This model is a 2021 release so not new, but I don't get to review many Gemini Jets releases and even fewer Boeing 717s. I had tried to acquire this model when it was released but thanks to the USPS stopping all parcel deliveries to New Zealand for some Covid related reason the parcel containing this model was sent to oblivion rather than Aotearoa. I finally managed to pick it up at the Aviation Megastore recently and I must admit I am very glad I did.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
This is only the 7th 717 in my collection but then again only 41 models have been made and that number includes several near duplicate releases. I haven't paid a lot of attention to 717 moulds so I was surprised to find out there are actually three and not two as I believed.
One is from Dragon Wings, and one of their finest efforts. The other two are from Phoenix and Gemini Jets respectively although confusingly due to them having shared production at times they have both used each other's moulds. The slightly older Phoenix mould has been used a lot more by both of them than the Gemini version but it is the Gemini version that is used here.
Of the three moulds the Dragon has slot in wings while the other two are both cradle mounts, however the Phoenix mould has a much larger and uglier wing seam whereas this mould looks like a seamless version until you look under the fuselage. That alone makes this mould look much nicer than the Phoenix effort.
This mould was used twice in 2005 by Gemini and once in 2008 by Phoenix but didn't reappear until 2017, long after the Phoenix / Gemini split. The later versions look far superior to the early ones although oddly the 2017 and 2021 versions have aerials and the 3 produced between them do not. This is almost certainly due to Gemini's habit of stockpiling models in a warehouse sometimes for years and then drip-feeding them onto the market, which can cause releases to not come out in production sequence.
Even then the 2017 version has two of three aerials while this one only has the rooftop aerial. Typical Gemini cost-cutting! Overall the shape of the fuselage is really nice and the discrete seam means the wing fairing is modelled well.
The screwdriver tail is also decent but as is often the case with MDs in this scale a little too rounded. I really like the undercarriage, which looks great partly because it is the old-fashioned static kind. I have no issue with that - rolling gear too often serves no point other than to make the gear unrealistic and prone to breakage.
The vertical stabiliser is well shaped but, as with all 3 717 moulds, demonstrates a seam where the one piece horizontal stabs attach. It isn't a major issue and here is helped by the red rear of the tail anyway.
The engines are well shaped and have good fan detailing. They do contain my biggest criticism of the mould though, which is that the quite obvious horizontal strake present on the real thing is not as large or obvious as it ought to be, or as it is on the other two moulds.
Overall this is a lovely little mould. It is on par with the Dragon effort, which is no slouch itself. I would like to see more aerials added, a seamless tail and better strakes on the engine but these are all minor points. For me despite its age and ad-hoc updates it still scores well.
SCORE - 8
PAINT & LIVERY
The last TWA livery was a classy scheme that showed real identity and looked excellent on everything it touched - especially T-tailers like the 717. TWA acquired 30 717s but only about half of them were delivered to the proper TWA and wore their colours. The other half went to the AA set up TWA Airlines LLC organisation and most wore the transition scheme. Interestingly N418TW wasn't delivered until April 2001 the same month AA tookover but she still wore the last proper TWA scheme.
As you'd expect from a company that often gets the exact colours from the airline the red, gold and dark blue on this model are accurate. The position of the major elements on the fuselage is also good, including the main title font.
Detail printing is also nicely done, such as the fleet number on the lower nose. My only complaints are on the tail where the TWA is a little low and the US flag doesn't stand out like it perhaps should.
Overall this is a quality livery job.
SCORE - 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
These later Gemini 717s have really improved on the printing, which I think is one of the reasons these look so much better than earlier versions. Of course it helps if you get the cockpit in the right place, which they haven't always. Here it looks good but could possibly be slightly larger? I especially like some of the other detailing around the nose region, such as the radome ring.
This model has a great level of print detail such as printing the thrust reversers on the engines. Where it doesn't the mould itself has a lot of detail etching in place, such as on the wing's flaps and engine fans.
Build quality is excellent, helped no doubt by having static gear and only a single aerial.
SCORE - 9
It is somewhat surprising that it has taken over 20 years to get a TWA 717 but in a sense that is typical of 400 scale where many obvious releases for slightly non-standard types like the 717 go unsatisfied in favour of a constant parade of 737s and 787s. There are still plenty of nice 717s to be made, although few fall within the scope of Gemini's ambitions sadly. Nevertheless, I must Gemini some plaudits for this release, which is really very nice.
FINAL SCORE - 26/30
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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