Narrowbody airliners from the 1980s and 1990s do not get a lot of coverage in 400 scale so along with a whole host of MD-80s and early A320s there are plenty of 737-300/400s that remain to be produced, often for major national carriers. JC Wings has at least been showing a broader interest in some older aircraft of recent and since KLM were a major 90s operator of the series 400 and a frequent LHR visitor this release fell easily into my collection criteria.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
There are three active moulds for the 737-400 - from JC Wings / Gemini Jets, Panda Models and Phoenix. This JC Wings version dates from an original casting of 2003 vintage but even though it is ten years older than the next youngest mould, Phoenix 2013 edition, it is still not the worst of the three. In fact updated with modern printing and aerials it remains a solid if not spectacular 737 classic, albeit one soundly beaten across the board by the new, but hugely under-utilised Panda mould.
The overall shape of the fuselage is acceptable and gives a decent representation of a 737-400. The nose is a little chunky but decent enough given its age. The tailcone is lacking a little detail but the shape is ok and the tail bumper present and correct.
Unsurprisingly for a mould dating from near the beginning of 400 scale it is not seamless, but at least the seam is a tight fit and very small. It's only really visible from underneath.
The wings and stabilisers are fine and overall the engines are ok as well. It is the fitting of the engines to the pylons that isn't as good as it might be. The pylon fit on the top side is rather chunky and the engines tilt downwards rather than pointing upwards.
Interestingly this is one of the last moulds with static landing gear left in the scale. I don't care about rolling gear but the gear here are a little simple and the nosegear doors somewhat recessed into the fuselage.
The mould does have something of a taildown attitude due to the landing gear but as the aircraft is longer it isn't as pronounced as in the series 300 version of the mould. JC Wings have fitted three of the four antenna but as is often the case with JC antenna they are a little too tall.
Given the irregularity of 737-400 releases and basic soundness of this mould I can understand why it has not been replaced and I much prefer it to the more modern but horribly duck-nosed Phoenix version. Nonetheless, in direct competition against the Panda version it is obviously inferior. But I want 737-400 releases so I cannot begrudge the continued use of this version given Panda's disinterest in producing period 734s.
SCORE - 7
PAINT & LIVERY
The KLM colour palette and livery tradition are true classics. The only airlines I can think of which have had similar schemes have been Aer Lingus and Northwest Airlines. The classic blue top was introduced in late 1972 and lasted until 2002 when it was tastefully modernised. In between these times it was only updated slightly when it gained the NW/KLM partnership roundel in 1993. This is the version worn here.
Unsurprisingly the blue did have a habit of fading but I think that JC has aced both the blue colours here. The dark blue cheatline is in the right place so is the white stripe beneath it.
The tail logo and main titles look great and there is commendable detailing inside the Worldwide Reliability KLM/NW roundel next to the titles. The aircraft name of 'Vasco De Gama' (the famous Portuguese explorer) is tiny but readable under magnification.
The only area of weakness in the livery are the engines. The KLM logo is printed rather thickly and the crown not differentiated enough - it is basically a splodge. To be fair it is very small. More annoying is that at least the front of the engines should be white not grey.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
I have already lauded several aspects of the printing and across the model it is of high quality. The silver window frames against the dark blue cheatline really standout and fit the windows perfectly. On the underside of the model there is some very fine panel detailing.
The only minor letdown on the print front is that the cockpit windows are slightly misplaced, being too high, which is a common issue with usages of this and the 737-300 by JC/GJ. The cheatline hides this quite a lot on this edition.
Structurally this is a solid old mould with few extra parts where things can go wrong. It helps having static gear but even the addition of the aerials doesn't impinge on a well built model.
SCORE - 9
This is a very pleasing little model that shows that even very old moulds can still produce great releases when they are used well and, of course, when they were pretty good to start with. I'd love the maingear to be a little longer but for me they don't need to roll. If JC Wings can continue to produce models of this quality on this mould then personally I'm fine with them continuing to use it.
SCORE - 24/30
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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