Virgin Atlantic 787-9 G-VNEW Gemini Jets December 2014 Release GVIR1444
Well it’s finally here, the long awaited Gemini version of the 787-9 in Virgin Atlantic 2010 Livery. The first impression is the box, which is not the usual standard Gemini fare, suggesting this may well be destined for Virgin Atlantic’s on line shop. The box has no reference numbers or manufacturer codes or ID. the print is pretty rubbish too, with the dots from the “i” in Virgin and Atlantic being outside of the aircraft fuselage! The wording Virgin Atlantic is also not the official format for the Corporate Brand Identity, lacking the red flash. The container inside is the standard blue – have to say it was not the easiest thing to get out of the plastic cradle.
First impressions of the model are actually quite good – I’m going to restrain myself here – and let this one unfold as we go through it section by section.
The fuselage mould is exceptionally good, systematically produced and fault free. There are only two aerials on the model, one aft in front of the tail and another over door 2 forward. There should be three, a second smaller one to the rear of the aft one. There is one underneath, level with the cargo rear door. The satellite dome is neatly shaped and expertly installed, flush with the body. The second dome above door 3 is just a printed outline rather than being moulded in. This one is actually a bit odd because all 787’s have this dome, it’s the big one forward that’s an airline option.
The most annoying thing about the fuselage is the colour of the Virgin Atlantic logo which should be aubergine, basically a very deep purple-black pearlescent. This just looks black, aubergine shows up easily as purple in brighter light and this doesn’t at all.
The achievement of this fuselage is the colour. It has a highly effective white pearlescent and it works, in fact it’s outstanding. Colours are normally Gemini’s strong point and this is better than excellent. It makes it even more irritating that the lettering is black rather than the aubergine it should be. The comms dome is also correctly painted a different white.
Gemini have also better presented the curvy tail paint behind door 4. Its quite a noticeable detail. The flight deck detail looks a little narrow, but actually the more you look at it the better it seems and having poured over real-thing photos I’m convinced it is accurate. The Birthday Girl tile is also pretty good.
Rolls Royce Trent-1000’s are a lovely site to behold. The mould is a very good one indeed, pretty much as good as they get, the colour is an outstandingly accurate metallic red that conveys the true lustre of the scheme. However, once again when it comes to engines, Gemini while having made massive improvements have once again let the quality that really matters slip past them. You can clearly see that the silver paint on the intakes nacelles is too thin, with red showing through the outer rim. On the inside the paint is even thinner and the red is easy to see – partly because of its lustre and reflectivity – this is especially true of the starboard engine.
The port engine displays an excess of dust in the paint and the mounting to the wing has obviously been hand painted with clear brush strokes visible.
The blades are a good colour and look appropriately titanium. However for some reason Gemini have left off the Rolls Royce logo (being a British Airline it’s something Virgin Atlantic are very proud of) that is startlingly clear on any images you see of the aircraft.
3) Landing Gear
These are better than usually found on a Gemini model. The moulds are more detailed for the wheels, and they look like wheels rather than just a tyre on an axel, but they also look obviously dull grey plastic. My biggest gripe is the nose wheel is at least 1mm (namely 15.75 inches or 400mm in real life) too short! Its effect on the model is to tilt it too far forward and allow the engines almost no clearance – they have about a third less than they should have, and it looks mildly silly. The main gear is completely fixed in position and quite immovable, though the wheels roll.
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
No complaints at all overall, very good indeed, outstanding colours, the leading edge of the tail fin is superbly painted and well detailed. The only tiny issue is the EW lettering on the tail has been made a tiny bit too big and it looks slightly off kilter, but it really is a minor issue.
5) Wings and Underbody
This is the weakest point of the Gemini method of building models. The cradle system. It has so many downsides I just don’t know why they persist with it. The cradle fitted into the body looks horrible. It isn’t accurate to the real thing and never can be. The great gap at the back of the wing root is impossible to overcome because without it the wings don’t fit. If you hold it up to the light you can see through the front down curve and out the other side. Totally unacceptable in this day and age. On top of that it distorts the Virgin Atlantic logo underneath with the forward part of the cradle distorting the ‘a’.
Talking of the logo underneath, it is massively too large, as much as 15% oversized. On top of that Gemini have made the hole for their own stand (supplied ironically enough with models of Virgin Atlantic 744’s and A346’s via the VS online shop), almost too small and it took a fair bit of balancing to get her on it without cracking the paint.
The wings themselves however are really very good, all the way through to the lustrous red tips at their ends. The upper surfaces have plenty of detail too, underneath they are very plain.
I know I’ve probably said enough on colours, Gemini have done an excellent job on the body and the Candy Apple Red is excellent. They are first class and an an outstanding effort. The failure to get the aubergine metallic of the logo is however a notable failing.
7) Overall score
I so want to love this model. The body colour is a triumph, as is the red paint. Getting the aubergine wrong is a big -1. The cradle with see through gaps is -1. The nose wheel and resulting stance is a -0.5 and so is the oversized underbody logo -0.5. Not fitting the stand with ease is also a big issue but small points deduction – 0.25. Forgetting the Rolls Royce logo on the engines, inexcusable. -0.5 and the paint coming through the silver on the engines and the poorly painted engine pylon a combined -0.5. Overall that’s a minus 3.75 – this model rates at just 6.25/10. And I haven’t mentioned the box. It’s just 0.25 points from going back to the seller.
YET – all of these things are easily corrected in the future. Gemini have made general substantial improvements. The loss of mostly hand painted detail to sharp, printed detail as with Phoenix and the late lamented Witty Wings has transformed the model. The poor engine paint and missing RR logos are quality control issues and can be rectified. I REALLY want to like this model, the colours are outstanding and better than those on the Phoenix which is awesomely good. Gemini are so close to pulling these things together to get them right, the colours alone almost are enough to make me keep it. I’ll keep that discussion for the head to head comparison with the Phoenix due later this week!