This release dates back from 2020 and was in fact the very first release on JC Wings then new Boeing 747-400 mould. It was at the time made exclusively for Cathay Pacific and so not only hard to find, but also very expensive. Just this week I've been fortunate enough to receive a copy of it and wanted to show it off a little. Since I only reviewed this mould a few weeks ago (see that review of a United Airlines example here) this isn't a full review so sit back and enjoy a vey much abbreviated look at this model and discussion of Cathay's relationship with Herpa.
Herpa have for many years been the only die-cast brand with a licence to make Cathay Pacific models in 400 scale. Cathay have historically been quite aggressive in trying to keep a lid on unlicensed model releases, to the extent they have threatened retailers and owners of model databases who use the Cathay Pacific name.
This seems to have lessened in recent years and it never made a dent in Cathay releases anyway. All the manufacturers did was remove their branding from the boxes while retailers just didn't use the Cathay name and instead used things like 'Not Available' instead.
Herpa have themselves released a steady stream of Cathay models over the years with 33 releases to date. This is about a tenth of all Herpa 400 scale production! Most of the Herpa moulds have been subpar so there have been some pretty awful models (the 707s for example) but also some really nice ones (such as the Catalina).
Herpa have made Cathay 747-400s before with the last dating from 2009. The mould actually doesn't look awful, but as is often the case with Herpa in this scale it does look a bit plasticky. It is certainly good to see that they have decided to use the new JC Wings mould this time and in fact they appear to be moving towards using JC more and more.
This model comes in a delightful package with fliptop lid. Under the lid there is text extolling the history of the airframe (Cathay's first 747-400) and where parts of it can be found. The box insert is unusually foam and not a plastic cradle.
As is usual for Herpa a stand is included, however the design means that the underside of the model itself has had to be modified to allow the unusual stand to fit.
The model looks excellent, however for a 2020 release it is unusual in missing aerials. Presumably this is because it was meant for general public purchase and not for model collectors alone.
The model has the feel of an early 2000s release in that it lacks a lot of detailed printing that would normally be added as standard by JC Wings on one of their own releases. The wings and underside are rather barren of extra print detailing for example.
This doesn't really impact the end result massively and the livery replication is first rate.
Also looking first rate are the cockpit windows - even better than on some of the JC Wings releases.
I was able to acquire this model from taobao where some have recently been popping up years after release. It seems the reason is that there had been QC Issues with the release in the form of bubbling, especially on the wings. There are some very small bubbles near the wingroot but they are quite hard to see.
I already own a version of this aircraft in the form of the DreamJets (i.e. Gemini Jets) 2002 release. As with the pair of United examples I compared in the recent review these two make an interesting comparison.
The mould of the new release is obviously superior, as you'd expect, with more detailed undercarriage, a better noseform and a seamless fuselage. Additionally, I was never overly happy with the cheatline position on the old Gemini version, which is slightly too low.
You'll also notice that the green on the newer model is a lot less bright.
Overall I'm very happy to have been able to pickup this hard to find model, especially as it is one of the few classic uses of this lovely mould. At the original retail price it was not great value for money considering it lacks details you'd expect from a 2020 standard release, however at the 299 yuan it cost me (about $41.60) it's a bargain.
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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