Lockheed Tristars are coming thick and fast in 1:400 scale in 2019 with two new and active standard length moulds now in the market since mid-2018 and a third on the way soon. The present pair are made by JC Wings / Gemini Jets and, most recently, Lockness Models (note it isn't Lochness Models - that defeats the purpose of the pun). Considering these two are both active now it pays to compare them to each other and that is what I'll do here.
The third active L-1011-1 mould will be from NG Models and I've reviewed the sample model here:
However given the finished mould is not available yet it seems sensible to wait until it is to before I do a full review and compare it to the rest. I will do some in time.
The other question is of course whether the new moulds are good enough to mean you should replace the selection of old Gemini Jets, Dragon Wings, Blue Box and Witty Tristars that probably make up your Tristar collection at present. I won't answer this here either but will do a full detailed review comparing all the moulds in the future.
JC Wings / Gemini Jets vs Lockness Models
For this review the Cathay Pacific represents the JC Wings mould and the Air Canada the Lockness Models. It is worth also pointing out that from distance these moulds both look very similar. That either means they both look really like a Tristar or they have both made the same set of mistakes! In detail the differences are a lot more evident.
The maximum score for this review is 40. For comparison to the real thing this portrait of a BA L-1011 is very useful:
Click on the images throughout to expand them:
Both the moulds share a strong resemblance at the nose, although they look more like each other than they do the real thing. I don't think either have captured the unusual nose shape correctly and they are each too pointy at the nosecone with the angle down from the cockpit too steep. Having said that neither are awful and I'd have to say they are both satisfactory. We'll call this one a tie. Incidentally both have poor cockpit window printing, which do them no favours. I'm not scoring for that since this is a mould review but with better printing both would look a lot better.
This is one of my biggest disappointments with both of these moulds. You can argue the nose tyre is too large on both but certainly the gear leg (and undercarriage as a whole) is too short. These two sit about level with each other but lower than all previous Tristar moulds.
The comparison above is not rigorous I admit but it is clear the gear leg should be longer. The tyre hub of the Lockness model is better than the JC Wings but the gear leg is otherwise not, with little attempt to recreate the forward or rear leg elements.
This is an area where both moulds excel. They are both, as you'd expect in 2019, slot in wings moulds rather than cradle mounts and so there is no ugly seam line. This has been a major issue with most of the older moulds (except for Dragon and Witty) and is more of a problem with the L-1011 due to its large and unusually shaped fuselage wingbox fairing. Both the new moulds carry off this area well and look great.
ENGINES & PYLONS
It is a mixed bag with the engines and pylons. Both manufacturers get the main nacelle of the RB211s the right size but neither catch the slightly angled front. Also the second stage exhaust on the JC Wings mould is not long enough. It also has an odd two part engine/pylon join at the front of the engine but at least it correctly reaches the front of the engine unlike on the Lockness.
Pylon height is good and keeps the engines suitably close to the wing (this was the biggest fault of the NG Models samples). Lockness don't bother with the detail where the exhaust nozzle meets the pylon whereas JC Wings do. Both are pretty good but not perfect. Another draw I'd say.
Both sets of landing gear are of course too short by some margin.
The wings are yet another area of some complaint. The Tristar wings angle upwards gently and as you can see above the tips should be at the same level almost as the horizontal stabilisers. On both of these moulds the wings angle well until the engines and then the angle changes after. The result is that the wingtips are too low. It is marginally worse on the JC Wings mould. Compared to other Tristar moulds the wings are also too low.
The flap markings on the JC Wings are very nice but on the Lockness they bulge outwards and the lines of the innermost flap track fairing are not correct. It should be different to the rest but is not.
#2 ENGINE INTAKE SHAPE
The most difficult and complex area of the mould is the diagnostic number 2 engine intake and fairing that travels through the tail to the engine itself. Considering that so far neither mould has excelled itself scorewise what do they make of this important zone?
It should look as above. The engine and its fairing are at all times slimmer than the fuselage and there is a pronounced pylon between the engine and fuselage roof. The number 2 engine gracefully curves down to the engine hidden in the rear fuselage.
Issues with the Lockness no 2 engine intake are quite obvious. From the side it is clear that the entire intake is too large. At its rim it is higher than where it joins the tail, plus underneath the space between it and the fuselage is too short.
From the front the Lockness intake is a gaping hole with no real rim and an irregular opening that's actually quite sharp to the touch. The JC Wings intake is better sized and shaped, although the distance between the roof and the engine is still not quite enough. The rim is a lot better too, although as a separate insert it does have an imperfect attachment to the main engine.
From above and the front the shape of the intake on the Lockness mould also presents challenges. It is way too wide where it meets the tail. You recall above the image shows that the engine is always thinner than the fuselage but on the Lockness it bulges out at the tail to almost meet the full width.
The JC Wings has a much better and consistent width to the engine intake and pipe. You can see the difference below in these front views of the two models:
Admittedly from the side and especially when looking down upon the model the issues with the Lockness tail engine are quite well hidden but in this area the mould is inferior to the JC Wings version.
#2 ENGINE EXHAUST
The last area to look at is the tailcone. Interestingly you can see that for Lockness this is a separate addition to the fuselage whereas for JC Wings it is a molded in section. That gives the JC Wings a much better look and they have also correctly moulded the exhaust fin, which has two components. The shape of the exhaust fin is incorrect on both models. It is too high and square on the Lockness and incorrectly curved on the JC Wings.
What we have here is two middling moulds that both capture the general essence of the L-1011 but get some major elements incorrect. I wouldn't say that I personally wouldn't buy them however neither is the excellent Tristar that 1:400 scale has been waiting for.
It should be somewhat sobering that both of the models fail to get 3/4 of the available points. This leaves the door open for them to actually not score substantially better than the older moulds. I'd like to think that this sort of thing was taken onboard by the manufacturers, however I suspect that a review of this nature is hardly likely to be welcomed.
One positive for both is that the undercarriage problems can largely be solved by designing and attaching new gear. That should be a lot easier than modifications to the mould itself.
I am certainly not advocating avoiding either of these moulds - you buy what you like, but it can't hurt to understand what you are purchasing and despite the various releases I still think there is plenty of room for competing L-1011s from NG Models.
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.
This site is free. Please donate to keep it going.