Consistency is something you always want, especially if you happen to be a collector of airline fleets. I generally only have five fleets (Virgin Atlantic, BA, Lufthansa, American and Monarch) and limit all other airlines to a maximum of three.
I purchased last year the much sought after Thomson G-TUIA, released by Gemini but made by Phoenix. The colours on it, while isolated to that aircraft were, let’s say, vibrant. They were also horribly inaccurate. In fact I sold it a couple of weeks ago as it just didn’t fit.
This year Phoenix have introduced G-TUIE and astonishingly – because Gemini are also not brilliant at colour consistency (AA new livery for example reviewed HERE), They seem to have managed three consistent models with the same livery and colours! 738 G-TAWL, 763 G-OBYF and now G-TUIE, delivered to the airline in 2014.
I love the Thomson/Tui livery – the name Thomson is to be expunged soon and the whole group Europeanised to Tui. It’s therefore nice to have these in their UK specific tiles. If only we could get a 757, the collection would be complete!
The first thing that has to be said about this model is how did it come out of the same factory as the Japan Airlines 787-9? Or the truly atrocious A321’s TF-MOM & TF-DAD? All in the same production month.
Why is this so much better? I mean it, it is head and shoulders above and beyond the others. It is true that the Phoenix 787-8’s have been generally very good – though that can’t be said for the 787-9’s. A weird moment where models reflect reality possibly? Charleston built 787-9’s allegedly have far more issues than Seattle built 787-8’s and 9’s.
Either way, after all the grief I’ve had with Phoenix lately, this is a highlight. Briefly, before we continue, this was also sourced from somewhere I don’t usually use, to satisfy my curiosity about random supply and quality issues.
The Sky-Sea-Snow livery looks amazing in reality and particularly on the 787, which seems like it was designed to carry it. Although the shades are a little out here and there the point is all three models look the same and that makes for a big deal in my book.
The fuselage is excellent, and because TUI Group didn’t specify comms domes we haven’t had to put up with one of those dreadful pin-head things stuck in the roof and not fitting. There are three upper aerials, two at the rear (though the rearmost looks like it’s upside down). For once all of the aerials are fixed in and there appears to be no issue with them.
The quality of the detail and print is first class, no blurs, marks, blemishes or mis-aligned frames on doors or windows. There is however a very slight over-run of sky blue into the white on the rear port quarter and it’s easily seen with the naked eye, but compared to some of the dross that’s come out of Phoenix factories of late this is very minor.
Overall, highly competent and more like the Phoenix models of a year ago.
2) Wings, underbody and landing gear
Despite the ultra-gloss white finish it’s not painted on so heavily on the upper surfaces that it has totally obscured detail. It’s also quite accurate, all the images of this aircraft indicate the wings are indeed completely white with no markings above.
Underneath you can’t see any detail at all because the paint is so thick, so glossy, it even partly obscures the hinges and extension frames, but then again, how often do you look underneath? Does it matter? Of course it does, it could be better, but it’s not a big deal.
Other than the tyres on the landing gear, this is all rolling wheels, rigid bogies. The tyres are some sort of synthetic rubber and again, they’ve been yanked off their spigot mould and put on with no attempt at keeping them neat, but way better than some have been lately. Even the nose gear is properly attached.
General Electrics with suitable GE logos on the nacelles, and a perfectly painted, shaded, coloured, faultless set of engines. Really, no joke.
4) Nose detail
Another tour de force of excellence. Details are neat, pristine, crisply done and fault free. Quite refreshing.
5) Tail detail
No issues at all. Really, it’s a lovely job of model making. Other than the fuselage paint mentioned previously, all seems to be spot on and fault free.
They’re all wrong (except the white). All of them are a tiny bit out here and there, they aren’t quite lustrous enough and the reds are far too dull. More to the point though, while they are not correct, they are near enough to be passable, and again the most important thing in many ways is at least Phoenix have been consistent on each of the models they made. As a near as damn-it likeness of the real thing they pass. That despite technology and vastly improved processes and systems, seems to be the best we can ever hope for from Phoenix.
-1% for the rubber on the tyres, -10% for the colours being wrong though passable, -2% for the upside down rearmost aerial, -5% for the paint bleed on the rear starboard quarter.
So 82% as a score overall. Not bad, a more than adequate pass mark.