1/400 Review of 2016: JC Wings
The review of JC Wings 2015 releases can be found here.
I tried to cover JC Wings January-April 2016 releases in an earlier review which can be found here.
Thanks to Michael at Waffle Collectibles for use of his photos.
When I previously wrote the review of the output of JC Wings from January to April 2016 I was quite limited in what I could say since of 35 announced models they had only actually released 2 of them! Worse quite a few of 2015s models had yet to see the light of day and there was some understandable discontent amongst those who had pre-ordered models, sometimes more than 6 months earlier.
At the end of 2016 of the 101 models announced in the calendar year 42 still remain unreleased. At least all the 2015 models eventually turned up, though some were big disappointments - I'm looking at you Cargolux 747-8F Cutaway. Below are 23 of JC Wings 2016 output - models not discussed directly in the following text:
Just Who Do JC Wings Want To Be?
JC Wings seem to want to be everything to everyone. They are releasing a decent number of 1/400 models (or announcing them anyway) using Gemini and their own mould catalogue but also put out large numbers of what appear to be very nice 1/200s as well. As of early 2016 they are also producing 1/72 military aircraft plus they bought the Witty 1/400 mould back catalogue when Witty ceased production. So they must be literally swimming in moulds of all scales.
As nice as this sounds I can only think it is a major factor in the slowness of releases and the very high variability of the quality of what they put out too. Basically it would seem the sheer vision of JC Wings appears to be damaging its output.
And none of this is seemingly stopping it from producing a lot of new moulds too.
In recent years JC Wings has updated its 777-200 and released new moulds for the A330s, 737NGs, C Series, 747-8, A350-900 and 787-8/9. The results have been pretty good except for the A330 and arguably the 737. JC hasn't been content with this though and this year has produced new moulds for the A320 and A321. I discussed the new A321 in the Gemini review. The first new A320 was the Cathay Dragon B-HSO announced in August but not released until a few months later.
The mould looks decent - more like the Phoenix mould, with a seamless wing/fuselage join but as with the A321 oversized aerials. I haven't had one in hand as of yet but will get the upcoming Lucky Air release. My first impressions are that the mould is decent but still not as good as the Aeroclassics A320.
Other new moulds have also been announced, though none have been released yet. The announcements in number at least put the other manufacturers to shame. So far there are:
Only the 737-8MAX has seen the light of day so far and unlike the 737NG it actually looks very good. The wheels are much better sized and the overall shape excellent. I assume we will be seeing lots of these from both JC Wings and Gemini in 2017?
Likewise I assume the A320NEO will be based on the new A320 and the A350 a growth of the existing A350-900. Both should be therefore perfectly acceptable. The A330-200F is interesting not least because (as with the A320NEO) they have been gazumped by Panda models. Hopefully it won't have the major wing issues of the existing A330 moulds.
I'm not sure about this model - how can they possibly make any money from it? I mean it looks ok (though the nosegear is far too large and the mid-wing join wrong) but it's a really random choice for a new mould. They have basically made a one off, which brings into sharp focus why we can't get a 1/400 Stratoliner, Mercure, Argosy, Martin or even TU-134. It's barely even fits the criterion for getting in this review let alone getting into my collection. Did anybody buy it?
If there is a prize for innovation this year then it must go to JC Wings for their flaps down A350 and 787s. I personally don't really see the need to own these variants but they look good and add something extra. Kudos to JC for trying something new. Here are some sample photos of the flaps down on the 787 and A350:
One of the few areas JC Wings has distinguished itself this year in terms of airline choices is its interest in Taiwan. By my count there have been 14 Taiwanese airliners announced in 2016 and not all were from China Airlines or Eva Air. For me the pick of the bunch is the FAT 737-800 (despite my reservations of the mould) and the pair of Mandarin Embraers. I have to tell you I'm this far from starting a Taiwanese collection, after all it's part of China - right :) - I know I know.
The A330/340 Problem
The A330 has become one of the most popular workhorses of the airlines of today so it is not surprising that it appears regularly in 1/400. JC have announced 17 regular passenger versions this year so its a shame they are almost all so fatally flawed. When I got my first two A330s on the new mould last year I was impressed. However subsequent releases have shown a disturbing tendency to look like the are trying to take-off, but by flapping like a bird rather than like a plane. The wings point up at the most ridiculous angle and I can only warn any readers to steer well clear of the Gemini and JC Wings A330s until this is resolved. It doesn't seem to be the mould per se since sometimes the wings are fine - but is a weakness of the way the mould is put together. This issue is als apparent with the smaller number of A340s made and as I stated in the Gemini review, worryingly a similar issue looks like its happening with the new A321 too.
Look at this sorry bunch. They are universally awful. The wings are far too high and the maingear too low because of the wing fitting:
Here are the A330s and A340s released or announced in 2016. The only saving grace is that the majority have been released by either Phoenix or Aeroclassics. Both have better moulds and Phoenix usually has better colours than JC Wings does too.
An oddity is the Taipei Shongshan Airport release which as a fantasy model must surely be a corporate contract. The wings are still fubared though.
Has BigBird Flown Away Again?
I like many rejoiced when BigBird Mk3 (re)appeared using the great Witty mould 747s but alas it has not been a success. It's not the models - they are fine just the paucity of the models. 3 or 4 releases a year hardly warrants getting excited about, which is a real shame. I don't know what is going on and why the BigBirds have stopped. It is peculiar to say the least as I believe there is plenty of potential for new high quality 747s in this scale. They have the potential to wipe the stain of the Phoenix 747-400 from the market - if only JC would use them.
Back to the Quality
JC Wings for all their good points seem to be the epicentre of a lot of what is bad about 1/400. They announce models months ahead of everyone else and either take forever to release them or rush them out early full of errors. Even when the models are good they are often very poorly constructed - lack of glue is common but fingerprints, smudging etc are prevalent too. They construct Gemini Jets for Gemini and have helped GJ models reach a nadir of quality this year so it isn't just their own brand they are damaging. The issues are easily resolvable yet JC don't seem keen to do so.
Of the 113 new models I've bought in 2016 only 5 have been JC wings, which is a reduction of 50% on the previous year. Even then I managed to score an A350 with scuffs on the cockpit roof and a wing off! That alone says something about the quality issues JC is facing.
Take a look at this beaut finish on a Ryanair 737-800 (thanks Big Al for the photos). The wing was off and that yellow paint swoosh isn't part of the livery. It suggests it was never allowed to dry properly.
Best & the Worst
So charitably ignoring the company's inability to build the models and focusing just on the models themselves here are my worst and best of the released JC Wings models of 2016. First the worst:
And the best:
Despite other scale preoccupations it looks like JC Wings are in 1/400 for the long haul so I'd expect good use to be made of all the new moulds that are coming. Having said that I don't see any suggestion that JC are interested in improving their quality control or research. Therefore I expect JC will underperform yet again in 2017 and not just in terms of getting models from announcement to market. It's a real shame as there is a great company fighting to get out buried in their somewhere. For now JC Wings are joint bottom of the pile with Gemini Jets.
11/1/2017 03:57:06 am
Richard, thank you very much for your annual reviews of the 1:400 manufacturers. I value and respect your opinions and I have read every one of your reviews.
11/1/2017 04:35:23 am
Thanks Roy - Happy New Year to you too
11/1/2017 09:15:17 am
Great review Richard.
11/1/2017 07:05:40 pm
Thisis an outstanding review. Thank you for the time and effort you put into these publications Richard
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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: