For previous annual reviews of Gemini see:
Who are Gemini Jets?
I assume for most of you this is common knowledge so skip this section, but for those who it isn't read on. Gemini are a Las Vegas based manufacturer of primarily 1:200 and 1:400 scale die-cast models who have been in the business longer than anyone (since at least 1999). Nowadays their models are made in China by one of the other major manufacturers, JC Wings, with whom they share most of their mould catalogue. As I understand it, however, operationally JC and Gemini are separate in the planning and build phase so although there are similarities they are very much not the same company.
Although Gemini used to market themselves as 'for collectors by collectors' nowadays, and since the global financial crisis (GFC), they seem to make a large amount of their models for corporate orders, with the concerns and interests of collectors very much a secondary consideration.
Below is a small selection of 2017 releases:
What do they make?
In general Gemini has a strong focus on North American (including Canada and Mexico) and European releases. Since the GFC they make almost entirely modern 'new release' airline liveries. When an older aircraft is made it is usually at the behest of a corporate customer. Historically Gemini has made quite high volumes of each release, which as I understand it means the bar is set higher in terms of sales potential. This is one of the reasons for Gemini's hesitation about releasing older models, which usually have correspondingly lower sales.
Gemini Jets Production in 2017
By my count Gemini Jets have released 92 civil airliners in 1:400 scale on general release (I'm not counting military Gemini MACs releases here). That is slightly less than 2015 and about the same as last year. They always release substantially less models than the other major manufacturers - Phoenix and JC Wings have released almost half as many again, whilst Aeroclassics have released more than twice as many. Don't be fooled, the low number of releases doesn't necessarily mean they are higher quality. In fact I suspect it is more to do with a firm view on profitability.
Below are 30 mainly inoffensive releases from Gemini in 2017:
By Aircraft Type
Geographically Gemini simply doesn't care about Africa, Central & South America. If it weren't for Qantas Oceania would almost be a bust too.
One last point is the total lack of MD-80s and CV-580s all year. They have the only active moulds for the types and show no inclination to use them. Appalling. On the plus side the DHC-8 was rescued from purgatory:
If Gemini uses a lot of different moulds the same cannot be said for airlines, as the geographic spread suggests. The corporate deal with Emirates (6 releases) means they are the commonest carrier but the sheer lack of airline diversity in the current US market means that there isn't a huge amount for Gemini to choose from. As you'd expect Alaska, American, Delta and United are all present a few times.
In Europe the traditional flag carriers are present - Air France, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair KLM, Lufthansa and TAP. Nonetheless there have been a few exceptions to the overall blandness. Forays into Eastern Europe include welcome releases for Ukraine International and Air Astana (hey FIFA think Kazakhstan's in Europe!).
Mexico and Russia are two countries that Gemini releases models for fairly regularly and both have featured again this year - Volaris, Aeromar and the Mexican Air Force for the former, Rossiya and S7 for the latter.
There have also been two rather surprising Chinese releases - a Xiamen 737-500 and a CAAC Hercules. The latter was originally mooted as a Skywings release, to be made by JC Wings for them, so I'm not sure how it got into the Gemini releases?
If you like major carriers and ultra-modern stuff you'll be happy enough I suspect. Then again you are probably also at the least discerning end of the collectorate, which is just as well as Gemini's grasp on quality is often fleeting.
Old, Poor Moulds
Gemini persists in using old and inferior moulds at times. Perhaps the customer just wants the model or maybe Gemini honestly doesn't realise how bad some moulds are? Either way using the old 737-200 mould is forgiveable just about (the Aeroclassics mould is leagues ahead of it) but the A310 is not. Not when Aeroclassics is competing against you directly with a fabulous new mould and has made the same airline on it.
JC Wings has also been using its outstanding 777-300ER and 787-9 moulds for over a year now so why isn't Gemini using them? It's existing cradle mount moulds are inferior and can't compete against Phoenix or JC Wings efforts. This isn't just a cradle mount issue either.
I have reviewed a Gemini 787 at Diecast Flier.
A320s and 737s
This year the JC Wings 737NG has improved dramatically, however it is still not faultless. For starters the undercarriage is too short and the tyres too big. Still it is a decent mould now. Even better the new JC Wings 737 MAX-8 is fantastic. There is no problem with Gemini using these two moulds.
The less said about the A320s and A320neos however the better. The new mould is poor - the tailcone is wrong, the nosegear is in the wrong place and the nose itself isn't great. The A321 looks a bit better mainly I think because the bad bits are further apart, but also because it has an A321 wing! If this new (it only appeared in 2016) mould isn't bad enough the neo version is an abomination. JC Wings (and Gemini) desperately need to do something about this mould - at least fix the nosegear and the neo engines.
The A321 and A330 Flap No More
One positive for both of these very ordinary moulds is that the flappy wings issues I've reported previously appear to have been resolved. You can rest assured knowing that the Gemini Airbuses of these types you buy are mediocre, but at least they don't look like they'll take off vertically.
Poor Design & Build
It has not been a great year for Gemini as concerns quality. There have been a couple of appalling design cockups - most spectacularly the Aeromar ATR-42 which has MA on it's port side rather than AM (see my Diecast Flier review of this model here).
The atrocious colour of the United CRJ and Lufthansa A350 also are impressively bad. Most recently the Qatar A350-1000 has a variety of colour and print issues proving that Gemini aren't getting better as the year ends.
I come to expect this kind of thing from all the manufacturers nowadays, however given the smaller number of release subjects and US design work (I think they are still designed in the US) you would expect better quality from Gemini. Especially when the prices of new Gemini Jets have gone up substantially in recent years.
My Purchases in 2017
Mainly due to me reviewing for Diecast Flier I have seen a lot more Gemini models this year than normal. Even so only 5 have stayed in my collection. That's better than the 2 each from 2015 and 2016, but way off of the 26 from 2007. One of these releases is the United CRJ, which I would struggle to flog in NZ. The other four models are an Iberia A340-300, Rossiya 747-400, CAAC Hercules and Xiamen 737-500. As you can see truly modern fair just doesn't interest me much unless it is Chinese or Russian (and neither of these Chinese pieces are modern really).
Below are some of the models that have passed through my hands in 2017. Not all have stayed around.
Worst of the Year
So what are the worst 5 models Gemini produced in 2017? The Aeromar is an obvious shoe in. All of the A320neos deserve nothing but contempt, but I'll pick just one even though they all suck. I've heard bad things about the Virgin 77W and the mould is obsolete, the Air Transat A310 should never have been made and the new Qatar A350 beats the United CRJ for having crap colour as well as bad printing.
Best of the Year
I've said it before and I'll say it again often Gemini models are perfectly fine. To that end picking good models isn't as hard as I perhaps make it sound. The Southwest MAX looks like a killer release. If you are ok with the Gemini A380's faults the animal themed Emirates offerings this year were nice whilst the KLM Fokker, at the other end of the size spectrum, was beautiful. I was surprised and happy about the CAAC Hercules and equally surprised that the Rossiya 747-400 came out so well.
Summing Up: Same Sh*t, Different Year
In many ways this review is almost a carbon copy of that from 2016. Gemini show little creativity or ingenuity. They fail to leverage successfully these two factors off of their production partner JC Wings, which ironically has them in spades. My conclusion from last year was pretty scathing and in reality the same still fits in 2017. I'm less bothered about it this year however. Gemini are what they are and show no signs of doing anything interesting in 2018 either. The models are usually ordinary and on ordinary moulds. Even if you like the subject matter you often shouldn't be satisfied with the quality or end product. Sadly it appears that most people still are.
Appendix: Gemini 2017 Release
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: