There is now plenty of healthy competition for Tu-204s in 400 scale with active moulds from Panda and NG plus one in the works at JC Wings. Even so, releases so far have not been enormously adventurous and have mainly focused on non-Russian versions or the more recent freighters. I'm more interested in the Russian passenger versions so am pleased that at least Aeroflot has got some love recently. It wasn't long ago I looked at the Panda version so here I take a look at the NG Models Tu-204 too.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
It was back in April 2021 that I was lucky enough to receive the sample moulds for the Tu-204s from NG Models, in what was at the time a major surprise. For my detailed reviews of the samples see here:
I also looked at the moulds on Youtube too:
The 204 has always been a favourite of mine, and though not as graceful or powerful as the competing 757 is an attractive aircraft. The defining characteristics of the Tu-204, especially against the 757, are the very high landing gear, pointier nose, very long engines, small winglets and large square vertical stabiliser.
I am very happy with the look of this mould overall. The cockpit and nosecone have a great shape with the latter slightly more rounded and accurate than the competing Panda version.
I also prefer the nosegear of the NG version, which is slightly taller. Because of this the position of the forward process off the gearleg hits the gear doors at a more accurate point.
The wingform is good and has a lot of flap detailing. Arguably the winglets aren't quite as good as those on the Panda version being slightly thinner and less squared off. One of the other characteristic areas of the Tu-204 is the contouring around the horizontal stabilisers and the long exhaust pipe of the APU. The NG mould captures both elements beautifully.
I don't see any concerns with the Soloviev/Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines or their pylons, which are held at a good height and attach to the wing cleanly. The aft pylon shape is also good. One point to note is that the engine cores are solid, which is not a major surprise given the small diameter of the fans and the added QC risk with hollow and spinning blades on a model of this size.
This is a very impressive mould that illustrates the capability NG have shown in producing a lineup of almost complete excellence in mould construction over the past 4 years.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
In the immediate post-Soviet era Aeroflot struggled somewhat with its identity. It toyed with several new liveries showcasing the new Russian flag. Initially it also removed the classic hammer and sickle logo when it introduced the new A310s, but this was still popular with customers and was in the end retained. Aeroflot itself was renamed Aeroflot - Russian International Airlines and with its regional arms all divested it flew only international routes.
It is a little unclear exactly when Aeroflot operated Tu-204s but it appears to have been in 1995/96 and this aircraft was delivered in a one-off livery. Images of it are rare but there is a good shot from Dubai taken on June 27, 1995 and another at the Aviastar factory, taken on April 3, 2017, after the aircraft was returned to the manufacturer.
Huge billboard tiles adorn the fuselage with a massive version of the traditional winged hammer and sickle logo. A huge Russian flag fills the entire tail. It certainly stands out and would've looked awesome on the IL-86s and Tu-154s.
Given the paucity of photo comparison material it is a challenge to be certain but I think the blue colour could be a little darker. The red is fine and the fonts and placement of the rest of the scheme excellent.
There is a lot of fine detail rendered such as the small Tu-204C titles under the pinstripe cheatlines and the classic Tupolev logo on the nose. The registration is correctly applied above and below the wings and in white on the vertical stabiliser. Unfortunately on the stabiliser it is ever so slightly too far back. On the real thing none of the reg travels onto the rudder.
[EDIT] As Adrian notes in his comment below the frame did have white engine cowlings at some point so that isn't a mistake and I have removed the text where I mentioned it as an error. Here is Adrian's photo to prove it - taken at Zhukovsky in August 1997:
Overall this is a fine rendition of a difficult scheme.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
This model gives NG the opportunity to show of some of their exceptional level of printing capability. I have looked under the microscope and the fineness and detailing here is exquisite.
The paintwork is equal to the printing with the engines being a showcase of quality especially on the inside where the silver rims transition to the dark engine inners beautifully.
I have heard of some issues with wings coming loose in the box on NG Tu-204s but this model has no such problems. All the parts are well fitted and in the right place.
SCORE - 10
This is a tremendous release illustrating a beautiful historic aircraft and livery. NG Models have regularly displayed the capability to produce near perfect moulds and apply the finest print detail to them. Perhaps this is why they attract so much anger from certain other brands, jealous of their abilities and fearful of their own survival? Ignore the naysayers though. NG are not perfect, and do make mistakes, but they get it right far more often than they get it wrong and are the benchmark by which 400 scale models should be judged in 2022. Anyone who says otherwise is simply lying or has an axe to grind.
FINAL SCORE - 28/30
I'm Richard Stretton an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale models. On this page I take a detailed look at new releases.
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