This aircraft was delivered new to El Al on 13th October 2013, part of its re-fleet designed to optimise its short-medium haul routes into Europe and those states that allow Israeli aircraft to fly over them, which in the Middle east is just Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. She typically flies to Moscow, Paris, London and Zurich from Tel Aviv.
There is no identified production run for the model but I suspect around 1500-2500 units. This one came from Airspotters.com on something of a whim. I really wanted a current 737-900 as the only one I have at present is a Shenzen Airlines version without the winglets. At £23.95 ($40 US at current exchange rates) its a pricy model so it had better be good as the last Gemini 737 – an American Airlines new livery 738 was a horrendous mess.
The box is the usual good quality Gemini standard fare. In many ways I wish they would spend less on the box and more on developing a decent mould.
In general this is a distinct improvement and my expectations which are reasonable, are being exceeded initially. The detail is commensurate with the real thing and accurate in terms of where it is. The mould and nose shape are old, and they look it. The overall shape and accuracy is casually acceptable but it just isn’t up to the modern Witty 737. The main issue is the way the wings fit. The mould is the outdated cradle type, where the fuselage sits on the wings rather than having the wings inserted into the body as on the Witty. The later gives a neat and taught appearance, sadly the cradle method as has happened so often before, is a relatively large mould by itself and it doesn’t always fit right. This one isn’t too bad to be fair, but it still seems second rate compared to the Witty (which one has to remember was actually cheaper by £7 to buy).
These so often are a Gemini let down, yet on this occasion I am pleased to report they are actually quite good. The paint again is no Witty expereince but it is, as is the model in general, at least commercially acceptable and has no glaring flaws or blobby/peeling/blurred or missing paint. A Good effort.
3) Landing Gear
Grey plastic, rubber tyres that roll on all wheels, angled correctly. Not a patch on the Witty and if anything the nose wheel tyres look overly large and out of place.
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
The whole assembly is very good, no complaints.
5) Wings and underbody
There is detail and the paint seems almost commensurate with it, though there is almost too much paint on the underwings, although it’s hardly an issue. Gemini Logo is present. There is also the well printed winglet detail which have the Israeli flag printed on the inner surface though not very well. The thing that bugs me most is the gap that ensues from the cradle method – it juts looks poor in this day and age. The whole fits the standard thin arm Gemini metal stand – not included (all Apollo and Witty get a small black plastic stand, but is it worth it?)
This is where it goes wrong. El Al Colours are brighter – both the blue and silver-grey, but the aircraft are also bright white. There is no fancy Virgin style metallics or lacquers used here, they are just bright white and the Witty manages this really well, however the Gemini version is clearly not right. It appears not to have had an undercoat – maybe one of Gemini’s many cost saving measures? The Witty is much brighter, much more realistic and when you put the two together it stands out like a sore thumb. However the Witty logo colours are overly bright, even stylised and Gemini has these more accurately not that they are pointed that well.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
It is a commercially acceptable model. It’s just good enough if you don’t look into it. Those unbothered by such details will not give it a second glance, but slowly and inevitably the fact remains that while Gemini think that what they are making is good, it isn’t up to the standards of rapidly improving competitors. This is an OK model, but it’s far from outstanding and while it shows a general quality control improvement, it lags well behind the competition, Phoenix, Apollo, Witty and JC Wings, in terms of excellence.
The only defects are the paint colours and for those it must receive a one per issue reduction, so a 7/10. It will still be a while before I’ll buy a Gemini again, not because they are bad, but because they are not good enough for the price paid, it’s quite a different thing.