Witty Wings / Apollo Models
# OF MODELS MADE: WITTY WINGS 120 / APOLLO 126
WITTY WINGS EMERGES
To understand Witty Wings and Apollo you need to understand the previous brands Aviation400 and Flightline400. For this back story see here:
Following on from the brief reappearance of the original Aviation400 moulds under the Flightline400 brand Witty Industrial decided to rebrand its resurgent line of 400 scale diecast models as simply Witty Wings (they also produced a decent number of 1:72 military models). In many ways the output of the new Witty brand was very similar to its predecessors. In fact, several of the releases appear to have been merely rebranded leftover stock such as the Royal and Saudia L-1011s, and the Libyan 727.
Initial releases in 2012 utilised several of the old AV400 moulds such as the A321, 707, 737-800, L1011 and DC-10-30, however it wasn’t all repetition and the new Witty was clearly interested in growing and expanding its product line. Interestingly this also included expanding its retailer partnerships and at least within Australia and New Zealand this saw a lot of Witty models appearing at generic Model retailer stores replacing the previously available Dragon Wings models. It should also be noted that all Witty and Apollo models came with a free black plastic stand.
It wasn’t just Witty Wings that appeared around this time. In 2013 a second brand named Apollo came onto the market using many of the same moulds as Witty Wings and clearly related to it. Oddly the biggest difference between the two brands was that whilst Witty always used the seamless 747 mould, developed by AV400, Apollo used the older seamed Big Bird version. There has never been a satisfactory answer for this, although it has been suggested that Witty and Apollo used different factories. Otherwise Witty and Apollo shared the same mould catalogue.
Below: The seamless Witty Wings 747-400
A strong lineup of 747-400s was made by both brands with 58 in total across both Witty and Apollo. They are universally excellent models.
Below: The seamed Apollo 747-400 mould
It has been pointed out that the name Apollo may have been an in-joke as in US space missions it was the Apollo missions that came after Gemini. Therefore, the Apollo name may have been a subtle jab at Gemini Jets. Certainly, production of Apollo models increased whilst Witty own branded model release numbers decreased after 2013, however given the short tenure of both brands it is hard to determine whether this is a real pattern or not.
BEST 767-300 IN 400 SCALE
Witty produced multiple new moulds. As with the 747s under AV400 it was now the turn of the Boeing 767-300 to get a makeover and Witty produced what is probably the best 767-300 made in 400 scale by taking the already excellent Big Bird mould and making it seamless, while at the same time replacing the landing gear with rolling wheels. The updated mould has an excellent shape and the new nosegear is an improvement over the too small nosegear tyres of the original
Unfortunately, as with AV400 the new Witty brand did not use its new moulds especially regularly and only 7 767-300s were produced for Witty with a further 5 for Apollo. The livery choices were also once again a little random – a pair of Aeromexicos and Air China, plus odd models for the likes of Orient Thai, Air Italy and EL AL.
NEW OLD MOULDS
Three other ‘new’ moulds that were used were the Convair 880, 990 and Ilyushin IL-76, all of which probably used illegally cloned versions of the Aeroclassics examples. They are all excellent moulds. The Convairs were used sparingly with the 990 only on Witty releases and the 880 only on Apollo. The IL-76 on the other hand received 17 Witty Wings releases making it one of the most used types.
IL-76 releases covered a decent range of major or obvious quasi-civil operators (Aeroflot, Air Koryo, CAAC), military users (Russian Air Force, PLAAF, Ukrainian Air Force, Iranian Air Force) and some more obscure operators (Turkmenistan Airlines, Syrianair)
NEW AGE WIDEBODIES
Witty and Apollo tend to be remembered best for their excellent 747s however it is four other new moulds that they should get a lot more credit for. Sadly, their use was rather limited and so they haven’t really received the credit they deserve. Despite their relative obscurity, as far as I understand, they were the first brand to introduce see through engine cores in 400 scale.
The first of these is a lineup of Boeing 777-200 and 300s using an all new mould dissimilar to anyone elses. Whilst the Phoenix 777s have rightfully gained many plaudits in this period the Witty 777s are arguably superior.
Likewise, the Witty Wings Airbus A380-800 is much superior to the Gemini version and the only mould until 2022 to provide competition to the Phoenix version.
The 777-200 mould was used only 11 times and four of those were China Southern examples. Other liveries include Aeromexico (2), Air Canada (2), EL AL, Air India, Malaysia and most unusually Nordwind
The 777-300ER got similar light usage with a total of 18 models. These 18 models cover an unusually strong lineup of liveries such as Air New Zealand, Singapore, Thai, KLM, Air France, Korean etc - with TAM and Virgin Australia being standouts.
Witty 777s can still be found and appear more common than the A380s of which there were 12 releases.
Another new and excellent mould produced by Witty was the 787-8, but once again usage was mediocre with only 9 models across both brands.
A third Witty related brand made a very brief appearance in 2013 when a pair of Bouraq Indonesia Boeing 737-200s were made for the Malaysian store Dai Kong and branded as Pegasus.
Unfortunately, the expenditure on new moulds and expansion of releases came at a cost and only a couple of years after the brands appeared they collapsed. The two brands were only made for a total of 3 years and in November 2014 Witty Industrial went bankrupt. When the government held an auction to raise funds to pay Witty's debts, mostly unpaid salaries to workers, the company’s assets, including the moulds, were acquired by Johan Chan of JC Wings, seemingly as much to avoid further competition as for their intrinsic value. Since the JC takeover little has been seen of the moulds although some have reappeared sporadically.
Below: Witty Wings made quite a few Chinese 737s such as this one
First the old Big Bird 747-200/300/400, or at least a version of it, has been used by Big Bird Mk3, JC Wings itself and most recently Aeroclassics (who acquired castings from JC). I do not understand why the excellent seamless 747 mould versions were not used instead.
Secondly JC Wings used a modified version of the original L-1011 mould as its spoiler when NG Models was making its own mould version. Although they improved the tail area the modifications to the undercarriage rather spoiled it
Witty Wings and Apollo models can still be found at retail here and there today, illustrating the lack of success the brand achieved. This is a shame as it appeared to be a brand moving in the right direction with excellent 747 and 767s and impressive new A380 and 777 moulds complete with innovative new detailing. Although the old A320 and 737 moulds were little better than the Aviation400 efforts the vast majority of Witty/Apollo models were fine releases.