The A380 has received a lot of criticism, much of it unfair, and certainly Covid has not done the type any favours by effectively gutting the routes it was designed to serve. Nonetheless, the type remains popular with the public and model collectors alike, and A380 models continue to roll off the production line even when the real thing does not in the same numbers.
The trio of ANA A380s are unique and also have represented some of the 400 scale brand's worst tendencies in rushing models to market regardless of their accuracy. JC Wings have in recent years worked heard to improve their products and it is pleasing to see them re-release the Japanese Superjumbos recently with the aim of resolving the issues that afflicted the first releases by Phoenix and themselves.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The A380 isn't a major part of my collection since the type only rarely falls within my collection criteria, however it is well known in the community that the Phoenix A380 is generally preferred over the JC Wings / Gemini mould. The primary area of difference is the nose region and I don't disagree with the criticism.
This mould's nose region is not 100% accurate with the nosecone not tall or round enough and the angle of the roofline above the cockpit not being quite correct either. The Phoenix mould certainly has the edge in this area, although the nose of the JC Wings mould is certainly presentable enough.
The JC Wings / Gemini mould is also a traditional zinc mould, and so is quite weighty, whilst the Phoenix mould is made of Aluminium and weighs a lot less. Whether you think this is good or bad is entirely up to you. I don't have an opinion here however people have reported that sometimes the Phoenix A380 doesn't like sitting on its nosegear, presumably due to how the mould is weighted.
The rest of the fuselage is well shaped as is the massive vertical stabilizer. JC Wings have improved the mould in recent years by adding the previously missing fourth aerial (ahead of the tail) and by adding the small fuselage top radome just forward of the wing root. Both aerials and radome are well presented.
The undercarriage is well placed and looks good, although the nosegear main leg is a little simple and lacks the forward process. The main gear trucks all move independently of the gear legs and work well.
The wings are well shaped and fit tightly into the fuselage. They have an accurate join line and give the huge engines excellent ground clearance. Looking from the front the wings do not have quite the correct profile as they don’t curve strongly enough making the winglets too high.
The engines are solid core fans, which is a little unusual for a large widebody mould in 2021, although the blade detailing is very good and I continue to be uncertain about the added value of rotating see through engines anyway.
A positive note to raise is the excellent size and form of the aerials and domes. On some JC moulds they are a little outsized but here they are excellent.
This mould originally dates from around 2006 and the nose shape and solid core engines do show its age a little, however in other respects it is a very appealing casting that when combined with JC's printing standards looks very impressive.
SCORE - 7
PAINT & LIVERY
Back in 2018 both JC Wings and Phoenix rushed to be first to market with their ANA A380s and this meant that all of the models ended up with major livery errors and missing a lot of details - since the models pre-empted the actual aircraft.
The livery errors on the other pair of Phoenix made A380s were even worse since they assumed the liveries would be the same whereas all three have unique eyes. The original JC Wings models got this part correct. Phoenix never revisited the trio but now JC Wings have in 2021 how accurate is their rendition?
I admit that I am still not 100% sure that the medium blue colour of the shell is correct although it looks fabulous in the photos here. The darker blue of the shell outline and the lighter blue of the head are fine as is the sandy belly colour of the turtles.
Positionally the turtle elements of the livery are flawlessly added except in one location, directly above the eye. The light blue scale in this area is the wrong shape leaving a gap above the eyes. This is a shame as the rest of the three turtles are brilliantly executed and looking at the original release this aspect was correct.
The huge ANA on the tail, and ANA Inspiration of JAPAN titles on the rear fuselage and belly look excellent and use a perfect dark blue colour. This new release also has the registration on the wingtops in the correct location further towards the tip unlike the Phoenix version.
Overall this version has a superior livery rendition than the Phoenix model in terms of flipper detailing (see image below), the rego placement on the wing and outlining of the eyebrow (again see image below) but is let down by the scale above the eye.
SCORE - 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
The numerous print omissions and imperfections of the original releases, from both Phoenix and JC Wings, proved a major annoyance for collectors of 'As Real As It Gets' models such as my friend Raimond Schulz who you can see in the below image was able to detail a wide range of print issues with the models:
The Phoenix version of the model had even more issues with colours that were way off and completely incorrect scale patterning to the front in addition to most of the detail issues the JC had. In my experience the printing detail of Phoenix models is lacklustre compared to that provided by other brands such as JC Wings, Gemini Jets, Aviation400, Panda Models and NG Models. Certainly printing is one of the fortes of JC Wings.
Looking at Raimond's points above the door frame colours, window configuration, presence of Star Alliance logo and A380 titles and placement of the jetbridge markers are all present and correct on this version. I'm not convinced that the cockpit window frames are white so I'm ok with the silver ones on the model.
Certainly the printing on this release is a lot more detailed than on the Phoenix version and this is across the board not just in livery specific elements. JC Wings always provide a wealth of fine line detailing on elements like the engines and fuselage underside typically missing from Phoenix models.
Build quality of this model is excellent. As with many unlicensed JC Wings models it comes unbranded in an orange box but also has the nice addition of having a collectors card with it too.
SCORE - 10
I can applaud JC Wings revisiting the three ANA A380s and upgrading the first attempts, although I admit it would have been ideal to get it right first around. Nonetheless, even though the A380 isn't their best casting (and will be tested by the new AV400 A380) this model does highlight one of JC Wings' strongest features - their attention of high quality fine detail printing. I am surprised by how much I like this model, considering it is nowhere near my collection criteria, and it is certainly a significant improvement over the earlier attempts.
FINAL SCORE - 26/30
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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