It can be difficult choosing between the releases for major Asian liveries as they tend to be duplicated by Phoenix, JC Wings, Aviation400 and NG Models, when the correct moulds are available. This difficulty is added to by the usual often long lead-time for the JC Wings’ examples. This special livery China Eastern 777, for example, has been released by Aviation400 and Phoenix, and has been announced by JC Wings in flaps up and flaps down versions. Which to buy? Of course, when it comes to 777s all the major moulds are great (excluding the older Gemini one) so the choice is even more difficult. Certainly, Aviation400 have been staking a strong claim in the 777-300 space and since China Eastern are a focus airline for my collection this model gives me an opportunity to look at what they are offering.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
In my reviews of 777-300s to date the new 2017 JC Wings mould has easily beaten the old 2007 era Phoenix casting. This should be expected seeing as it is a decade younger and the Phoenix 777 remains a decent tooling, just inferior to the JC Wings offering. Aviation400 seems keen to compete in the more lucrative widebody end of the market and so their recent 2019 77W is a natural fit along with their A330s and A350s (and upcoming 787).
Starting at the front and moving rearward the AV400 mould is very similar to the JC Wings in the nosecone and cockpit regions. AV400 has gone the extra yards in terms of detailing on the nosegear. Not only is the detail crisper than on the JC Wings but it has more of it, such as the triangular box atop the two forward prongs coming off the gearleg. In all areas in this region the AV400 outcompetes the Phoenix mould.
The Phoenix mould has been criticized for the small size of the huge GE engines and this AV400 mould doesn’t repeat that error. As with the JC Wings 777 the engines are larger, albeit they are held a little lower due to the shape of the pylons. Engine ground clearance isn’t an issue despite this. At the maingear the first clear error is present in that the gear doors are too short and show off too much of the gear leg.
From the front the engine fanblades are very nice and although thin successfully trick the eye into appearing thicker. They look a little better than those of the JC mould.
It is towards the rear that the AV400 mould is weaker. The 777 has a very recognizable asymmetrical tailcone with the APU exhaust on the left. The shape and placement of the APU is wrong and the upper and lower prongs of the tailcone too large. Even so this is distinctly better than the old Phoenix mould, which has no APU hole, no prongs and a full width attached vertical stabilizer.
Where AV400’s moulds do gain ‘brownie points’ is in the detailing. The small rooftop bumps mid-fuselage and the slightly larger bump aft are moulded in. The larger dome forward is an attachment but a well-shaped one. The five aerials are well-sized and so of course are the obligatory AV400 navigation beacons above and below the fuselage. These small red jewel attachments look excellent and shine beautifully in the light.
Overall, this is a fitting competitor to the JC Wings 777, which I would say it approaches in quality. It may lose on a pure scoring basis due to the maingear doors and tailcone, but has extra detail in the nosegear and beacons that the JC Wings does not. Unsurprisingly it leaves the older Phoenix mould for dust.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
Check out this page at Planespotters.net for real photos of B-2002.
China Eastern makes up for its incredibly boring colourscheme by having an impressive multitude of special liveries and this scheme, to advertise the 3rd China International Import Expo held in November 2020 at Shanghai, really goes the extra mile covering the entire airframe with its motto of ‘New Era Shared Future’ and yet more playful Pandas.
There certainly is a lot going on with this scheme, which has an attractive light blue base colour. I haven’t got any problems with the blue being used here, which looks a lot darker in poorly lit photos but just like this in well lit ones. The rest of the scheme is made up of ribbons of colour with gradients throughout moving from blue to light green, dark blue to light blue and yellow to orange.
I really like the colours being used, which match the real thing well. The only mis-step is that the large blue-turquoise-green ribbon, which the main titles are in is too green too quickly. It is more accurate on the starboard side but on the port I don’t think the green should really be green until around the T of EASTERN.
The positioning of the ribbons and the striping is excellent. The only place where it isn’t is above the rear wing where the orange step downwards should be deeper than it is. The main titles don’t stand out quite as they do on the real aircraft either but this is real nitpicking now.
I can’t fault the Panda mascots or other titles and the result is an impressively printed example of a livery that is very difficult to reproduce, given its complexity.
SCORE – 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Printing and detail are strengths of AV400 and nearly as good as that by NG Models and JC Wings – the market leaders. A lot of the finer detail is quite light, such as engine panels, nosecone ring and the nosegear doors but it is all present. The maingear doors are a lot darker but well-shaped. Something I have not seen before in 400 scale, other than on AV400 777s, is the striping on the rear underside aerial. Even NG just colour these aerials in block red so the striping detail really stands out.
The model is well put together with no issues. Particularly impressive are the engines, which have really nice rims and fanblades, with an exceptionally tight fit considering the multiple pieces needed to fit them. AV400 has also recently started making its landing gear a metallic colour and this looks really good.
SCORE – 10
This new AV400 777 is a worthy contender in the market for Triple-Sevens and to my mind definitely superior to the Phoenix 777 both in terms of the mould and the printing AV400 can deliver. Arguably the JC Wings 77W is better but their releases can take a long time to arrive (I admit AV400s can sometimes take a few months too). Anyway, the nav beacons, nosegear detail and engine fans on the AV400 mould are superior to the JC. I doubt you’d be disappointed with any AV400 777 you purchase and they are covering the Asian 777 realm well so I strongly suggest giving them a look.
FINAL SCORE – 27/30
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.
This site is free. Please donate to keep it going.