NG Models continue to make a big splash in the 1:400 pond. They are not content with being a niche manufacturer and apparently have both the funding and capacity to take on the incumbent occupiers of the scale. Their latest assault on the existing manufacturers is a new Airbus A350-900 mould. Do we really need one? Maybe not, but if your plan is to compete directly with Phoenix and JC Wings then you definitely do. Here I'll take a look at the first sample of the new mould.
As well as producing the finest classic Tristar and 757 moulds NG have also pushed themselves firmly into more modern territory with a 737-800, 787-9/10, A330-200/300 and A321. The newer era moulds interest me less I admit but they have all been finished to the highest standard. Certainly they all outcompete the Phoenix offerings even where the Phoenix mould is decent (like the A330). Likewise they also all outcompete the JC Wings / Gemini Jets moulds - except for the JC Wings 787-9.
The other large manufacturers must be beginning to feel some pain from the large NG release batches that are gradually eating into their own release sets. In that context creating a new A350-900 is rather twisting the knife, especially when Aviation400 have been already taking a chunk of A350 sales with their mould.
I don't rate the Phoenix A350 much (and they often come poorly built to boot), while JC Wings have the usual release date issues affecting theirs (which historically has also been inferior). For me the current A350 of choice is the AV400 edition. I'm not a big A350 buyer but I have 12 and 8 of them are AV400, with two each from the others.
I don't see myself replacing my AV400 editions with new models so I suspect that my acquisitions of NG A350s will be limited, but then again I said that about the NG 787 too and I now have 7 of those.
As per usual I'll kick off this review with a look at the real thing:
I should also point out that this prototype casting is not made of metal (I think its plastic) and lacks some other fine details such as aerials and a standhole. The undercarriage trucks don't move and neither do the tyres. It is a lot more fragile than a metal casting and suffered some damage in transit, which require me to glue the maingear and an engine back on. The wings are also prone to bending and the port wing sits a lot higher than the starboard. Nonetheless it still shows the general shape of the new mould accurately.
To compare with the other existing moulds check out my detailed A350 review. It is a little out of date but generally holds up:
I'll start at the nose, which is the area of most contention with existing moulds. The profile looks very good but it's a little hard to be certain without the cockpit printing. My only concern is that the roofline behind the cockpit does look a little humped.
The nosegear is very nice and slightly better than that of the AV400 mould. The tyre-size, geardoors and the forward leg process are all better sized.
The engines are well sized from the side and engine pylons are particularly nicely shaped. The pylons are slightly better shaped than those of the AV400 mould and up to the standard of the JC Wings mould, which has the best of the current moulds.
The maingear trucks were a little damaged and had to be glued back but they still appear accurate to me. Engine ground clearance is also very good. The rear section of the model is well shaped and matches to photos of the real thing almost exactly.
From the front you can see the port wing is rather bent out of shape. This plastic cast is rather flexible and so I would expect the shape of the starboard wing to be the accurate future shape.
It is here that the mould has a major issue. The wings of the new NG mould are too short (by about 4mm) on each side. I have confirmed this against the AV400 mould and the real thing in the image above. The winglets also curve inwards too much. It is not an issue with the wing's inner portions. The engines are in the correct place and the inboard wing is fine. It appears to be just a case of lengthening the wingtips.
The winglets themselves are taller than on the AV400 mould and I suspect this means they represent the updated larger winglets currently used on the A350, which were introduced in November 2017 - see here for comparison photos of the real thing.
The underside of the mould looks very nice - no problems there. The roofline detailing is good. The small above wing roofline humps are moulded in, but the small forward hump is not (that is the same as with the AV400 mould). The large rear Wi-Fi dome is present and its teardrop shape is more accurate than on the AV400 version.
This is clearly a work in progress at the moment and the slight curve of the forward roofline and wing length will need to be resolved prior to release. Those issues aside however and this A350 compares well to the existing Aviation400 mould. It even has slightly superior nosegear, fanblades and engine pylons. It is a promising look at NG's early work with the type and another example of their openness that they are willing to give collectors a window into the build process.
NG have told me that they expect the first A350 releases to be announced sometime between April and June 2020.
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.