For my earlier posts about Panda models see the following from May 2016:
Panda Models Pt1: The Story So Far
Panda Models Pt2: The Models
Panda have come a long way since May and seem to be on an upward trajectory that could see them become a major global model manufacturer. If you've not heard of them by now you've really had your eyes closed, though unless you are interested in Chinese airliners I guess they are easy to ignore. They are rarely sold outside of China but do regularly come up from at least one eBay seller and have been seen for sale at Aviation Retail Direct (ARD) in the UK too. Producing only narrowbodies has been a limiting factor, but that has just changed with new A330s.
Additionally Panda beat both Aeroclassics and Phoenix to market with its very nice Cathay Dragon and China Eastern 'Shanghai Disney' A320s:
Panda started the year with a limited stock of moulds but they were the best of their types available. The ex-Aeroclassics cloned A320 is still the best in 1/400, whilst the 737-700 and 800 in my opinion are better than anything used by Gemini / JC or Phoenix. Similarly the 737-300 is the same as the excellent mould used by Aeroclassics.
Below is a selection of A319s using the 'new' Panda mould:
These moulds were added to in May with the A319 (both standard and Sharklet equipped versions) and then in October with 1/400's first decent A320NEO. In fact the NEO is so good it'll be hard to ever beat. For a closer look at the China Southern A320NEO see my blog entry - A320NEO Delivery Review: Next Stop China
Below: The Panda Models A320NEO - unlike the Aeroclassics it has proper engines!
Panda also has a decent military Y-20 Kunpeng to use and has released four examples to date in development and PLAAF colours. The wing seam aside it's a decent mould - though they do for some reason seem to cost a lot more than the Boeings and Airbuses:
GSE Fire Engines and Buses
Panda are also the only manufacturer producing Ground Service Equipment on a regular basis. In 2016 these have mainly been a new range of Fire Engines. So far there have been 5 sets released: a Yellow Boeing set and red airport specific sets for Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming and Hong Kong Airports. They are really nice units.
Panda already had a great range of buses - see my review of their buses - GSE Review: Modern Buses.
They have continued this with most recently a new set dedicated to AirAsia. The best thing about the GSE from Panda is that it is available at a perfectly decent price - unlike Gemini's bus releases.
2016 Complete Aircraft Releases
Here's a summary of Panda's releases for 2016. There has been a good range of airlines from the big three Chinese majors, the next tier of airlines (Shenzhen Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Xiamen Airlines etc), new startups (Fuzhou Airlines, Urumqi Air, GX Airlines etc) and older 1990s carriers (China Yunnan, China Xinhua and Wuhan Airlines). I'm really pleased with the selection of releases myself but then again I'm perhaps in the minority with my interest in China!
I'm excited to see what 2017 brings for Panda models. In 2016 I bought a whopping 43 of their models and y'know what not one came with tabs on the tyres, bent undercarriage, ill fitting wings, fingerprints on the fuselage etc etc. They did occassionally get the colours wrong but in general the models had excellent detailing and where well put together. For such a strong effort that makes them for me the manufacturer of 2017. I bought far fewer JC Wings and Phoenix and had a lot more issues.
Plus they seem to be going from strength to strength. If the recent HYJL Wings releases are to be trusted as a source of things to come for Panda we can expect aerials on the Airbuses and an A321 soon. Even better they have just announced A330s and even a mould for the A330-200F. The A330s have aerials and look spectacularly good.
If you haven't tried out Panda models yet I really recommend you give them a try. So far they have made excellent models, sold at decent prices, which are well finished and quick to the market. The only drawback are the small volumes and hassle in getting hold of them. The rest of the manufacturers need to step up their game to compete.
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: