It used to be the case that there was a fertile range of European and US brands using other manufacturers production facilities to create their own models. People like Sovereign, SMA, Aurora, 737Club, Black Box, Pan Am Models Co, Retrojets, Socatec, Skyjets 400 and even Jet-X. Nowadays all these are gone and the only brand of this type I can think of in recent years outside Asia is the short-lived and controversial Velocity Models. , Why is this – I don’t know? Are European and American collectors just not as interested as they used to be or is the huge demand in China skewing the production? Anyway in the past few years there has been a lot of brand proliferation in China.
JC Wings have a huge mould catalogue (partly due to their purchase of the old Witty moulds and access to Gemini Jets moulds) and are willing to work with customers to make models on their behalf. Since at least early 2017 one of these brand partners is Dream Air. I don’t know anything about them other than they have a focus on the Taiwanese market, and therefore I assume they are themselves from the island nation that China proper still considers to not exist.
There has been a fair amount of change in the Taiwanese aviation scene in recent years with a range of new startup airlines fighting it out for a burgeoning low cost market. This has caused turmoil recently, not least because of the relatively poor safety record of airlines from Taiwan, but also because of market conditions. In fact the collapse of the TransAsia group (including its V Air low cost subsidiary) leaves Taiwan largely at the mercy of the China Airlines and EVA Air groups.
With Chinese models evidently selling well it is no surprise that Taiwan is well represented in 1:400 scale – in fact you could argue that EVA Air is very over-represented! Nonetheless Dream Air obviously see a niche as they have worked with JC Wings moulds to produce a range of airliners. What is pleasing is that they have looked at some of the more classic examples from the past twenty years and on more unusual mouldings.
My favourites are the Far Eastern Air Transport MD-80s, Uni Air MD-90s and most recently the Mandarin Fokker 100. In amongst these there has obviously been a share of less impressive V Air A320s (due to the weak JC Wings mould) and CAL 737s.
Dream Air has also utilised the new JC Wings 777-300ER too and made a Star Alliance example. They also used the opportunity to slip out their only non-Taiwanese aircraft to date – ANA and Singapore Star Alliance 77Ws.
Obviously I expect that these aircraft have a relatively limited sales potential outside of their home market however I am all for brands working to supply their home markets and it is something the UK, Europe and even the US could do with more of. India also appears to be a fertile area for a homegrown brand considering the shortage of Indian releases and the huge range of new airlines there.
What next for Dream Air? Well it seems there latest releases are a quartet of TransAsia Airways A321s, which are using superior HYJL Wings A321 mould plus a series of Taiwanese 757s. More on that in the 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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