This is a life long member of the ailing giant Thomas Cook’s fleet of 757-300’s. The company is in varying degrees of dire straights depending on your view point – owing in excess of £1.1 billion it was deemed to large to fail by its creditors who reluctantly bailed it out with another £100 million. Since then its improved but it’s far from out of danger. She was delivered in 2002 so probably has another ten years life in her yet, though not all with Condor.
The model was full price £28 plus postage from Airspotters.com in the UK. I wanted it because I happen to love both Thomson and Thomas Cook’s new liveries – they are very different and they both stand out without the often gaudy appearance holiday companies have gone in for in the past.
The box is standard Gemini fare, which generally is one of the better ones in the market.
1) Main Fuselage
The mould is an old one without all the modern aerials etc that now decorate the newer generations, but as a mould it’s perfectly good. The paint however suffers from quite visible “orange peel”, the very same effect you get on cars that have been sprayed poorly. It’s a combination of dirty surfaces below the paint, the metal being too cold, and most of all, the spraying being done to close and too heavily. In other words lack of attention to detail and poor quality control as well as low skill levels.
Graphics are sloppy, lacking crispness. You can actually see it with the naked eye that the Condor has bled into the white. The blobby “door handles” are mediocre at best. There is a hairline crack in the paint quite visible in the fuselage the closer you look and very noticeable under a flash.
The nose and flight deck paint are quite good.
These are actually very good Rolls-Royce RB211-535E4B’s, colours and paint are very good indeed but a whopping great globule of glue is clearly visible on the starboard side engine and has melted the paint into it a little. I could try and remove it but I’m afraid if I do it will take paint with it, so it’ll have to stay. just one of many glue issues on this model as we’ll see.
3) Landing Gear
Gemini’s infamous plastic. The nose wheel is actually accurate (it tilts sightly backward from the “knee” on the real thing). However its horrible plastic and the tyres are very poor on the front, with a very bad mould. they don’t rotate as they should because the whole thing is covered in yet more glue. The main gear bogies, front port and rear starboard wheels rotate, the others don’t. One of the rear starboard inboards is so badly moulded that it barely fits on the axel and I suspect that if I don’t glue it on it will vanish.
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
In close up the amount of glue that’s gone onto this tail looks like it must have come from somebodies fingers as they fitted the tail. They look alright to the naked eye with the exception of some of the glue on the tail surface and you can feel the blobs of tiny glue bits. Again if they could be removed I would, but I suspect paint damage would follow so I can’t be risking it. This is one of those things that is commercially acceptable to Gemini. If you can’t see it easily, it’s alright. They just don’t care and the young buyers who form the bulk of purchasers know no better and if Gemini carry on like this, probably never will.
The colours are a good match however. The Heart was designed by a Swedish graphics company and then tweaked in house by Thomas Cook to make it look sparklier and more vibrant, they also made it a bit fatter. Close up it doesn’t look too amazing, but that would do it a disservice. Long range it looks spot on. Both of the greys are commendable for their accuracy. The D-ABOJ transfer looks like the edge is peeling up but it doesn’t notice long range.
I’m going to say it like or not, it’s commercially acceptable, nothing like the elite standards of the now sadly departed Witty.
5) Wings and underbody.
Despite the old fashioned cradle mould, they fit quite tightly with no gaping holes or surprising gaps, it’s just an unsightly way of doing things. I suppose with the 757 dead and gone they have no incentive to make a new one. You can see the glue on the front wheels in the picture above. It fits on the single arm stand but the larger oval based thick arm stand it’s not very secure on, the hole isn’t very deep. Paint is OK, not excessive but saying that these old Gemini moulds are low on detail to obscure in the first place when it comes to underbodies. One would wish that the landing gear fitted better in the wing, especially on the port side (right in this picture). The upper wings are really nice, even the winglets are well painted. It makes you wonder how they get that so right and other stuff so wrong. It’s this overall lack of consistency in Gemini that is so frustrating.
The colours are the new livery applied over the last 12 months – it looks great and they are very accurate, so a good job at least with that from Gemini.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
-1.0 for the orange peel effect of the main white paint.
-1.25 for five wheel/bogie failures
-1.5 for the excess glue issues
I have a long list of what gets scored and some things don’t especially if they cannot easily be seen or felt with the naked eye or on contact. While there are a number of poor quality issues, the overall score is 6.25/10 that puts in in the “Marginal” for quality – thats just 0.25 points above being sent back.
There are lots of good points about this model, don’t get me wrong. The colours are great, from a distance you wouldn’t know any of it had a problem. The issue is IT WAS £28!!! Thats 4.5 hours work for someone on a minimum wage in this country, it’s $47US, $51CAD, €35, $55NZ, $51AUD. It’s a lot of money for something you can also get from Hong Kong £10 cheaper if you don’t mind the wait. It isn’t the UK retailers fault, they have to pay VAT and import duties, but the cost price from Gemini and their middle men on these is VERY high, retailer margins are minimal. So Gemini are making a lot of money from mediocre product and thats what makes me so annoyed. They’ve priced themselves to equal Witty/Phoenix/JC Wings who all made/make better models these days. At the moment the £ is strong so low prices in USD mean cheap for us in the UK. If that changes as it will and the £ weakens, what then for increasing prices?