By all accounts Phoenix are having a stonking good year with an excellent diversity of releases including a good number of both unmade and 'not made for a long time' classics. They have also been listening to collectors and taking that advice directly into their production choices, which includes a resurgence of Tupolev Tu-154s. In theory there is new competition in the Tu-154 space but NG Models have shown a reluctance to use their mould effectively leaving a sizeable gap through which Phoenix can 'make hay while the sun shines' even though their own version, as with so many Phoenix moulds, is a little long in the tooth.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The ancestry of the current Phoenix Tu-154 mould dates back to 2002 when Tucano Line cloned the prototype Aeroclassics Tu-154 mould not long before they went bankrupt. As the name suggests Phoenix was born from the ashes of Tucano as a way to sell the unmade stock and the rest is history. I have discussed the the history of Tucano here at the site.
This Tu-154 mould unsurprisingly shares a lot with the Aeroclassics version. The entire fuselage and wings are the same. It has however been updated several times, most recently in 2012 when it gained all new rolling gear.
Although the upgraded Phoenix mould is better than the Aeroclassics version it still is noway near as good as the new NG Models version. The nose shape isn't bad but the nosecone could be pointier for sure. The upgraded nosegear is an improvement but the leg is still too high (a lot shorter than the Aeroclassics version though) and gives the aircraft an incorrect nose high attitude.
The age of the mould dictates that it is a cradle fit but one where the seam is trivial and hidden except for from the underneath. The one thing this mould does have that the NG mould doesn't is the correct wing anhedral so the wingtips are lower than the wing join but this comes with serious implications for a Tu-154M - having completely the wrong wing attached!
The wing used for the Phoenix Tu-154M is that of a Tu-154B. This means it has the wrong shape at the wingroot, without the double kink form, and has the incorrect shape for the flap track fairings, which don't protrude beyond the wing trailing edge.
The triple bogey maingear is a good height and has nice rolling gear attached.
The tail and rear fuselage exhaust for the no 2 engine are one piece to allow for the fuselage to be used for both major variants of the 154. This makes sense but does leave a rather obvious seam near the tailcone and especially on the underside the join is a little clumsy.
Phoenix have a different tail unit to Aeroclassics for their M version and the size and shape of the #2 engine intake is inferior. It is not high enough and so too round. The tailshape is decent but the forward spike on the tailtop is too blunt. Lastly the horizontal stabilisers are a one piece fitting that sits atop the tail creating another seam - that is rather obvious.
This is an old mould, slightly updated, so there isn't a great expectation that it should beat a modern casting like the NG Models version. It doesn't by a wide margin, especially when pretending to be a Tu-154M due to the wing. However, in the absence of more NG editions it can still fill a 154 shaped hole in my collection but it is worth being aware of its failings.
SCORE - 6
PAINT & LIVERY
Kras Air was an important airline in Russia in the 2000s and as founder member of the AiRUnion alliance was a major player prior to its bankruptcy in 2008. Most of its fleet wore a distinctive and attractive scheme of green and blue.
There's little doubt with this model that Phoenix have gone a little too dark with the colours. The majority of images I see have the blue quite a bit lighter, as a medium blue, and the green also significantly less dark too.
Positioning and size of the cheatlines and featherlike tail logo are good. Also good are the main titles and very small full Krasnoyarsk Airlines (in Russian) titles under the cheatline. The Tu-154M titles behind the cockpit are suitably small as well.
Another minor point of criticism is the strength of the registration, which looks thicker in images I have seen.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Printing on Phoenix models has improved markedly in recent years and there is plenty to like on this model, especially under the rear fuselage and #1 and 3 engines.
From the front the engine fans are nice and dark but when looking from the rear the exhaust inners have been left unpainted.
Construction quality of the majority of the model is good but not of the undercarriage. The model arrived with significant distortion of the nosegear leg, which has been largely corrected with some applied pressure. The leftside maingear is also slightly distorted and none of the tyres on it or the nosegear move freely.
SCORE - 7
Phoenix are having a good year and certainly I am likely to buy a lot more of their models this year than I have for years. Even so, this model illustrates that typically, not always but mostly, with Phoenix you are getting older and inferior moulds. With a 10/10 mould this model would score a decent 25/30 but with this version it slips down into workhorse territory. It isn't dreadful by any margin but it feels somewhat like a stopgap model that would need replacing if anyone else ever made it again. The fact that that is unlikely is I feel what is helping to keep Phoenix in business. They are making good release choices but I'd much prefer to have seen this model from NG.
NOTE: It was pointed out to me recently that my scoring on these reviews was out of kilter with my release ranking videos where Workhorse was the middle ranking. I have altered the scoring name here to align them and hopefully reduce confusion although in truth the two aren't necessarily aiming at the same thing.
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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