The MD-11 is a type that hasn't received very much hype in 400 scale for a long time and all the existing moulds date from before 2010 so provide an interesting comparison to this JAL Collection mould, which shares many features with models of that era. In keeping with my other reviews of these JAL Collection models this review will focus only on the mould itself, which at a first glance looks like one of the better moulds made for the magazine series.
The MD-11 has featured twice in the JAL Collection so far - in issues 15 and 35. The models have worn the 1990s Tsurumaru and Arc of the Sun schemes.
McDONNELL DOUGLAS MD-11 IN 400 SCALE
The MD-11 isn't a type I've looked at much at all but from what I'm seeing there are really only two moulds - by Dragon Wings and Gemini Jets. Both date from the early days of 400 scale but both are also reasonably sound. The Gemini mould has been improved over the years and is now also used by JC Wings. Phoenix also have a version of it and have updated the landing gear - not entirely successfully!
JAL COLLECTION MD-11
Aside from one rather obvious issue this is one of the best JAL Collection moulds and actually nearly on par with the older Gemini mould, or at least the versions from before it was updated with aerials and rolling gear. It's worth mentioning that the cockpit printing isn't level on the model, which makes the right side look worse than the left, but that isn't a mould issue.
The biggest issue is of course the height of the landing gear, which is too short. It is a shame because if it were slightly longer the mould would be very nice. The shape of the nose and fuselage is good and almost indistinguishable from the Gemini mould.
The mould has an almost identical wing seam to the old Gemini and the wings themselves are well shaped. They do however lack some of the flap detailing of the Gemini and the shape of the lower winglet isn't quite as good as it could be. It should definitely be longer.
The engines are quite good and the fan detailing surprisingly nice, however as with several JAL Collection moulds the seam line around the nacelle is ugly. The engine pylons aren't perfect but are ok.
The tail and horizontal stabs are all plastic but actually benefit from this. In particular the no 2 engine exhaust is one piece (unlike the two piece unit on the Gemini). Overall shape and detailing is very nice.
Another improvement over the Gemini mould is that inside the no 2 engine you can see there actually is a fanblade, unlike in the former which is missing any engine detailing.
The underside of the model as the standard incised landing gear doors many of the JAL Collection moulds have. In this case they actually look quite good. It is also worth mentioning that the flap fairings under the wing are a better and more angular shape than on the old Gemini mould.
Overall this mould competes well with the older moulds that exist for the type. No doubt any new 2021 MD-11 mould would be superior by some distance but that isn't the market these JAL Collection models is aiming for anyway, and it doesn't exist. In terms of points I'll make these subtractions:
Landing gear height -1
Winglet shape -0.5
Engine seam and pylons -1
Wing seam -1
Lack of aerials -0.5
That leaves it with a decent enough 6, but you could subtract further marks for lack of rolling gear, see through fan blades etc if you want. It is about the same score that one of the original Gemini MD-11s would have gotten, in fact it may be slightly better than the old 2 seam G1 Gemini. Even so, I admit the landing gear height annoys me and is something of a dealbreaker.
SCORE - 6
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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