Qatar A380-861 A7-APA JCWings XX4861 1:400 August 2014

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This aircraft at the time of writing, along with Qatar’s second A380 is still at Airbus having a lot of internal remedial work done. The Qatari’s were extremely unhappy with the quality of the fit and finish and have delayed entry into service, which is still formerly to be announced, though London Heathrow is the first major destination.

The box is quite small and a fairly well designed brand appropriate set of graphics applied. The plastic window however and the plastic packaging are second rate even though there has been a mould change to accommodate the two tiny roof aerials. This is no cosseting Witty style box. The result is that where every Witty A380 has arrived intact, this had stress on the wings in the flimsy packaging resulting in them coming loose. Not dire and it turns out some firm pushing from both sides returned them to normal, but I consider it luck other parts were not damaged on its way from Hong Kong.

The model was supplied by Demographer X via Ebay, – at £22.95 plus £8 shipping it will be a good £10 or more cheaper than the same thing from the UK. A380’s even in 1:400 are big models and with 8 now at RLSI, with only Etihad’s (depending on the new livery they are going to launch in October) to finish the A380’s on my list off, I’m pretty pushed for space. Six of them occupy the same space as thirty A320 series!

Because of the price point (just remember folks the Gemini 753 was £28 plus postage), I have lower expectations. Part of the pricing is its hard to sell them to be honest and willing collectors are fewer for this size model. It isn’t for everyone, but I love A380’s!

Now what made this more confusing and required three partial re-writes is that the two Qatar A380’s so far built but NOT delivered, have thousands of online modified images, and I suspect JC Wings has had as much trouble keeping up to date as anyone else. There are even pictures of it taking off at Finkenwerder with the wrong livery, people have faked on, so lets get a grip!

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1) Main Fuselage

The mould is similar to the Gemini, but it isn’t the same. Frankly it’s not accurate at the nose end, lacking the correct shape of the “dolphin”. I’ve written an article in the past on  showing the poor accuracy of the Gemini model against the real thing and I might just have to update that here, as the JCW is very similar.

The addition of the two small aerials on the top and one beneath is a nice touch, but the one below is actually a heater unit to stop water freezing as it’s expelled from the sinks and should have been painted red.

The graphics are good and bad, the large Qatar is not brilliant, with a few blur marks and they lack crispness in general. However a good effort has been made along with the doors (except the forward port door which is out of alignment with the seal) and “technical” detail. One thing that is poor is the flight deck windows, which are pale grey and frameless, they are crisp but just look a little lame.

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 2) Engines

The huge Engine Alliance GP7270 units are good. The moulds and pylons are good, though engine No.2 (port inboard) is slightly lower facing than would be ideal. The fans are a good colour and the detail very good. It’s the atrocious paint on the outboard engines – full of dust particles and excessively heavy hand painted grey paint that looks like it had wet paint of a different colour beneath it. This is very easy to see close up, but in normal vision the dust is visible and the paint looks poorly finished.

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3) Landing Gear

They appear to be painted metal, but at the same time look strangely plastic – indeed they are the same wheels Gemini use and lend credence to the fact it might have been the same mould, but if it is its had some modifications! I can’t quite work out what’s going on as  it seems the main landing gear is the right height but the nose gear is way too short. Yet the model doesn’t seem to tilt or lean. My conclusion, after staring at them for ages is the fuselage mould is just inaccurate and the nose shape is wrong, so it is lower at the nose but the rest of aircraft gets better as it goes backwards until it matches the Witty version almost exactly for height. The bogies tilt and roll easily and seem good quality.

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 4) Tail fin and stabilisers

All as they should be, tight assembly, quality graphics with a neat finish.

5) Wings and underbody.

There is exactly the right amount of paint and detail. No complaints other than the wings while push-in don’t really quite fit as seamlessly as would be ideal. It’s a bit disappointing that they should fit easily but don’t fit as well as they could. However, the red of the winglets is totally wrong and they have used the base of the tip as the entire colour, which is mostly burgundy red.

6) Colours

This is another A380 that is not dependent on white for its primary body colour and it looks huge and imposing in the correct greys and burgundy reds.

 7) Overall score – we start at 10.

I know the mould isn’t right so thats -1 for a start. The poorly mounted engine is -0.5 and the engines paint -0.25 and another -1 for the wings not fitting properly without some help and -0.25 for the winglet colours being wrong. So in the end its a 7/10 which puts it in the “OPTIONAL REJECT” rank.  It’s quality that lets it down, plain and simple.

From a distance it looks perfectly reasonable, but start looking up close and you spot the small problems. For the money, I have no issues with it. If it had been £38 rather than £23, it would have been on its way back to the supplier, simply because of the wings and the engines. However I paid a low price, it travelled from Hong Kong, always a risk and that takes the edge off  of any complaints I might have. Poor JC Wings, time to sack a few model makers! Hire in the guys from Witty!!