I began collecting Chinese airliners a few years ago and have constructed a modern Chinese model airport, so the fact that the vast majority of the new buses represent Chinese airlines is no problem for me, in fact its a boon. I imagine the vast majority of collectors won't share that view - sorry guys I don;t decide what gets made :) .
Panda Models as I have discussed seems to have arisen from a major falling out between Aeroclassics and one of its business 'partners'. The appearance of Aeroclassics branded ground equipment on the market was certainly a surprise to Aeroclassics head honcho Andrew Klein anyway and was a major factor in the stoush. Anyway these GSE sets have subsequently been rebranded under the Panda models name and amongst them are a variety of buses.
I have managed to acquire 3 Panda Models 4 bus sets representing buses in the liveries of 3 of the 5 biggest airlines in China - Air China, Hainan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. You can see below 2 of the 3 sets are labelled as Aeroclassics, which they aren't:
The buses are nicely detailed solid affairs. They all seem to use the same mould but the uncovered front wheels on the Air China buses makes them look much better. The printing is highly detailed, of great quality and they all have a distinctive look. I'm not sure that the mould matches the front of the real thing well and the air con unit on top is missing - but I like them and hell its only a bus!
The Hainan and Xiamen buses have yellow roofs, which make them standout! I can't find any pictures of buses for these airlines so I can't speak to their accuracy, however I'd probably prefer if they had white roofs myself.
Gemini Jets and JC Wings (who share everything nowadays) have both also been releasing buses in the past year. Gemini has released rather randomly some US Airways buses and sells them for insane prices. JC Wings has released China Eastern and China Southern buses on the same Cobus 3000 mould as Gemini and they can be picked up from taobao for a fraction of the price of the Geminis. I have both sets:
These buses represent a more complex mould than the one Panda models uses as they are hollow with see through windows. They also have a lot more detailed printing and because they are hollow are much lighter.
As you can see this mould has the aircon unit on the top which is nice, however from the front you can see some lopsided printing rather spoils the buses look. The printing is also a lot less clear than on the Panda models - probably because of the thinness of the material used. I in fact prefer the simpler look of the Panda Air China buses. I'm not sure about being able to see inside the buses - without internal fittings it seems rather pointless. Still they are nice and at the end of the day they're just buses - not aircraft :)
Here's a comparison of the two bus moulds side by side. Which do you prefer?
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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