Thai A380-841 HS-TUF Phoenix 10952 2014 Release
You can say what you like but I love the A380, it doesn’t matter how often I see one, be it flying over the house at 19,000ft or a few yards away at Farnborough, its engineering magnificence enthrals and captivates. Farnborough taught me that given the opportunity they are exceptionally nimble, quiet, even a bit mean and no amount of Boeing or other propaganda will persuade me its not the finest aircraft ever built. I’d concede it isn’t the prettiest but it has an elegant efficiency and practicality few aircraft ever achieve. It’s also a source of immense family pride that my brother in law was one of the principle engine designers both on the RR Trent 970 that powers it.
Thai have a fleet of 6 – this the last one delivered in November 2013. They will soon start to come into their own more fully as the cash strapped and frankly badly managed airline has had to face the financial music, retiring all of its A340-600’s, fast tracking away its 744’s and closing down its Thai Cargo arm completely. Like other airlines before it it will soon be left with 787, A380’s and 777-300ER’s as the core of its fleet. The A380’s are to start operating to London Heathrow Terminal 2 on July 1 2015 – this will replace the 744 service. Frankfurt & Hong Kong are the other principle destinations.
Thai operates the aircraft with the 12 Royal First Class on the front upper deck (almost all A380 first class are normally lower deck front, even if the rest of the deck is economy). There are then 60 Royal Silk Class (business) and then 58 Economy upper deck and another 377 Economy on the lower deck for a total of 455, making it one of the higher density formats (Skymark’s only completed A380 not delivered, was 388, BA is just 420, Korean air is only 405).
I’m going to do an “who makes the best A380 mould” now I have all of them, but I have to say the Phoenix is a better shape, especially at the nose, vastly better than the Gemini/JC Wings version which is just wrong. This model was made in the early/middle of 2014 when Phoenix were pretty much on the ascendant and reached a new level of quality they seem determined to walk away from now. The vast upper and lower decks are exceptionally well painted, the windows all in alignment and from a naked eye perspective, the quality looks first rate. Three upper deck aerials are well painted and positioned as is the small comms dome behind the front aerial – it’s actually moulded in.
Even tiny details like the Star Alliance logo looks readable and are instantly recognisable. The Thai tile and logo are all spot on, with no bleed or blemishes. Arguably the pink line has been added onto the forward purple and on very close up you can see that doesn’t look so good, but that’s being very picky – it more than adequately passes the eyeball test.
Last year I was able to spend a lot of time very close to a Thai 744 and I noticed then that the purple is in fact not metallic. In fact it’s quite flat with almost no lustre at all. I wonder then, why all of the models show a very clearly metallic colour regardless of the fact? Indeed even current images of HS-TUF clearly show it just isn’t metallic, the only paint that appears to be so is the gold line between the white and pink.
Whatever the reason, on the model it looks amazing and I love it. I’m trying to remember why I didn’t buy one of these a year ago, probably because they were expensive and there was so much else to choose from – and A380’s take up a LOT of space, especially as there are now 10 in the collection.
2) Wings, underbody & landing gear
The underneath of the push in wings is devoid of almost all detail and too glossy. The upper wings do have detail but it in’t exceptionally fine and overly glossy paint tends to detract from what is there. The detail on the Gemini upper wing is much more defined. They underbody detail is minimal, though it does have one aerial near the front. The Phoenix logo is quite large, overly so in my opinion when so often they don’t even bother with them or make them much smaller. The stand hole is excellent and more than adequate, easily accommodating the standard thin-arm Gemini.
The two main 6-wheel landing gear bogies are highly flexible – loose even – as are the outer sets with 4 wheels. All rotate and seem well fixed in place despite their manoeuvrability. The nose gear is excellent. All are metal with quality wheels and tyres.
The four RR Trent 970’s look excellent, with good paint and colours used all round. Detail is high and even the RR logos are excellent – except that one is missing on the outboard side of Engine No.2
4) Nose detail
The fine detail is almost so fine you can’t see it, but the clarity of the detail that is visible is first class. The flight deck seems commensurate to scale and possesses adequate definition.
The whole section is first rate, well fitted, accurate and error free. Excellent.
This is as best as can be described entirely accurate in principle. I just find the clearly metallic paint of the purple possibly overly flattering. It’s the right colour, it just isn’t the right type of paint, quite another thing. However as a model, it looks outstanding, just as it does on the Thai Cargo 744 and the A346 it joins at RLSI.
7) And the score…
It’s an exceptionally nice model, it looks the part, the detail is excellent and my main detraction from that is the wings. They’re just too glossy, too lacking in visible detail and too model-like. That might seem slightly odd, but they do actually detract so much in certain bright light that they have to reduce the score by a point. I would like to challenge the accuracy of the purple too, it’s not quite where it should be because it’s so metallic it can’t be a true representation. In the end Its so well done I will only take off a quarter point. If it had been poorly done and wrong, I’d have been much more severe. The fact is its a lovely model, just not necessarily the finest exact representation of the real thing. 8.75/10