Back in April I undertook a detailed review of the 737-800s available in 1:400 scale and at the time given the MAX was coming on the market I didn't expect to have to update that review for a long time. NG Models have surprised me by producing a completely new 737-800 in 1:400 scale and as with their other moulds straight out of the box you can tell it is topnotch. In this post I'll compare it to the older 737NG moulds.
NG's first 737-800 was a Danish registered Britannia Airways example of which only 100 units was made for the 2018 Heathrow November show. Fortunately NG have been kind enough to provide me a pair of samples of the new mould.
There are two versions of the mould. One comes without winglets whilst the other has the standard blended winglets (i.e. not the later Scimitar winglets).
A quick glance shows that NG have improved over the existing moulds quite easily in terms of nose shape, engine ground clearance and nosegear height and detail.
The existing competition to the NG mould comes in the form of JC Wings, Phoenix and Panda Models. As I said I did a detailed review of those three earlier in the year:
Rather than updating the old review to include the NG I'll look at it on its own compare to the real thing and score it in the same way.
NOSE / NOSEGEAR
This is nigh on perfect in my opinion. None of the existing moulds get the nose completely correct. Here the curve down to the cockpit and the angular cockpit window angle, then gradation into the symmetrical nosecone are exceptional.
The nosegear is also a triumph. It may be a tiny bit too long (we're talking less than a mm here though) but the detail of the oleo leg, tyre size and tyre hub are very good. What is really impressive is the shape of the nosegear doors. Checkout the curve on the top side where it joins the fuselage. Everyone elses nosegear doors are just odd shaped rectangular slabs often without even being angled with the nose.
ENGINES / MAINGEAR
Another major issue most of the existing moulds have is the engine pylons which rarely sit the engines anywhere near accurately close to the level of the wing itself. Only Panda gets this close but even with their mould the pylon is lower than the wing. NG's pylons are perfect and carry the engines very nicely.
The engine nacelle itself is very accurate but the exhausts are not quite. The second stage of the exhaust is too pointy. It still compares well to the other moulds however.
The maingear looks very good to me and it is pleasing to see the slight upwards angle of the maingear doors towards the rear on the model. Also correct, unlike all the other moulds, is that the maingear doors do not start too close to the tyres.
Another point in the maingear's favour is that the tyre recesses are connected to the gear legs, unlike in the JC Wings or Phoenix versions. You feel the wheels could actually fit into the wheel wells.
TAIL & TAILCONE
The rear is another faultless zone for the NG mould. Along with the Panda mould it is the only one which depicts the tailbumper correctly as asymmetrical. The rudder also doesn't join to the fuselage. This is the case with all the other moulds too but the Phoenix has an oddly long chunk of the tail margin that doesn't meet the fuselage.
The above are the 5 areas I can compare the mould with the past review. I obviously can't compare the other two categories (cockpit print and aerials) as they aren't present on the samples (both will be on production examples). However I can compare some other areas to make it an even more comprehensive drubbing by the NG mould.
In close up you can see that the winglets do not simply attach to a square end of the wing but that the wing contours in at the end before swinging up to the winglet. The rear edge of the winglet is also not straight upwards but angled back so that the top edge of the winglet is after the bottom edge. Of the older moulds only the Panda one captures any of this. The JC Wings and Phoenix simply join squarely with the wing leading edge and rise almost straight up at the rear. The NG mould has a superior shape even to the Panda 737s winglets.
WING FUSELAGE JOIN
As you can see in the photo above their is a fairing that joins the wing to the fuselage with both forward and rear bulbous extensions. On the JC Wings and Phoenix moulds this is not visible from above and only has an underside profile. The Panda is better but still hasn't a strong enough profile at the front. In fact both the Phoenix and Panda moulds make the forward fairing part of the wing, which isn't right. In addition on the underside none of the older moulds have the scoop inlets moulded in (the Phoenix doesn't even have them printed on).
The NG mould a lovely sculpted fairing joining to the wings and the scoops on the underside moulded in.
It is clear that NG have done it again. Everything they touch appears to turn to gold, I assume because they really care about what they are doing across the board as a company. In the previous review the Panda mould came out on top by 3 clear points. With the revised list of items the Panda does better and is four ahead (even without the Phoenix being docked for the often criminal cockpit printing).
The NG mould however is light years away from the rest. It only drops a single point, which is quite frankly amazing. I hope the score doesn't suggest a bias towards NG from me. I simply can't find greater fault with it than I have. I look forward to future NG releases but concerned about having to replace my collection of 737-800s. I doubt I will replace the Panda ones (it is still a very good mould) but all the Phoenix and JC Wings/Gemini Jets models are for the chop!
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.