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.
The Beijing Hobby EXPO has just been held over April 21/22 and that means Panda models have given their customary sneak peek of some new moulds and models. Plus their sub-brand Skywings rolls on with announcements of new Airbuses. Check out the news here.
Following Chinese New Year the manufacturers are getting back into the swing of things and that means there is movement at Panda Models, Skywings and HYJLwings also. Checking out taobao I see the next set of releases have been announced, which see new types for Skywings and HYJLwings and more great NEOs and MAXes for Panda.
The A330 has surely transcended any sales projections Airbus realistically had for the type and has been the number one reason Airbus has had success in the widebody market since the mid-90s. It has now got a worthy partner in the A350, but still the A330NEO will mean production continues for years. Because of this success it is also a critical model in 1/400 scale for all the manufacturers and the modern moulds all have strengths and weaknesses.
Over the past two years Panda models has risen to increasing prominence on the 1/400 scene and this has been partly fuelled by their relationship with Skywings, who have released over 40 models using Panda's moulds but their own branding. Skywings look to be driving innovation in the Chinese market and have released the first mobile app for model collectors that I am aware of. Plus they have new releases on the way both modern and classic and a partnership with another 1/400 manufacturer.
Considering how fast the manufacturers usually are to produce widebody moulds (often before the new type has even flown) it is surprising that they are so much slower with narrowbodies. Even now not far from a year after A320NEO service entry only Panda has a useable mould on the market. JC Wings has announced a 737-MAX 8 but yet again it is Panda Models that has beaten everyone to the punch with actual releases.
Panda Models are really kicking bottom at the moment. Fresh from beating everyone that matters to market with an A320NEO they are now moving into widebodies and gazumping JC Wings with an A330-200F. Plus they have more new GSE. Compared to the other manufacturers they are really setting the pace for the new year.
Here's a summary of their latest announcements with some sneakpeaks at the finished products literally just released.
Just recently, courtesy of a random photo on Facebook, I was tipped off to a new player in 1/400 scale. After a bit of searching about I managed to find their page on taobao but who they are is still not entirely clear. Several factors seem to ally them to Panda models but a couple of others suggest that they may be something different. It's hard to be sure but this is what I've been able to find out so far.
Up until now Panda models have been happy releasing just Chinese airliners with a rare Asian or Japanese addition. However this could be the moment they start to become mainstream. Whatever you can say about them their models are excellent and the printing fantastic. Now they've scooped all the other manufacturers with the first A320NEO in 1/400.
2016 has been an impressive year for the upstart manufacturer Panda Models, which continues to exploit its excellent moulds for the 737-300/700/800, A319 and A320 (regardless of where the latter two were copied from). In fact in terms of number of releases Panda are producing more models than JC Wings and Gemini, it's just that if you aren't interested in Chinese airlines you're largely out of luck.