Why Asking Who Is The Best Is The Wrong Question
I regularly see on social media people asking who is the best model manufacturer or whether x is better than y. To be honest these posts annoy the hell out of me, not because they are being asked necessarily, but because they are asking a false question and the answers typically received are often rubbish. As someone who owns over 2,000 models and spends literally tens of hours writing about 1:400 scale I thought I should write something to explain why this question makes no sense so the next time someone asks I can just point to this post and say “hey you, read this”. So here it goes:
1. ALL BRANDS MAKE GOOD MODELS
Firstly all 1:400 scale models made by any of the reputable brands (which in 2020 are Aeroclassics, Aviation400, Gemini Jets, HYJLwings, JC Wings, NG Models, Panda Models and Phoenix Models) are made in the same way using die-cast moulds and Tampo printing. Unless you actually know what you are looking at they are virtually indistinguishable from each other in terms of quality. That isn’t to say there aren’t fairly major differences just that unless you look at lots of models or read around the subject you won’t see them.
2. ALMOST ALL BRANDS MAKE BAD MODEL RELEASES
Most brands make literally hundreds of models a year. There are always going to be some dud models as an entire release. Of the brands listed above only NG Models and Panda Models rarely make fairly major mistakes. These mistakes can vary from poor colours, missing details, incorrect fonts, poor printing of cockpits etc etc. Making sweeping generalisations in this department is difficult unless you do a lot of work looking at the models and comparing releases, which I actually do.
3. ALL BRANDS MAKE THE ODD BAD INDIVIDUAL MODEL
Shit happens. These models are made in Chinese factories by people earning not a lot who don’t speak English. There are regular mistakes in putting the models together often due to poor use of glue which leads to pieces like wings falling off. Add in the journey from factory to your door and if you collect lots of models you’ll be getting bits that aren’t connected quite a lot. Yes, some manufacturers are a little worse than others (Phoenix and Gemini especially) but in reality, everyone will get a model with a wing off from time to time. Get over it. Most of the noise I see on social media in this space is a bit silly and usually someone making a sweeping assertion based on one model or a couple of models of the ten or so they bought that year. It is hardly statistically useful data.
4. BRANDS SHARE FACTORIES & MOULDS ALL THE TIME
There are lots of brands and a lot less manufacturers. Even some of the big brand names like Gemini Jets get their models made for them (by JC Wings in this case). So it is silly to spend a lot of time looking at an individual brand as if it lives in isolation unless you know it does. Plus mould sharing across brands and manufacturers has been common and continues to be so. These factors really do decrease the differences between various brands substantially.
5. ALL BRANDS HAVE GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD MOULDS
Nobody is perfect. Every manufacturer has great moulds and not so great moulds. Just because say Phoenix make a great A380 it doesn't mean they make a great 737. Every mould is different and often made years apart from each other by different staff and designers. This makes it pointless to say that a brand is better across the board than another even when ignoring 1-4. Additionally moulds change a lot over time so a brand's moulds may get comparatively better or worse over time depending on what changes they and competitors have made.
6. MOSTLY YOU DON"T HAVE A CHOICE ANYWAY
Unless you collect a very specific and tiny subset of airlines, and aircraft, most of the time you simply don't have the luxury to choose, which brand you will collect. I don't understand collectors with a strong brand affiliation, it simply rarely makes any sense. Only the most common and obvious models are made by multiple brands and some with connections (Gemini and JC Wings for example) go out of their way not to compete. If you want x Airways 787 there is a passable chance you might be able to choose between Phoenix, NG Models and JC Wings / Gemini, but if you want a lot of other models forget it.
WHAT YOU SHOULD BE ASKING
What I am trying to say with 1-6 is that you can get a rubbish model from anyone and a great model from anyone and there is a good chance you don't have a choice anyway. So, nobody is really the best – whatever the fuck that means (although I admit NG Models have been impressive to date).
All of the above isn't to say that objective differences don't exist and shouldn't be used to determine your purchasing. There are certain brand characteristics that are worth understanding but they are quite general. More importantly you should stop focusing on who is making the model and start focusing on what the model is like i.e. don't compare brands compare the moulds being used.
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