Mostly this month's Gemini releases are made up of the same old stuff: Emirates A380 - check, something Delta - check, something Canadian - check and something vaguely topical - check. The latter does include a return of the MD-80 mould (staggeringly under-utilised) but at the same time this Allegiant example is about as boring as an MD-80 can get.
Nonetheless credit where credit may be due there are also two new moulds. The release announcements say only one but I get the feeling the retailers don't really know what they're talking about half the time. One is a B-1 Lancer (MACs aren't my thing so I'm ignoring that here sorry) and more interestingly a United Airlines Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 500.
If you are being cynical then you can only think that Gemini have got wind of the fact that NG Models are working on a Tristar 500 mould and so slipped their own out as a spoiler (just as they updated the 757 they have had and ignored for years soon after NG's much superior 757s came on the scene). This may be true and frankly even if it is all is fair in love and war and there is nothing wrong with healthy competition.
In reality it matters little. There are only a couple of Tristar 500s that Gemini can make that will sell in the volumes they need to make the models and even then they will do a maximum of one every two or three months. So I'd expect to see Delta and Pan Am and then no more. They'll never flood the market like BlueBox did and there's plenty of room for an NG Tristar 500 still.
In that scenario they are no threat to NG Models or anyone else, however they may take some of the lowest and most profitable hanging fruit. This scenario would be a major shame if their mould is any good, but is it?
That's a difficult question to answer because Gemini's release photos, as well lit as they are, are always at an unhelpful angle for showing much of anything that really allows critical analysis. Nonetheless let's give it a go.
Gemini Jets has had a Tristar 500 before but it dates from the start of 1:400 production in 1999 and was only used a handful of times. I'd be surprised if the mould still exists and regardless it was fine for 1999 but is hopeless for 2018. I have reviewed the Tristar 500 moulds in detail in my mould reviews section. See:
The old mould had two large seams (around wing and near tail) and I don't think it could be saved really anyway. It also had simple stalked undercarriage, which I assume could be easily upgraded.
The new mould clearly isn't the same as this old one, even though the general shape of the old one is actually pretty good. Major differences include a much superior seamless wing and and all new tail. The tail looks especially very good as it has no line connecting it to the fuselage and a cleaner more attractive no 2 engine exhaust.
In fact it may be possible that this new mould is a scaled down version of the existing JC Wings 1:200 mould? The again may be not?
The big question really is what is the undercarriage like? If it is as short as on the recent JC Wings Cathay Pacific Tristars then we have a major problem. The changes made to the excellent Witty Wings mould effectively stuffed the otherwise nice CX releases (ok the cockpit windows are bad too):
So it remains to be seen exactly what this United Airlines release ends up looking like, although the photo so far is promising. If it's a good mould I hope it gets some usage unlike the CV-580, MD-80 and countless other JC Wings/Gemini moulds. Time will tell whether it is worth replacing my United Airlines Dragon Wings L-1011-500 or not.
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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