For the first 2 parts in this series see:
Onto the last part in this series - numbers 5-1 of the most under-used moulds in 1/400. I remind you of the rules once again:
Yes there haven't been many Herpa TU-144s but how many can there realistically be? Whence the TU-144 does not feature.
Anyway let's take a look down my list from numbers 15 to 1. Numbers 15-6 feature in the other two parts of this series.
15. Lockheed L-1649 Starliner (Aeroclassics)
14. Ilyushin IL-86 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
13. Saab 340 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
12. Douglas DC-3 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
11. Shorts SD-360 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
10. Fokker F100 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
09. Tupolev TU-154 (Phoenix)
08. Handley Page HPR-3 Herald (Aeroclassics)
07. Boeing 757-200 (Herpa)
06. de Havilland Canada DHC-8-100/200 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
05. BAC One-Eleven 500 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
04. Boeing 747-100/200 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
03. Lockheed Tristar 1 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
02. Convair 580 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
01. McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (JC Wings / Gemini Jets)
If you combine JC Wings and Gemini Jets together (which for production purposes you ought to) you can see that they hold 11 of the 15 under-used moulds. That is quite amazing and points to the huge mould catalogue they have. I like a lot of what JC Wings are doing nowadays so I don't mean to sound overly critical, however the numbers simply speak for themselves. In fact the only manufacturer that really gets good value out of its moulds is Aeroclassics as they are not so beholden to modern release announcements. Even so they can be frustrating, although that's more to do with what is released rather than the mould it's on.
At the end of the day I'm just a customer, albeit a sizeable one, of these models so the chances of anyone really listening to me are slim. But I find this kind of analysis interesting and hopefully you do to. So without further ado here's the big 5:
05. One-Eleven 500 JC Wings / Gemini Jets - Used 7 times
Another great mould that Gemini seemingly created and is now part of the JC stable is the stretch 500 One-Eleven. Admittedly this type's usage was mainly within the UK, with only 87 built, but the UK has a major aviation enthusiast population and the airlines are well known. Thanks to Adrian Balch's prompting JC Wings did whip up a single BEA example last year, but there are so many more that could be released - again often for well known airlines in their specific markets. So what could be made:
04. Boeing 747-100/200 Witty Wings (now JC Wings) - Used 40 times
Everybody loves the Big Bird 747s but they do use a cradle mount mould and from what I have seen the best mould of the many available in 1/400 is actually the Aviation400/Witty Wings mould, which I think was probably developed from the BigBird. The mould is a seamless slot in wings effort and gets everything correct to my eye. Check out my recent mould review to compare it:
The 747-100/200 has actually had great coverage in 1/400 but the problem is that most of the models of well known airlines are almost impossible to get hold of and retail on the second-hand market for substantially more than their original prices (often approaching or over the $100 mark). I'm beginning to feel like a broken record but there is huge scope for use of this mould (or the Big Bird) for re-releases and a few missed originals.
With Witty Wings collapse this mould (and the Big Bird) now resides in the huge back catalogue of JC Wings. I expect we may see the odd 747-200 released (please not Phoenix) but without some new blood in the market or a new willingness to use the existing moulds better from JC I doubt we'll ever see the sort of numbers that would make a difference.
03. Lockheed L-1011-385-1 Tristar Witty Wings (now JC Wings) - Used 11 times
This list could hardly be complete without a Tristar on it and the type only doesn't sit higher due to the fact that many Tristars have been made for the major airlines already, albeit almost all using inferior moulds. What more can I say than I have already. It's a widebody (so saleable), it's well known, it was operated by many majors, many existing examples are rare or just bad and it's just plain attractive.
I have been in contact with JC Wings over the past few months discussing the Tristar and lo and behold JC Wings just announced a pair of Cathay L-1011s; coincidence - possibly? Maybe it's just common sense. I don't really mind as long as they use the Witty mould. Whether they do is open to question and I can't say JC have been filling me with complete confidence on this point. Hopefully they'll do the right thing.
Either way unless I am misunderstanding them it seems unlikely that we'll see a lot of other Tristars anytime soon, as JC wings seem contractually obliged to avoid producing models in markets Gemini operate in (i.e. the USA and possibly some European majors) or at least have to ask their permission first. Gemini aren't likely to make any Tristars and even if they did I expect they'd stick to their ancient old Tristar mould. So what does the future hold for the big trijet? I just don't know.
Let's hope it is a better future than that which befell the Britannia 100. JC Wings brought that mould back from the dead too again with a Cathay release. That was 95% in the BOAC livery but even so have we seen a BOAC version? No we haven't. The Britannia 100 deserves an honourable mention by the way (no 16 perhaps).
02. Convair 580 JC Wings / Gemini Jets - Used 2 times
Why oh why do they do this? Twice - this mould has been used twice and one of those was for the utterly useless FAA version. It's not a perfect mould I admit (the nosegear is rubbish) but it is a 580 and there's huge potential to use it. If this was Aeroclassics you could be pretty sure they would pump out a decent number of US airline examples, but it's Gemini. I'd be surprised if they ever use it again, which is a crime (of the first world problems sort). Here are my top picks:
What's worse Gemini have made several of these in 1/200 already so it's easy to downscale. Instead they decided to test the market with an FAA variant. Head-desk!
01. MD-80 JC Wings / Gemini Jets - Used 8 times
And the winner is - the MD-80. Now Gemini and JC have sorted out (most of) the issues with their MD-80 you can look forward to up to 2 releases a year - wahooo!! Rest assured none of these will ever feature anything from the type's heyday or even prior to 2005. The list of MD-80s not done at all in this scale is stonking. From the USA there is:
Those are just for starters with many of these having multiple livery variants. These are mainly major airlines and yet we stand almost no chance of ever seeing them. It just defies logic really, especially when you throw in various replacements for old Dragon models (PSA, Alaska, Hawaiian etc). The lack of MD-80s leaves a gaping hole in the fleets or dioramas of anyone with an interest in the timescale 1980-2000.
Ok so that's the end of a fairly depressing list, but at least the moulds do exist for these. You'd have thought that that made it more likely that we'd see MD-80s than a new TU-134, but I get the feeling that for most of these types to see any real usage we need either Aeroclassics to negotiate with JC Wings or for them to simply produce their own moulds.
I hope that I'm wrong. The manufacturers do produce lots of models I like, but let's see if they can pop at least a few of these requests into 2017's output.
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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