Dragon Wings get a lot of flak nowadays, especially from younger collectors. Some of this is warranted but a lot of it isn’t. For their time they were excellent models and many of their production remain really nice and more than capable of holding their own in any collection. I admit I have been gradually replacing old Dragon models as replacements become available but Waffle’s last collection sale gave me the opportunity to reassess my opinion of the Dragon DC-10 as there were four, I just couldn’t resist.
It is common knowledge that in general Dragon’s Boeing and Douglas moulds are better than their Airbuses. Certainly, their 727s, 747s, 767s, MD-80s and DC-10s are still well respected. Not every model made on them is a success, but the same can be said for almost all manufacturers. In the early 2000s Dragon and associated brands were prolific and made a really good range of airliners covering a superior range than many modern manufacturers manage.
The most recent mega collection sale from Waffle Collectibles featured masses of early Gemini, Dragon and Jet-X models and although in the end I acquired quite a few I was especially pleased with my four DC-10 additions.
This surprised me somewhat as for a long time the gold standard DC-10 for me has been the Aeroclassics version (of which I own 67). That compares to 7 Gemini, 3 Apollo / Witty Wings and 5 Dragon / Jet-X versions (now 9). Until this recent splurge the Dragon DC-10s I owned were limited to a Western series 10, 2 Northwest series 40s and two Continental series 30s. Aeroclassics did make the Northwest Orient version with the large DC-10 titles last year but they made a mess of the title font and the red was too dark. As you can see below Jet-X got it right:
While I still prefer the Aeroclassics overall the Dragon mould is pretty darn good and even offers something no other 400 scale DC-10 can – a correct wing on a DC-10-10.
Nobody else captures the shorter wingspan of the DC-10-10 compared to the series 30 and 40. It is only 10ft difference, roughly 4mm per wing in 1:400, but it is noticeable if you look closely. The fact that the Dragon Wings are plastic really makes no difference in how good they look.
Obviously, the familiar weaknesses of Dragon are present, namely simple undercarriage and a rather obvious tail join line but at the same time so are the strengths – crisp printing and a seamless mould. You might say that the print detail, silver engine fans and lack of aerials are an issue for you, but they don’t impact the look greatly in my opinion and were standard for the time of production.
What I especially liked about the four purchases I made is that they are all colourful additions that haven’t been made by anybody else. Aeroclassics did make a Scanair DC-10 but for some reason they missed off the important SunJet titles. All the others remain unique nearly twenty years after they were produced.
Interestingly only one of the three is actually branded as a Dragon model and that is the Scanair. The Japan Air System model has the part number BS001 showing it is part of the Big Shooter line, although the box itself is unbranded. Big Shooter was one of the sub-brands Dragon used to avoid licensing complications, which often are evident with Japanese models.
The African Safari release was for the Buchair shop, which used to exist on the Zurich viewing terrace, as BUCHairMODEL No 2. This isn’t too surprising since African Safari, despite the name was Swiss. Only 500 units were made, which is small for a Dragon moulded model.
Lastly, The Hawaii Express model was one of a pair made in relatively small numbers for Dragon’s long-time partner Jet-X. This is one of the most sought after Dragon mould models and has the added bonus of having a really nice box design to go with it:
All four models are really good examples of the good work and more unusual subjects that Dragon could achieve. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for more Dragon DC-10s, which can often be acquired for relative peanuts (the Scanair was under $15). Look out for blog articles on several of these models and airlines in the near future.
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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