This single A321 in TAP livery was announced amongst a plethora of classic old aircraft for the month and I tried to order one in the UK. I was advised immediately that the UK wholesaler was on holiday and the retailers were unable to access what was available. By the time the UK wholesaler came back, there were none left to be ordered and as far as I’m aware they never went on sale here. My retailer kindly advised me to look elsewhere to get one as they just couldn’t supply it!
So to Europe, by the time I ordered mine there were just two left – at £29.36 ($44.70US), it was not cheap, but then AC models rarely are.
Catalogued under AC’s “BabyBus” range (I mean what sort of name is that for an aircraft range?) TAP liveries are very few and far between, especially on the A320 series aircraft. Few of the manufacturers bother. Phoenix have done a couple of wing-wobbling A330’s recently but that’s been it for a very long time.
It arrived in that oh-so-not quality all-encompassing box with the stick-on label on the side to determine which model was contained.
Now all this apart, AC do make a pretty good A320 series mould, even if colours and finish are not always where they should be.
This A321-211 was delivered on the 9th January 2001, so is probably at the thin edge of her life cycle by now. TAP has been effectively sold to Brazil’s Azul by the Portuguese government, and they have made it clear that TAP will become an integrated part of Azul’s business, providing a powerful unifying link across Europe to Brazil via Lisbon, uniting the Portuguese speaking ex-colony to its original homeland. It’s current livery may not be around for long and has remained unchanged for almost twenty years, largely because they haven’t had any money, like most of the legacy state owned airlines.
I really did want this to be good, so few TAP’s get made. Maybe this should have been one they forgot about.
So to the model….
The mould is excellent. Shall we stop there or carry on? OK let’s take a deep breath.
a) The whole thing is covered in white fibre dust, possibly glue strands, that is actually stuck on the paint.
b) The print quality is amateur hour at the AeroClassics kindergarten.
c) The red logo colour is badly blurred into the white from the P in TAP
d) The colours are all wrong (except the white, though arguably that’s not a colour).
I shall let the images speak for themselves as we carry on
2) Wings and landing gear
The wings are the push-in variety and pretty good for it. A little over glossed but actually rather good. the downside is they just aren’t quite pushed in properly but are so glued that moving them is impossible.
The landing gear hydraulics are fine, it’s the measly rubber on a spigot rubber wheels that are pathetic. The nose rubber wheels fall of on AC models with alarming regularity so they will need taking off and gluing back on before one of them vanishes never to be seen again.
Other than over-silvered fans and a mass of stuck to the paint white fibres, pretty good all round. Spoilt by quality issues.
4) Nose detail
Poorly defined cockpit detail, fibres, poor printing, otherwise alright. I really don’t know what to say it’s so mediocre.
5) Tail and stabilisers
More lousy print at the tail end, covered in stuck-to-the-paint fibres, wrong colours, stabilisers fitted poorly. Not at all good.
The colours are barely a passing effort for the real thing. The greens on the tail especially. The bottom front edge of the tail is a yellow-green, they’ve just used the same green as the middle green and their is equally little or no definition on the fuselage logo. The reds are wrong, miles out. A monkey with one eye and its hand tied behind its back could have done a better job of guessing what they might be.
The real thing:
7) Score and conclusion
-15 for colour fails because they are really way off the mark. -10 for the fibres, I stress these are stuck ON the paint. -10 for the appalling print gaffes and lack of quality control, -2 for the limp attempt at front nose gear tyres. 63%. That’s a very bad score for something this expensive.
The potential for this to be a great model is there. Yet colour wise, well when do AC ever get that right? They’re well known for it and I can accept it to a point because it’s the risk you take when you know what they produce.
However, the fibres (which look like glue strings to be honest), poor print and missing quality control stand out and are unacceptable failings when charging this much money. Just atrocious and deeply disappointing. This particular model has been 50% refunded by the retailer, so you cannot ask for more when you get to keep it too. I’d rather not have had to complain and just been able to enjoy it.