Etihad A380-861 A6-APA Gemini Jets GJETD1425 1:400 December 2014
I love A380’s – to me they are the pinnacle of aviation engineering at present.
This aircraft has just gone into service with Etihad, fully equipped with some of the latest in high-end accommodation, including a three bedroomed suite with a butler for around $20,000 each way to the US. It sets new standards in all classes of travel an is part of Etihad’s fight with Qatar and Emirates. Etihad is based in Abu Dhabi, which like Dubai – the home of Emirates, is part of the UAE. Qatar is a close neighbour and separate country for those who get confused with who is where and owns what.
The registration is almost identical to the first Qatar A380 – only the country code, A7 is different.
The big introduction – and Etihad certainly made a meal of it at the end of 2014 coincided with the revelation of a mildly controversial new livery. Gone was the massive UAE coat of arms on the tail which was seen as very nationalist and a little military; it’s now only found with the word Etihad on the fuselage. The tail and wing tips, along with much of the rear fuselage has been changed to a multifaceted triangle and diamond shape pattern of greys, whites, sand, browns and golds. These are meant to represent the desert sands, beaches, land and skies of the country and are traditional colours associated with home and furnishings as well as traditional dress. Whatever it’s meant to represent some love it some hate it. Frankly I love it. I love modern, daring, innovative branding and it works. The huge tail of the A380 and the vast fuselage of the aircraft are an ideal canvas for something so sharp and new.
The model was £39 ($60US) including UK taxes, a fair slice of cash. It had better be good. The box is standard Gemini though the cradle has got a lot thinner in the box now.
1) Main Fuselage
The main fuselage is of course huge and the Gemini mould while not perfect (the nose is not quite the correct shape as has been proven previously), is pretty much as good as it gets from anyone these days. This is my first Gemini A380 with aerials, three of them on top and 1 below, located with a very small and subtle Gemini logo. The overall sandy beige body colour – this is the only A380 that has no white in the main scheme – looks excellent and the complex triangles and diamond shaped colours are all as precise a match as anyone could ask. Details are printed crisply and cleanly with no obvious bleed. The vast ETIHAD logo under the body is spot on. The big deal here is that Gemini wisely dropped the cradle system for the A380 and it all looks amazingly neat. In fact this is actually the best Gemini fuselage I’ve ever seen on anything. So far excellent. Even down to the flight deck and detail.
The huge Engine Alliance GP7270 units are excellent. The moulds and pylons are superb. The fans are a good colour and the detail outstanding. I cannot tell you how many times the engines have been a let down on Gemini models, but here for once, we have a first class set of four. No leaky paint, no bad detail, no tilting, just all spot on. Excellent!
3) Landing Gear
While the wheels/bogies are plastic and mounted onto metal hydraulics, these are probably some of the neatest wheels Gemini do. The tyres are excellent too. The wheels need to be metal though for this price bracket and while they all rotate and are problem free, they just aren’t quality enough for the money. This time the previous problems that were common on the A380 from Gemini – the nose wheel either being too short or the model tilting up and the nose not reaching the ground (Lufthansa, BA, Qantas all suffered from this) have been dispensed with, and not before time. Finally some quality control is being exercised and is proving beneficial to the customer. Well done Gemini!
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
These are a tour de force of accuracy and precision. Really they are first class, colours, paint, definition, overall quality is excellent.
5) Wings and underbody.
Well this is the one place that Gemini should have no problems with. Their wing detail is excellent above and below. The wings fit beautiful into the body – a cradle free and superb example of what can be achieved. Except the one very annoying issue I have with this model is a repeat of something thats happened on two other Gemini A380’s – the left wing upper sharklet is bent inwards. I don’t understand how this happens. Both the Lufthansa and Qantas models had the exact same fault. Unimpressed, especially because it’s so visible and if you try to fix it as I did with the Qantas A380, paint cracks and falls off. This is not a shipping or retailer issue. All three came from different sources.
This is an area where despite the failings on many Gemini models, they usually excel. This is no exception, the colours, well they are simply outstanding . To be honest this is the reason I chose Gemini for the Etihad model.Phoenix are good but they have a habit of getting colours wrong a bit too often – especially yellow-orange-brown colourisation (The Monarch A300 is a prime example of poor colour choice). Gemini walk away with the crown for his scheme easily, it’s really first rate and deserving of the highest praise.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
I know the mould isn’t right so thats -0.5 for the nose. The only other issue is that bent sharklet which is really annoying because it is so visible and can’t be fixed, -1. Other than that this is one hell of a good model. Gemini seem to be – for the most part – capable of producing a really first class A380 and this is really very very good. It’s probably the most striking of all the A380’s built – the livery is amazing and the model is a welcome addition to the collection. Excellent improvements by Gemini all round and a really good model. 8.5/10
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