The 2015 end of year Phoenix review can be found here. As with Gemini in general much of the same rings true into early 2016.
So far in 2016 Phoenix have had 3 release announcements yielding a total of 54 models - 25 more than Gemini with whom they rarely compete (though Gemini did successfully gazump them with the Air China 747-8i). As in 2015 the vast bulk of the models (34) come from Asian airlines with nearly half of those coming from mainland China and Hong Kong.
Along with the other manufacturers one thing that has been a little concerning is the lack of any new moulds. It seems that all the manufacturers are happy to play it safe and be conservative with aircraft types.
Below are the models that Phoenix have announced this year:
Much like Gemini Phoenix have been producing airlines that are true to its roots. The major Asian flag carriers feature well. Following on from 2015 low cost airlines also feature strongly and introduce a variety sorely lacking from Gemini's release set. Airlines like V Air, Spring Airlines Japan, Nok Air and Citilink are not really obscure anymore but certainly add a splash of colour to the releases. Other middle way full service carriers like Tibet Airlines and Sriwijaya Airlines have also featured on some very nice releases. I'm not quite sure what has happened with the 737-800 nosegear though, which appears to have been raised and now looks too long to me.
Phoenix has not been above rereleasing models either and in 2016 many of the Chinese releases have been done previously (Hainan A340-600s, 787 and CZ 787). This can be handy when you have missed out on the original releases as Phoenix widebodies in particular can be sought after. Having said that the cockpit windows on the 787 are just not right somehow - in fact they make the 787 look better than it really does!
Phoenixes' interest in special schemes also continues unabated with models like the Turkish A321 a resounding success. I also look forward to the latest Chongqing A320 in "Happy Chongqing" colours.
Phoenix as you would expect has been well entrenched in the livery and identity changes going on at the Cathay group. The not especially well received CX colours have been featured as have the better received new Cathay Dragon scheme.
All of this has been achieved with seemingly less of a fanfare surrounding QC. Whether this is a real change, temporary or just a lack of noise is hard to say, but optimistically I'd like to think that Phoenix was getting a grip on its QC. One area that certainly remains an issue is undercariage. From getting it to sit level to tyre fixing and tabs on the tyres there remain obvious and easily fixable problems.
Personally I've been quite happy with Phoenixes' output so far this year. My interest in Chinese airlines makes them an obvious choice for widebodies at least and if I had more funds I'm sure I'd venture into the Asian low cost and independent airline scene too. In 2016 so far I have purchased none of the Phoenix models but this is mainly as my spending has gone elsewhere and I do plan on buying 6 of the models in time. I would have certainly bought the Tibet release if it wasn't for the existence of the Panda Models version and it will be interesting to see how many other models Phoenix get scooped by Panda on given that Panda's A320 is superior and their 737NG at least as good.
Thanks to Michael at Waffle Collectibles for use of his photos.
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: