The recent appearance of the JetHut brand, who appear to be behind the models made for the De Agostini JAL Collection magazine in Japan, has given me cause to acquire and look in more detail at the JAL Collection releases. Fortunately I have been able to source some of the models via Taobao sites so my plan is to take a look at these models over the coming weeks to give an idea of what has been made and what could be made if JetHut actually turns into reality. There have been 40 issues of the series to date and one of the most intriguing moulds is the MD-90 so that is what I'll start with.
DISCLAIMER: I don't know for certain if JetHut is going to turn into something and even if they do I don't know for certain they'll use the JAL Collection moulds, however there is a decent chance they will do both.
As I have said many times these JetHut moulds are not supposed to compete with first-line 400 scale brands and will be priced much cheaper than ordinary 400 scale models. This will come at a cost to quality so it is wrong to necessarily compare them directly to existing brands. Nonetheless, I will do that just to illustrate how near or far they are from usual 400 scale models.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
MD-90s aren't exactly common in 400 scale, just like they weren't in real life, however there have been 3 mainstream moulds made, with this JAL Collection example being the forth. The Dragon mould was only used twice and although the JC Wings / Gemini mould has been used most often it is the Phoenix mould that is most comparable in this case since they used it to make 7 JAS MD-90s in 2005.
In some ways this new JAL Collection mould is superior to all the existing moulds, but unsurprisingly in others it isn't. Starting at the front one of the mould's best features is the shape of the nosecone and cockpit, which are excellent. They are easily as good as any of the competitors and substantially better than the chunky Snoopy-esque nose on the Phoenix version. The nosegear doors and tyre are slightly oversized but no worse than the Dragon or Phoenix moulds.
The large side strakes under the cockpit are moulded in. They may be slightly too thick but they compare well to the JC Wings / Gemini version where they are barely present. The lower fuselage also doesn't have the odd bulge of the JC Wings / Gemini version. In fact, up to the wings this mould is at least as good, if not better than the older trio.
The rest of the fuselage is good except for the screwdriver tail, which is too pointy and rounded. As with many of these JAL Collection models the tailplane is actually plastic and not diecast. Far from being a problem though this means that the tail shape is very finely done and the horizontal stabilisers attach beautifully to it with no seam whatsoever. It is easily the best tail of all MD-90 moulds, even if the horizontal stabs angle downwards slightly.
Likewise the engines and pylons are well shaped and have a surprising amount of detail. The pylons for example have more detailing than on the JC Wings / Gemini mould. The only drawback with the engines is a rather obvious line running around them vertically at the midpoint.
Unlike the Phoenix and JC Wings / Gemini moulds the wings are slot in and not cradle mounted. This is unusual for JAL Collection moulds but is welcome. The wings are well shaped and have a lot of aileron and flap detailing. The detailing is etched a little deep and reminds me somewhat of some Dragon Wings model wings (albeit these are diecast and not plastic)
The last point about the mould is that it incorrectly does not have the slightly nose down attitude of an MD-90. This is present on the Gemini mould but is also absent on the Dragon and Phoenix moulds.
I had liked the look of this model from the photos I'd seen and even ignoring the price point I think it competes very well with the existing 400 Scale MD-90s. There are no aerials or rolling gear but it does have an excellent forward fuselage and tail. The only areas needing real improvement are the tailcone shape and nosegear size. I'd say this mould is on par with the JC Wings / Gemini version and much better than the Phoenix.
SCORE - 8
PAINT & LIVERY
JAS' MD-90s famously wore livery variants designed by the film director Akira Kurosawa and JA8064 had a particularly nice design, which is not easy to reproduce, especially when you are trying to make cheaper models. It is a little surprising that such a good effort has been made here.
The colours are vibrant and look a good match with photos of the aircrat I have seen. The livery elements also are positioned well and wrap around the fuselage nicely, although the kinks in the colour bands are too pronounced.
The Japanese sun behind the L1 and R1 door is too high due to the whole windowline being slightly too high. Also the upturn of the J at the lower front fuselage doesn't curve up enough and the MD-90 titles on the engines are slightly too low.
On the whole this livery effort is as good as a lot of standard 400 scale models. There is plenty of detail, like including the wing titles and reg on both sides of the wings, and having the 064 repeated on the nosegear doors.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
I have already mentioned the windowline is too high on the model. It isn't drastic and is mostly noticeable near the engines. Otherwise the printing is solid and crisp and at the same kind of level as Aeroclassics. There is decent detailing on doors, aerials are printed on the roofline and other basics like overwing exits and cargo doors are present. Printing on the underside is more rudeimentary and lacks the rear airstairs.
The engines have very silvery fanblades, in keeping with the slightly dated look of the model overall but in general I am happy with the paint and print.
Above: Before I modified the wing angle
Below: After I modified the wing angle
Like all JAL Collection models this release comes in a disappointing vacuum form package rather than box, however it has had no impact on the build quality of the model. What did have an impact was the fit of the wings giving them an odd high angle, especially the right wing. Fortunately with a bit of force the wings could be pushed back into alignment and now look much better, although there has been some minor paint damage as a result.
SCORE - 7
This is an admirable start to my JAL Collection reviews. If the rest of the models approach this level of quality then I will be very happy. Overall it has the feel of a c.2010 model, but a good one. Given the price point the quality of the mould, livery and printing are very good and it competes effectively against older MD-90 releases. A final score of 23 illustrates just how nicely this model has done.
FINAL SCORE - 23/30
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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