La Compagnie 757-256 F-HTAG Phoenix 11104 April 2015
There was no question that I would buy this. It has to be one of the most striking liveries in use today. La Compagnie are a French, Paris Orly based business class only airline operating to New York Newark, recently they have entered the UK market with this aircraft as it happens, based in London Luton airport – well know for its extensive private jet terminal only rivalled by Stanstead.
They don’t have it all easy, as the British Airways Open Skies 757-200 business service also operates out of Paris Orly to New York and BA also operate the BA1/BA2 A318 service from London City outbound via US pre-clearance at Shannon (and for fuel) and then direct back to the UK. It’s downside is its’s often diverted to Gatwick when LCY gets fogged in, but a fast train to Victoria, then underground to Docklands and Canary Wharf will still get you there pretty quickly.
F-HTAG was once G-POWJ of Titan Airways and stood in on several events I managed between UK and Ingolstadt and Malaga, before that she was TF-IST of IcelandAir and before that as TC-OCS she served with Saudia Arabian, Ethiopian, and Atlas jet. Before that she was delivered to Iberia new in 2000 as EC-HIQ.
La Compagnie (the brand name of owners DreamJet SAS), is a boutique airline, it’s all about the style and the facilities at a sustainable cost clearly aimed at business users and the occasional luxury traveller. Using Luton opens a wider market as nearby Milton Keynes is brimming with major corporate HQ’s. Will it last? Who knows, Silver Airways tried it from Luton (I used it on one trip to JFK while working for Audi) but the 2007-8 recession massacred business travel overnight and killed them off.
Either way, as liveries go it’s pretty special and will join Open Skies at RLSI. Equipped with just 19 rows and 74 seats with an average fare of just under £1000 ($1,500 US) return (they seem to run a lot of special offers). Frankly I doubt they barely cover their costs as 757-200’s are not cheap to run but I wish them luck, it’s a cut-throat market and BA and it’s American Airlines JV partners have very deep pockets.
The Fuselage is an old mould that looks like it was copied from Gemini years ago. it has cradle fit wings. The nose is not my ideal choice for a 757 but otherwise as moulds go its OK.
The issue for me is the detail of the doors and they way they have been ham-fistedly printed over the La Compagnie lettering and the door handle painted on with a 6-inch brush. This is the sort of crap Gemini foist on us from time to time, what on Earth is it about 757’s that they seem to attract the apprentice twit in the paint shop? It’s really annoying because at the end of the day the rest of the paint and the detail is neatly applied.
2) Wings, Underbody & Landing Gear
This is a cradle system mould, one that as 757’s drift out of service I suspect Phoenix are disinclined to invest in. The wings look perfectly fine and the paint and detail is excellent, right down to the tiny graphic in the winglets. What isn’t right is that there is – inevitably with this old system, a Mariana’s trench of a gap between the front of the wing and the fuselage where it joins the body, and just an uncomfortable fit at the back end. It’s not appallingly bad, just not really good enough for £30 ($45).
The landing gear is metal, the tyres roll and the nose gear is nicely done if a little short (some people are now telling me they have a marked nose-down look as a result, but this may vary from model to model, nose gear fixing isn’t Phoenix strongest point). The hole for the stand is more than adequate too.
Rolls Royce RB211-535 E4 engines power this and they look perfectly fine, they pass the naked eye test and there is no major paint disaster, though fine strands of glue were visible on a close up photo. Overall, pretty good,
4) Tail and stabilisers
The fitment of the stabilisers is great, the tail and print again, very good but the fitting is a little gluey on close up, though it rubbed away easily enough.
5) Nose detail
The printed detail, including the flight deck is excellent, fine detail for the most part and easily passes the eyeball test.
And here ladies and gentlemen is where we part with reality. The colours are wrong. The dark blue should have been black and the metallic blue is about 6 shades too bright. There are hundreds of photographs of these aircraft available on line and not one looks like the colours Phoenix chose. This is frankly inexcusable, a total failure to research anything properly or more likely, “lets find a paint that comes close’. That is how China works – if it looks almost as good, if it’s vaguely the same, that’ll do. Well Phoenix it may sell models of an aircraft we all know nobody else will ever make, and it may be just about passable under those circumstances, but it isn’t a professional choice, and frankly for £30 it won’t do, it won’t do at all.
How do you bend over backwards to finally get a Virgin Atlantic colour we can all live with then do this? You can do it so why do you choose not to?
7) Out of 10
First off, there is no way despite the colours this model is going back. We all have the same issue, it’s too dramatic and too superb a livery for it to be ignored. If you bought it you know why. That being said it’s far from perfect, colour wise it’s a -3 and the blobby silver door handle paint is another -0.5. So while the model is staying and I actually admit I really like it – as a model – it’s far from being a true representation of the real thing. 6.5/10