I admit to being slightly disappointed with NG's output this calendar year, but I was very pleased and surprised when I opened the box from them in April to find the Tu-204 variants as the next new mould samples. I've long been a fan of Soviet era types and found the 204 to be an attractive design that was rather robbed of its success by the collapse of the USSR. The shortened version, known either as the Tu-204-300 or Tu-234, was even more so with only ten aircraft made in total. The production of a mould for this obscure variant is a delight even if the number of liveries available for it (see my Tu-204-300 wishlist for the complete rundown) is very limited. In this review I'll look at the first release.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
I took a close look at this new mould back in April when the samples arrived at the Yesterday's Airlines hangar. My conclusion at the time was that this was a near perfect rendition of the type. This first production release does nothing to change that opinion.
In a nutshell the characters that make the Tu-204 easily distinguishable from the 757, long landing gear, small winglets, pointier nose, very long engines and large squarer vertical stabiliser are all well captured here.
It also looks as though NG has modified the shape of the nosegear doors to give them the correct squarer profile they should have compared to the original samples. The rest of the landing gear is delicate and well detailed.
The wings have a lot of flap detailing and connect beautifully with the engine pylons. These are well shaped and nestle into the nacelles very nicely. The Soloviev PS90 engines are long, curved and suitably large.
In terms of shape the only criticism across the entire model is that the top of the winglets is a little too curved when it should be flat-topped. This isn't enough for me to dock any points though and for such a rare airliner the care and attention given to this mould is exemplary.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
Given the Chinese fascination with the North Korean dictatorship and puppet it props up on its Northeast border and the fact that of the 11 available schemes 3 are North Korean it is no surprise that the first Tu-204-300 is in Air Koryo colours. I admit that personally I would have preferred Vladivostok Avia but hopefully that will come in time.
Until I looked into the liveries more closely I hadn't realised that there were even three different Air Koryo liveries - the only real difference between the first and second being the nature of the flag on the tail. This aircraft, P-632 their only series 300, joined the fleet in 2008 and wore this original scheme at least into late 2017.
The livery is pleasant enough but not going to win any design awards either. The red cheatline is bracketed by thin blue pinstripes replicating the flag, which appears static on the tail. The colours used on the model are fine and the placement of the livery elements is also good.
The small main titles, Korean text and crane logo are well printed. This scheme doesn't suit the Tu-204 as well as the Tu-134 primarily because in order for the cheatline to wrap around the cockpit it needs to widen in a rather ungainly fashion. The model achieves this with no problems.
The only faults I can see with the livery application are that the nosecone is not as white as it ought to be and that the red tip to the winglets is not squared off enough and slightly too large. These are obviously very minor critiques of an otherwise job well done.
EDIT: It has been pointed out and i hadn't noticed that the model is missing both the Korean and English titles under the wings so I'll knock another point off for that. Good spot.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
If you've read many of my reviews you'll know I hold NG's printing in the highest esteem and once again they have gone the extra mile in detailing this aircraft with a huge amount of detail - from the massive engine access panels, to incredibly fine nosecone lines to a veritable mass of underbelly details.
I do have one criticism with the printing on this release though and that is around the difficult thickening cheatline where it meets the cockpit. Especially on the right side the line above the cockpit is a little wobbly and doesn't meet well. A similar issue exists on the left side under the cockpit. This area of the real scheme is a bit messy anyway but it does seem almost as if the cockpit portion of the printing has been added after the left and right sides were printed on.
Paint application across the model is brilliant, especially the dark interiors to the engines. Build quality is perfect.
SCORE - 9
This June announced Tu-204 shows NG's ability to get a mould into the sample stage and then into production quickly, even when they have been moving factories. It is a little disappointing that in the next two months there haven't been any further Tu-204 releases but presumably with the first releases now out of the way we can expect 2 or 3 Tu-204s every couple of months. They certainly look like they will be worth the wait.
FINAL SCORE - 27/30
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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