2020 has been a surprisingly decent year for Tupolev releases, what with the new Panda Tu-134 and now the re-emergence of some Tu-154s. It’s a massive shame that it seems the Retro-models Tu-104 mould may never be seen again, but good to see some Soviet-era metal getting out nonetheless. The factory that makes Aeroclassics has been making some side deals with other brands this year and one such deal has seen a pair Tu-154s made for a new brand called YU ModeLs aimed at the Chinese market. I wrote about this in September originally:
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The old Aeroclassics Tupolev Tu-154 casting dates from 2002 and part of the deal with YU ModeLs was that they would restore the mould to production capability after many years on the bench. It was 2007 since it was last used and even then the mould was showing its age somewhat. The restoration of the mould has got it back on its feet but with no real updates to its quality. That’s something of a shame as the later Phoenix mould is very nice – it just never gets any usage. So, beggars can’t really be choosers when it comes to Tupolev trijets and there hasn’t been a CAAC Tu-154 since 2005.
Ignoring the other moulds (which are variants of this one anyway) and comparing it to a real Tu-154M there are clearly areas for improvement. The fuselage shape works quite well but the nosecone is not long or sharp enough. The other obvious issue has always been the height of the nosegear which gives the aircraft a nose high orientation. Phoenix lowered their nosegear and I’d have thought it would have been easy enough for this mould to have done the same, but the change hasn’t been made.
The wings and maingear do not share the forward fuselage issues and look good. The wings have the correct downward slope of the real thing and the triple main bogeys are a good height, although the gearhubs aren’t as nice as the Phoenix.
As with all the existing Tu-154 moulds the tail and rear fuselage are one piece to allow for the fuselage to be used for both major variants of the 154. This makes sense but does leave a rather obvious seam near the tailcone and especially on the underside the join is a little clumsy.
The shape of the bulging #2 engine intake is nice and the form of the exhaust good also. The tailshape is decent but the forward spike on the tailtop is once again too blunt.
A real update to this mould would have at least added aerials (ha ha – I know, I know) and new landing gear. Fixing the nose and tail spike would be such a large job that it’d probably be easier to make a new casting. Clearly this mould isn’t going to win any awards but in the absence of other Tu-154s your choices are very limited.
SCORE – 6
PAINT & LIVERY
This is a simple livery and has a very retro feel when on a Tu-154. The dark blue double cheatline tapers nicely towards the rear and expands towards the cockpit. Colours are all good.
The tail flag and large registration on the tail match-up, including the square style font. The small Chinese character CAAC titles are a little short and close to the cheatline and I also think the CAAC bird logo is also too small.
Comparing this to the original Aeroclassics release and the two are near identical. The original release has the registration on the nosegear doors but looking at photos not all CAAC Tu-154s had this so the lack of it on this model is ok.
The major differences between this and the older version are paint related and so rightfully fall in the next section of the review.
SCORE – 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
A relatively low-tech ascetic airliner like the Tu-154 has few aerials and fuselage details that require printing detail. There is almost none on the roofline or belly. The mould actually caters for a lot of what would be printing in line detailing but it is still missing rather obvious things like maingear doors. The inside of the engines is incredibly silver also.
The cockpit window printing is also sub-standard. The size of the nose does inhibit the height of the windows so they are not tall enough and in addition the downward curve at the outer edges is way too strong.
Something the Aeroclassics factory has seemingly regressed on is overprinting. The white nosecone on this model is just not solid enough and you can clearly see the cheatlines printed underneath it. This wasn’t an issue back in 2005 but nowadays it is. The painting of the red tips to the T-tail stabilisers is also very sloppy and once again inferior to that of the original Aeroclassics version.
Lastly there is a line along the entire lower fuselage, which makes it rather look like the model is decaled rather than Tampo printed. There have been several instances of this on Aeroclassics models in 2020 and it is rather slipshod and weak. I am not impressed by it.
There are no build quality issues.
SCORE – 5
I like Tupolevs and am glad I was able to add this model to my fleet but is it up to 2020 standards? No it isn’t. It is like a timewarp that has gone back to 2005 and arguably this version is actually inferior to the original Aeroclassics release. Neither of these models have sold out in China despite being released back in September and it is unclear whether YU ModeLs will pop up with any new releases. I fully expect and welcome new Aeroclassics Tu-154s but it is important to realise what you are getting. For many, including myself, the pull of new Tu-154s is enough to ignore the issues but that may not be enough for everyone.
FINAL SCORE - 20
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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