The interactive series of 747-8F freighters in 400 scale (and now a series 400 too) is an area where Gemini Jets has rather unusually found itself in the position of being an innovator (although I suspect JC Wings is mainly behind it since they design and produce Gemini's models). Until now none of the releases have been within my collection criteria and it is surprising that it has taken so long for a Cathay version to appear, presumably due to Cathay's litigious nature. Now there is a CX version it gives me an opportunity to take a closer look at the concept.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
Obviously this mould uses the basic JC Wings 747-8F mould, but suitably modified for the interactive series. Therefore, it is almost like I am reviewing two things in relation to the mould - the base aircraft and the innovation of interactive itself. I will give each a score and then merge them together to try and keep the scoring within the usual review format.
Looking at the standard 747-8F mould from JC Wings overall it is a good mould with one well known failing. That failing is the shape of the upperdeck hump at its rear. The hump on the actual aircraft has a rather gentle curve downwards but on the mould the hump after the rooftop aerial curves far too much, making the hump as a whole too short.
It is fairly obvious on this model due to the position of the end of the hump and the livery. On the model the hump ends before the end of the C of PACIFIC whereas on the real aircraft it finishes after the end of the C of CARGO. It is not an insubstantial distance but I admit that, somewhat surprisingly, it doesn't upset me too much or appear too obvious if you're not comparing to photos.
The shape of the fuselage underside curving up to the tailcone is also not 100%, as in this case I think the curve starts upwards too early and gently, however in this area it is barely noticeable.
In other respects the rest of the mould is on par with other newer JC Wings offerings in being very good. The shape of the rest of the fuselage, wings, engines, control surfaces and undercarriage garners no criticism. It is a little surprising that the engines have solid cores but it is not something that offends me.
A quick comparison to the Phoenix 747-8F shows that the Phoenix has a much better hump shape but is inferior in other areas - especially the wing/fuselage join and the tail/fuselage join, both areas Phoenix typically struggles with.
In relation to the interactive features of this version of the mould I am very impressed. There are four cargo doors (Nose cargo door, Side Cargo door and two left side belly holds) that can be switched out for open elements. The fit of the side door elements when closed is tight, but earlier versions of the 747-8F interactive have been criticised for the gap between the NCD and the rest of the fuselage in closed mode. The gap on this model is a lot better and I think it looks very good. To be honest, even if it were a bit gappy who is buying this model to display it with the cargo doors closed? I would have thought Gemini and JC would be well within their rights to not even include the closed door versions myself.
The NCD when open slots cleanly into a pair of discrete holes and really makes the rest of the model sing. It is wonderfully shaped and detailed and holds in position well. Similarly the side cargo doors in open configuration come with tabs that slot into grooves in the holds. They are held in place firmly and look excellent.
When I got this model out of the box and fitted the open cargo doors I was very impressed. Not only is the feature innovative but the addition of it to the 747-8F is done very well to my eye. If you're buying an interactive model to display it with the doors closed then I don't really understand, but even in this configuration I think it looks good. With the doors open it is a real showstopper.
The JC Wings / Gemini 747-8F on its own would perhaps only score a 7, maybe an 8 if I was feeling generous, but the addition of the interactive components really upgrades the mould. I would give these an easy 10. The Phoenix 747-8F may have a better hump but it can't hold a candle to this and overall I am willing to give the package as a whole a 9 due to the application of the open cargo doors.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
This Hong Kong Trader scheme was a really effective special scheme that would have been a good standard Cathay Cargo livery. As it was it was worn from delivery, on 14th November 2011, until being repainted in September 2018. I probably still prefer the original 90s CX scheme rather than the newer version anyway.
This model wears a fine representation of the scheme. The colours are bright, vibrant and accurate. The printing detailing is crisp and detailed producing a photo realistic brushwing on the tail and Hong Kong skyline on the fuselage.
Impressively the printing detail on the plastic cargo door elements is as good as that on the diecast fuselage and the separate elements fit seamlessly together. The smallest print aspects, such as the ASIA'S WORLD CITY titles above the main titles are beautifully rendered and easily readable despite their small size.
Yet amongst all this beauty I do think that the entire scheme is ever so very slightly printed too low, at least from the wing forward. The diamonds above the wingline indicate that they are too low, although it is probably only by half a mm or so. It has no real impact on the scheme I admit and I am not going to take a point off for it as it is so minor.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
I have already mentioned in the previous section the crispness of the printing and I do firmly believe that JC Wing's capability in this area is as good as anybody's. The entire model oozes quality and elegance.
Being a Cathay release this model comes in the unbranded large orange box with an EW product number but makes up for this with its own collector's card. The bigger box also provides good protection and the model demonstrates no discernable QC issues even with the 8 separate detachable items. Bravo.
SCORE - 10
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this model but I admit I have been rather blown away by it. I know the hump isn't correct but the quality of everything else makes up for that. Being a mainly classics collector I admit I can get bored by modern aircraft but it is this sort of feature that keeps me engaged and amongst a large fleet, such as I have, this model will really stand out for all the right reasons.
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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