There has definitely been a swing in NG's general production towards more modern releases in the past year or so. Partly this is due to more modern moulds but partly it is also seemingly aimed at competing against Phoenix, JC Wings and Gemini. Non-Chinese modern aircraft are largely outside my collection criteria but I do have a modern airport diorama and given what is available I have at times cast my collecting net a little wider. I don't usually go near the ME3 but Etihad do have a lovely scheme so I thought I'd take a closer look at this A330.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
As my A330-200 Youtube Video Mould review discussed there is plenty of competition in 400 scale in the A330-200 space with existing moulds from almost everyone - Aviation400, Aeroclassics, JC Wings / Gemini, Panda Models, Phoenix and NG Models. NG Models mould is the newest, dating from 2019, but has some tough competition.
Of all the existing moulds I'd say this NG Models version is top, but only by the finest of margins. It is actually hard to distinguish between the best two moulds - this and the Panda version. Both are close to, and maybe share an ancestry with the Aeroclassics A330, but obviously both have superior detailing and printing.
The overall shape of the fuselage and wings is excellent with no problems. The mould also recognises the minor visual difference between a series 200 and 300 - the slightly larger vertical stabiliser. Although I like the Phoenix A330-200 it has incorrectly sized horizontal stabilisers. That mistake is not repeated here and relegates it beneath this mould.
The one major point of difference between the Panda A330 and the NG models one is at the engines. The Panda mould has solid engine cores whilst the NG Models version has excellent and finely detailed see through engines.
The mould has four aerials with the under-fuselage one correctly offset to the left (technically it might not be an aerial actually). Also present are two rooftop domes. The rear dome is perhaps slightly too humped but still looks great.
There is really almost no daylight between the Panda and NG A330s but if I had to make a call I’d go with the NG if only due to the engine detailing. In reality you’re nowadays spoilt for choice when it comes to A330 options.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
The current Etihad scheme was unveiled in September 2014 and was designed by Landor Associates. It was:
Inspired by traditional Emirati design patterns, the landscapes of the desert, and the geometric shapes found in the modern architecture of Abu Dhabi. The result is a striking and unique livery design, which will present Etihad Airways as the airline of a progressive and innovative cultural hub, firmly rooted in its rich history.
For once I have to agree with the marketing guff as it is a fabulous livery. In terms of colours:
The design pattern named Facets of Abu Dhabi uses a colour palette which reflects the varying hues of the landscape of the UAE, from the darker sands of Liwa to the lighter colours seen in the Northern Emirates.
The scheme also uses a metallic sparkly paint, which is difficult to reproduce in 400 scale. Often when brands try and replicate this they can end up with a kind of disco glitter effect, but that is not a problem here. Only under extreme closeup do you see the shiny bits of the scheme and I have to say considering the model size this is one of the most impressive renditions of a truly difficult colour I have seen.
There are lots of colours used here and the patterning is super-complex. Generally I think the colours are good but not 100% accurate. The most important, the fuselage paint, is great but I do think a couple of the other shades are not as good. The brighter sand tail element (Fractal colour 4 in the above image) is too yellow and not coppery enough and the medium brown (Fractal colour 1) is too dark a brown.
I can't argue with the position of the geometric elements however, which are all beautifully placed. Likewise scheme components like the title font and drop shadows are all really nice.
This is a tough scheme to get right and it could so easily turn into a dog's breakfast. It does not though and aside from some minor colour issues it is a triumph.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
NG's Airbus A330s have come under some criticism as concerns the height of the windowline. This is actually not exclusive to NG's A330s as similar comments have been made at times for others A330s - especially Phoenix versions. Is it a real issue here though? Yes I think it is but less so at the rear of the aircraft and more so at the front. It does seem as though the front of the windowline is a little high judging where it finishes in relation to the L1 door, Abu Dhabi flag and wing root. It is only out by half a mm or so though and isn't a big deal.
I am also not fully convinced by the cockpit print template being used. It does seem that the side cocpit windows are just a little too close together. This is once again something of an issye with some other A330s too. It is not a biggie and the shape of the windows themselves is fine. In terms of the detail, quality and fineness on show this model's printing is up there with the usual top quality standard I expect from NG. Considering the aforementioned metallic paint the printing is some of the best I've ever seen.
The model is built with excellence and I admit that I almost never receive any build issues with NG products (I know that is not everyone's experience though).
SCORE - 9
NG Models regularly hit scores of 27+ with their models so a score of 27, which would be impressive for some brands, is nothing special for them. Still, I am impressed with the ability of NG to replicate even the toughest schemes with this level of consistent quality. I know some want to argue the point and shout bias but NG really are the best at what they are doing at the moment. That doesn't mean they are perfect but it is a standard others should be trying to emulate. This is another fine model.
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.
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