For a far more complimentary review of Aeroclassics classic GSE sets see part 1:
I guess my first warning should have been when these sets were delayed by a few months. I wonder if there were issues in the design and creation of them that led to the delays? Judging by the final product they should have delayed them longer until they got it right!
First let me say that the Airbus A330s these GSE sets come with are awesome models. No problems there - the Aeroclassics A330 is great. Also let me say that not all the models come with the GSE, you had to select to pay extra for them, and they weren't cheap - I'm talking approaching USD$50, which is substantially more than the classic sets were. Maybe my hopes were set too high having seen what others have done with recent GSE?
Perhaps I was just fantasising but when the new sets were announced I was under the impression that they were going to be all new sets, especially as most of the old AC GSE is clearly classic in nature. This is not the case and of the 12 pieces (yes there are 3 less pieces than in the classic sets) 7 of them are the same as in the classic sets. Below are the 7 retro items in the sets (note the broken baggage cart):
Now if these were Chinese airliners from the 1990s that would make sense as back then China was rather old-fashioned and there was still lots of old equipment floating about. Nowadays these pieces hardly fit a modern Chinese airport. This mostly applies to the tanker truck and the food truck, and to a lesser extent the sanitation truck too. Don't get me wrong I love these old pieces in the classic sets, but not here.
This brings me to the next peculiarity - the choice of GSE elements. One of the new GSE pieces is a tug of the type that connects directly to the aircraft landing gear. So why is a standard tug bar included in the set also? There is nothing it can connect to. Plus they include two baggage carts but again there is nothing in the set that can pull them, even though there are three vehicles in the old set that could do this all of which would be fine. So of the 12 pieces 3 are effectively useless.
New GSE Pieces
So there are 5 new GSE pieces in the set of 4 different designs. None are very impressive and the mobile airstairs in particular are a major step backwards.
The new bus also bears a striking resemblance to the old Dragon Wings bus but unlike the Dragon parts it is completely metal. This makes it very heavy and poorly detailed. The printing is bland and weak and it looks poor even against the old Dragon bus let alone against the awesome buses being made by the likes of JC Wings. The lack of proper wheels and wheel cavities is another weakness. Once again Aeroclassics had an ok bus and this one is hardly an upgrade.
There is a little bus that has also been added but it is rather formless and pointless. In fact it's a little hard to tell the front from the back! At least it has separate wheels.
The same can't be said for the tow truck. This is another poorly shaped block of metal. The wheels are just painted on, and even then poorly, and there is little ground clearance. When used alongside the detailed 1:400 aircraft models they look very toylike.
Ten years ago these new GSE designs would have been just about acceptable, but nowadays with JC Wings and Panda Models (ironically they illegally made some great GSE under the Aeroclassics name) making very detailed GSE they just can't compete. Below are some examples of better quality GSE made over the past few years:
For some reason these two GSE sets are far and away the worst GSE sets I've ever got from Aeroclassics in terms of quality. I own about 20 sets and none have as many quality issues as these do, and most of mine are getting on in age too.
Out of the box two tyres were off their vehicles and one of the baggage carts had a static wheel broken off completely. One of the food trucks has a poorly connected door and one of the belt loader's belts is not properly connected so won't stay upright. The new mobile airstairs are very shoddily put together and don't sit on their wheels properly either. Across the board the paint is thick and the details light.
Now the icing on the cake with the China Eastern set is that it is in the old livery, whilst the aircraft that goes with it is in the new livery. This just doesn't make sense and whilst I have plenty of old livery China Eastern aircraft that really isn't the point.
So overall these 'modern' GSE sets are poor. Poorly designed, poorly thought out and poorly constructed. They could have been improved by some simple things - like keeping the old mobile airstairs and replacing the tow bar with a baggage cart, but fundamentally none of the new components are very good. This is definitely a missed opportunity in my opinion.
It is not often that I have to say bad things about Aeroclassics but in this case I'd have preferred it if they'd have stuck with some of the older GSE elements. The four missing ones in my Iran Air set for example are pretty decent. They could have just added the new tug too (if they couldn't make it better) and somehow I think I'd have been a lot happier with the set.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of 1/400 scale model aircraft and airports. This blog reports work on my model airport dioramas and discussion of the model manufacturers output.