Herpa Boeing 737 Classics
Herpa have been such an odd company in 400 scale. They have been part of it ever since the start but even though they have produced an impressive variety of moulds they have produced a relatively tiny number of models - 307 in 20 plus years. Compare this to Gemini Jets (2609), Aeroclassics (4570), Phoenix (2477) and even Dragon Wings (1432) and you can see they have not focused on the scale. Much of the reason for this must surely be their fixation with their primary scale of 1:500.
The other thing about a lot of Herpa's moulds is that they are often rather mediocre and certainly have historically had clumsy landing gear and joins of the vertical stabilisers to the fuselage. That isn't to say they don't have some decent moulds and they are surely most famous for producing obscure types like the An-225, Catalina, Tu-144 and Concorde - which all have nice castings. I have historically been very snobby about their 737s though, which haven't looked great.
Despite my feelings towards the 737 moulds it is simply the case that you can't always get what you want and sometimes you have to make compromises if you want a certain airline in your collection. This has led me recently to acquiring a trio of their 737s all for interesting airlines ignored by everyone else. It of course helps that I managed to acquire all three for excellent cheap prices!
The 737-200 is a great example of why Herpa are so odd. This mould dates from 2006 and has been used the grand total of two times since for a Lufthansa (silver base) example and this AeroGal version. Herpa's partner Hogan have also used it three times for some All Nippon versions. AeroGal of Ecuador, known since 2014 as Avianca Ecuador, was obviously important in relation to flights to the Galapagos Islands. They had a couple of lovely schemes featuring the Galapagos Marine Iguana and the Frigatebird. It is exactly the type of unusual and interesting airline I want in my collection and so despite the mould it is hard to turn down.
Actually this mould could be far worse but it does have a rather pointy nosecone and looks a little tubby. It is clearly a 737-200 but is obviously heavily inferior to the best moulds from Aeroclassics and SMA. It is closer to the Gemini Jets and Aviation400/Witty moulds but still inferior. Interestingly the Jet-X mould also has an oddly pointed nosecone and is comparable.
Herpa's Boeing 737-300 has been used more often and over a longer period than the series 200, long enough in fact that it has seen some modification. The two examples I have acquired are quite different to each other. The mould first appeared in 2000 and was last used in 2016. The changes to the undercarriage appear to have been made in 2003/2004 so only the first three of the thirteen releases have a rather stalk-like nosegear.
One of my purchases is one of these early releases - in the colours of British World Airlines. This is something of a curious choice for a release since BWA was a UK charter airline operational from April 1993 until December 2001 (prior to that it had been British Air Ferries). The 737 was never a major component of the fleet, with only a trio being leased at the end of 1999. It is of course the One-Eleven 500 that was the most important type for the carrier but obviously JC Wings/Gemini Jets never use that mould. So this remains the only British World release in 400 scale.
The mould doesn't look great here and shows off the two regular Herpa features - weak undercarriage and poor tail fit. The engines are also plastic and have discoloured over time. The general fuselage shape is a bit off too and the cockpit printing not great, but what you gonna do? Alternatives are lacking for this livery.
The third Herpa 737 I have acquired recently was the below Kaliningrad Avia series 300 I picked up at the AMS Fair for only 10 Euro. It is the best of the three and matches for obscurity the other two examples. Kaliningrad is the weird Russian enclave between Germany and Poland whose capital, also Kaliningrad, was formerly known as Königsberg. KDAvia as it was later known was based at the city and I'm tempted to write an avhistory blog about it in the future. Once again it is a crious, but excellent, choice for Herpa.
The mould has been improved with shorter motr realistic landing gear and the livery helps obscure the weak tail join. The cockpit printing is also better on this 2008 release.
Overall I am super happy to have been able to add these unusual models to my collection. They are far from perfect but at the same time it doesn't pay to be too snobby about this kind of thing. Just because I run this site and review models doesn't mean I think they all have to be perfect and in cases where there is no competition between brands for a livery what may be considered inferior models can still be great adds.