For other parts of this series see:
This may come as a minor surprise since I am indeed a fan of Chinese airlines, however I do feel there ought to be a range of models produced and it is clear that the majors are increasingly chasing obvious money and not taking much initiative. There also seems to be a bit of a disconnect with the traditional non-Asian markets, with Europe in particular treated rather poorly unless you are one of a small range of traditional flag carriers like KLM or BA. Even aircraft and livery combinations from a decade ago are considered to be too old to make.
Often it is almost impossible to differentiate the releases of Phoenix and JC Wings from each other, whilst you can usually predict Gemini Jets output before it is announced. Only Aeroclassics still makes a wider range regularly and even then they have been relentlessly pushed towards modern jets. Do older types not sell or are the manufacturers just blinkered, awful at marketing their products and/or bad at targeting specific markets? It's probably a bit of all three, but nevertheless there are some great moulds warming the shelves at factories in China. So let's take a look and see what I'd be doing if I were them.
I should make it clear that I'm all for the manufacturers making $$$ and like a lot of their releases, however compared to ten years ago the variety is definitely down if you remove variant types. In this 3 part series I'll look at my top 15 most missing in action moulds in 1/400.
NOTE: For moulds to feature they must be available for use. That is why no Dragon moulds are included.
In part one we look at numbers 15-11:
Lockheed L-1649 Starliner (Aeroclassics) - Used 6 times
The Starliner was hardly a sales success and I admit there were few operators of the type at all, let alone ones that might sell in large numbers, but nonetheless there is still I believe some opportunity here. For starters another TWA release - this time with the correct silver belly would be great. Also a TWA Freighter would be nice. There are also some other operators that have some potential:
Ilyushin IL-86 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets) - Used 9 times
As with the Starliner it may seem like all the worthwhile IL-86s have been made, however I'd argue that this is not the case and there are a handful of worthwhile Russian airlines that not only would make awesome looking models but are of major Russian airlines.
Saab 340 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets) - Used 15 times
This is the smallest mould in 1/400 and in light of that I suppose 15 models isn't an awful return, however against the backdrop of 459 production aircraft and its place as one of the most important commuter airliners it isn't great either. Saabs have been used worldwide, often in the colours of major national carriers. Here are some obvious ones to be done:
Good solid opportunities are surely there with Chinese, US and European majors?
Douglas C-47/DC-3 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets) - Used 9 times
It is easily the most important civil airliner ever made and yet it's a struggle to find many Daks in 1/400. Aeroclassics no longer have their DC-3 mould available, and it was never one of their best anyway, but JC Wings have a decent little mould that could see some much missed schemes released on it. I'm talking about major US trunk and especially local service airlines. Gemini have made a few US majors but mainly replicating preserved aircraft not necessarily in accurate historical liveries - the Clay Lacey United colours aircraft for example was never owned by United - arrgghhh! I know the mould is small but I do think these could be sold, especially as surely they are cheaper to make than a 777 and they could be packaged up together in sets.
Personally I'm crying out for DC-3s from:
I'm sure there are loads more too from outside the US.
Shorts 360 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets) - Used 14 times
The Shorts has actually got a passable representation in 1/400, especially for a type that is approaching the minimum size in this scale. So plaudits for JC Wings. It's just a shame that it is an airliner with a lot of scope for other examples and as with the One-Eleven 500 if there was manufacturer or brand based in the UK I get the feeling we'd have seen a lot more of these little boxes. For the opportunity check out my mould review for the type here:
In the next part we'll look at even less widely used moulds that form numbers 10-6.
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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