The 2020 JC Wings / Gemini Jets Boeing 747-400 Mould
Modified: June 2023
Mould production can be a long process and the gestation of the 2020 747-400 was certainly extensive since the existence of the mould had been known since at least 2018. The mould has been active now for nearly three years and in this piece I wanted to pull together all the resources discussing it and at the same time look at production to date. A new 747-400 has been overdue for years and this mould certainly has good credentials, however arguably usage has not met the most optimistic expectations so far.
This review covers only the passenger version of the mould, which is available in two versions - flaps up and flaps down. There are other versions, namely an interactive freighter variant and a Dreamlifter. Both appear derived from the same base mould but neither are included here. There is presently no 747-400F non-interactive variant of this mould.
For more about the 747LCF 'Dreamlifter' see this page:
The Mould In Detail
This mould has featured at the website several times covering its form. Overall it is excellent with a lovely fuselage shape, wing/fuselage join, engine and pylon detailing and control surfaces. The only negatives are the height of the undercarriage (too short) and the angle of the wings (a little too much dihedral).
INDIVIDUAL MODEL REVIEWS
DETAILED COMPARISON RATING
Mould Usage To Date
This mould has, as of July 2023, been used 28 times in the past 3 years (it debuted at the end of 2020). That number only counts unique releases and so treats flaps up and down variants as a single release. That is a decent number of models, although the focus of the releases has been somewhat surprising. There has also been a transitional period where there has been overlap with the old seamed mould - in fact there was an Astral Aviation release as late as 2023 using the old mould.
Beneath is the detailed list of releases. Where there is a /F or /A in the part number a flaps down version is also available. Gemini's interest in the mould has been only slight, while there have been single releases for Herpa and the Taiwanese sub-brand Albatros.
The releases tend to fall into the following categories:
Freighter Conversion - BCFs
The 747-400 gained a second life, and remains in service with a few airlines, as a passenger to freighter conversion. Nowadays these 744s are often serving with rather obscure second rung cargo airlines. These BCFs have featured very heavily among the release set to date with at least 11 seperate releases. National Airlines has been a favourite with 3 seperate releases.
All 3 Gemini releases fall into this category:
Specialist / One-offs
JC has also produced an interesting and diverse array of non-airline schemes featuring aircraft that have been modified for other duties such as firefighting and rocket delivery. Additionally, there was a single fantasy release commemorating Bruce Lee. Just recently a pair of Government 747-400s has been announced also for the Kuwaiti government and Saudi Royal Flight.
Standard passenger airline schemes from the type's heyday have actually been quite poorly represented. Thai Airways has been popular and there have now been 4 releases (including a freighter).
Looking back to the 1990s and there have only been five 'classic' 747-400 releases:
- Air China
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Air Lines
- Thai Airways
- United Airlines
The JAL version is annoyingly hard to find and doesn't appear to be a standard JC release, while similarly the Herpa Cathay version has been hard to find and expensive (it also lacks aerials) because it was made exclusively for Cathay. I recently took a closer look at this release in my review here - Cathay Pacific | Boeing 747-467 | VR-HOP | Herpa Models
A couple of 2000s passenger schemes have also been produced for Asian carriers such as China Airlines and Eva Air. Lastly there has been a Star Wars themed Virgin example too.
The current JC Wings 747-400 is an excellent mould, but it is also one that hasn't been used in the way I think many collectors would have liked. There have been very few iconic 747-400 schemes represented. It is well known that JC Wings is heavily restricted in what it can make by its production partner Gemini Jets, which no doubt accounts for some of this. Gemini have shown no interest in using the mould for pax variants, having used their older mould quite heavily in the past. Hopefully there will be more releases to come using this mould and the recent United Airlines Saul Bass example is a window into what can be achieved if this mould is used more.