I have a soft spot for the airlines of Indonesia, a subject I have written about in Airliner World previously. Unlike much of Europe there is a vibrant homegrown shop driven line of Indonesian releases coming through MP4 and Airshop Diecast, which, using JC Wings and Panda moulds, have produced a nice range of Indonesian airliners. The latest offering from Airshop Diecast is a pair of Sriwijaya examples made in the limited number of 120 examples each.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
Panda has been the only manufacturer to date that has responded to the advent of the NG Models 737NG mould set, which is somewhat ironic as its previous 737-800 mould was the best on the market prior to the NG, out of what is admittedly a rather weak bunch. Certainly the older Phoenix, Witty Wings and JC Wings/Gemini Jets 737-800s are not going to win any awards. They are average at best and mediocre at worst.
Panda began using the new mould with some P-8 Poseidons, but since then of the 12 airline releases only 3 have actually been Panda offerings, in keeping with Panda's penchant for making models for third parties (mainly online stores).
Until this mould was released the NG version was miles out in front of the other contenders. It is now pretty much neck and neck with this Panda 738 as this is a fine casting.
In my previous review of this mould I spoke about the incorrect positioning of the nosegear doors and it appears this has been resolved, so perhaps it was just a QC issue all along. Now the nosegear door is less indented into the fuselage and slopes correctly, which means also that the nosegear leg is correctly largely hidden by the gear door. Overall the modified nosegear is excellent, as is the maingear, which is arguably superior to that on the NG mould.
The nose and cockpit region is very nice, at least as good as the NG version and certainly superior to all the other moulds. The rest of the fuselage is also well shaped and has no issues. The wings are delightful and finely printed and detailed with good engine pylons attaching the CFMs at the correct height.
The engine shape is also good and Panda have certainly improved the exhaust shape of them to show the three separate elements that make it up. It is probably the best exhaust on any 738 mould.
This model avoids any issues with the winglet shape by being fitted with the blended winglets, which have a very nice form and angle - not too straight. There are no issues at the rear of the fuselage or tail. On the underside the strong detailing and sculpting continues, and unlike the NG mould there is a standhole.
This latest increment of the Panda 737-800 is an improvement on the split-scimitar equipped variant I reviewed last October and now is as strong as the offering from NG Models. In some areas it is even superior.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
Sriwijaya Air has moved from a classic cheatline look for its older 737 classics to a fairly standard modern scheme with a mainly white fuselage for its 737NGs. It even took its old logo and has done the whole 'enlarge and put on the tail so only part of it can be seen route' that many airlines (Tarom, Mexicana, Qatar etc) have tried, albeit often with limited success. Nonetheless, it is still an attractive scheme.
Sriwijaya has also experimented with different titling, which is the differentiator for these two Airshop Diecast releases. This model has large SJ titles, however it doesn't appear these have been deployed fleetwide, and in fact this aircraft has been stored in Kansas since April 2021, presumably due to Covid.
The scheme revolves around 4 colours: white, light blue, deep blue (almost purple) and red. The carrier's logo, featured on the tail of its aircraft, is a Ruyi - a curved decorative talisman in Buddhist culture symbolising power and good fortune. According to the airline the white depicts the airline's purity, blue standis for a passion for travel across the Indonesian archipelago, and red symbolises courage and wisdom of the airline's personnel.
The livery application is spot-on across the board from the positioning of the main components, to the aircraft name 'Emilio' near the cockpit doors, to the small golden Ruyi on the inside of the winglets. The only issue is that due to the standard print template the main titles are a little high. I'll comment further on this in the next section.
SCORE - 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Panda's print quality is very good - with even small details readable, despite their tiny size. There is also plenty of fine line detailing on the wings, roof, engines and belly. It is a shame that the basic window template continues to be too high, which means that other livery elements dependent on it are also out of position. Having said that, the windowline has definitely been lowered since the last example I reviewed and looks a lot better, especially at the rear. I do still feel it is a fraction too high but it is now a minor issue.
The model comes with 5 aerials but all are well fitted, as is the landing gear so there are no build quality problems with the model.
SCORE - 9
Panda have definitely upped their game with these latest 737NGs. The gear is better fitted and the windowline better positioned - making these very strong contenders versus the NG Models mould. The only problem remains that Panda are a producer who appears mainly interested in working with others rather than making its own models. Considering how difficult Panda are to contact and work with it appears we are going to be restricted to seeing this mould used mainly for the handful of stores that have existing agreements with Panda already. That's a shame and will stop this excellent mould from seriously bothering NG Models increasing hegemony in the 737NG space.
SCORE - 28/30
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.
This site is free. Please donate to keep it going.