It is now mid-February and with all the December releases (aside from the JC Wings ones obviously) arrived it is a good time to reflect on the year that was 2018 and what it meant for my collection. 2018 was an outstanding year for 1:400 Scale and certainly my pocket felt the pain of so many excellent releases but what was I buying and why?
The Chinese New Year is almost upon us, which means there'll be a lot less models for a month or so until the whole of China gets back to work in March! In the meantime though Panda Models have not been sitting still and instead have released their December models and announced their batch for January, most of which are already on sale as well. Let's take a look.
Recently Panda Models have presumably leveraged their existing 737-700 mould to produce its shorter stablemate the series 600. The type was thoroughly unloved and therefore the number of operators of the type was limited. Panda have already made 5 737-600s covering SAS and Air China but there is a small group of further series 600s that can, and ought, to be made.
Panda Models are so obscure as a company that it is really hard to tell what is going on with them. This year they have been no way near as prolific as they were last and in fact for several months they don’t appear to have released any models at all. Nonetheless they are still developing new moulds and over the past few months there have been two new offerings announced, plus some interesting models.
It has been a somewhat odd year for Panda Models. In some ways they have kicked on nicely from the excellent year they had last year, and in some ways their new focuses make their models both harder to find and of less interest to my collecting. Nonetheless both July and August’s batches have useful additions within them.
It's hard to say what is going on over at Panda Models as they have been really quiet this year and the usual pathways by which I find out about their releases have often been silent. In fact I have been finding out about a lot of their releases via Airshop Diecast - the Indonesian store. It seems they have a new focus on Indonesia so let's take a look at what they've been doing in the past few months.
Panda have been quiet over the Chinese New Year period with only the announcement of their annual CNY fantasy model. However March finds them back on stream and announcing a faimilar line up of Airbus twinjets. Once again China predominates but Panda returns to Lufthansa for some more A320s too.
Panda Models already makes models for both Skywings and HYJL wings but it seems they have also just finished a new model specifically for the Indonesian model shop 'Air Shop Miniatures' featuring the Indonesian Presidential aircraft known as 'Indonesia One'. I only heard about this release through Facebook posts so thanks to those that posted about it.
Comac's new challenger to the supremacy of the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, the C919, looks on paper as if it'll be a big success with 716 'orders'. The reality is that it is unlikely the majority of these aircraft will ever be built, however it surely can't be less successful than its Comac stablemate the ARJ-21? Either way its Chinese and new and so it is getting a mould in 1:400 scale and here are the first release photos of the new moulding.
With the increasing number of 1:400 scale releases every month by the now 6 major brands in this scale it is small wonder that there have been some new ideas being introduced into the marketplace. Aside from altering the moulds themselves in terms of liveries the two newest trends have been for nosecone special schemes and pre-delivery primer aircraft. Whether you consider this innovative or a cash grab to create more model variants is up to you, but let's take a look at what has been made.
Whilst I've been away Panda and Skywings have announced their November releases and it's a bumper month with 17 models, six of which are not Chinese! In fact this month Indonesia, Japan and Russia get a look in and both manufacturers continue to release narrowbodies that few other manufacturers release regularly. Panda has for example released far more 737 MAX -8s than anybody else. Plus there is a new mould also. Let's take a look at what is on offer.
Both Panda models and Skywings continue to produce a great range of mainly Chinese airliners both modern and historical. The sheer number of Chinese releases each month shows where the market sales are with JC Wings recently announcing a bevy of A320s and 737s representing Chinese airlines. This month Panda fight back with reciprocal releases of some of those plus both Panda and JC Wings are opening a new frontier with pre-delivery models.
The new releases keep on flowing out of China and last month's releases are also now available in the flesh, so to speak. Panda and Skywing's quality continues to shine through as some very beautiful releases are being produced. This month we have new 767s, A330Fs, A330-300s, A340s and another Y-20. Let's take a look at the new offerings and also see how some of August's announcements came out.
It is hard to keep up with the sheer number of new announcements from China's other 3 brands in 1/400 scale but they continue to announce a wide range of new models. Even better for the non-Chinese collector they also continue to announce really competitive non-Chinese models which I can see are going to give the established players some real competition. This month Panda branches out to new horizons - Malaysia and Singapore, whilst Skywings go to Germany.
It's been a few months since I wrote about the releases from the less mainstream manufacturers in China - since late April in fact. That doesn't mean lots hasn't been happening however with plenty of new model releases and both Skywings and HYJLwings branching out into collaborations with JC Wings.