As of November 2018 there have been 142 Boeing 787-9s made in 1:400 scale by 5 manufacturers and given the popularity of the type, the publicity around Dreamliners in general and the selection of popular special schemes being used on the type it is surely one of the most hotly contested aircraft types in this scale. Of course the spur for this post is the arrival of a new 787-9 mould from NG Models. How does that alter the equation?
As of now 379 Boeing 787-9s have been delivered to 34 customers (including private aircraft and leasing companies) eclipsing the smaller and earlier 787-8 version. There are 784 more of this variant on order so clearly there is everything to play for in producing 1:400 scale models of this type for the next decade.
There are now the following 4 787-9 moulds in use:
Hogan has made a small number of 787-9s but this was sometime ago and Hogan continue to be an irrelevance in this scale. In this post I aim to take a close look at each of the moulds and directly compare them to each other.
I'll use models from my own collection and models that I have reviewed previously at Diecast Flier for this review. Currently in my 1:400 collection I have 8 787-9s (plus two I have reviewed and sold on) for a total of 10 aircraft as the base. This breaks down as:
Across x areas of scoring each model can score up to 5 points per section for a total combined maximum score of X. This is obviously quite subjective but I hope to provide photographic evidence backing up the decisions and compare the models directly to the real thing.
The scoring obviously doesn't take into account quality control, print detail or the time to get releases out. These are all additional factors in deciding to buy a 787 model but in this post the focus is on the most important factor - the mould itself. Let's begin.
NOSE & NOSEGEAR
The 787 nosecone is like the A350 deceptively complex as there is a minor change of angle immediately under the cockpit. Otherwise it is a blunt rounded nosecone and very asymmetric profile. The nosegear leg is short and the gear doors quite large. The rear process of the nosegear joins the main leg at about the level of the gear door lower margin.
I like the JC Wings nosecone. The fuselage is correctly deep and the profile correct although arguably the angle change under the cockpit is under-developed. The nosegear leg is the correct height and the gear doors are accurate. The gear leg itself is accurately detailed but tyre lacks a detailed hub.
The Gemini nosecone is also good (this Air France example doesn't have great cockpit window printing) but the angle change at the nosecone is less developed. The gear leg although different to the JC Wings shares all the same good and bad points. The gear doors do appear rather overly recessed into the fuselage breaking the smooth lower line it ought to have.
The Phoenix fuselage seems slimmer than the JC Wings mould but it doesn't impact the nose much, which looks good, albeit as with the others the angle change is hard to see. The nosegear has a really nice tyre hub but the gear leg is sightly too long. The gear doors are a bit small and too recessed into the fuselage and the forward and rear processes on the gear leg are incorrectly positioned. The forward is way too low and the rear too high.
The NG Models 787 shares a look most closely with the Phoenix 787. As with all the moulds the change of angle beneath the cockpit is not evident enough. The gear leg is, like the Phoenix one, slightly too high but the detailing and position of the forward and rear processes are much better than the Phoenix version. As with the JC Wings the tyre hub is quite simple.
I'm not sure any of the noses are 100% but for me the JC Wings captures the blunt look the best. It is also the only mould with a fully accurate nosegear, although the NG Models comes close it is a little tall. The Phoenix has a great tyre hub but in most other respects isn't accurate.
ENGINES & MAINGEAR
The JC engines are reassuringly large but because the engine pylons are correctly sculpted and detailed they still have ok ground clearance (despite this having the shortest gear of the 4 moulds). The angle at the front of the engines isn't slanted enough but the rims are correctly thick. The maingear is excellently moulded with all three gear door components present and shaped well. The gear legs are also well detailed and the only let down is the tyre hubs again.
The engine shape on the Gemini is nice but again the angle at the front of the engines is too straight. Also the rim thickness is not correct - too thin. The engines hang well but the pylons are not the right shape. They look too curvy under the wing and not curvy enough over the engines. The maingear looks ok except for the tyrehubs and the missing lower rectangle element of the geardoors.
As with both the above moulds the engine angle at the front is way too level and like the Gemini the silver rim much too thin. The engine pylons are also not well shaped. The rear margin under the wing is rounded and the engine isn't held high enough in front of the wing. The maingear doors are incorrectly shaped at the lower margin and on the upper forward margin. The gear itself is fine and the tyre hubs a strongpoint as per usual.
NG are the only manufacturer to get both the angle and thickness of the rims correct on the engines. The pylons are nicely shaped on the underside but not quite as accurate as the JC Wings on the top. The maingear and doors are great except they are missing the smallest portion of the gear door at the lower margin. Like the nosegear it is also perhaps slightly too tall.
Everyone is in the game with see-through engines nowadays on their 787s, except I think for Gemini who continue with solid engines. I don't have any photos of the front of the engines for the Gemini mould but from what I see they are ok for solid engines. Phoenix has only recently moved to see-through engines so older releases will have solids too.
JC has a good number of fanblades but they are way too thin.
With Phoenix the blades are much thicker but there are nearly half as many as there should be.
NG have got this feature spot on. The size, shape and number of blades is perfect.
END OF PART 1
That brings me to the halfway point of this detailed review. So far I've looked at 5 areas of the 787 and there are 5 more to come in part 2 - covering wings, wing/fuselage join, the underside, tail region and antennae. So far the scores look like this out of the 25 points up for grabs so far:
Currently it is a a two horse race but everything remains to play for. Part 2 will be coming soon!
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.