeminiJets exclusively for the defunct store AdamJets. However, the models were packaged in boxes intended for Aeroclassic's LatinClassic series, which is why the model is often associated with Aeroclassics. Enjoy: Haga click aquí para la versión en Español de esta historia

  • Historias Coli-naranja: El DC-10-30 YV-135C de Viasa

    DC-10-30 YV-135C por LatinClassics en escala 1:400 El avión real fue entregado a Viasa el 26 de julio de 1978. Junto al YV-136C y YV-137C, fue uno de tres DC-10 que se compraron a raíz del boom petrolero causado por el embargo de la OPEP en el 73. Con esos tres aviones la flota de DC-10 llegó a cinco, ya que otros dos originalmente de KLM se operaban desde el 73/74. Este avión se accidentó en Buenos Aires - Ezeiza el 26 de noviembre de 1993 tras aterrizar en medio de un chubasco. No se perdieron vidas, pero el avión nunca volvió a volar. Luego del accidente el YV-135C fue reemplazado por un DC-10 ex-Iberia que recibió la matrícula YV-139C. El modelo a escala porta la librea con los tres tonos de azul que Viasa implementó a finales de los ochenta. Fue producido por GeminiJets para la difunta tienda AdamJets. Sin embargo, el empaque utilizado corresponde a la serie LatinClassics de la marca Aeroclassics, lo que hace que aveces el modelo sea asociado con dicha marca. Disfruten: Click here for the English version of this tale

  • Versus Series Vol. 11: Southwest Airlines 727-200 GeminiJets vs. Aeroclassics

    To highlight their exclusivity in aerospace circles, it has been said that there were fewer Concorde pilots than astronauts during the years the supersonic airliner was active. But very little is said about another group of aerospace professionals that was even more exclusive: The Flight Engineers of Southwest Airlines. Southwest has - almost - always been a 737-only operator. In fact, they have consistently been the largest 737 operator in the world for several years, and have operated more than 1200 aircraft of the type (not at once). The fleet uniformity has been one of the many factors that have contributed to Southwest's success. But during two different periods in 1979 and the mid-1980s a different type of Boeing aircraft briefly wore the Southwest livery, the 727-200. The 737 is designed and certified to be flown by two pilots, whereas the 727 requires a third person in the cockpit: a Flight Engineer. This is why being a Southwest Flight Engineer was such a distinction among the flight crews of well-established airlines. Southwest operated a total of seven 727-200s. The first one was a 727-291 originally delivered to Frontier in 1968 as N7276F, and acquired by Braniff in 1972, which re-registered it as N406BN. Braniff leased the jet to Southwest in 1979 as part of an anti-trust settlement. Yeah, Southwest earned itself a few enemies in the Dallas area during the seventies. N406BN was used by Southwest for 10 months on what was their busiest route at the time: Dallas-Love Field to Houston-Hobby. Later, in the mid-eighties, the 727-200 joined the Southwest ranks once more. This time, six 727-227s leased from People Express were used on new longer flights for which the 737-200 did not have the legs. These airplanes were sort of a stopgap while the airline waited for the more capable 737-300. Okay, so that was the aviation history part of this article. Now let's move on to the airplane model collector bit. Here I have two -tiny- 1:400 scale replicas of N406BN, Southwest's first 727-200. The first one was produced by a brand called Aeroclassics in 2009, and quickly sold out. Recently, another brand, the more mainstream GeminiJets, released N406BN in 1:400 scale again. Since the two models attempt to replicate the same airplane in 1:400 scale, they should be identical, right? Not quite, not even close in fact. You see, scale models are works of art, so when two model brands attempt to replicate the same airplane, we get two different artistic representations of the same subject. Just like artists, diecast airplane model brands have their unique signatures. Let's look at photos of the two models, and compare them. Is one better than the other? Can we learn any peculiarities about this aircraft through these scale models? Can you spot all the differences!? Southwest Airlines 727 Aeroclassics vs. GeminiJets Real Deal Images linked to source: Thoughts Much has been said about the accuracy of the colors of both models. N406BN was notorious for wearing a slightly greener version of Southwest mustard color that differentiated it from the rest of the 737 fleet. Aeroclassics seems to have exaggerated this a little bit. It has been pointed out that GeminiJets went with the standard Southwest Mustard Rocket colors worn by current 737s on their representation of N406BN. To me, that seems to be the case. The color issue is not that big of a deal to me, as the real airplane could look like either model in real life depending on the lighting. A bigger issue that I had not noticed until I started comparing the two models is that Aeroclassics omitted the two most forward passenger windows on the port side, and placed the Southwest titles too far back, aligned with the titles on the starboard side. In reality, the Southwest titles were justified with the 1L and 1R doors, which are staggered. GeminiJets got it right. One last thing on the livery artwork, Aeroclassics depicted a grey access panel below the reg. on the port side, which is not present on the real aircraft. The GeminiJets model enjoys antennas (one at least) and modern printed details. I also like the overall shape of Gemini's 727 better, especially the nose section. Two things I prefer about the Aeroclassics example are the shape of the number 2 engine intake and the size of the nosewheel tires. Ironically, the GJ 727-200 mold used to be comparable to the Aeroclassics one in those areas, but things have evolved for the worse. As you can see in the photo below, older GJ 727-200 nosewheel tires were less detailed but better sized. Also, while the horizontal stabilizer seam on the tail has been eliminated, its overall shape suffered, including the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and the characteristic tail engine (#2) intake. So, is one of the two representations of N406BN better than the other? That's for you to decide! I like the GeminiJets "refreshed" version better, but the Aeroclassics one remains a valid option, I think. Special thanks to George Hamlin for allowing the use of his photos of N406BN in this article.

  • Amsterdam Aviation Collectors Fair 2024

    On the 18th of February, the 6th edition of the Amsterdam Aviation Collectors Fair (or AACF) was held in the Van der Valk hotel Schiphol. With more than 250 tables, 129 exhibitors and 1200+ visitors, it was again a huge success. Vintage & diecast scalemodels, safetycards, actual planeparts and lots of other aviation related items, there was something for every collector in the world. Just like last year, I had two tables to sell a large part of my 1/400 collection. I came with 5 crates full of boxes and went home with 3.5, a result I'm happy with. Ofcourse I bought some things aswell: 3 diecast models, an airplane tag from a Martinair MD-11 and a book with pictures of historic KLM aircraft. But that's not all I took home with me, because I won two prizes with the tombola aswell: a clock, of which the backplate comes from a Fokker 100, and a Thomas Cook A320 plastic model, which you got after not winning anything 10 times. One ticket costs €1, so with a little bit of luck you actually get great value! There were lots of returning exhibitors and collectors. It's great to meet the people you talk to online and a fair like AACF is the perfect place to do so! Some people just like collecting models, and some have been in the aviation industry for decades, so lots of stories to be told. One of the highlights was the reveal of the next Diecast Trading exclusive release: a 1/200 Martinair Cargo B747-400 PH-MPS (using the JCwings mould). This particular aircraft has been made by Inflight200 back in 2016 and would go for crazy prices whenever one pops up secondhand, mainly because it's the last remaining aircraft wearing the Martinair livery, and ofcourse because it's a 747. The nextx edition will be held at the same venue on the 23rd of February 2025 and tables are already being booked. Perhaps it will be even larger than this years edition, so I hope to see you again next year! A big shoutout to the organizers: Patrick, Rutger, Arjan and Matthijs. - Mark Retrohangar Diecast on Instagram Mark22 on MAF, 400SH, DAC and DIMA Want to collaborate or let me review your product? Send me a message via the channels mentioned above! Pictures by Anton B.

  • Versus Series Vol. 10: Swissair MD-11 Phoenix Models vs. JC Wings

    When I got back into collecting 1:400 die-cast airplanes around 2019, one of the first models I got was Swissair MD-11 HB-IWI by JC Wings, which had been recently released. Fast forward a few years to late 2023 and Phoenix Models releases two more MD-11s in the same classic Swissair chocolate bar livery. Being pretty happy with my JC Wings model I initially passed on the Phoenix's reiterations. But eventually, I gave in and got a copy of HB-IWA, Swissair's first MD-11. Besides having a different registration from the model I already had, the Phoenix MD-11 also has some slight livery variations. It has vertical MD-11 logos on the inboard side of the winglets and, most notably, a sticker aft of the fuselage titles commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation. Additionally, it correctly omits the satcom antenna that the JC, also correctly, has on top of the fuselage. Those elements place the aircraft in 1991. The JC Wings example wears a pretty generic version of the chocolate bar livery, with seemingly rare unmarked upper winglets. Before we compare the models let's get a feel of how a real Swissair MD-11 in the chocolate bar livery should look like. Real Swissair MD-11 And now the models. Models Thoughts I love how the bright red pops on the elegant fuselage titles and the tail. The two-tone brown cheatline and silver belly make for a striking classic livery of the eighties and early nineties. One thing that is mentioned a lot on the die-cast airplane model social media groups about the Phoenix MD-11 is that its nose gear is too long. And it is certainly longer than JC's. But, by the same token, the JC one seems to have a bit of a nose-down attitude. So, pick your poison. I wouldn't call it a deal breaker for either. In the photo above you can also see that Phoenix completely painted the intake area of engines 1 & 3 in brown, including the lips, whereas JC painted the lips silver and placed the brown band aft of them. In the photo below you can see that Swissair did paint a thick brown band aft of the lip of the wing-mounted engines on their MD-11s, but there was a thin bare metal band forward of it. Most civilian jet engines have bare metal intake lips due to technical reasons. With that in mind, I tend to side with JC on this one. Oversized bare metal intake lips are better than complete omission. But I can also see how the Phoenix version might resemble the look of the real aircraft better, especially in 1:400 scale. Choose your poison again. The tail is another area of contention, as you can see in the photo below. Phoenix went through the trouble of replicating the faint two tones of silver present on the intake of the number two engine but left the exhaust region quite crude, whereas JC did the opposite. However, I think JC's nailed the proportions of the number 2 engine intake lip despite it not being as detailed as Phoenix's. JC's Swiss Cross is also better than Phoenix's, but what puts the nail in the coffin on Phoenix's tail is the QC. If you scroll back up, or down, and find a photo of the starboard side of the model, you will notice a sizable paint ship on the intake lip (I was able to repair it) and visible red paint inside the intake duct itself. Also, the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer appears to have been applied using masking tape, not a bad job though, but it's not nearly as neat as JC's effort. We have a winner here, nice tail JC. In the photo below I also noticed that JC's winglets are more refined. On the underside, both models offer a similar amount of accurate detail, but there are some interesting differences. Looking at the photo comparison above you can see that the JC Wings model has two static ports below the L2 passenger door (those tiny dark grey dots), but the Phoenix one only has the one that is positioned aft and lower. Turns out JC is correct in that there are two static ports on real MD-11s, but the one that Phoenix omitted was very faint on Swissair aircraft. Similar to the engine lip situation, Phoenix omitted a small detail to better recreate the look of the real aircraft. I prefer JC's approach. There are some access panels between the cheatline and the nosewheel. Phoenix's representation stands out, while JC went with a very discreet approach (they are there). Interestingly, Phoenix nicely molded in the NACA scoops and other intakes on the under-nose area, whereas JC only printed those details. To finish off on the bottom side of these models, I will say that I prefer JC Wings' landing gear legs and tire hubs' flat grey color over Phoenix's silver. Again, hardly a deal breaker. One last area that I want to talk about is the overwing markings. I normally would not have paid much attention to this area, but since they are so obviously different between the two models, I had to dig deeper. I hope Mr. Duncan Stewart does not mind me borrowing his photo below (click on it to go to the source). While JC didn't completely nail the overwing and horizontal stabilizer details, it came a whole lot closer than Phoenix. JC's engine pylons also offer more accurate detail. By looking at the top of the models I also noticed that the ADF antennas are painted black on the JC Wings model, but not on the Phoenix one. It is worth noting that the Phoenix mold does have the ADF bumps molded in on top of the fuselage, they just didn't bother to paint them. Wrapping Up I discovered a lot of interesting details about the MD-11 and the Swissair chocolate bar livery while writing this post. It was also a perfect opportunity to pull my "old" JC Wings Swissair MD-11 out of its shelf for some photos, which is something I've always wanted to do with this beautiful model. I like both of my Swissair MD-11s and intend to display them together for many years to come. But the question always is: which one will I keep if I was forced to let one go? I think the answer is the JC Wings one in this case. For someone looking to add a Swissair choco-MD-11 to their collection, I would say just get one of the recent Phoenix ones. Since both manufacturers made nice and similar models, I'd guess that once the Phoenix ones are gone from retailers, all of them, including the JC one, will likely go for about the same price in the second-hand market. Speaking of which, West Coast Diecast still has both recent Phoenix Swissair MD-11s in stock. You can use code yv400 for a 5% discount while earning loyalty points if you have an account with them. Combine that with their free shipping on large orders in Canada and the U.S. Not a bad deal.

  • Versus Series Vol. 9: American Airlines 767-200 Aeroclassics vs. Dragon Wings

    And yet again, another recent release of an American Airlines model in the Vignelli livery, this time by good old Aeroclassics, comes to join a previous Dragon Wings version in my collection. As of the writing of this article, American Airlines is the most represented airline in my 1:400 collection. They had an enormous presence throughout the Americas when I was growing up, and I flew extensively on them. Hence, AA jets from the 1990s in the Vignelly livery satisfy multiple criteria in my collection. Keep'em coming! Contestant Number 1: Aircraft: American Airlines Boeing 767-223ER Reg.: N303AA Brand: Aeroclassics Release Date: January 2024 Contestant Number 2: Aircraft: American Airlines Boeing 767-223ER Reg.: N301AA Brand: Dragon Wings Release Date: 2000-2001 (DiMA) Together Real AA 762 Thoughts Even with all the room for improvement it has, the Aeroclassics one is easier on my eyes. The Dragon Wings 767-200 mold is not as handsome as its bigger brothers (-300/-400). This is common with DW, the smaller the type, the poorer it looks, generally speaking. Keep in mind that in 2000 that was the standard in 1:400 scale, and the only thing that DW models could be compared with back then would have been Herpa Wings 1:500, which were noticeably inferior. Overall the DW is a good mold, but the unrefined nose, which in this model is accentuated by the cockpit windows placed too low, takes a lot of points away from it. It is what it is with Aeroclassics. Very nice model, but there are a few areas that I will talk about below. Also, there are some QC issues in the form of paint patches and glue blobs. Also, there is a bizarre fuselage deformation on the sides above where the wings are fitted. The model seems squished. Landing Gear: The Achilles heel of Dragon Wings models has always been their crude landing gear, and this model is no exception. Aeroclassics' landing gears have also historically been criticized, especially their lack of tire hubs. The 767-200, nonetheless, is one of the few Aeroclassics molds that have been fitted with some rather nice tire hubs. However, it results in the nose gear tires looking oversized. Ah, the irony! Engines: For practical purposes, 767-200s have two engine options: General Electric CF6 and Pratt & Whitney PW4000. They look almost identical from the outside. American Airlines 762s were equipped with GE engines. Looking at the models in this article, seems like DW cut the nacelle too short. That leaves AC having the "most" correct engines as they seem to resemble the GEs better. However, AC engines are extremely unrefined. Ah, the irony! again! I hope you found this model comparison entertaining and informative.

  • Phoenix Models Releases the First* Drukair Scale Model

    *The first mass-produced model known to the everyday collector, that is. I'm sure corporate and custom jobs are out there. Drukair - Royal Bhutan Airlines is the state-owned flag carrier of Bhutan, a kingdom with a population of less than 1 million nested in the Himalayas. The airline is as modest as the country itself with a current fleet of only 5 aircraft: three A319s, one A320neo (the model released by Phoenix), and one ATR 42-600. When I first became aware of Drukair a few years ago its classic and colorful livery with a very 1990s look immediately caught my attention. I searched for a Drukair airplane model only to find out that there was not a single diecast offering in any scale. That was until Phoenix came to the rescue. The classic livery comes from the Bhutanese flag. The Druk, or Thunder Dragon in Dzongkha (Bhutan's official language), is part of Tibetan and Bhutanese mythology and a national symbol of Bhutan. In the Bhutanese flag, a white Druk sits in the middle of an evenly split yellow and orange background. The yellow represents the Dragon King of Bhutan, who traditionally has used a scarf of that color, and the orange represents Buddhism. The colors of the flag happen to match those of some popular liveries of the 1980s and 1990s (Iberia's Landor and Southwest's Mustard Rocket come to mind). It is nice to see those tones used in a current livery. The tail art is essentially the flag of Bhutan. The fuselage titles borrow the orange from the flag and are depicted in a custom font with a classic look that incorporates what seem to be subtle elements inspired by the Tibetan script. As far as I can tell, Phoenix did a wonderful job with the livery. Please enjoy: Jorge A. Zajia

  • Versus Series Vol. 8: American Airlines 767-300 Phoenix vs. Dragon Wings

    Here we have two 767-323ERs produced by two well-known brands that don't cease to amaze. One of them because their recent release sets have been consistently full of newer versions of highly popular subjects, and the other one because of how well their twenty-something-year-old models stand up to today's product. Contestant Number 1: Aircraft: American Airlines Boeing 767-323ER Reg.: N377AN Brand: Phoenix Models Release Date: Summer 2023 The Phoenix 767-300 mold is highly praised as it is the only one that features slot-in wings out of the ones in use today. It is also a pretty good mold overall, as most 767-300s in 1:400 scale are. American is a popular airline and many collectors are after their "chrome" livery that was popular during the 1980s-2010s. GeminiJets had released an American 767-300 in this livery using this same Phoenix mold back in 2010 (pre-antenna era in 1:400) which has become rare and sought after (as you can see here). That model came with winglets though, but do not worry, Phoenix didn't stop with the model featured in this article, they went full on and also released one with winglets and another one in the One World c/s; all of them with current level of detail and antennas. The non-winglet version that I purchased looks excellent. And below a photo of the real aircraft represented by the model as it looked in the early 2000s, with the "Luxury Liner" titles on the nose area: The titles on the model appear to be not bold enough. Otherwise, looks very nice. Contestant Number 2: Aircraft: American Airlines Boeing 767-323ER Reg.: N351AA Brand: Dragon Wings Release Date: 2000 Dragon Wings produced no shortage of American Airlines models, but during the majority of my time as a collector, it was GeminiJets who had a monopoly in that market. GeminiJets works hard to protect the value of its collectibles while focusing on corporate deals with airlines and other aviation companies. That translates into plenty of current subjects released by them, while the output of classic subjects is a trickle at best. Needless to say, before NG and the rebellion of Phoenix, AA contemporary classics, including DW releases, appreciated well on the secondhand market. Still, DWs were the cheaper option, so I have plenty of their AA releases in my collection. As was the case with the majority of diecast models during those years, it was difficult to scale the landing gears properly. This in turn gave the wide-bodies, such as the 767, an upper arm. For a 24-year-old model, it looks remarkably well: And the real aircraft: Despite the model being painted (though a chrome metallic version exists) and lacking a lot of detail, DW seems to have done a better job with the boldness of the fuselage titles. Also, the DW wing-to-fuselage joint looks better. Together: In the picture above it is evident that the DW version has too much of a nose-up attitude (though If I'm being picky I'd say the Phoenix sits a tad too flat). This is probably just a byproduct of having chunky removable landing gear. DW also printed the cockpit windows a tad low - this is something that I have seen both manufacturers do from time to time. But look at how fine the edges of the windshield are on the DW example! Phoenix's got the overwing window exit pathway markings spot on. Also, as far as I can tell, Phoenix did an outstanding job with the placement of sensors, intakes, panels, and similar details all around, including the belly. The DW version is extremely crude in terms of details. But remember, the DW model was released 24 years ago when 1:400 scale was less than half a decade old; something that in itself can add value to the model. Wrapping Up Once again, I applaud Phoenix for their release choices; no-brainers if you ask me. American Airlines is very popular, particularly around my neck of the woods, and that chrome livery has joined the ranks of the most iconic paint schemes of contemporary commercial aviation. In this case, the Phoenix model is not replacing the old DW one in my collection, but it rather has become its wingman.

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