American Airlines 787-8 N800AN Gemini Jets February 2015 Release GJAAL1460
This is one very important airline model in my opinion. Firstly it gives Gemini a long needed opportunity to prove conclusively it is on a new path towards higher standards and better quality. Secondly it must be utterly convincing in its detail. No mistakes, no missing this or that, “As real as it gets” features – a Trade Mark registered by Gemini is something that’s not just printed on the back of every box but something they actually live up to.
It is also a crucial model for it represents the very future of one of the most iconic airline brands that’s managed to survive into an age of a few gigantic dominant domestic US majors. Those airlines see themselves as under threat from the superior qualities of external airlines spread from the ME3 to the Chinese, Taiwanese, New Zealand, and Hong Kong – and in several cases even European airlines like quickly improving Virgin Atlantic, BA and Lufthansa. The American Airlines 788 should be part of the fight back, yet having seen the interior I’m not so sure they understood the argument.
First impressions of the model are extremely good. For one the rubbish overprinted box used on the Virgin Atlantic model has gone and we’ve returned to a traditional Gemini Jets quality box with tech spec and good details. Taking the model out of the box gives me a bit of a spine tingling thrill – I know – on a Gemini! It looks initially like it could be a winner, but already there is one glaring omission that dampens my ardour! So here it goes…
The fuselage mould is exceptionally good, systematically detailed and fault free. There are only two aerials on the model roof, 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 however completely missing – this is very sad as on the Virgin Atlantic it was extremely well done. 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, AA has chosen it for their 788’s and it’s not even presented as a painted on marking.
The achievement of this fuselage is the colour. It has a highly effective silver-grey 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 pleasing that the lettering is also rather excellent and the overall print quality superb.
Gemini have also achieved a far higher level of print on the red and white stripes at the rear of the fuselage. However this has come with a down side. It lacks the brightness and lustre of the real thing. Now this is a minor point, the execution of the colours and the quality of print are excellent, it may simply be that the issues around putting such a complex tail scheme as this onto the grey paint is technically difficult – it would have to be a glossy finish to get the right level of refinement and that could be tricky.
Other small niggles are the excessively large red markings on the doors – in real life these are so tiny as to be almost invisible on a hi-def screen from a hi-res photo, they would probably have been best leaving them off.
Overall form a fuselage perspective, absolutely outstanding given the limitations of the production process.
GenEx 1000’s (which have a different nacelle size and ground clearance to Roll Royce engines not that Gemini or others have bothered with this differential), look extremely accurate and it’s a really good quality mould, with excellent fans, spot on colouring and overall refinement I never thought possible on a Gemini of late. There is a minor inaccuracy in the pylon fitment at the front and rear ends but thats a very minor niggle. Overall excellent.
3) Landing Gear
These are way better than usually found on a Gemini model. The moulds are more detailed for the wheels, and they are wheels rather than just a tyre on an axel, but they also look obviously dull grey plastic. It just needs a tiny bit of detail on the inner ring to be darker and they would look perfect. Unlike the Virgin 787-9 which was nose down, this is completely level. Just as it’s supposed to be. The tyres on the wheels are also first rate, no blobs or rough moulded rubber.
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. As I said in the fuselage section above, the only downside is the lack of lustre, but, and this is important, I understand why it’s as it is – it’s exceptionally difficult with this very complex scheme to carry off all the nuanced blue-white-red combinations. A glossier finish would have probably wrecked it.
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 and frankly this one has a Grand Canyon of a gap you could see from space. However the good thing is that at least the front end and wings fit tightly. Other manufacturers have done far better with these cradles. I wish Gemini would just swallow the pill and abandon it for good. It’s by far one of the best they’ve produce though, that much has to be said.
The wings themselves however are really very good, all the way through to the red and green port/starboard lights. The upper surfaces have plenty of detail too, underneath they are very plain, as is the cradle. The standard Gemini stand actually fits easily too; please keep it that way in future!
Absolutely excellent. This is one of those schemes more like Air Canada but not as sensitive as the hyper-complex Virgin Atlantic finish, where the colours are sensitive to light conditions and neighbouring colour reflections. Gemini are normally masters of colour and it shows here completely.
7) Overall score
I love this model, despite the Martian Melas Chasma of a gap at the rear of the cradle and missing comms dome. However each of those is a -1. I find that extremely sad, but that’s the score process used consistently since day one. I have to be consistent or there is no point to reviewing these models, so 8/10 it has to be.
However and this must be said, I have always criticised Gemini heavily for lousy quality when that’s what they produced. This is far from being that. In fact it’s a sea-change in quality improvement and despite the fact the comms dome is missing and that cradle gap – I mean why Gemini? Why? – I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this model.
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