I realise I'm a little late in reviewing this Gemini release from the April announcements, however since I acquire the majority of my new models from what Gemini now consider 'unauthorised retailers' I tend to get them a little later than others. Plus of course they have to get across the Pacific to NZ as well. This is only my 2nd Gemini purchase of 2021, which says more about the misalignment of my collection criteria with Gemini's release choices than the models themselves, however I find it hard to turn down MD-80s so it is a shame that Gemini only see fit to make 1 or 2 year. Anyway onto the model.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
Gemini Jets more than any other 400 scale manufacturer have a mould back catalogue that is sadly under-utilised. Whereas many of their more commonly used moulds are decidedly weak compared to competition (I'm thinking A320s, A330s, 737NGs, 777s, 787s etc) many moulds they rarely if ever use are top notch and unique to them and their partner JC Wings (I'm thinking F100, One-Elevens, DHC-8, F50, CV-580, ATRs, Britannia 100 and quite a few others). I understand why this is the case but it is still a massive shame. Nonetheless, occasionally Gemini shake it up and use some of the more obscure moulds, such as the IL-62 and MD-80. Neither are prizewinners but both remain solid acceptable castings.
As I said the Gemini MD-80 mould isn’t going to win any awards, but it doesn’t need to to still be the best that has been made for the type in 1:400 scale. The Dragon Wings mould is the most widely used in this scale and although ok is not issue free and looks rather old-fashioned nowadays, even though it is seamless. The other moulds are pretty poor.
Gemini even have both versions of the basic MD-80 bauplan available - the pointy tailcone and the screwdriver tail. This aircraft, having been delivered in 1984, has the earlier pointy tailcone. The rear of the mould is very good. The downward angle of the horizontal stabilizers at the top of the T tail is well finished, however the top of the tail is too angular and flat topped. The rest of the tail is nice and importantly the engines are suitably chunky and well sized. The pointy tailcone is an improvement over the screwdriver version of the mould.
The wings and maingear are excellent too and the mould is seamless with slot in wings rather than a cradle mount. What is surprising is that this model has no aerials, especially when the Far Eastern Air Transport release dating from 2019 did have them fitted. It makes me believe the rumours I have heard that Gemini often finishes models years ahead of when they are released and they just sit in the warehouse until then. Is this New York Air model really over 3 years old already? It seems far-fetched but I am thinking it is and this also goes someway to explain why Gemini appear to persist with old cradle mount 777s and 787s. They have all this old inventory they need to shift, which means only newer releases with a shorter lead time get the new moulds.
Anyway, back to this model. The front end of the mould is the weakest area. The nosegear is slightly too far backward and the angle of the nosecone from the cockpit to the tip is too steep. It isn't dreaful but obviously inferior to the Aeroclassics DC-9 nose. The entire nosegear could do with being replaced as the doors are a little small and the gear leg a little long.
Even with these criticisms this is still a perfectly decent MD-80, and the best in 400 scale, which admittedly is a low bar to vault over. I would love Gemini to use the mould more often but I can't see that happening. Still, until NG Models make an MD-80 (I hold out hope here they will), this is good enough for me. I have previously given the screwdriver version of this mould a 7 but the tailcone is better on this one and with the faults limited to nose shape, nosegear and lack of aerials, none of which are grievous, I think it deserves an 8.
SCORE - 8
PAINT & LIVERY
The big apple livery of New York Air was a deregulation classic and it was a shame when the airline was swallowed up into the new Lorenzo Continental after he'd busted the unions (NY Air was originally setup mainly as a union dodge). The red colour can sometimes look quite bright in photos but many show it to be a deeper darker red and as is often the case with Gemini I think they have nailed the colours.
The rest of the scheme is well reproduced. The large apple/heart logo on the tail is a brilliant white and the closely spaced title font faithfully reproduced. The horizontal stabilisers are also correctly red on both their upper and lower surfaces.
The tiny text behind the L1 and R1 doors is too small for me to make out but the reproduction of it is a nice bit of detail, as is the rego on the nosegear door. The natural metal belly looks great and composite grey parts such as the wingbox and nosecone are correct.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Gemini has rightfully taken something of a beating recently in terms of its ability to put its models together correctly and keep them together with glue. That is not a major problem with this MD-80, although I admit the horizontal stabilisers are not glued in to the tail so can be moved. At least they are one piece so the stabs don't fall off and you can slide them back into position.
Printing is an area that usually is a Gemini strongpoint and one where they compete well against NG Models, Panda and JC Wings - the market leaders in this area. Printing detail on this MD-80 is excellent and comprehensive although the right side of the model is printed very marginally lower than the left side.
The biggest issue with this model, as has been noted by others, is that the engines, especially the port one, are rather squashed in their middles. You can only really notice it from top-down but it is definitely there and was not an issue on earlier uses of the mould. I'm not sure what has caused this but it is a real shame.
SCORE - 7
There's a great model fighting to get out here but as it is this is still a decent one, as the score of 25 denotes. Gemini could definitely do better but with such a dirth of MD-80s they have little competition in this area and plenty of scope, if only they'd choose to seize it. I know I am wasting my breath and so until someone else chances to make the Mad Dog in 400 scale I'll have to settle for the odd Gemini release. I'm fine with the models just not the number being made.
FINAL SCORE - 25/30
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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