At the time of writing, I have acquired only 112 new models in 2020 (although December’s Aeroclassics and NG releases are still incoming and will push that number up to 126). I say only because the year before I acquired 137 models and the year before that 165. This decline is down to a few factors but probably the most pressing has been the increased cost involved.
Not only have model prices increased quite substantially in the last couple of years but also the exchange rate between New Zealand and the USA has not been going in the ‘right’ direction. Anyway, I understand that I am still lucky to be able to carry on buying models at all. Thankfully New Zealand has handled the pandemic exceptionally well and my job has not, as of yet, been impacted.
In terms of what I bought it is a familiar story. My collecting criteria focuses on classic airliners (i.e., pre-2000) of almost any kind and modern Chinese airlines. Naturally then Aeroclassics and NG Models feature the most in my acquisitions.
That of course doesn’t mean they necessarily make the best models and as always my advice on that topic can be read at this page.
Brand by Brand Review
It is of course the brands that make the models that make the scale and so when looking at 2020 it is valuable to take a look at each brand and see what they've been up to, what they've done well and what they haven't. I'm going to try and keep this brief and going alphabetically in part 1 I'll cover Aeroclassics, Aviation400 and Gemini Jets.
2020 was a truly superb year for Aeroclassics who, presumably thanks to their stable base of collectors, seem to have survived the awkward transition to their own sales site aeroclassicsdirect. The service I have received from the new site has been excellent and nobody produces the range of models that Aeroclassics does. Their mould catalogue usage and airline diversity is unparalleled, plus they produce a healthy 10-12 models per month every month.
Aviation400 have continued to make inroads into 400 scale in 2020 and gained a solid reputation that has elevated them close to NG for many. The models are good and they have displayed real innovation. With the upcoming 787 series they clearly have an interest in competing in 2021 but can they manage their releases alongside other priorities for the Inflight factory in which they are made?
Gemini Jets aren't my choice for most of my models but still produce a reliable set of releases and still have great brand visibility, especially in the USA. They are however still primarily focused on the corporate market, which is less competitive than the collector scene. This lends them a rather conservative style. I'd be interested to understand how they've been impacted by the encroachment of NG Models into their space but overall they seem to have still done fine in 2020.
In part 2 I'll look at the remaining major 400 scale brands: JC Wings, NG Models, Panda Models and Phoenix Models plus take a look at what 2021 may bring.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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