Asiana Airlines A380 HL7634 Phoenix 1:400 11153 September 2015

I forgot to buy the last Asiana A380 and it sold out, so this sort of became a must, it’s a bright, interesting livery, modern and clearly identifiable. Even the box is brand appropriate and looks pretty good.

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Based in Seoul, South Korea, this Asiana A380 plies the New York, Hong Kong, Bangkok and LAX routes mostly, since her delivery on 7th May 2015 as No3 of a six aircraft order. She also sports the UNICEF tiles on the nose.

She carries 517 passnegers, 14 ‘First Suite Class’ which includes (other than sounding grammatically painful), a guest seat, fully stocked bar, double doors and complete privacy, as well as an innovative starry sky night setting for the ceiling when you go to sleep.  76 business class and 427 economy seats fill the rest of the aircraft.

Every time I open a Phoenix box these days, it’s with crossed fingers – I pray there’s not some mediocre disaster waiting inside. Especially since the truly appalling Asiana A330 and the TF-MUM & DAD sagas.

The first thing that always takes you aback is how light the Phoenix A380’s are compared to the others – they’re an aluminium casting and the difference is staggering.

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1)Fuselage

The Phoenix mould is, as I have clearly demonstrated HERE , the best by a considerable margin, being way more accurate in almost every way than the other manufacturers. So from a mould perspective this is near perfect.

The three upper aerials are all well sited and fixed as is the front lower one.

The general print and finish of the windows and logos, is excellent. The issue comes where the detail line transits from grey to white, – this is not in the least bit crisp and clean. The burgundy colour into the grey is OK except in the lower areas and the underbody, where it shows quite visible blurring and smears. The lighter red is the same with the blue to light red, again at the bottom of the fuselage and round into the underbody, is also far from ideal.

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This sort of thing just didn’t happen  year ago, so why are they letting it happen now?

2)Wings and landing gear

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The wings are again, a superb mould, Phoenix really do have the A380 made to top notch standards. However they have plastered the wings underneath in super-heavy gloss that obscures the detail and the upper surfaces paint is little better. the colours are fine, it’s just the overwhelming heavy handed use of paint.

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There is also a poor cracking of the outer paint layer where the rear of the wing root meets the fuselage. It’s not desperately bad but you can see it if you look for it.

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The landing gear is generally well fitted and made, but some of the paint on the hydraulics is shoddy. The bogies all rotate,  all the wheels and tyres seem to be fixed on and rotate easily. The nose gear is problem free and well fitted.

3)Engines

My pet hate is bad engines but you’ll know that by now if you read these pages. While the mould is good and they are well fitted and put together, we seem to have gone back several years in Phoenix’s ability to apply silver rim paint properly. It’s sub-standard, certainly not as good as they have been doing on recent models, especially the 777’s and 788’s. There is also chipping and rub marks from the packaging on the outer engines silver.

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4)Nose detail

No complaints, it all looks neat and fault free.

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5)Tail and stabilisers

The stabilisers are fine, if over glossed again. The paint on the tail fin is very good, it’s the way the paint on the tail of the fuselage blurs and leaks in places, mostly at the base, that isn’t so good. Now I have to be clear, it is not “oh my God” tragic or anything like it. It just isn’t premium, it’s not good enough for the price Phoenix want to charge, although to be fair at £31/$47US (I bought it in Euros so it was way cheaper than the UK price), it’s not a bad deal. Gemini charge almost £10-12 more for an A380 at retailer prices and shop prices are way more than that.

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6) Colours

Well I mean who can get white wrong? The old Asiana grey seems accurate enough and the red-purple-burgundy-blue-yelow seems accurate enough too. I have no complaints.

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7) Score and conclusions

-10 for multiple paint issues on the fuselage, -8 for engine paint and marks. 82% is the score

There is an old British nautical term that goes back to the days of building large sailing ships in the 18th Century; “don’t spoil the ship for a halfpenny o’tar”. In other words, why ruin something that cost a fortune for something so apparently insignificant as a drop of tar. That cent’s worth could be all the difference between the ship leaking and sinking.  And that’s what Phoenix keep doing, they go to so much trouble but every time they spoil the ship for the cheapest most ridiculous quality issues. The most annoying aspect is they so can, and have, got it perfectly right in the past, consistently. Why have they slipped back to being mediocre, though it has to be said this model is better than many recent ones.

This is not a bad model overall, but standards have been driven high and what was OK three years ago isn’t OK now. Witty may be gone, but they made awesome quality models – Phoenix met the challenge then fell off when Witty vanished. Gemini, if they would just get a bit more adventurous rather than clinging to the safety rail all the time, in terms of easy sell releases, could easily take the crown this year for quality. Who would have thought that 18 months ago?

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