For my review of Phoenix' output for 2015 see here.
This review covers only models made from May-December 2016 since January-April was covered previously in my review which can be found here.
Thanks to Michael at Waffle Collectibles for use of his photos.
Phoenix in total made 150 models in 2016 slightly down from the previous year's 168 but still way ahead of the total from Gemini Jets (97). This is no surprise and a continuance of business as usual. 96 of these releases fall into the period from April to December. In fact Phoenix have had a relatively quiet year in 2016 with no new moulds being produced at all and only 19 different existing moulds being used.
A330 vs 787
Both of these moulds are exceptional and they have been used well this year. As with Aeroclassics there has been a strong trend towards releasing Chinese A330s - 12 in fact. They are good but often are effectively re-releases of previous models. Some that haven't been are the Capital Airlines pair (soon to be a trio), which I've eagerly awaited. How many more Chinese A330s can be made? With both Inflight and Panda about to start making more it seems there'll be plenty more in 2017. Having said that Phoenix has spread it around on the A330 front with THY retro, WOW Air, AirAsia X and Brussels Airlines all being lovely models. Below are a crop of great A330s:
Phoenix have also been rereleasing Chinese 787s but like the A330 have put out a good variety of others too. Etihad, Air Austral, Aeromexico and Uzbekistan are all beauties. The Air Europa is nice too if you can stand the awfulness of the livery!
A350 vs 777
Phoenix has easily the best 777 in this scale on the market and a decent A350 as well. The former has had plenty of usage whilst the latter has seen limited use due to the limited deliveries to new customers in 2016. That is perhaps just as well as the A350 mould is not without issue. This is most obvious with the engines, which surpass the Gemini A310 for ground hoovering ability. Indeed the engines literally seem to touch the ground on some releases like the Ethiopian below. It's hard to take the mould seriously with such a large aesthetic issue especially when the Gemini / JC Wings mould is good.
Fortunately the 777s don't have these issues though at times I admit to not being convinced by some of the cockpit window printing:
737-800 Nose Height
Sometime during 2016 there appears to have been a change in the nosegear of the 737-800 mould - and not for the better either. It is now sitting much higher and looks frankly silly. I've never been certain of the nose of this mould anyway (and certainly not Phoenixes' capability to print the cockpit windows level) but this makes it look worse. Why have they done this - or is it just a nosegear attachment issue?
The Queen Humiliated
Why oh why Phoenix do you do this to us? The 747-400 mould must be the worst mould being used in 1/400 scale today and in fact must be in the running for the worst ever mould. It is a shocker - the entire fuselage front of the wing is just awful. I know the new Rossia livery is nice but if you bought one of the Phoenix releases of it hold your head in shame because you are just encouraging them to make more of this bloody useless thing. Phoenix limited us to 5 747-400s between May and December and I wish they hadn't. At least there is an alternative choice for 3 of the releases, which can and should be bought on the superior BigBird or JC Wings moulds.
Quality & All That
From what I have seen Phoenix' quality control has improved in 2016 to the point where they are much better than Gemini / JC Wings. Having said that there are still plenty of avoidable quality issues particularly in context of the undercarriage. The gear doors often look very poor, the gear legs are not fitted well so the wheels don't sit flat and the tyres often have annoying tabs on them. See the below shots for examples of this:
Generally the research done for the models is good and the colours usually better than on the competing Aeroclassics releases, but there is still room for cock-ups. The most obvious this year was the rear cheatline on the Tibet Airlines A330, which ruined an otherwise nice release. As you can see below the windowline wanted to go up onto the tail on that one:
One of the rare colour cockups this year is on the Lufthansa A340-600 which has a very dark grey belly not in keeping with the real thing:
The engines on the Icelandair 767-300 where also way too dark:
List of Releases
So here's the full list of releases from Phoenix between April and December 2016:
Dross of the Year from Phoenix
So what are the worst models this year from Phoenix? I could pick out any of the 747-400s and most of the 737-800s too but here is a more selective top 5 of the most poorly created and finished models of the year. I've already moaned about them all so these shouldn't be a surprise:
Best of the Year from Phoenix
Of my 106 purchased models for 2016 only 10 have been from Phoenix, however unlike with Gemini I wish it was a higher figure and only isn't as I do need to stick to collecting criteria sometimes! So there have been a lot of nice models. For me however these 5 standout (annoyingly I only got 1 of them):
Will Phoenix keep up their improved QC in 2017 - who can say? It often seems rather incidental when we see quality improvements a product perhaps of random elements (like staff movements) rather than genuine initiatives by the manufacturers. They certainly haven't made any real attempt to improve the undercarriage quality. As with Gemini I can't see Phoenix really changing much up next year. They seem to be quite conservative with their releases, to the extent that I have rather lost faith that they will ever release a scaled down version of their 1/200 TU-134, or even release anymore TU-154s. Still I am sure we can at least expect a range of attractive widebodies next year. It'll be interesting to see if they feel they have to adapt to a market filling up with competitors (Aeroclassics, JC Wings, Inflight400, Panda and HYJL Wings). Given 2016's efforts they at least appear well positioned to take on the challenge.
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: