Alaska Airlines 737-800 N586AS Gemini Jets GJASA1426 May 2015
I have a soft spot for Alaska Airlines. To date I haven’t had one in the white livery, and this one is special, being the first Gemini offering with the love them or hate them split scimitars. Me? I love them, they look super-cool, almost menacing and they just add to the aircraft. I know not everyone agrees, but there we go. This model is a 2007 aircraft, one of 61 738″s the company operates.
Having just reviewed the mediocre Transavia 738 by Phoenix, when this arrived today and I took it out of its box, the difference in quality and finish simply leapt out at me. I’m going to tell you now, THIS is the very best 738 Gemini have made in the whole time I’ve been collecting. It reaches a whole new level of quality on this aircraft type for Gemini and therein lies the mystery. It looks remarkably like it was made by Phoenix. Push in wings, the entire fuselage mould looks and feels like Phoenix. If it is (someone please tell me if you know for sure it’s not), it’s a pity they didn’t put the same amount of effort into the Transavia as went into this. It just goes to show that these companies make far more effort when they build for a specific client with whom they have a close relationship and want repeat orders. You have to wonder, is there a menu pricing option in three bands? 1) Excellent but pricy, 2) Good and reasonably priced & 3) Commercially acceptable – high profit margin low cost?
There is nothing to complain about here, crisp clean lines, no overprints or blurs, neat windows and doors, the aerials (one up, two down), are all present and correctly fitted, first class detail all round, a pleasure to behold.
2) Wings, underbody & landing gear
The wings are a tour de force of precision, The half-matt finish (50% reduction in the gloss level seen on the Transavia), has allowed for a better finish and high levels of detail to show through. The new mould for the Split Scimitars is simply outstanding, thick enough to be robust and thin enough to look to scale. They really are excellent. Now for the downside, because I haven’t yet mentioned it. As I took it out of the box and was busy admiring the detail, guess what? The port wing fell out. My next words were, “you are f****** kidding me!”
The model was packed in enough bubble wrap to have swathed the Golden Gate as Christo did with the Reichstag, it was in vastly too large a box for one model – it was superbly packed and cushioned and the box was undamaged. Yet there lay the wing. The latest trend in Phoenix models – loose port side wings, comes to visit via Gemini. Because of these wing and tail issues I purchased an extremely fine glue applicator with a non-string glue (UHU Extra Gel) that permits an easy and seamless fix. I’ve become expert at it.
Landing gear – this is not what we usually see from Gemini, but it is what we see from Phoenix – separate wheels with tyres. The main gear is good, but the nose gear is pushed too far in and the tyre is up against the gear doors.
On the underbody, the wheel wells are painted black, the stand hole is just suitable for the Gemini stands though a bit of a tight fit. A small Gemini logo sits in the centre.
Generally they rate as fairly good. As happens so often – and I blame the packaging for this in most cases, the silver intake rim paint is less than brilliant. If you look at it you can see it with the naked eye, but from two feet away you’d never know. The same applies to the green and blue circles, they don’t look good on camera, but from a naked eye perspective, you’d hardly know.
4) Nose detail
This is in general very well executed. The nose on this mould is good and the detail well applied. There is however under the nose a paint aberration where the light grey has been encroached on by white paint on the starboard side. This is actually easily noticeable even from a couple of feet away, though hard to see being under the coach-line.
Excellent detail well assembled, no extraneous marks or faults. Spot on!
There aren’t many to go wrong with here – red, light grey green and blue – other than the grey the rest are in very small quantities and all seem like a good match.
7) The score out of 10…
As usual that which cannot be seen with the naked eye is not scored. -0.25 for the paint issue under the nose, -0.5 for the nose gear problem, -2 for the wing falling out. 7.25/10. If that wing hadn’t have fallen out, we’d be looking at a really high score. Now that it is fixed and it looks as it should, it makes the older Gemini Alaska Airlines 737 family in the collection look a little dated. I love this model, whoever made it, the split scimitars are superb and the general fit and finish are very good. In many ways now it’s fixed, the downside is that nose wheel, but it will do. If all models were made to this standard (excluding the wing & wheel issues), we would all be so much happier!