Phoenix 747s - Why They Are Bad & Why You Shouldn't Buy Them!
Modified: January 2022
Why Are We Here?
Disclaimer: This isn't the only 747 mould set Phoenix have used. Before around 2008 they used an older mould. Criticised at the time, it now looks like a masterpiece by comparison. This tirade doesn't cover those earlier moulds. This also doesn't cover the Phoenix 747-8 moulds, which although no world-beaters for sure, are ok.
Obviously I run a website talking about 400 scale model aircraft and a good chunk of that is dedicated to looking at the models in detail. I don't tend to spend a lot of time discussing rubbish models, partly because I try not to buy them and partly because I try not to be mean. However, although the Phoenix 747 classic series is well known to be dreadful, Phoenix continue to make them. So it is time to grab the nettle and write something about these alleged 747s.
Now despite running this site I am no zealot. I have a lot of moulds in my collection of variable quality, even to my shame a couple of well hidden Phoenix 747s in fact, but there are a few moulds that are so bad that I try and avoid them entirely and even actively lobby people not to buy them. The Phoenix 747s are unfortunately moulds that fall into this category.
Clearly if I didn't have an opinion this site wouldn't exist and if you can't discuss the models and moulds then it is frankly ridiculous, so I don't have a lot of time for anyone suggesting this shouldn't be discussed. For the reasons I state below I am quite happy to say that I personally do want people to STOP buying Phoenix 747s.
Why does this energise me so much you ask? Well it doesn't really. I have run this site for years and never really written about Phoenix 747s until now. However there are a few reasons why it annoys me:
1. WE NEED MORE 747s
747 releases are highly sought after in 400 scale and the type has been largely ignored now for more than decade. In fact, BigBird / Aeroclassics 747s are easily the most expensive and rare models in the entire scale. Everytime Phoenix releases a 747 it makes new quality 747 releases from another source less likely. I admit this isn't all Phoenix's fault. Gemini Jets / JC Wings have the moulds and simply don't use them. NG Models has said it will produce 747s but shows no interest in doing so and prioritises other types ahead of them. This leaves the market open for Phoenix and damages it for something better.
2. PEOPLE STILL BUY THEM
Despite being bad these Phoenix 747s seem to sell. I guess it illustrates that, if I'm being charitable, mould accuracy isn't the number one thing for a lot of collectors (not that Phoenix are winning any awards in other areas anyway). At the end of the day these are models and nothing more so it doesn't matter, or at least that's what some people say. Since I've dedicated an entire website to the subject I obviously think that outlook is wrong.
3. SOME THINK THEY'RE GOOD!
There is a tendency among a lot of collectors to think that if a model has rolling gears and aerials that obviously makes it better. Not true. I have seen people compare Phoenix 747s to old Dragon versions as if they are somehow superior. Madness! If your argument is Dragon had simple landing gear and no aerials so must be inferior then you could literally gather up a turd and add those features and have a 747. That is after all not far off what Phoenix has done. I know we live in a post truth world but when people argue the Phoenix 747 deserves credit I feel there is no hope for humanity!
4. PHOENIX ARE LAZY
The Phoenix mould isn't even that old. It dates from around 2008. That is after 99% of all other 747 moulds came into existence. They have been pumping out these monstrosities for over a decade and, just like the stabilisers on their A330-200s and wings on their A321s, have been treating collectors with contempt in the process. Do they even care the models are rubbish? Clearly not or they would surely fix them.
Phoenix - Why Do they Exist?
You may think I have a vendetta against Phoenix? Well I own 154 Phoenix models so not that much of one, but increasingly I do feel annoyance towards the brand and that is because they make a lot of poor models and are incredibly lazy - it was only recently that they started printing gear doors on. It has been many, many years since Phoenix were anywhere near the pinnacle of 400 scale and realistically they have barely any moulds that could be considered worth buying nowadays, let alone top of class. I may well cover this in a future video but be under no illusion Phoenix are a company producing mediocrity much of the time. They still do make great models at times, but for every great A340-600 there are multiple awful A300s, A321s, 737s and worst of all 747 Classics. Even their newer A330neo and 737 MAX moulds are just meh.
In 2023 you could argue that the main reason for Phoenix to exist is simply to produce Asian rubbish for people that don't care about how their models look. Harsh, but largely true. Would they be missed in 400 scale? They probably shouldn't be.
Ok so here I have selected at random some recent 2022/23 Phoenix 747 releases and compared them to the real aircraft. I'd like to think the problems are obvious but I'll cover them off anyway.
The nose is an area people often focus on and it isn't good but it isn't the moulds worst aspect. Certainly however:
The position of the nosegear is particularly bad:
Drawing some simple lines illustrates the nosegear position issue even more obviously. It also illustrates that there are problems with the wing.
Phoenix 747s are also well known for other wing and tail issues:
Many of the series 200's issues are evident on the series 400F above. Note that there are extra problems though:
- PYLONS - The series 400s have the overly long inner engine pylons, which hang the engines way too low. It is made worse by the anhedral of the wings.
- WING JOIN - Clearly the series 400 has a very different join of wing to fuselage yet Phoenix persists in the curved fairing of the older series here and on their series 8s. It is wildly inaccurate.
Things don't get any better with the passenger 747-400s. As you can see below this Air Hongkong effort replicates all the problems of the above Cargolux. I will however admit that the nose does seem to be slightly less awful on these recent 747-400s than some of their earlier efforts.
I have looked at the 747-400 in more detail and did include the Phoenix mould in that review. It scored predictably poorly but the review did illustrate that there are several available much superior 747 moulds out there, not least the two owned by JC Wings (the old BigBird mould and their new 2020 version). See the review here. I think I was being quite charitable frankly:
The old BigBird and new JC moulds are not faultless but their faults do not drastically impact the model looking like an accurate 747 like the Phoenix does.
For me the Phoenix 747 is an agglomeration of issues, one or two of which could be excusable but which together ruin the mould. I don't like the nose, but it is the position of the nosegear, wing join and wing anhedral, which really kill the mould for me. When I do detailed reviews I usually knock off a point for every major issue and half if it is not very major (although I don't usually have half scores in the final scoring). So here if I was scoring the 747-200 and 747-400 I think the scoring would probably look like this:
To suggest that the BigBird 747 has equivalent faults is simply crazy. It has a wing seam, but arguably a better one than the Phoenix, and it has clunky engine pylon joins to the wing itself. It also has no aerials and no rolling gear. So that gives it a decent 7/10 for me. Hell, even the Dragon 747 scores better. It has clunky landing gear and no aerials (and often weak printwork) but is otherwise excellent so should garner a 7 at least.
In summation I am far from alone in saying that Phoenix 747s are awful. In fact I'd say it is the consensus view among collectors. But that isn't the only reason not to buy them. The production of Phoenix 747s does in my opinion damage the hobby and make it less likely that another brand will come to the fore with 747s, due to sales lost to these Phoenix versions.
My view isn't however universal - see Jorge A. Zaija's piece at his YankeeVictor400 blog here. Jorge is a respected collector but on this topic we disagree. His arguments are basically:
- Don't cave into peer pressure - I'm not sure why listening to people with valid information is bad but apparently it is because they might change your opinion?
- There are no alternatives - This is often true but as I say above why does this mean you have to buy something rubbish just because you can't buy something decent? You could always wait instead?
- The mould isn't really that bad - No it is. It really is, as I have hopefully demonstrated above. It is far worse than any other mainstream 747 in the scale.
- It doesn't matter that it is bad - If this is your view then I'm not sure why you're at my site but if it only matters what a model looks like from ten feet away then I'm wasting my time aren't I.
Let me be clear I'm not trying to shame anyone who has bought a Phoenix 747 but I am trying to provide quality information to enable people to make decisions and in this case that means I can't sit by and lie to you.
In my view the saying: 'Buy what you like and like what you buy' is dreadful advice. I hear this a lot from collectors who get angry about people like me having an opinion and daring to back it up. Although at first this sounds fine, basically what it really means is don't do research, don't care and don't listen to anybody. I find it to be a recipe for ignorance and stupidity and at a site like this, dedicated to education and information, it is an anathema.
I hope that people find this article useful. It sums up my view on Phoenix 747s so I can at least point people to it in the future rather than having to relitigate. Obviously you are 100% within your rights to buy whatever you want and all I can do is offer evidence and information to assist you in those decisions. That is the aim of Yesterday's Airlines and one I will continue to strive for.