It has taken many years for the new JC Wings 747-400 to finally get to market and now it is here it makes an interesting comparison with the existing moulds. Unfortunately, so far JC Wings have not shown a lot of interest in utilizing the new mould widely. To date there have been only four releases with a further two announced. Of the four that have appeared three have been made for others, including a Cathay release for Herpa, a Fantasy Bruce lee release and this Thai Airways model, originally made for a Bangkok retailer, but now on general release. While any hopes for a flood of classic mainstream 747-400s appears misplaced I can at least take a closer look at this Thai version.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
There have been many 747-400 moulds but only four make up the majority of the 400 scale releases to date. The oldest three are the original, and much updated, Gemini, the Dragon Wings and the Big Bird moulds - all of which date from before 2004. They are all good moulds, to varying degrees, but unsurprisingly they all are a bit long in the tooth even when they’ve been updated with rolling gear and aerials.
The fourth common 747-400 mould is the 2007 Phoenix effort. I say ‘effort’ but you will find more convincing 747s floating in a toilet so I’d question how much effort was put into it. Anyway, a new 747-400 has been a long time in coming, especially as I first announced this new JC Wings mould in August 2018 and it only began to appear in late 2020.
I will be publishing a detailed review of the four older 747-400s compared to this new JC Wings 747-400 soon so here I will focus only on the new mould.
The first thing to point out is the obvious – that this is a modern slot in wings mould. This does away with any cradle seam lines and allows for a very impressive wing / fuselage join and fairing. Moving to the front of the aircraft and the shape of the sloping cockpit and nosecone region is good but not perfect. My concerns are not major in this area although I do think the curve down to the nosecone, is not 100% accurate, and the nosecone itself could be a little more tapered.
The new nosegear is both a triumph and also a slight failure. The nosegear door is correctly sized and the gear leg beautifully detailed, however the entire thing is just a little too short. The impact isn’t dreadful but I certainly would prefer it to be ever so slightly taller – more in line with the Dragon and Big Bird moulds.
The wings themselves show immaculate detailing with the new flaps-down variant of the mould once again superb. I am a big fan of the flaps down feature and the Boeing 747 really gives the feature an opportunity to shine with such large and impressive flap and slat structures. The only criticism of the wings is their angle. This has been something that has impacted a few recent JC Wings moulds. From the front the wings angle directly upwards, while a real 747 has more of a curve to the wings. This means the model’s wingtips are a little too high. It isn’t anywhere as noticeable as the odd downward angle on the Phoenix model and obviously the angle of the wings does change depending on fuel load. Nonetheless the JC wingtips are higher than all other moulds of a 747-400 in this scale.
The engines and their pylons are well realized and this mould therefore avoids one of the big criticisms of both the older Gemini and Big Bird moulds i.e., the join of pylon to wing. The engines are also the modern hollow core type, which is all the more impressive considering their small size compared to a modern twin’s engines. The fans look very good. The only slight negative with the engines is the shape of the hot section at the very rear.
The rear of the model is beautiful. The tail has an excellent free rudder zone, overall shape and attachment. JC Wings have also put effort into shaping the tailcone region of the 744. They have captured the fuselage end better than anyone but haven’t really got the APU exhaust pipe quite right.
Overall, this mould is very good and obviously miles ahead of the Phoenix version that has been stinking up releases and retailer’s shelves for over a decade. It gets more interesting when comparing to the older moulds and this new JC version isn’t perfect in all areas. It is however a really nice mould that is a very welcome sight.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
This Thai Airways International livery has to be one of the greatest and most iconic schemes ever designed. Although the replacement livery is nice I don’t think it can compete with this cheatline version, which is of course one of many designed by the famous Landor Associates. As described the scheme uses:
“Opulent gold, pink and purple tones which recall the gold of Thai temples, the brilliant hues of orchids and the intensity of Thailand's famous shimmering silks, all incorporated in an enormous stylised orchid symbol on the tail. A smaller orchid tips a gold and purple cheatline, which runs along the whole fuselage.”
JC Wings has produced a wonderful rendition of the three main colours, which are deep and rich throughout. The gold in particular really sparkles. Placement of the cheatlines and titles is good as is the unusual typefont of the Thai titles.
The Thai flag sits finely on the tail top and smaller livery details such as the aircraft type titles, rego on the gear doors and name under cockpit ‘Dararasmi’ are all evident. Maybe the orchid on the winglets could be a smidgen larger but it is not enough to lose the model any points.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
JC Wings can produce exquisite printing detail and this model is full of that. Whereas Phoenix often can’t even be bothered to print massive features like the maingear doors JC Wings has everything you should expect in 2021. Particularly impressive is the area around the cockpit windows with the aircraft name and Star Alliance logo.
Unfortunately, the cockpit windows themselves are not perfect. They are too large and also do not have the correct profile. Across their top the line should be straight and it is the central windows on the model which are at fault here. They also are a little too long so that from the side they travel a little too far down the nose.
Construction quality is good, but the large down flaps does provide an area of concern. My copy of this model has a hairline crack in the edge of the outer flaps on the starboard side and these large thin components are clearly going to be a problem without some modifications to the plastic cradle they come inside.
SCORE – 8
Whether you like flaps up or down the new JC Wings 747 finally offers a modern choice over the Phoenix 747s and is clearly superior in almost every regard. Minor tweaks to the nosegear length and cockpit printing would improve the model, but it is still another great example of what JC Wings can do. My only concern is that it is unlikely this mould will get the widespread usage it deserves. So far JC’s output on it has not been inspiring considering half of the releases were for others and the most recently announced model is a Turkish Cargo airline, hardly the stuff to set Western collector’s hearts a flutter. Still this mould has bags of potential and this is a lovely model.
FINAL 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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