NG Special Performance
NG Models have been a revelation in the under two years since they started making models. They also have an interesting habit of asking for assistance from the collectorate on the Diecast Aircraft Forum and on Facebook. Just the other day they effectively announced their latest new 1:400 mould by asking for pictures of the prototype Boeing 747SP on both Instagram and Facebook:
I had known that they were going to make an SP for a few months but was unaware that they were going to effectively announce it in this way. It's unclear when the first models will be available but this post suggests the mould is in the final stages of production.
The SP has had passable coverage with 43 releases in total but neither the Gemini Jets / JC Wings or the Herpa castings are the gold standard. There are also plenty of smaller airlines that used the type that have been untouched (Luxair, Air Malawi, Air Namibia, Air Mauritius etc) while even larger carriers like United are poorly served.
The Gemini / JC Wings casting has been improved in recent years with new undercarriage and aerials, however it still can't shake the wing seam or the poor engine pylon / wing join. I am sure the new SPs will be popular and I suspect I'll end up replacing most, if not all, of the 13 I own. As you can see above it certainly has given our friend Corey some trouser snake control issues already!
More surprising than NG Models continuing attempts to make everything is news from Panda Models that they are making a new Soviet mould. Panda has been oddly quiet this year, to the extent that I was concerned for them, but it seems that they are actually just in the process of putting out new moulds. This is especially interesting since they have lost access to the ARJ-21, C919 and Y-20 castings to NG Models.
They haven't said which Soviet mould they are producing although there has been speculation that it'll be a lineup of Tupolevs over time from the TU-104 through to the Tu-204.
I strongly suspect that it will be the Tu-204 since it fulfils the test of having had a Chinese operator. Other potentials that fit the same criteria are the Tu-154, IL-62 and Yak-42 pretty much in that order of likelihood.
If it is a TU-204 I will be super happy since only recently I was advocating for the type to make it into production. See:
A New Panda 737-800
Panda retired their 737-800 in April (it was a pretty decent casting actually) but has confirmed it is working on a replacement to compete with the new NG Models version. I can't see it being better but as they say it will be cheaper, and probably not far off being as good (if their MAX is anything to go by).
As you can see from the photos below there will be versions made with all three wingtip types - i.e. no winglets, blended winglets and scimitar winglets.
A New Panda 737-400
No sooner was I about to post this and Panda have announced 6 new model hints for their next set of releases. To be honest none of them look particularly exciting, however 2 of them are 737-400Fs! So it seems Panda has stretched their excellent 737-300 into a series 400, although I am disappointed that the first two will be modern obscure releases.
The hints are N30XXX and A-7XXX. The latter sounds like it is probably this Indonesian Air Force example, which would match Panda's recent tendency to make Indonesian releases but is distinctly underwhelming. The other example has been suggested at as a Southern Air / DHL freighter, N307GT.
It is great to see a new 737-400, however I admit to being highly dubious that the mould will get the use it deserves. Panda rarely make US or European models from the 1980/90s so will we ever see the likes of Piedmont, USAir, British Airways etc? It may take a while even if Panda do make them as 6 models every two months is a slow slow release cycle. If their poor usage of the 737-600 mould is anything to go by I am not convinced of Panda's ability to get the models made.
Along with Aviation400, NG and Panda are really testing the market in 1:400 scale and putting up a serious challenge to the incumbents. Something has to give, but as a collector for now the future of the hobby looks bright. However, I do admit to concerns around Panda. They have not been anywhere near as regular as they were a few years ago and that is despite them having a much larger set of moulds to use than they did then.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of 1/400 scale model aircraft and airports. This blog reports work on my model airport dioramas and discussion of the model manufacturers output.