It has been the general understanding that following the collapse of Witty Wings (and so also their sub-brand Apollo) in 2014 all of their moulds were purchased by JC Wings. This always seemed like an odd purchase since JC Wings already had access to moulds for most of the types that Witty made (737s, 747s, 767s, 777s) or was unlikely to start showing interest in the others (707s, 727s, DC-10s, L-1011s). In fact a few people conjectured that it was merely an attempt to keep the moulds from being used by another party in competition against JC.
Anyway whatever the truth it seems that at least for the 747-200/300/400 moulds they were actually bought (or licensed?) to a third party through JC Wings. In the middle of 2015 a pair of Singapore Airlines 747-400 'Tropical' scheme 1:400 scale models appeared under the old BigBird - Your Craftsman name and brand.
Just who the backers behind this are still remains unclear. As early as December 2014 they had setup a Facebook page which is still present but hasn't had any activity since April 2016! The BigBird - Your Craftsman brand name had already had two run outs before and used the same 747s moulds in its original incarnation. They are still widely thought of as the best 747s made in 1:400 scale.
There doesn't seem any suggestion that this BigBird has any connection to the original (or the discredited 2nd one either) but my understanding is that the moulds are held by JC Wings but not owned by them. JC Wings produce the models under instruction from BigBird but do not themselves have access to the moulds for their own use (indeed JC continue to use the old inferior Gemini 747-400).
Initially in 2015 4 releases were put out - although in reality it was actually 2 releases with 2 variants of each. They were very nice and I bought one of the pair of Cathay Pacific 747-300s. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific were not unexpected releases but nevertheless seeing the best 747 moulds in action again was very welcome.
Into April 2016 and BigBird followed up with a trio of 747s again featuring Singapore Airlines but also adding a single Malaysia 747 (the series 400 retro livery). Then BigBird practically vanished for more than a year (and their Facebook page went silent too).
The models released so far have been excellent but it wasn't until late 2017 that any more were announced. This trio remain unreleased as of February 2018. So for all the potential all we have got out of BigBird Mk3 in over 3 years has been 4 liveries and 7 models.
The three announced models prove they have access to all the old 747 series and continue BigBirds interest in special schemes. The only surprise is that one of the models is not Asian this time.
I assume the models will see the light of day in the coming months but oh what a disappointment BigBird Mk3 has been. There are so many models they could make. Recently I had the opportunity to send BigBird a wishlist (I'm not certain they got it). I spoke with a few friends and we came up with a shortlist of just 747-100/200s they could make. We aimed for no brainers that would sell well rather than more obscure airlines. Here it is:
Will any of these ever get made? I seriously doubt it. Although BigBird has made some nice models to date they are releasing them so infrequently as to make them effectively irrelevent in 1:400 scale. That is a damn shame. I can only hope that either they up their game or someone else gets access to these most excellent Jumbo moulds.
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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