Panda Models is a company who have obviously had some challenges in the past few years, however they also have some very nice moulds, a couple of which are very much unique to themselves. Their new Tupolev 134 is exceptional and, although there appear to be some delays meeting demand, they have been able to release a nice line of other models, including 737-600s. I had been concerned that we’d seen the last of this mould as its last usage was in mid-2019, but late 2020 has seen fit to bring us four new examples including one that is specific to the Canadian retailer Prairie Diecast. I don’t own that model but I did acquire one of the others for my manufacturer house colours fleet.
THIS REVIEW IS SPONSORED BY PRAIRIE DIECAST
Each review is to split into three key areas:
Competition in a niche space such as the 737-600, which sold only 69 frames in the real world, is unsurprisingly not fierce. The only competing mould to this Panda version is a Herpa casting dating from 2000. They only used the mould three times, although one was in Boeing house colours albeit minus a registration. I’m not a fan of Herpa’s Boeings in general so it is no surprise that I don’t have very much positive to say about the Herpa version.
I have, however, been a big fan of the Panda 737NG moulds and until the recent appearance of the NG Models version of the series 800, had built my collection of 737NGs around it. Panda actually retired their existing series 800, presumably due to competition with NG Models new mould, and their new version has only been seen on some P-8 Poseidons. It looks quite good as a 737 and shares much with this 737-600.
For me the shape of the fuselage is exemplary. I have heard people criticize the angles from the cockpit down to the nose but aside from the NG Models mould it is easily the best in this scale. The wings are one of the best areas of the mould and as you’d expect they reuse those of the 737-700, as does the tail.
Detailing on the mould is also good with four aerials present including the very small one forward of the tailfin. They are all shaped and sized well.
Panda has actually improved the mould since it’s last outings in 2019 by updating the undercarriage, which had been the primary area of criticism when I last reviewed this mould. It appears as though all new undercarriage has been fitted. The nosegear doors are a little large but angle better than they did previously.
All the tyres now feature proper tyre hubs, which look excellent. The position of the nosegear tyre is a little too far forward but overall, it looks good. The main undercarriage is also a major improvement with new maingear doors a better length and shape than they were previously. The changes made to the mould have improved it quite a bit and to my eye it is a very nice casting.
SCORE – 9
PAINT & LIVERY
At the end of the 1990s Boeing was still using its classy 1980s style blue and red stripe house colours – first scene I think on the 767. Rather befitting an aircraft type that never got much love there aren’t a lot of photos of this frame wearing the scheme. Airliners.net has only two, both taken during 1998 - see here and here. The aircraft was delivered to SAS as SE-DNR in January 1999 so it must have worn the scheme for less than a year as its first flight was in late January 1998.
There are no concerns with the deep blue and red colour on the model. Likewise, the placement of the striping is good as are the large 737 tail titles. Text that is tiny in 1:400 scale is nonetheless present and even readable under magnification. This includes the scripted “Building on Success” in red at the nose and the even smaller EXPERIMENTAL just aft of the L1 and R1 doors.
The only area of the livery I’m not 100% convinced by is the main fuselage titles, which are a little thin.
SCORE – 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Panda knows how to print to a high level of detail and I can find no complaints in this area. As I have already said the fineness of the printing is exemplary. The paintwork is also good and the colour of the inside of the engine nacelles particularly nice dark titanium grey. The engine rims themselves however are a little untidy – not because of painting but due to the finish of the engines themselves. It is a minor point but the sort of thing that would have got Jon Champs excited.
Build quality is overall solid. I like how the engines slightly point upwards as they ought to in a modern 737, however I do think that the right-side engine points a fraction too high at the rim. These are both very minor criticisms and don’t merit the loss of more than a point combined.
SCORE – 9
Back in January 2019 I did a wishlist for the series 600 and of the ten schemes I highlighted at the time three have now been built including the WestJet – available exclusively from Prairie Diecast. So, there are still a few to be made and I am looking forward to seeing them, especially the Globespan, since the mould is excellent. Certainly, I can highly recommend acquiring Panda 737-600s. They are very nice and unlikely ever to be released by anybody else in this scale.
FINAL SCORE - 27
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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