Virgin Australia 777-3ZGER VH-VPE 1:400 Apollo A31089 May 2014 Relea

Apollo VA 773 VH-VPE

The model is of VH-VPE in the 2010 Transition Livery, delivered originally on 2nd February 2009. The box is used for Korean and Malaysian Airlines models of the same type, quite uninspired in its execution.

The model was instantly attractive to me and something of a must have. I have to say that it is a pretty stunning livery and one I wish they had kept, it’s amazing. The model cost £23.95 from Hong Kong plus £7 shipping. Yes it’s well below the normal retail price but I would never have paid £38 plus £5 shipping for it from inside the UK.

1) Main Fuselage

The complex livery involves white stars on a silver base with the union flag in silver grey almost inside of it. It’s very well executed. The Apollo does not have the Phoenix/JC Wings aerials but it has other features that stand out. There are a few tiny things that make me wonder sometimes if Apollo is not a second rate Witty. A small blemish here, a tiny fault in the paint or mould there, nothing to shout about but the sort of thing Witty don’t do but Apollo seem to get away with. The general print and logo detail is really nice and generally high quality.

VH-VPE Nose detail

2) Engines

These are GE’s standard fit for 773’s and they look very good compared to virtually any other manufacturer. They have the see-through fan which is a great bit of detail, but the engine in this case seems to have been painted after assembly (the Witty one clearly the other way round), and some of the paint detail, especially the thick red band is dodgy at the top, clearly having been applied by hand. sadly being red on white this is extremely noticeable and a little annoying.

Wobbly paint on the red is obvious even at a distance.
Wobbly paint on the red is obvious even at a distance.

3) Landing Gear

Painted metal with detailed struts and hydraulics, fully rolling wheels. The bogies are fixed in place which is slightly disappointing. all of the tyres/wheels look neat, quality and to scale.

4) Tail fin and stabilisers

There is something not right about the stabilisers; they are too highly angled and don’t look like any other 773. In fact I almost feel I need to break and reset them! Just a bit too chicken to do it though! I’m not enamoured by this and it should be better.

5) Wings and underbody.

The detail is good if minimal, not too much paint. The big V logo is underneath along with an Apollo logo. The model comes with its own stand but fits the standard Gemini arm.

6) Colours

They look right. It’s a complex livery but it seems to have been very well executed on this model and I find myself generally really pleased.

VH-VPE at RLSI

7) Overall score – we start at 10.

The paint on the engines is a big let down, half a point down for each and the oddly angled stabilisers a straight forward mistake so a point down for those too. The box is very poor and barely suitable for the job, the model fits far too tightly in the plastic cradle and it’s left some very slight rubbing marks, though nothing overly detrimental. All in all I like this model, I am slightly disappointed with some of it, but it’s such a stunning livery the detractions are easily forgotten. Never the less, Apollo are in danger of being too clever by half and not QC’ing these models well enough. Pull it back into the court Apollo or you’ll soon be going the way of Gemini. There is nothing worse than having all of the resources and moulds and the excellent engines, only to screw the whole thing up with some rubbish paint.

8/10 is the final score.