The aircraft is a model of 787-9 N38950 which at the time of writing is due to go into service with United in the next few weeks. It’s the airlines first 787-9 – a quite noticeable lengthening of the original 787-8. Its my 12th 787 model and fourth 787-9 so I have plenty to reference it against. The box is standard Gemini fare with an off-green-gold line at the bottom of the lid.
I’ll be perfectly frank, this is the most expensive full price Gemini model I’ve bought of late and the recent 757 Condor version covered in lumps of glue cost only slightly less. This one was £31 – so about the $51-55 mark depending on which of the $ countries you live in. I have a great deal of trepidation on opening this box up as I’ve sent back the last 787 from Gemini – the truly atrocious example of the Jetstar.
Say what you will about United as an airline, the Continental livery United adopted is very classy and it looks the business, elegantly simple and one of the best out there, it just works really well and is instantly recognisable. Utterly superior to some of United’s previous and very cheap looking liveries of the Tulip days.
OK I’m dithering…I’ll open the box…slowly so as not to break anything…
1) Main Fuselage
The general eye scan view of the fuselage is very good overall, I don’t see any glaring problems or offensive fails and I am quite encouraged. In fact this sets the scene for the entire aircraft, it is in fact devoid of any instantly recognisable flaws on a quick scan, though there are some white dots that stand out on the flight deck windows and a mark at the tail. The dots seem to have been caused by the paint sticking to the protective inner plastic inside the plastic container as the grey marks can be seen on the plastic. However these are very small to the naked eye, it’s more of a ‘white in a dark space stand out thing’.
While an eye scan reveals a neat set of graphics they are a tad blurred on close inspection but again, while this isn’t the quality others have achieved, its much better than some Gemini’s have been recently and in terms of criticism is relatively minor. My point as always, is if others can do it, so can Gemini. The price they charge is the same. However to Gemini’s credit it is better than the barely acceptable commercial minimums they seem to find OK on so many other models.
The fuselage issues that do notice however are the wish washy paint on the nose – this was either applied when the white paint was damp or the pale grey not mixed thickly enough, now it’s not the end of the world by any means just lack of attention to detail. The other is that there is just an complete lack of any detail underneath, but the paint is of generally excellent finish.
The Gemini mould is the same they originally used for the 787 – the cradle version – but it now comes with aerials, one at the rear in front of the tail, one at the D in UNITED and another underneath at the rear. They seem well seated, but close inspection of the both shows a slight paint discolouration in the white round it, caused by paint dripping and puddling down he aerial was my first thought, but I actually think its a glue blob thats been painted over, though it’s nothing to be worried about. The only issue I have is that the real aircraft has two rear aerials.Gemini has previously fitted two I thought (on the Thomson for example), but then I realised that was a Phoenix sub contract model. The real thing also has a satellite communications dome behind the front aerial and this is just a thin painted line. For such a big visible item it deserves more.
In general the fuselage stands up well against other brands. Gemini and others have definitely done worse in the past and in honesty this is really quite good.
These are the massive GEnex-1B engines and the nacelles are well made, assembled and painted. In fact they’re a high point as so often in the past these have been a major Gemini failing. Engine detail is excellent, though not the see-through HBE fans of Witty, they are still very good. The exhaust cone detail is of special note and the anti-noise serrations spot on. There is a downside, the nacelles fitment to the pylon is not brilliant with a large paint drip and there is an odd reddish brown mark on one engine – the amount of dust in the paint is also a tad annoying to see close up and the No.2 Engine also suffered some minor silver paint loss in transit at the base. I do not want to discourage Gemini (not they they listen) from what is a really good effort. A vast improvement on the rubbish engines fitted to the JetStar I returned a few months ago. Overall I’m quite pleased with them. The biggest plus is the silver intake paint is not randomly wobbly and the fine particles work wonders for improving detail.
3) Landing Gear
Painted metal with detailed struts and hydraulics, fully rolling wheels but the bogies sadly don’t tilt. Spot on. No cheap plastic here. Blimey Gemini are you OK? METAL gear? I’m almost blown away, even the tyres are well moulded. This is almost revelatory, have they finally realised the nasty little plastic gear is not worthy of them?
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
This is the area where it has got an issue. The fitted stabiliser and tail are great and well seated, but someone has pushed the port stabiliser in with a finger – you can see the fingerprint in the paint and annoyingly it’s quite noticeable with the naked eye from a foot away because the paint looks rough whereas the rest is neatly finished. There is also a roller line of blue where the gold has either not been applied or missed on the same side in the base of the upright fin, again sadly noticeable from a foot away with the naked eye, though no catastrophe. In all honesty its the finger print that really annoys because the rest is so good.
5) Wings and underbody.
Gemini’s preference for the old fashioned cradle mould is a bit outdated, but the good thing is that it really is neatly fitted, giving a seamless wing root from above and no gaps, spaces or poor fit. About time. There is wing detail above and below and no excessive paint. The one truly daft thing about the whole model is it was one hell of a struggle to get the thing to go on any Gemini stand. I may have a thing for non-stand flying photos and I try in my own lame way to brush them out, but this required a LOT of nasty paint flaking twists to get it to go. Gemini stands are not cheap, (I’ve never purchased one not inside another models box, for example the Virgin Atlantic shop ones get them), but you think they might be sure to see if it works.
This is one thing Gemini always seem to research well and apply well (other than on the awkward to match JetStar silver) – colours are spot on, it looks very smart indeed . Here it is with one of my favourite Gemini 744 models, UNITED N128UA. Those stains on the foil by the way are oil that has leached out out of JC Wings and some Phoenix tyres while on display!
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
-1 for the fingerprint, -.025 for the stand failure and 0.5 for paint issues visible to the naked eye. So a very respectable 8.25/10 – that finger print costs them an almost perfect score. On the one hand this is typical Gemini, almost good enough but not quite, on the other it’s a major, seriously big improvement on many of their previous models, some of which have left me seething with annoyance. All credit to Gemini this is well above commercially acceptable minimums, but a tad below perfection. This sort of standard now needs to be consistently applied to every single model that comes out of that factory, no excuses. Compare the really good model this is to the appalling rubbish of the 753 with its glue-infested paint and wheels and that atrocious Volotea 717. No comparison. It’s this lack of consistency that needs to be addressed. This is a good model, I”m genuinely pleased with it, indeed a little surprised at how good it is. Keep up the good work Gemini! I’m encouraged but you’re a long way from being the best yet.
This model was sourced and paid for by me, from Airspotters.com