Unlike all the other manufacturers Aeroclassics produce a much wider variety of airlines and aircraft but do so whilst at the same time producing smaller production runs. They also alone amongst the manufacturers produce hybrids and multiple varieties of effectively the same airline/aircraft combo; and have recently also started on occasion to produce secondary runs of a model with a different rego (the latter I believe to get rid of excess stock and satisfy fleet collectors). All of this means that despite 2015 actually being a relatively slow year for Aeroclassics, due as I understand to issues in China, they have produced more 1/400 models than anybody else - 200 in total.
Aeroclassics itself is effectively a collection of sub-brands which include Latin Classics, Euro-classics, Baby Bus and Big Bus models as well as standard Aeroclassics releases. On occasion they also use the Blue Box brand to get around any licensing issues. The king of AC, Andrew Klein, has a soft spot for Canada and Israel so those two countries often feature more prominently than they might otherwise. Below are a selection of the varied releases made by Aeroclassics in 2015:
Aeroclassics has been producing quite a few modern Chinese releases for similar reasons no doubt as Phoenix i.e. that's where the $$ are. It has been suggested that these modern releases help finance the less profitable (or indeed loss making) classic releases. However even though they have been doing this 2015 hasn't been as prolific as the past with only 18 Chinese releases. Interestingly most of these releases have been for smaller Chinese airlines with Air China and China Southern barely featuring. Despite his distaste for their new livery Andrew has produced multiple new colours China Eastern's (as have Phoenix).
Several of the airlines feature in the list as Aeroclassics has produced multiple versions, often very similar, at the same time. Sriwijaya Air, S7, Piedmont and Lan Chile are all examples of this. This year has been very light on Australian and Canadian releases, which isn't entirely surprising given 2014's splurge of Fokker 28s from those nations.
More than any of the other manufacturers Aeroclassics produces unusual airlines and 2015 has been no different. You can never be quite sure what the Mata Hari will announce. One month it might be Conair and the next Air Zaire. Having said that there does seem to have been more better known airlines this year and less of the likes of TAESA, Dominicana and Air Madagascar. These relatively obscure airlines are my favourite releases and long may Aeroclassics continue putting such gems out.
In the past Aeroclassics was using more moulds than any of the other manufacturers. That is no longer the case nowadays although in terms of aircraft types they still have the greatest variety - meaning its not all twinjets. In fact Aeroclassics is almost alone nowadays in producing anything with a propeller, aside from the odd DHC-8 and ATR. In 2015 Aeroclassics used only 29 moulds in total and none of them were new, aside from the A350 they borrowed from JC Wings for a solitary release. I wonder whether this has anything to do with the suggested factory problems? Below is the breakdown of moulds used in 2015 by AC:
Airbus and Boeing products feature unusually heavily, though the latter has been further limited by the ending of the use of the non-AC owned 737NG moulds (see below). Andrew has recently said which moulds are still available for use and from that list the following types could have but were not used last year: B-377 Stratocruiser, B727-100, FH-227, L-1049, L-1649, C-46, DH Comet 4, DC-9-30/40, DC-10, CV-240/340/440, Herald, HS-748, Trident and Super VC10. That's quite a list of unused moulds but shows that Aeroclassics still has the greatest range of moulds available to use.
Within 2015 it has been great to see good use being made of the Douglas prop moulds which are all fabulous. The F28s and Viscounts were primarily the ending of the big runs of both types which started in 2014. The 707 and 720 have just made a reappearance at the end of 2015 whilst it is great to see the ongoing usage of the excellent 737-200 and 737-300 moulds. Especially impressive have been the South American 737s.
THE 737NG MOULD SPAT
Early 2015 brought an unseamly end to production of Aeroclassics 737NGs. It seems the mould was actually owned by someone else (Kang Kai) who started producing GSE under the AC name without permission. Andrew has also stated that the 737NG mould was defective in some way and from there things have gotten a bit messy with Kang Kai going into business for themselves as Panda Models and Black Box. Who really knows what the truth is? As discussed in my mould review the moulds weren't perfect but were no worse (and indeed better in cases) than anyone elses 737NGs. Regardless it is a shame that AC has stopped using the moulds and hardly gratifying to hear Andrew slagging off moulds he once sold under the AC name. I can't say I was very impressed - especially as there are lots of Chinese models that will now probably not get made (or at least released outside of China). Early rumours that AC may be creating its own 737NG mould now appear unfounded too.
MISTAKES & DETAILS
Colour seems also to be an area where Aeroclassics sometimes struggles. Personally I am not very colour sensitive however others notice more than I and it can be very obvious when models from different manufacturers are posed together. The SAS blue shade is a recent example. The three Braniff Ultra releases were also a bit of a mess - all three being off the shades they were supposed to represent. The representation of the new Alitalia colours also appears pretty horrible all round.
Andrew has also stated that he doesn't believe in antennae and satnav humps in 1/400 scale. I'm personally ambivalent about these details but some are not and these collectors also pickup other small detail flaws around positioning of titles, windows, outlining etc. Needless to say these issues mainly afflict the Airbus releases. Nitpicking it may be but it'd be better for the models to be as accurate as possible.
These issues are relatively minor compared to some of the trainwrecks Phoenix is producing however they are quite easily avoidable and shouldn't be happening. Fortunately they tend to impact models that I'm not too interested in and the vast majority of models Aeroclassics make are superb. I would certainly put most classic Aeroclassics releases up against the best of any of the rest especially as Aeroclassics moulds are usually superb (the 707, A300, DC-6/7/8/9/10, CV-240 and 737-200/300s for example are some of the finest moulds ever produced in 1/400).
One thing that does annoy me a bit are the nosewheels of certain types - most notably the Airbus twins and Boeing 720s. They are far too small - with the A321 especially it gives the model a nose down appearance. This should be an easy fix and I have seen AC A320s refitted with Phoenix wheels which look amazing. Increasing the size would also give the added benefit of allowing extra detail on the wheel-hubs.
For me Aeroclassics had a solid but not spectacular 2015. There were plenty of amazing releases - more than I could buy and personally I was quite satisfied. However Aeroclassics has a chance to cement itself as the best 1/400 manufacturer (it is already the most interesting) if it just tried a bit harder with some small details.
Of the 56 new release models I acquired in 2015 a huge 41 of them were Aeroclassics releases. For me they just produce by far the best range of models - though I can understand why the modern collector may not agree. Of the models I have bought only one has proven disappointing, which is a good return on the money spent in my book. The reason I say solid and not spectacular is partly a reflection of the excellent 2014 releases (of which I bought 55), lack of new moulds and the continuing niggle of small errors.
Personally I would like to see the following from Aeroclassics in 2016:
However in general I just want them to keep up the good work. Without Aeroclassics 1/400 model collecting would be much less varied and whatever you collect that is a fact that is indisputable.
Waffle Collectibles provided the photos for this review and have a great range of Aeroclassics on offer.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: