I don't get to fly as often as I used to and so it isn't often I get to own a model of a flown on aircraft, however having just returned from 16 years in Aotearoa I have flown on several of the NZ fleet. Although obviously a long-haul aircraft this 77W flew me return to Fiji from Auckland in 2019. Following a period in Covid-induced storage she is now back in service as NZ slowly reconnects with the outside world so it is good timing that the latest batch of long overdue Aviation400 releases includes this frame.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
Considering the upcoming challenge from the new NG Models Boeing 777s it is worthwhile revisiting the competition, which for the series 300 is especially fierce in 400 scale. Phoenix, JC Wings and Aviation400 all continue to release 77Ws regularly on their, good to great, moulds but it is the latter that probably has the edge as AV400 tends to offer that little bit extra with its models.
This is certainly the newest of the in-production moulds, dating from 2019 - compared to 2016 for the JC Wings mould and 2007 for the original Phoenix. The Phoenix mould has been updated since its introduction but then again so has this mould.
Focusing on this mould and starting at the front the nosecone and cockpit region are near perfect representations of the real thing. There isn't much more to say there.
The model does have a very slight nosedown attitude, which I think could be resolved by slightly lengthening the nosegear leg.
The massive GE90-115B engines are very well shaped. From side-on the slightly canted nacelle rims are obvious and the shape of the engine nacelles and exhausts good. The pylons connecting them to the wing also look great except at the top where the forward part of the pylon is a little chunky.
From the front the fanblades are correctly well curved. AV400 uses thin blades to give the see through look to the engine, which isn't as realistic as the solid core engines of the NG mould but look very nice nonetheless and manage to trick the eye into appearing thicker than they are.
The attachment of the wing to the fuselage is excellent as is the shape of the overall wing itself, including the squarely cut-off blade type winglets. The maingear pivots nicely but it is hear that the mould has its only remaining real issue - in that the maingear doors remain a little to short so that the aircraft shows a little too much leg.
As I reported back in February 2021 AV400 has worked to improve the other previous issue with the mould - the shape of the tailcone. The result is shown on this model with the upper and lower tail prongs reduced in size and the APU hole increased. The tailcone now looks excellent.
Of course being an AV400 mould the model has lots of other detail work. The pair of rooftop domes look great as do the customary AV400 beacon lights atop and below the fuselage. The model also has 5 well sized and shaped aerials/drain masts.
Previously I considered this mould to be slightly behind the competing JC Wings version but I would say now with the modifications it is either on par with it or slightly ahead of it. Certainly it gives the new NG Models versions a lot to live up to.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
The first ‘All Black’ livery was the ‘Crazy about Rugby’ scheme that was first applied to an A320 in 2011, and subsequently to this 777-300ER and a Beech 1900D. Arguably this livery, which had two ferns, one of which was sensibly silver, and a smaller Koru, was superior to the black version of the new standard scheme worn by this 777 nowadays, as well as several other newer fleet members. Personally, I prefer the shape of the ferns, the silver fern and black engines of the original. This version with the ‘Crazy about Rugby’ titles removed but clearly still derived from New Zealand’s Rugby affiliations is nice, but I've not been completely sold on the black and white fern.
This version of the scheme has simply two tones – black and white so as you’d expect there are no issues with the colours of the model! Once you have the colours correct the rest of the livery is quite simple with just the position of the fern providing a possible banana skin. Fortunately the fern is excellently placed, shaped and sized on this model.
The new typeface of the Air New Zealand titles is also accurate, minor details like the alliance logo, rego under the wings etc are all present. There are really no issues with the presentation of this scheme on the model.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
When it comes to printing finesse and detail Aviation400 are right up there with the best. The level of printing on the model is impressive, especially on the underside. Additionally AV400 continue to add the intricate striping detail to the underside drain mast aerials, which looks spectacular and is something nobody else is attempting in 400 scale.
AV400 models come with a lot of parts due to the extra nav beacons, aerials, complicated moving gear and the spinning fanblade engines. It is a testament to their product that there are rarely build issues. This model is essentially perfect in that regard although the port engine fanblades refuse to revolve. It is just not a feature I care about so I'm not docking points due to that.
SCORE - 10
This is another exceptional model from AV400. Their products are impressively detailed and as a company they go the extra distance to add exciting new features, even if some of them are probably a little unnecessary. It is a shame that they don't focus on a broader range of aircraft other than modern widebodies but even so, they provide very stiff competition for others, only hampered by their sometimes slow model delivery rate. Certainly NG will have to work hard to improve their 777 samples to compete with this mould.
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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