Transavia 737-800 PH-HZE Exclusive Release for AMS by Phoenix 04402
Aviation Mega Store near Amsterdam Schipol Airport, probably the worlds largest single aviation retail outlet, (looking forward to my visit in September), ocassionally gets Phoenix to produce it something special; especially if they see a market that might otherwise go unserved. This year, following the rebranding of Transavia – AF-KLM’s wholly owned subsidiary – they comissioned a very limited run of 737-8K2 PH-HZE named Futura. The model cost £22.80/$36 US – largely due to the highly favourable exchange rate against the Euro. I purchased it with two cargo aircraft for review in a couple of weeks, to mitigate the high delivery cost.
Transavia is fairly small right now, largely because Air France Pilots saw it as demeaning to go from AF to the soon to be low-cost arm of the company, even though they were loosing no pay or benefits. It resulted in last years 20 day strike after which even the pilots started to see it wasn’t all as bad as it looked. Having resolved that issue AF-KLM set about rebranding and are now to equip the airline with new aircraft – though the transition will be far slower than originally planned due to the financial loss from the strike!
With IAG owning Vueling and BA and Iberia dealing in their own ways with low cost rivals, Lufthansa establishing Vienna based Eurowings and soon to transfer the outgoing German Wings business to that company, AF-KLM need to compete and Transavia is the means of doing so. Before this it was principally a charter airline with a handful of routes.
I doubt Ryan Air and easyJet will be worried, Lufthansa costs to run Eurowings are 54% higher than their own and Transavia will be little better.
So the new livery had some in rapture and others were horrified, it kept only colour from the past, the livery is vastly less interesting that it was. Having said that, I still felt like I wanted one as something different at RLSI, the airline is set to appear everywhere in the next 5 years, and I was curious to see how well made a bespoke model would be.
A brief note on Phoenix’s numbering system. Bespoke models supplied to companies or single retailers carry the Item codes in the 04*** range, whereas the main releases are the 11**** listings. I only ever show the box code identifier.
The Phoenix mould is good. The livery is simple enough so you would think that they would have few problems right? Now look at this model from three or four feet away and you really wouldn’t notice much, but get it to within 12 inches/300mm and really you have to wonder, do Phoenix send these models to the training department for them to practice on?
The model has four aerials, two up and two down. The rear top one has been put in upside down. It’s a real shame because the aerials are otherwise small and commensurate with the model scale and generally well fitted.
While the detail looks OK from a distance, it doesn’t even begin to match the quality we saw from Phoenix 12-18 months ago. The green overprint on the logos and lettering, are all to a much lower standard though from an eyeball perspective, you’d find it hard to tell. My issue with detail like this is that when they do go the extra mile, you can see it, almost subliminally feel it, you can tell it’s better, special. That’s how the Phoenix ANZ 787-9 and others felt in 2014, and the Witty A380’s. They were something special. This isn’t that.
2) Wings, underbody & landing gear
The port side wing was loose – something that seems to be a constant theme with Phoenix these days – the A330 suffers the same issues, the Virgin A346 G-VGAS had the same thing. Again, next week I’ll show how and why this happens and how Phoenix can easily fix it.
Phoenix use a paint that is far too glossy on upper and lower wing surfaces, something Gemini have recently overcome on the latest American Airlines models. Gloss paint is thick and with that comes detail obscuration and reflectivity, which to the naked eye reduces detail observability even further. The detail is there, if you pick it up and look for it.
Of special note is the ‘t’ logo on the winglets – these look well done under even under high magnification.
The underbody is the place the livery designers put the colour on this aircraft – pink with a deck chair and umbrella at the front and blue with a briefcase at the rear, indicating the business and leisure markets they aim to serve. Unless you happen to be under the aircraft as its lands or takes off this is likely to remain almost entirely unnoticed. A strange choice. A huge green ‘t’ logo sits in the middle.
Landing gear is metal, rolling, good tyres on wheels. Excellent. It also fits on a normal stand!
The mould is fine, the paint however can easily be seen to lack quality and finish. The red band is for the most part, poor and don’t mention the intake rim paint. Fortunately it’s such a small engine even at this scale that it barely notices. It just underlines the continued slide in Phoenix quality compared to similar models from 12-18 months past.
4) Nose detail
Exceptionally good. A highlight on this model.
The major low-light of this model and again an area that Phoenix seem to be failing on almost continuously in the latest batch of models. Low lights include excessive glue strands, lousy (and visibly so) print on the tail, colour over run and colour smears. The port side stabiliser is atrociously fitted with a leering gap not visible on the other side. For some reason almost all of the issues are on the port side of the model. A general lack of quality control.
Even Phoenix would have found this one hard to screw up as it’s almost all white and the colours direct from the Pantone chart. No problems.
7) Score. Out of 10…
This model is full of small and unnecessary quality issues, but most of them are too small to be generally visible on this size model so, as is standard practice, they cannot be marked down. However there are clearly visible problems. The loose wing is very poor, -1, The rear port stabiliser, -0.5, the tail issues on the port side -0.5, the upside down rear aerial, -0.25, visible paint issues on the engine rim, -0.25. Final score: 7.5/10
Phoenix need to do better, don’t fall back to where you were 3 years or so ago!