The Indian aviation scene is one that is rapidly maturing and, previous to Covid, growing fast. After many years of little Indian related activity in 400 scale things have begun to change with new releases recently from Phoenix, JC Wings and NG Models. Vistara has been a popular choice with 9 models released or announced since 2020 compared to none in the previous 5 years of the airline's existence. Adam at Prairie Diecast has been working with Panda and JC Wings to make his own line of exclusive models and two of his collaborations have been Indian, including the last - this Vistara A320. Adam has further models in the pipeline with his latest, a Canadian North 737-400 almost ready, so keep an eye out at his store and on 400 Scale In Detail for the latest.
THIS REVIEW IS SPONSORED BY PRAIRIE DIECAST
Each review is to split into three key areas:
Panda Models produced the first 1/400 scale A320NEO in September 2016 leveraging the excellent A320 mould they were using, whose ancestry is, shall we say, disputed. It is almost 100% certain that it is a copy of the Aeroclassics mould. Ethics aside the mould is very good and has been improved by Panda with aerials and new nosegear tyres, complete with wheelhubs. It is the best A320NEO available in 1:400 scale due to these additions.
As it is effectively the same as the excellent Aeroclassics mould the shape is essentially perfect and blows the existing competition out of the water. I do buy both the Phoenix and JC Wings A320s but both have a selection of issues and there's no doubt that if I have the choice the Panda or Aeroclassics A320 is my first stop. It should be yours too.
The wings are also excellent and slot into the fuselage very well with no discernible gap and no wing angle issues. The wing/fuselage fairing is very nicely shaped, unlike the competing Phoenix version.
Early Panda A320Neo releases used the old style Aeroclassics landing gear but this has been upgraded with far superior nosegear tyres with their own wheelhubs. Aeroclassics have also improved their A320 nosegear but it is not as good as this.
Ground clearance for the engines is often an issue in 400 scale and has been one for the NEOs at times with their much larger engines. JC Wings and Gemini A320NEOs have crazily oversized engines but that is not an issue with this version. Ground clearance actually looks better than earlier versions of the mould I have reviewed and perhaps Panda have slightly modified the engine pylons. If they have the affect is improved.
Panda also go to the trouble to illustrate the difference between the Pratt & Whitney A320NEOs and the CFM LEAP powered variants like this model. The difference in the engines is that the CFM LEAP engine has a bulge at the lower left of the nacelle. This is present here and although it does look odd it is accurate. The engines are solid core, which I think is forgivable on a narrowbody mould.
Unlike JC Wings, which often makes the antennae too large, Panda have got the size correct and in addition they have fitted on this mould all four of them, unlike JC Wings, which regularly misses out the rear under fuselage antenna.
Panda have taken the exceptional base A320 mould and improved it with great new gear and lovely LEAP engines. The previous engine ground clearance issues have been resolved and there is nothing I can see to lead to a points loss anymore.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
Vistara is technically TATA SIA Airlines Limited and the Singapore connection inevitably leads to class and taste. Unsurprisingly this extends to the livery, which although simple oozes sophistication. What's going on with it - prepare yourself for some marketing talk:
"Created by design agency Brand Union, the airline's logo is derived from a "yantra", a perfect mathematical form that reflects the unbounded universe. Its fluid interconnecting lines reflect the seamless experience the airline wants to offer its customers. The carrier's name is drawn from the Sanskrit word "Vistaar", which means limitless expanse."
In terms of colour it uses a 'Royal Purple' and 'Aztec Gold'. With the HEX Codes commonly available I am glad to see that Panda have got the colours on the whole correct so no problems there, or at least not at the tail anyway.
I'm less convinced by the Yantra under the windowline forward. It is a complex shape and hollow to boot but it just looks too yellow to me on the model. The main titles use the correct font with the unusual capital R amongst the lower case other letters, but once again if I nitpick incredibly the letter tops should be level with the door top and are instead slightly higher on the model.
To conclude my extreme nitpicking the Indian flag at the rear fuselage is too tall and not wide enough so is squarer than it ought to be. These are very minor critiques to be honest but I'm going to be super-harsh and knock off two points for them.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Printing on Panda models is almost always exquisite. For example here if you inspect the underside of the model (an area often skimped on – I’m looking at you Phoenix) then the detailing is superb. Every little scoop, dotted outline, door cover and light is present plus the livery printing is of the highest quality.
The sloppy printing of the cockpit that had crept into the Batik A320s is not an issue here. Panda also do an excellent line in fanblade and inside engine colouring. The blades are a titanium metal colour whilst most everything else is darker.
There are no issues with the build quality of the release so this is hitting a full marks score for this category.
SCORE - 10
This is another excellent release from the Panda factory that although not releasing large numbers of models is releasing quality when it does. It is also testament to Adam at Prairie Diecast, who I know takes a lot of effort over his exclusive model releases. Now Adam I just hope you produce something a litte closer to my collecting criteria!
FINAL 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.
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