Both Panda models and Skywings continue to produce a great range of mainly Chinese airliners both modern and historical. The sheer number of Chinese releases each month shows where the market sales are with JC Wings recently announcing a bevy of A320s and 737s representing Chinese airlines. This month Panda fight back with reciprocal releases of some of those plus both Panda and JC Wings are opening a new frontier with pre-delivery models.
When in August Aeroclassics announced new modern GSE sets for a pair of Chinese A330s I was excited. I have a large Chinese airport model, plus really like the classic GSE sets Aeroclassics produce so surely these would be awesome additions to my collection? Sadly it is not to be. To say I'm disappointed in these sets is an understatement. Let's take a look at why.
Ground service equipment (GSE) is a must for anybody building an airport diorama of any size. Most of the major manufacturers have also created GSE sets in the past and in May this year Aeroclassics re-entered this space with a series of DC-8s released complete with 15 part GSE sets. In this first part I review these classic GSE sets.
The new releases keep on flowing out of China and last month's releases are also now available in the flesh, so to speak. Panda and Skywing's quality continues to shine through as some very beautiful releases are being produced. This month we have new 767s, A330Fs, A330-300s, A340s and another Y-20. Let's take a look at the new offerings and also see how some of August's announcements came out.
Back in December 2016 I asked the question who are HYJLwings? That has now been answered as I have made contact with their founder. They are a semi-independent brand run by a Chinese student, studying in Canada, that has utilised a mixture of Panda Models', JC-wings' and its own moulds on 13 1/400s and 3 announced 1/200s so far. I also mentioned back in December that an A321 was in the works and it now looks like it is imminent in both current and new engine option variants.
It is hard to keep up with the sheer number of new announcements from China's other 3 brands in 1/400 scale but they continue to announce a wide range of new models. Even better for the non-Chinese collector they also continue to announce really competitive non-Chinese models which I can see are going to give the established players some real competition. This month Panda branches out to new horizons - Malaysia and Singapore, whilst Skywings go to Germany.
Back in late December I wrote a blog post about a new player in the field of die-cast airliners called HYJLwings. At the time I had limited information about just who they were but since then I have made contact with their owner and can announce that they have an exciting new endeavour in a new scale for them – the first Bombardier CRJ-100/200 ever in the larger 1/200 scale.
It's been a few months since I wrote about the releases from the less mainstream manufacturers in China - since late April in fact. That doesn't mean lots hasn't been happening however with plenty of new model releases and both Skywings and HYJLwings branching out into collaborations with JC Wings.
The Beijing Hobby EXPO has just been held over April 21/22 and that means Panda models have given their customary sneak peek of some new moulds and models. Plus their sub-brand Skywings rolls on with announcements of new Airbuses. Check out the news here.
JC Wings (and through them Gemini Jets) have got some stick from me over the years for having quite ordinary moulds, but it seems that recently JC Wings have been undertaking a lot of investment, and this has been really paying off. In fact no other 1/400 manufacturer has been producing this volume of new moulds in 1/400 scale, let alone the new moulds they've been putting out in 1/200 and 1/72 scale. In addition JC have shown a willingness to experiment, which is quite commendable.
Following Chinese New Year the manufacturers are getting back into the swing of things and that means there is movement at Panda Models, Skywings and HYJLwings also. Checking out taobao I see the next set of releases have been announced, which see new types for Skywings and HYJLwings and more great NEOs and MAXes for Panda.
Over the past two years Panda models has risen to increasing prominence on the 1/400 scene and this has been partly fuelled by their relationship with Skywings, who have released over 40 models using Panda's moulds but their own branding. Skywings look to be driving innovation in the Chinese market and have released the first mobile app for model collectors that I am aware of. Plus they have new releases on the way both modern and classic and a partnership with another 1/400 manufacturer.
Considering how fast the manufacturers usually are to produce widebody moulds (often before the new type has even flown) it is surprising that they are so much slower with narrowbodies. Even now not far from a year after A320NEO service entry only Panda has a useable mould on the market. JC Wings has announced a 737-MAX 8 but yet again it is Panda Models that has beaten everyone to the punch with actual releases.
Three models I didn't mention in the mighty 2016 review threads were the highly illegal, but oh so beautiful, set of Star Wars 'The Force Awakens' Boeings from All Nippon. All three have recently seen releases in 1/400 but I'm not talking about the official plastic Hogan Wings efforts. No I mean the Machbirdz specials. They are out there, highly collectable and highly unaffordable!
Panda Models are really kicking bottom at the moment. Fresh from beating everyone that matters to market with an A320NEO they are now moving into widebodies and gazumping JC Wings with an A330-200F. Plus they have more new GSE. Compared to the other manufacturers they are really setting the pace for the new year.
Here's a summary of their latest announcements with some sneakpeaks at the finished products literally just released.