Increasingly, and a little annoyingly, it seems 400 scale releases are being made for specific retailers in specific localities. Don't get me wrong it's great that people can get models made but it's a pain when they aren't well publicised and/or almost impossible to get hold of. Here's a quick roundup of some models you may have missed from this year made exclusively for markets in Asia.
The Caravelle is back in 400 scale with Aeroclassics dusting off their mould for a new run of French built twinjets. The first month brought Iberia, Catair and Swissair but there's plenty more to be done even if just looking at the marks that the Aeroclassics mould can be used for. Here's a fairly comprehensive listing taking you from Europe to SE Asia, South America and beyond!
Latin classics always appear in high demand and until recently it has only been Aeroclassics that made them at all regularly. Now El Aviador is on the scene in 400 scale we can look forward to hopefully a lot more. Just recently there have been a selection of Peruvian releases and they have all sold like hot cakes. In fact, while people have zeroed in on that Gemini Delta CRJ I'd say it has been a lot harder to find a Faucett DC-8!
Soviet era types have not been well represented in 400 scale recent years despite appearance of a Tu-104 and now a Tu-134. The re-emergence of the Tu-154 is very welcome, even if it is not a 100% modern mould. The 154 got far and way the most diverse usage of all Russian types and that means there are still plenty of core operators to be made.
El Aviador is a company which has a standard webstore but also specialises in the production of 200 scale Latin classics airliners. It is based in Texas but its focus is definitely south of the border and since at least 2019 it has been using Inflight200 moulds to make an impressive array of A320s, 727s, 737s, 767s in the larger scale. It has now branched out into 400 scale and has 5 releases out, or in the pipeline.
With 2020 behind us I thought I’d take a look back at the year in 400 scale that was and pick out some salient points for discussion. Obviously for most it was a year best forgotten but in 400 scale it was actually a superb year. In general, the scale seems vibrant and healthy with some excellent innovation and models being made. In part 1 I take a look at 3 of the major brands.
The local service airlines had their routes in a postwar need for service to smaller communities and feeder routes into the the trunk services of the majors. Initially called simply 'Feeder Airlines' in July 1944 by the CAB they became known as 'Local Service' airlines when the survivors were certificated permanently in 1955. These airlines grew into majors over time and have had a decent representation in 400 scale, however there are significant gaps still to be filled.
400 Scale Hangar (found at www.400scalehangar.net) is one of the original homes of 400 Scale on the web. Now under new ownership it is back producing, in partnership with Aeroclassics, the Hangar Club models that the site is famous for. Thanks to Paresh at 400SH I was recently able to purchase the latest Hangar Club offering – a really nice hybrid 727-22 made in very limited numbers.
Given the number of models I own I really ought not to be starting new areas of the collection, but the post-deregulation period in developing nations has always been of real interest to me and Indonesia in particular is super interesting. In recent years there has been a nice selection of relatively obscure releases made, often in partnership with retailers, and even though I know I shouldn't have recently I started an Indonesian fleet too.
I was alerted today by my good friend Minh Quân Nguyễn that some new Tupolev 154s had mysteriously appeared on taobao. A quick search revealed there were two new releases using the Aeroclassics mould, but not made by Aeroclassics. Indeed, they are being marketed as Yu ModeLs - a new brand in 1:400 scale. Read on to learn more...
You've got to hand it to Aeroclassics they have motored through the Covid crisis, changed their sales over to aeroclassicsdirect.com and are still producing an excellent variety of 400 scale models. Last month's set saw the return of the 747 and 727-100. There are no 747s this month but the choices of release on other types sure make up for that.
I am very happy to say that New Zealand is out the other side of its lockdown, and now we are level 1 almost everything is back to normal. Things that aren't are international travel and postage so it has taken some time for models to reach me. Nonetheless 14 models did make it through in the past two months, many of which have already received detailed reviews.
There is a dearth of coverage in 1:400 scale of the 1940s and 1950s, partly because the models are small in 1:400, older collectors have gravitated to 1:200 and also because the modern collector only seems to care about A350s and 787s. That's a real shame but doesn't mean there is no hope for more DC-4s. Of course, the one hope remaining is Aeroclassics.
Prop releases in 1:400 are rare nowadays but there are still some large holes in the fleet despite Aeroclassics' best efforts. The original Super Connie for example has barely been touched and like the early jet 707s is a major missing space in a seminal period of aviation history.
March was the month level 4 lockdown began for New Zealand and there was further dislocation to the manufacturing of 1:400 scale, with most companies delaying new releases. Even so there are always older models to acquire and with my job holding on for the timebeing I was able to take advantage of some nice Aeroclassics sales.