Don't forget this is just a summary. I have a lot more detailed mould reviews for specific types in the Mould Reviews section, which cover off in more detail which moulds to buy and which to avoid. There are lots of great moulds which nonetheless have been surpassed by someone elses and just because they don't appear on mys lists isn't a reason not to get them. Hell you buy what you like, but be warned some moulds are really crap!
Russia hadn't really made an airliner that doesn't owe its ancestry to the Soviet Union until the Sukhoi Superjet turned up and that hasn't been made in 1/400 yet. So there's no harm in combining the Antonovs with the others in a Soviet section. Despite the boom in airlines and wealth of historically important types the Russian airlines relative obscurity, the manufacturers primary concern with modern models and a limited home market mean the Russians have been rather mistreated in 1/400. That's a damn shame as the moulds that have been made are generally good. Shame JC Wings and Gemini don't want to use them!
The moulds for the TU-144 (again thank you Herpa), IL-18, IL-62, IL-76, IL-86 and IL-96 are all excellent but sadly don't get used much.
Standing on its own until moulds arrive for the ARJ-21 (seemingly in the pipeline by Panda) and the MRJ is Asia's first native airliner (I guess technically the Indonesians have built CN-235s) the NAMC YS-11. Gemini showed recently the mould is still active so one might ask where the Piedmont delivery colours is?? It's a good old mould nonetheless.
Who's the Best?
So that leads us to a conclusion. You may disagree with some of my picks but overall I think I've played it safe and share the thoughts of most collectors who know what they are on about. Moulds where there are good reasons for argument include:
So with that in mind giving some statistical wiggle room shall we see who has the most wins and, perhaps most importantly, who has the most wins where there is competition between manufacturers (since its easy to win when you are the only player)? In total there are 124 types up for grabs.
Phoenix come out looking better now they have split their association with Gemini and its older moulds. They do well with widebodies especially though Gemini and JC have recently upped their game with the 747-8 and A350. Hopefully that will continue.
Of the smaller manufacturers they all have their moments but Herpa stand out. They have some awful moulds but have also produced some gems - usually in niche areas like Concorde and the TU-144. But Herpa just don't want to exploit their great moulds and trickle out 1/400 releases at an embarrassing rate.
The disappearance of the Witty moulds is a shame but at least Panda has appeared and seems interested in doing more than just stealing Aeroclassics IP. Sadly for most they are keen only in their home market so will no doubt continue to sell only in small numbers.
Thanks for reading everyone and at least now I have some ammunition next time I have to rebut someone asking me who makes the best models and answering with Gemini :) !
P.S: That's not to say GJ make bad models. They make up 18% of my collection (that's 230 models) and if I collected modern US aircraft no doubt there'd be more.
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.