Pretty much all mainstream die-cast models are nowadays made within China and as a rapidly growing economic region Asia (and especially China) is increasingly becoming a core market for the 1/400 scale die-cast manufacturers. The increasing wealth of the populations means they can afford more models and also more flights, so there are more models to be made too. Phoenix models have without a doubt become the number 1 model manufacturer in the Asia-Pacific region, but has it come at a cost? Here's my summary of Phoenixes' 2015.
Interestingly though it is common to moan at Gemini for making the same airlines Phoenix do much the same - it is just that they make so many more models that it isn't quite as noticeable. It is easy to see Phoenixes' focus on Asia. Of the 168 models made in 2015 105 are of Asian airlines. Elsewhere European and Australasian majors get a strong showing, or at least their widebody fleets do. I assume that these models also appeal well to an Asian market, which can see these aircraft at hubs like Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong etc.
In 2015 KLM and Thai Airways tied with 8 models each followed by China Eastern with 7. It is no surprise that two of of these three have modified their liveries recently. Cathay Pacific will no doubt feature strongly in 2016. China is a massive new market for airlines and models but in 2015 only a relatively small 22 models made were actually from China.
One of the reasons Phoenix can release such a large number of releases is by limiting the number of moulds and aircraft types they use. In fact in 2015 I think Phoenix only introduced one new mould to market (the apparently disastrous 737NG with split scimitars). Instead they focused on releasing modern well known types on their existing mould catalogue. This back-catalogue is smaller than Gemini or Aeroclassics and consists of only 27 aircraft. These are almost all Airbus and Boeing products. Interestingly Gemini didn't make any A321s in 2015 and Phoenix didn't make any A319s - odd.
Unfortunately Phoenix also didn't make any use of their excellent Russian type moulds for the TU-154 and IL-96. This is a real shame and doesn't bode well for us ever seeing a 1:400 version of their 1:200 TU-134.
- Paint smears and fingerprints
- Poor edging on paint lines
- Small tabs on rubber tyres
- Aerials placed the wrong way up, missing or so loose they fall out
- Landing gear that is badly placed so it doesn't sit flat on the ground
The list goes on and on. Buy even a small number of Phoenix models and you are liable to run into multiple of these issues. I know some people have stopped buying Phoenix models because the issues are so rife. I sympathise with them and would like to be able to do the same but Phoenix just produce too many models that fit my Chinese modern collection criterion. I have been relatively lucky so far however things like this Air China A320 I received are an embarrassment which should never leave the factory:
So for 2016 I want to see a vast improvement in quality. I also want them to stop producing 747-400s, print the windows on their 737s properly and go back to producing Russian types. Is all that too much to ask? Yes probably it is.
Anyway of the 56 new release models I bought in 2015 only 5 were Phoenix models (2 73Gs, 2 A320s and a 77W; and this includes that awful CA A320). This wasn't because of the QA issues but more a reflection of the fact I only collect modern aircraft from China and Russia. For now I will continue to collect Phoenix but if I get much more rubbish from them I'll be reconsidering my position. As it is for now Phoenix make excellent models right up to the point they put them together. From then on it's luck of the draw.
Once again thanks to Waffle Collectibles for the photos. Michael gets really good numbers of Phoenix models in including those that sell out fast so check him out.