Japan Airlines 787-9 JA861J Phoenix 1:400 Item 11138 July 2015

Elegant and simple, JAL's 787-9
Elegant and simple, JAL’s 787-9

Because of the imbalance in airline alliances at RLSI, I generally take any opportunity to get hold of a model that will give the OneWorld terminal some more aircraft options. JAL is a major player in OneWorld and a second aircraft type (the 787-9 joins a 777-300ER by JC Wings reviewed here) is welcome.

Japan, having an almost entirely white national flag with only the red rising sun to adorn it, is the only country with a real reason to have a completely white aircraft, as it’s flag carrier.  It should be simple enough for Phoenix to reproduce as well. What can go wrong? Black lettering and a minuscule amount of red – even Phoenix with their slipping standards should be able to cope. Well that’s what you’d like to think isn’t it?

Delivered only on the 11th June this year she’s the first fully operational JAL 787-9. Configured in C44W35Y116, she’s one of three currently on order. They already have 22 788’s and 7 more on order.

1400Reviews JAL787-9 side
Wonderful simplicity only Japan Airlines can really get away with

1) Fuselage

Other than a bit more dust than you might ideally like to see in the paint, at least there is no orange peel effect which on white can be a fatal combination. For the most part, give or take very small but annoying black paint blurs that seem to appear at random (the worst is at the tail), the paint is fairly good as is the print. You don’t want to look too closely at the back JAPAN AIRLINES as it’s not the crispest finish you’ve ever seen but is quite acceptable from a naked eye perspective.

If you can't do it right Phoenix, don't bother!
If you can’t do it right Phoenix, don’t bother!

The real issue with this model is, not for the first time, the atrocious comms dome and the loose aerials. If you cannot make it work, if you cannot fit it right or even mould it properly, please Phoenix, don’t do it! If it’s beyond your abilities accept the facts and move on. I’d rather these deeply flawed details were not present than botched, and here they are well and truly miserable. The fact is that while small, they have such a disproportionate impact when faulty – especially on bright white – that I’d rather have a painted on line than this. The front aerial fell out immediately. Not a trace of glue and it was a horrible experience trying to get it back in and make it stay there.

The comms dome, while it sort of fits, is so badly moulded it deserves nothing but derision. This is not quality. I am having so many issues with Phoenix models now it’s actually putting me off buying them.  Just to prove that it’s not coming from one source, this model was obtained from a separate vendor in Europe. There were other models in this batch but more of that later in the month.

Because of the demands to out-do the competition and be the first to produce a model, Phoenix didn’t have the time to see a crucial airline post-delivery add on – the JAL Sky Suite 787 tiles on the rear upper third of the aircraft, as seen her when she went into service.

JAL787-9 ©1400reviews

2) Wings, Underbody and Landing gear

The upper surfaces of the wings appear generally accurate, and despite heavy gloss paint do still show enough detail. However the underwings and the entire underbody are totally detail free – the wings because the paint is so thick, it obscures almost every mould detail and the underbody is just a sea of white bland, although the rear aerial is there. Now I know there is little underneath the real thing, but it’s not that devoid of detail. Utterly uninspired.

IMG_2263 - Version 2

Wing root fitting is vastly superior on these to the A350, A340 and A330 Phoenix make.
Wing root fitting is vastly superior on these to the A350, A340 and A330 Phoenix make.

The landing gear is very good this time, no rotten metal or paint fails and the general quality of the tyres and wheels, all of which roll seamlessly, is above what we’ve seen recently from Phoenix.

3) Engines

Standard GenEx 1’B’s very neatly done and moulded, but the leading edge silver is once again too thin on the intakes and visibly so. Not terrible, just not brilliant. Not up to the standards Gemini have recently produced on say, the AA 787-8 model.

Not the best and not the worst.
Not the best and not the worst.

4) Tail and stabilisers

Overall quality is very high, though black paint blurs are a tad unsightly around the tail cone markings. The JAL Crane logo is good but it’s not the highest definition.

Blurry black paint over runs
Blurry black paint over runs

5) Nose detail

Not very good. The black frames do not match the grey panels, odd grey over-run marks, not brilliant but hard to see with the naked eye.

Not perfect or anywhere near it - flight deck windows disappoint.
Not perfect or anywhere near it – flight deck windows disappoint.

6) Colours

White, Black and JAL Red, not difficult for anyone to get right and this is fine.

Elegance is often about stylish simplicity, for JAL it works.
Elegance is often about stylish simplicity, for JAL it works.

7) Score

There has to be a substantial minus factor for the terrible dome and the aerial -15 and – 5 respectively, a small deduction for the dust in the paint, -3 and the blurred blacks -3,  and another small deduction for the engine intake paint -4, and the flight deck windows -2.

Final score: 68%.  It did not need to have been so low. The dome/aerial could have eradicated so much of the visible problems with this model, that it would have made it into the excellent category should they have made an effort with it.

The biggest issue for me is that globally, no matter where these models come from retail, we are being let down time after time by Phoenix as customers. The product is shoddy, sliding generally down hill with a price tag that demands it should be so much better. If this is what the vaunted Chinese industrial machine is churning out, it’s no wonder so many other businesses are looking to repatriate their production, to seize control of standards and return to the quality China seems unable to maintain for any length of time, and with any consistency.

One thought on “Japan Airlines 787-9 JA861J Phoenix 1:400 Item 11138 July 2015

Comments are closed.