Buchannan Models is a newish brand, related to NG Models, that is producing a range of models focusing on aircraft from the 1980s and 90s. So far they have released four models, three of which I have purchased, including a pair of 757s and a pair of L-1011s. Both the Tristars have been in hybrid schemes including the subject of this review. While this model may well be more interesting in that it surely opens the way for a series of Eastern Air Lines examples, Air America is an interesting, if rather obscure, airline, which I'm tempted to write an avhistory blog about.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
My opinion of the NG Tristar is well known. I think it rivals their Boeing 757 as the most impressive casting ever produced in 400 scale. It is miles ahead of the many previous Tristar moulds and certainly a vast improvement on both the old 1999 Gemini Jets version and the 2005 Blue Box version. It also clobbers both of the more modern competing L-1011s from JC Wings/Gemini and Lockness/Aeroclassics - neither of which come close to eclipsing this glorious casting.
The NG Models Tristar is the first Tristar mould to accurately portray the dolphin like nosecone of the type, although the original Gemini mould and the later Aviation400 version come close. Nobody else has managed this level of accuracy, which is evident throughout the entire mould. Nowhere is this clearer than at the tail region, which is beautiful.
The wings are well angled and very well detailed as is the wing/fuselage join and fairing. The engine pylons were an area modified prior to the first production release and look excellent. NG also modified one other area of criticism not long after production began by modifying the angle of the engine intakes. They now slant correctly rearwards on the no 1 and 3 engines.
The only area of any inaccuracy relates to the angle of the maingear doors but it is not enough to detract any points in my opinion. The mould is fitted with three very nicely scaled aerials to finish off the near perfect package.
For previous detailed reviews of the samples see my reviews from April 2019 and to see how inferior the competing moulds are check out my comparison of the JC and Lockness versions here.
For me this casting is one of my favourites.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
Air America gained its original Tristars secondhand via Boeing but this aircraft was clearly leased from Eastern as it is basically wearing the original silver hockeystick / New Mark scheme. Air America actually had a decent enough standard scheme featuring burgundy and red stripes in almost the same pattern as the EA scheme, which they'd used since they were originally Total Air.
This aircraft was leased from November 1988 until July 1989 when it served a brief lease with Air Algerie. The only allowance to Air America was the adoption of titles, which interestingly used the correct Air America font but kept the classic Eastern colours. It made quite a nice combination.
This livery, when with Eastern titles, is a much sought after one, which hopefully we'll see soon. NG have had well publicised issues with natural metal schemes on their L-1011s but they seem to have resolved it now because the finish on this model is excellent. The chrome style silver really glistens, although significant sections of the aircraft are painted grey also.
The grey around the wing join fairing and on the vertical stabiliser are correctly positioned as are all the other livery elements. The ionosphere blue and caribbean blue colours are perfect and the cheatlines are outlined in white.
The fleet number, 372, is correctly placed on the nosecone and the registration is white inside the lower cheatline. The attractive Air America titles use the correct font and the overall result is outstanding. I can't see any faults.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
There has been some minor criticism of NG's printing recently and certainly on the Virgin A350 I reviewed not long ago it wasn't as good as I'd have liked it to be. This scheme however is printed to perfection and the Tristar base template is excellent. All the usual hyper-detail is present on the underside and prints well even onto the chrome finish.
If there was one thing that perhaps could do with some more printing it is inside the central engine intake. Obviously you can't see the number 2 engine but the way the inlet is drilled out / moulded makes it look a little like the engine is there. If this were painted black or dark grey then it'd probably look better.
Build quality is excellent except for the same thing I always moan about with these otherwise near perfect L-1011s - the wheel hubs. The hubs could do with being a darker grey anyway but once again they have not all been fitted correctly and half of them (5 of 10) do not show the correct hub detailing. Minor but annoying that this issue goes unresolved.
SCORE - 9
NG, and now Buchannan, remain the only brand that you ought to be buying new Tristars from in 2022. The mould is superb and almost all the L-1011s that they have made have been excellent. Obviously I don't think they have made anywhere near enough but surely this model means that at least one Eastern Tristar will be incoming soon. Only one has been made and there are at least four more livery variants that they can and should be making so please NG get to it. Eastern L-1011s are guaranteed sellers.
FINAL SCORE - 29/30
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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