MODEL VERSIONS MADE: 29
The Silver Wings series represents possibly the pinnacle of original Schabak production, although the models still suffer from the familiar weaknesses of standard Schabaks related to dodgy decal application. Silver Wings were a series of mainly retro-US airliner models made by Schabak for its US subsidiary, in limited numbers and aimed primarily at the collector market. The models tend to have a superior finish to ordinary Schabaks and all came in special boxes with a paper certificate containing their production number out of x and a plastic stand.
Below: This Western DC-10 was one of the first releases and illustrates the package: new design box, certificate, stand and model.
Somewhat ironically Schabak had been making models for so long that many of the chosen Silver Wings subjects could have been made as part of its standard lineup in previous years and indeed many possible candidates were (Schabak had already made various Piedmont, USAir, AirCal models for example). Nonetheless, it is clear with the subject choices of mainly US airlines from the 1970s/80s and early 90s that the idea of the set was to interest aviation enthusiasts and that they were not aimed at the traditional tourist and airline markets.
Being produced in the mid-late 90s the models used Schabaks finest moulds and had its best decals. In many ways they represent the best models Schabak was capable of making, although of course with the continued use of decals the results still look primitive by today's standards.
Production began in 1995 with a series of classic 747s plus a single DC-10. The limitations of the moulds meant of course that the new Type IV 747-200 doubled as a 747-100 despite the engines. This first group of 5 models had a limited production run of 1,000 units. The original certificate was much larger than later versions with text in both German and English.
Sales of the original models were obviously good as not only were another 5 models released in 1996 but production numbers were doubled to 2,000 units per model. The 1996 offerings used the 747 and DC-10 again but also added a 707, 727 and MD-80.
One less model was produced in 1997 but the 2,000 unit production run was retained. Lacking a Douglas DC-8-62 the Braniff Calder model had to use the longer DC-8-61 mould Schabak did have access to. The American Airlines 727 suffered from the odd use of silver windows on a silver fuselage, which renders the windows all but invisible.
1998 saw improvements to the Silver-Wings line. The certificate was redesigned and the models now came in a more attractive open top box with plastic cradle (the original 1995-1997 runs just came in bags as per standard Schabaks). No doubt Schabak were facing tougher competition by this point and the new boxes allowed people to see what they were buying and protected the models from damage better.
In terms of models five were delivered in 1998 and this year brought the debut of Schabak's new Boeing 747SP mould alongside another pair of DC-8-61s, this time doubling as short DC-8-20s. The Alliance 747SP was the first time that a non-US airline was included as part of the Silver Wings lineup. Interestingly the Braniff 747SP release was deemed popular enough to be made as a standard Schabak and not a Silver Wings release.
Production continued strongly into 1999 with another 5 models including the first use of the 737-300, L-1011 Tristar and, oddly, the Tu-204 moulds. As with the DC-8s some corners where cut with the exact aircraft version. Since Schabak lacked a Tristar 500 the standard Tristar 1 mould had to double for it. The CP Air 747 is one of the nicest models Schabak ever made and in 1999 was one of the best years for Silver-Wings models.
Perhaps as a sign of Schabak's weakening sales position no Silver-Wings models were produced in the year 2000, but despite 9/11 the line made one last comeback in 2001 which sadly was the last year of production for the series. The only change from previous years was a smaller card based certificate rather than the cruder paper ones of earlier years.
A full five models were made in 2001 but a 6th model (possibly slated for 2002) was cancelled. The TWA Tristar correctly used the right mould but again the DC-8 did not and oddly neither did the MD-80. By this time Schabak had replaced all its MD-80s with an MD-90 mould regardless of whether the airline used MD-90s producing a wide range of fantasy airliners such as this 'Wings of Pride' release.
Given the longevity of releases the Silver Wings line appears to have been something of a minor success for Schabak but also highlighted that in the enthusiast market it really could not compete by the end of the 90s. I suspect that the end of production coincided with the collapse of Schabak USA also. Nonetheless the Silver-Wings models are some of the finest Schabak made. Other models also appeared in Silver-Wings boxes at times (usually non-airline models made for events or companies) but these are not part of the true Silver-Wings line.