It has taken a while, and the lengthy development process has meant that both Phoenix and JC Wings have flooded the market with A380s of their own as spoilers, but quality takes time and finally the Aviation400 A380s are ready. It is somewhat ironic that as the new mould arrives the big Airbus is rapidly leaving service, but nonetheless it remains a milestone in aviation history. Aviation400 continue to strive for extra features and detail on their releases so here I take a look at my first AV400 A380, which of course has to be China Southern. They have recently retired their small fleet of A380s but I saw several at Guangzhou in 2018 and they were the only Chinese operator of the type.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
I have closely followed the development of the Aviation400 A380 and AV400 have been good enough to send me through three different sample moulds at various stages of the build. For the reviews of each of these please check out the following:
Throughout this design process AV400 took onboard feedback and made modifications to the mould. They have certainly strived for accuracy, as well as incorporating their trademark features and new ones too. This is the first time I have seen the finished product with aerials, beacons and printing added. The mould certainly does not disappoint.
In my estimation this mould is easily the best A380 in 400 scale even before considering the extra details such as detachable undercarriage. The form of the massive fuselage is excellent. Unlike the JC Wings / Gemini version the noseshape is shorter and more rounded - a lot more accurate.
The wings fit tightly to the fuselage and have a nicely contoured join to the bulging fairing on the lower fuselage. Towards the rear of the aircraft the proportions are good and the tailcone nicely detailed. The APU pipe is present, but could maybe be slightly longer, and the upper edge of the tailcone could be slightly sharper but these are very minor considerations.
The massive but quite narrow vertical stabiliser is well shaped and nicely detailed, especially at the lower boundary where it joins the roofline. The roofline itself illustrates one of AV400's strongpoints - aerials and beacons.
There are 3 aerials on the roof plus 3 raised small domes and the pair of side by side beacon lights. They all look excellent and the aerials are well sized and shaped. On the underside there is a single aerial forward of the wing.
Fuselage detailing on the underside is good with the pair of large rectangular scoops just forward of the wing moulded in along with the gear doors.
The wings curve beautifully to recreate the elegant profile of the real aircraft and the final shape of the wingtip fences has been modified to make them sharper and photo accurate. Another area modified in the sample development was the outer engine pylon, which is now also accurate.
The engines hang perfectly from the pylons and have great shape and detailing. They are also hollow core with spinning fanblades but unlike many recreations of spinning blade engines the fan blades themselves are both good in number and correctly shaped.
Moving to the undercarriage and the units all have a nice form and plenty of detailing. The model also sits well on its gear, something the light Phoenix version sometimes fail to do. However it is here that the mould's only real fault is also present as the rear triple bogey units are slightly too far back and don't overlap the outer maingear units as they should. They are out of position only by 1 or 2 mm but it is the one area where the Phoenix mould has the upper hand.
The undercarriage is held in with magnets, which work perfectly to keep the gear firmly attached. They easily keep it in place even with fairly violent shaking of the model. They remove just as easily and can be replaced with the closed gear doors for display of the model on its stand (all AV400 models come with a good plastic stand).
Removal of the closed gear doors is enabled using one of a pair of pointed toothpick like tools provided with the model.
From a mould perspective this A380 is near perfect aside from the rear maingear location. Despite that minor issue I am not going to detract a full point so it will get a 10/10. When moulds are this good the 1-10 scale I use decreases in value somewhat, but as much as that is a criticism of my scale it is a strong recommendation for a mould that achieves excellence.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
China Southern has had a good year of releases and I apologise as it does seem that I'm reviewing quite a few CZ models this year. That is just a coincidence but I do love their livery.
The core colours of the scheme are a medium blue and dark blue, with gold pinstripes and of course the red flower logo on the tail. The flower itself is a Kapok flower, which is the chosen flower of the airline's hometown city - Guangzhou.
The colours used here by AV400 match with the older Gemini Jets CZ A380 I own and the rest of my China Southern fleet. The placement and size of the cheatline and tail logo also provide no cause for concern. Small details like the red lower portion of the wingtip fences are not lacking.
In a direct comparison with the older Gemini version I own the lighter grey colour used for the wing inners appears more accurate as do the slightly less bold wing rego and Chinese characters.
I note that the model lacks the Skyteam alliance logo after the cockpit but this is not a fault as China Southern left the alliance on January 1, 2020, however it does mean that technically this model represents an aircraft only from 2020-2022.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
If you're not convinced that the mould here is superior to the Phoenix A380 then surely the combination of mould and print detail should be enough to settle the argument. AV400's printing is definitely superior to Phoenix and this model has lavish detail on it. The clarity and crispness of the RR logos on the engine nacelles are a prime indicator of that.
Comparing to my Gemini version I was going to criticise the lack of the printing of infilled windows, which are present on the GJ edition. However I can't see this detail in any of the real photos of the actual plane so I can't in good conscience ask for them. All the print work is excellent.
This is a model that comes with a lot of parts. Not only are there the complex removable landing gear and gear doors, but also 8 add-ons to the fuselage (2 bumps, 2 beacons and 4 aerials) plus the multi-part engines with spinning blades. Even the well-shaped side fins on the engines are an additional piece, not part of the moulded nacelle. Yet all of these components are well attached and show impeccable quality control.
SCORE - 10
It has been a long time since I have seen fit to award a model full marks. Maybe you could call it a 29.5, if you are detracting anything for the maingear position being slightly out, but I'm going to persist with my standard scoring method and not do that. Regardless, it is clear this is an outstanding mould, full of outstanding details and with outstanding print and quality. Aviation400 are an outstanding company. I can criticise how long it can take them to get releases to market but not often the models. Of course the one thing going against these AV400 A380s is the price, as they do tend to be more expensive than the competition. However, you are getting what you pay for in this case and if I am after A380s these would be my first choice by some distance.
FINAL SCORE - 30/30
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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