Turboprop or Piston powered releases in 400 scale are nowadays few and far between and typically the almost solely made by Aeroclassics, aside from the odd Gemini. El Aviador have recently expanded out of their traditional 200 scale space into 400 scale and delightfully have been able to utilise Aeroclassics large mould catalogue to produce some cracking latin American releases Aeroclassics has not. Even so, I was not expecting the reappearance of the Electra so it is with some delight that in this review I'll take a look at one of the recent trio of L-188s by El Aviador.
THIS REVIEW IS SPONSORED BY EL AVIADOR MODELS
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The L-188 Electra II has had a decent run in 400 scale with 126 releases, the majority of which have been made by Aeroclassics. Their 2nd mould dates from 2004 (the first was a Generation 1 version see here for photos) but hadn't been seen since 2014 so it is a pleasure to see its return even though I admit it isn't the best Electra mould available in 400 scale.
Somewhat surprisingly there have been 5 L-188 moulds made in 400 scale aside from the two Aeroclassics versions moulds were also produced by Dragon Wings, Herpa and Jet-X/JC Wings. My collection is full of this Aeroclassics mould, which I have a fondness for, but that is mainly because the other moulds are either inferior or were barely used.
The Aeroclassics L-188 starts off well with a nicely rounded nosecone and cockpit region that accurately depicts the powerful prop-jet. The nosegear doors are well sized and angle upwards correctly, and although the nosegear leg is simple it is a good height with well-sized tyres.
The forward fuselage does seem a little too short but otherwise the fuselage shape is good. Being such an old mould it is a cradle mount, with a rather square seam. The other Electra moulds have a better seam aft of the wing that takes the wing fairing into account better.
Another area of criticism is the vertical stabiliser, which although well shaped on the leading edge gets it all wrong on the trailing edge. The rear margin should be more vertical without the curve at the bottom. At its top the fin should have an asymmetric two radii curve but on the model this isn't pronounced enough.
The mould has nice solid wings with big chunky engines. The contouring around the front of the engines is great and the large flat bladded square props and pointed spinners excellent. The exhausts look equally good and the engines merge into the wing beautifully. With so much goodness in this area it is a shame that the engine shape isn't totally accurate. The highest point of the engines should be immediately after the props but the model version has engines that are too humped in their middle.
Clearly this mould isn't perfect, however of the 5 it is still the 2nd best, with only the largely forgotten Jet-X / JC Wings version superior. Despite its flaws it still has the feeling of the big Burbank Prop-jet and I am thrilled to see it back.
SCORE - 6
PAINT & LIVERY
Despite being founded by the military TAME (Transportes Aereos Mercantiles Ecuatorianos) has had some cracking liveries. Right up to its final demise in May 2020 the carrier's aircraft looked great. The scheme worn by this Electra is especially colourful and has a distinctly 70s vibe about it, which is not surprising considering it joined the Ecuadorian Air Force and TAME after service with Braniff in December 1971.
A great picture of this frame dating from December 12, 1975 exists on Wikipedia here but doesn't carry the aircraft name. It appears the above image was used for the artwork design of this model. In terms of colours the light blue roof and deep blue cheatline look good. On the tail the red and blue elements of the flag also look good but for some reason a gold colour has been used for the top of the rudder rather than a mustard yellow. I admit in photos sometimes it looks quite golden but on the aircraft and Ecuadorian flag it isn't.
Positionally the livery elements are all good with the thin white pinstripes separating the cheatline from the roof and belly. The photo above appears to show a grey belly but I have seen images of TAME Electras with natural metal bellys as in the model so I'm not counting that as a mistake.
Under the fuselage the aircraft is named 'Galapagos' and on the tail the military registration, FAE 1052, is carried as well as the civilian one. The bird logo in the roundel is great.
The main fuselage titles are italicised and the font is well replicated too, however I think the titles in general could be a bit thicker. Overall I'm going to detract half a point each for the two errors (gold flag and title thickness). In general this is a good rendition of an unusual and colourful scheme.
SCORE - 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
This model is made by the Aeroclassics factory for El Aviador, which means you're not going to be getting the same level of print detail as with some other brands. Nonetheless, on classics this is less of an issue and the printing here is crisp and includes some nice details - like the black flap outlines. Even so, there are areas that could be improved and one of these is the base window template being used. Aeroclassics has never quite got the cockpit windows correct on their Electras as they are printed in an arc rather than being flat panels so don't have quite the correct shape.
On this example there is also a paint dimple at the nose and on the right side under windows 3 and 4 a smudge on the natural metal belly. These are minor issues but could have been avoided with a little more care.
On the other hand, build quality has no problems and the model is well constructed.
SCORE - 8
As is probably clear from this review I am more than willing to accept this mould if it allows for more Electras in 400 scale as although not as good as it could be it is good enough for me. The TAME scheme is a really interesting one and I am massively in favour of seeing more classic Latin liveries from El Aviador such as this. Overall this is one of my favourite models of the year and although the final score is only 23 I would prefer many more models like this than say an A321 that scores 29/30.
FINAL SCORE - 23/30
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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