Miniature Models are a brand using, at least for now, Panda Models' moulds and they have been producing an eclectic mix of semi-classic aircraft, as well as the odd contemporary aircraft. It's hard to pin down what their interests are since their 7 releases to date have danced around from South America to Asia and now to Europe. Nonetheless they are using some great moulds to make models that are highly competitive against the competition. The latest pair are Lufthansa 737-300s dating from the 1980s and just the sort of release to catch my interest.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The 737-300 has not historically been a type treated well in 400 scale, from mediocre Herpa and Dragon efforts to the current duck-nosed abomination Phoenix use. It is fortunate in some ways that none of those moulds were used more than a handful of times.
For many years the best of a bad bunch was the old 2004 Gemini Jets mould. This mould continues to be used in 2022, albeit updated slightly with aerials. It is just another of many old Gemini moulds that have been updated by JC Wings rather than being replaced with something better. In this case the added aerials are oversized and the aircraft tends to sits tail down - see my 2020 review of a United example.
Fortunately there is another 737-300 mould and that is the one under review here. Originally it appeared under the Aeroclassics brand in 2013 but was owned by Panda and migrated back to them when the relationship with Aeroclassics went south. Panda have updated, what was already easily the best 737-300, to improve it further. Along with the Panda 737-400 there is finally a great 737 Classic, albeit one that in Panda's hands is criminally under-used.
The overall fuselage shape of the casting is perfect and has the blunt rounded tailcone with APU shaped excellently. Two aerials are fitted, one above and one below. Both are well sized and shaped.
The engines are well shaped, with the flattened bottom, and hung high enough to give the correct level of ground clearance by the pylons. The wings are also well shaped and fit snugly into the fuselage.
The new undercarriage is an improvement over the simple previous version. The new larger tyres come with proper hubs and are better sized then before.
It has been pointed out to me that the angle of the top of the vertical stabiliser isn't correct, and I concede this point, however it is minor. I've previously scored this mould as a 10 but I'll drop it to a 9 for the tail angle, which is I admit rather harsh.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
The 1970/80s Lufthansa scheme is a delight, not necessarily due to the cheatline but due to the huge natural metal belly, which reaches up to it. The simplified eurowhite scheme that superseded it was decent but rather lacks the classic stylings of this one.
I'm happy with the colours being applied here and in general this is a quality rendition of the scheme. The cheatline is a good height and the natural metal belly looks excellent. The 737-300 had enough composites that the belly and engines could not all be natural metal so there is also painted grey. The sweeping curves demarking the boundary of the silver from the grey add some extra interest and are well placed.
On the tail the crane is angled well in the tail roundel (certainly better than the recent Aeroclassics LH 737-200s). The usual details with flags, reg and type titles are present also. At the nose the large black radome is good and behind it sits the crane logo once again.
Criticisms are very minor. I'm not 100% sold on the main titles. They just seem not bold enough to me but it's not enough to warrant a point drop.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
The usual level of high quality printing abounds highlighted by the excellent window frames within the cheatline and overwing escape markings that lineup with the exits. The printing is very fine and only let down slightly by the cockpit windows, which I feel are a little pinched around the front of the cockpit and perhaps not quite wide enough overall.
The printing of the XE and German flag are not quite straight on the tail top (it's worse on the starboard side) but it's very minor. Build quality is good aside from the port side maingear not sitting totally flat.
SCORE - 8
Aeroclassics have made this aircraft/livery combo before using this exact mould, however the improvements to the mould made by Panda and their superior printing ability combine to make this a better version. There is a massive list of 737-300/400s to be made so I admit I would have probably preferred a version never made before but this and its sister release (with Euro 88 titles) are well worth getting.
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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