The period from 2014-2016 has seen some major changes in the landscape of manufacturers. Witty and all their associated sub-brands left the market, whilst BigBird has been reactivated by JC Wings as a sub-brand, albeit one that seems to struggle to release more than a couple of models per year. The other big change has been the rise of Panda models; producing lots of Chinese airliners to a high quality, but in low volumes. It appears that 2017 is scheduled to bring more change with the return (?) of Inflight to 1/400 scale.
Inflight are a major die-cast airliner manufacturer in 1/200 scale but in 1/400 they have only dabbled briefly. In the DiMA database only 9 models are marked as Inflight400 and these all have used the Witty moulds. Whether they are actually affiliated with Inflight200 or were just another sub-brand of Witty I'm not sure. Still the models were fine - in fact the 747 classics are very nice.
Now it seems that though Witty are dead Inflight are back in 1/400 scale. Checking the Skywings taobao shop I see that 3 new models are marked for release as Inflight400s. This isn't the only source I'd heard this rumour of an Inflight return from too. Interestingly the 3 new models are all Airbus A330s a type Witty never had a mould for. So that means they have either partnered with an existing manufacturer to use their mould or they have a new mould of their own.
If it is an existing mould then it can only come from Aeroclassics, Phoenix or JC Wings. None of those seem very likely options. JC Wings did share its A350 with Aeroclassics recently but that's pretty unusual. It is possible that someone has copied one of the existing moulds. Given Aeroclassics issues with Panda that could be the source? Hard to say but I have also seen a suggestion that 'Black Box', which I assume to be Panda will also be putting out a couple of A330s soon so the plot thickens.
Either way Inflight's initial models are again targeting the Chinese market as they are for the two Shanghai Expo liveried China Eastern A330s and one in standard colours from the recently defunct TransAsia Airways of Taiwan. These models are hardly new to the scale, though the two old Phoenix releases of the China Eastern specials are hard to come by and on the old mould. It certainly seems that in 2017 there'll be even more competition for Chinese widebodies, which must be annoying for Aeroclassics and Phoenix.
I'll keep you informed as I learn more, and this isn't the only 'new' manufacturer appearing either!
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of 1/400 scale model aircraft and airports. This blog reports work on my model airport dioramas and discussion of the model manufacturers output.