Airbus A350-900 Detailed Mould Comparison
Updated: August 2023
This is the third update of this review. The previous editions, from July 2018 and August 2020, were all written prior to appearance of the NG Models A350. Between each update there has been significant updates to the JC Wings (nose) and Aviation400 (undercarriage) moulds also. Now with over 470 A350-900s in service the type has, despite the pandemic pause, established itself as one of the primary long-haul airliners of the modern era. Increasingly 747s, and even 777s and A380s, are being usurped by 787s and A350s making both types vital in the production output of 400 scale brands.
With Gemini Jets sharing the JC Wings mould, of the major 400 scale brands in 2023 only Aeroclassics and Panda Models do not have an A350.
The moulds to be compared in this detailed comparison will be the following:
All models are from my collection.
The review will take the form of a comparison of various areas of each mould to the real aircraft, with a score out of 5 alotted for each mould for each area. Adding the combined scores together gives you the winner.
NOSE / NOSEGEAR
The A350 has a complex and unusual nose form that has led to plenty of variation in the 400 scale versions. The AV400 nose has nice lines around the cockpit and a decent shape overall, however I've always felt the nosecone is a little short. The landing gear has been modified in recent years with much smaller and more metallic hubs. It looks good but the torque links at the rear are a little large and finish above the forward protuberances, which themselves are too long.
The original JC Wings A350 nose was heavily criticised for its shape and in 2019 a new nose form was created as above. It is certainly better than before but the shape of the nosecone doesn't seem right to me because the upwards angle of the underside of it isn't sharp enough. The nosegear doors are not tall enough and as is common to many JC moulds arguably the entire leg isn't long enough. The proportions of the gearleg are good but the detailing isn't very crisp, perhaps due to the paint application.
The newest of the moulds has the best form at the forward part of the fuselage. The cockpit and nose radom shape are excellent - no concerns there at all. The landing gear is also very good. It has the correct height and proportions with plenty of detailing on the nosegear leg.
The Phoenix is the oldest mould but still has a decent nose form. The nosecone is nicely shaped but the area around the transition from the cockpit to the nose is incorrect with the angle change happening too far beneath the cockpit. The gear leg is a good height but the position of the forward protuberances and the rear torque links are too low making it look a little like the aircraft is on stilts.
NOSE: None of the noses are dreadful but the NG version is clearly the best, followed by the AV400. Both the JC Wings and Phoenix versions have more pressing shape issues - at the underside for the JC and around the cockpit for the Phoenix.
NOSEGEAR: The NG Models version is the only one to get all the elements (height, gear door, gear leg elements, tyre details) correct, although the light grey isn't the ideal colour. The AV400 has the best colour but the gear leg detailing is a bit chunky. The JC leg is too short and the Phoenix has the gear leg details too low.
ENGINES (FROM SIDE) & PYLONS
From the side the shape of the AV400 nacelles is good and the attachment of the pylons to their upper side fine as well. The scuplted form of the pylon under the wing is fine too except where it nears the engine exhaust cone. Here the pylon does not meet the engine and the shape is incorrect. The position of the exhaust parts also doesn't match with the nacelle, but that might just be a QC issue with this model.
The JC Wings nacelle is also shaped well and hung at a good height by the pylon. The pylon form is excellent and meets the engine exhaust elements correctly with the splayed flange-like form of the real thing. Unfortunately the second stage exhaust ahead of the exhaust cone is too long by some distance.
There are no major concerns with the NG Models nacelle either, although it is worth pointing out that the forward ring is a separate piece to the main body, which has a minor impact on the shape. The engine pylon shape is excellent under the wing but perhaps hangs the engines a little too low. The second stage exhaust and cone correctly proportioned.
The Phoenix pylons hold the engines a little low, althougth this is significantly better than on older releases where the engines really dragged along the ground. For some reason the ring at the front of the nacelle is asymmetrically shaped being thicker at the bottom. Otherwise the nacelles look good from the side, as do the exhaust components. The engine pylons are the weakest of the lot. They don't show the obvious sculpting form and do not meet the exhaust or cone.
ENGINES & PYLONS: There aren't major issues with the nacelle shape itself on any of the moulds but the pylons and exhaust elements are highly variable. Once again the best combination is probably with the NG version although it isn't perfect. The JC Wings would be perfect if the second stage exhaust was shorter. The AV400 and Phoenix versions both have pylon form issues, worse on the Phoenix.
MAINGEAR: Three of the four moulds have maingear bogies that pivot up and down, which is a nice feature. The one that doesn't is the NG version but the lack of this feature does allow for a more accurate gear leg shape and extra detailing. AV400 has modified its tyrehubs and they do look more realistic than before. They have the best colour too but the hubs themselves still rather lack detail. JC Wings mould has the widest and least accurate gear trucks. The AV400 maingear doors are a little too short, but are the right shape, and show off too much of the gear leg itself. The shape and angles of the maingear doors are slightly variable. I'd say the NG's are best with the JC Wings having the next nicest forward line and the Av400 the next nicest rear contour. The Phoenix gear doors are the weakest and the only ones to miss the large rectangular notch at the top.
ENGINE INNERS: All of these models have see through engines, however it seems the wish to have the see through element has meant the manufacturers have reduced the size of the blades so you can see through more. This is counter to the reality of the engine and it is interesting how none of the four here look the same. JC Wings has the thickest fanblades whilst the fanblades on the AV400 mould are way too thin (almost not blades at all). It should also be noted that the diameter of the AV400 fans is significantly less than on the other three versions. There are sizeable gaps between between both JC Wings and Phoenix blades because although they are wider they have far too few fanblades (12 and 13 respectively). AV400 has a much more realistic 18 blades. It is the NG version that is the only one to have the correct 22 blades, and although they are maybe slightly thinner than the real thing, they have much better spacing of them than anyone else. A plus for the Phoenix version, if you care for this sort of thing, is that the fanblades can be rotated. It is really hard to do and requires you putting a pin or such inside to move them. It doesn't really add much to the model in my opinion. The NG version easily takes this category.
TAIL & TAILCONE
TAIL & TAILCONE: Starting with the tailshape and all four are broadly accurate, although the Phoenix is weakest in two places. Firstly the fin connection to the fuselage runs along the entire lower margin whereas the others have free rudders. Secondly the rear tip is not quite pointy enough. The tailcones are all fine but the horizontal stabilisers on the Phoenix have quite a large gap along their upper margin.
Most A350s have 4 obvious aerials (3 above and 1 below forward). The 3 larger ones are VHF aerials and the one ahead of the vertical stabiliser is the Emergency Location Transmitter (ELT). There is also a small Satcom bump on the forward roofline and often, but not always, two ADF bumps on the roofline over the wings. There is also often a significant Wi-Fi dome on the rear roof. The small rear underside aerial like fin is I think a drain mast. It is very small. There are two quite large NACA air intakes on the fuselage underside.
I've substituted a CZ A350 here for the Azul as it has a lighter belly. The table above illustrates the fuselage detailing added. which can vary between releases especially as the configurations of the real aircraft are variable. Points to pull out are that the Phoenix mould has a surprising amount of moulded in detailing. The AV400 mould also has plenty of in relief details such as the ADF fairings and nav beacons. The JC Wings and NG Models version rely on more printed detailing.
All models can have the large Wi-Fi dome attached if needed. Shaping of it is best on the NG Models and JC Wings versions and worst on the Aviation400.
I have selected 7 categories with which to compare these moulds. I'm sure you could find others to add in if you wanted and I'm certain there will be disagreement with my opinion in terms of scoring, however hopefully this review gives you some idea of the differences between the moulds. Even if you disagree with some of the scoring detail I'd be surprised if you came to a different conclusion in terms of the order of quality of these moulds.
I am actually of the opinion that none of them are bad efforts and it is surprising how strong the Phoenix effort is given its age. However, both it and the JC Wings version are soundly beaten by the other pair. The newest mould, by NG Models, then scores surprisingly better in detail than the Aviation400 example. The majority of the A350s in my collection are actually by AV400, but in my view there is no doubting that overall the NG A350 is better. Even so, I am happy with the AV400 version as well and it is these two moulds I tend to focus on when buying A350-900s.