United Airlines 757-200 N17128 1:400 Gemini Jets GJUAL1395 2014

bright light is this models friend....
bright light is this models friend….

I have 9 757’s, only one of which is Phoenix, the La Compagnie released this year. The Gemini 8 are an extraordinarily inconsistent mix of the utter rubbish and the near brilliant. It seems to depend on the client. UPS 752F’s for example are near perfect, as is the more recent AA new livery N185AN. The Condor 753 was an awful example and a shambles. The recent Delta better but not perfect.

Arriving at RLSI from EWR
Arriving at RLSI from EWR

I aviation terms, allowing the 757 to fade away without a replacement was a mortal sin, leaving the field open to Airbus, where the A321 is a direct 757-200 competitor. The engineering resources were drained away on the 787 and then the delayed 748. Now after much dithering Boeing say they might look at a replacement. They can pretend the 737-9MAX will do but we all know it won’t. It’s been interesting to note that both Airbus and Boeing have said neither would ever attempt to work on more than one new aircraft at a time again. It’s just too much even for these industrial giants.

Bright light obscures the paint defects in the white
Bright light obscures the paint defects in the white

United, American and Delta have huge fleets of these aircraft, the newest of which are now ten years old. Many are used for Trans-Atlantic ‘long & thin’ routes, where their is a business case but not huge passengers numbers. My neighbour, BHX is typical, with daily flights from American and United to JFK and EWR respectively. Typical hub to spoke routes. Similarly many non-US hub cities link to hubs like Heathrow, Paris and Amsterdam using 757’s. There is little else that can perform on these routes so effectively.

This particular aircraft, N17128, a 757-224wER was delivered to Continental in March 1998 and transferred officially to United on 12th January 2011.  She works either trans-continental routes (EWR-SFO or LAX) or Trans-Atlantic routes such as Manchester, Lisbon, Belfast, Amsterdam.

1)Fuselage

Now she may have been a 2014 release but it was cheap and heavily discounted in a sale, but the official retail price was £27.99 ($42.48US). That being the case it’s a good job it wasn’t full price.

The fuselage white paint is best observed from a considerable distance or under very bright light – these make the defects, which are principally two things, temporarily unobservable.

Firstly, a bizarre roller pattern in the white paint that has left ripples the entire length of the body. It’s as though it has a caterpillar-like skin that doesn’t quite fit.

Secondly trapped dust, this is patchy and mostly small hairs that are stuck in the paint, with occasional small lumps.

Other than that the print is actually very good and the detail pretty much spot on and I have few complaints. Even the gold coach line and transition to grey seems very good.

2)Wings and landing gear

1400ReviewsUnited752N17128GemniJonChamps 12

Chronically over-glossed but OK. Wing tips are particularly good. The issue is the cradle fit; the front end is particularly gappy and can clearly be seen through from one side to the other, as can most of the upper join. It’s best at the back end where it’s a tighter, close fit.

The cradle edge is way to obvious and lacks subtlety
The cradle edge is way to obvious and lacks subtlety

The solid bogies and gear are the rubber wheel-on-a-spigot system and the tyres look overly large for the gear, even for a 757, which has unusually tall gear to make space for the relatively large RB-211 power plants.

1400ReviewsUnited752N17128GemniJonChamps 8

3)Engines

These aren’t too bad to be fair.The main issue is the amount of rubble in the paint, you can see it and feel it, but the rims are pretty good for the scale and the paint perfectly acceptable. There seems to be less of the bright silver used as well, and a more titanium-like colour for the fans. The supporting pylons are over-glued and there is a visible glue stain on the upper nacelle casing where it meets the pylon on the No1 engine.

Paint ripples on the fuselage are particularly pronounced here, engine intake on the RB-211's not to bad.
Paint ripples on the fuselage are particularly pronounced here, engine intake on the RB-211’s not to bad.
dust in the paint is visible and lumpy to the touch, glue stain is very noticeable in any light
dust in the paint is visible and lumpy to the touch, glue stain is very noticeable in any light

4) Nose detail

It’s not bad at all, more than acceptable, but not quite excellent. Nothing says, “this is wrong”, and yet it doesn’t quite have the level of quality that marks it out as exemplary.

1400ReviewsUnited752N17128GemniJonChamps 5

The ripples in the paint can easily be seen in the white from front to back
The ripples in the paint can easily be seen in the white from front to back

5) Tail detail

This end of the aircraft is not a shining example of Gemini model making. In fact it’s a shinning example of the detritus that they so often foist upon us and yet so many refuse to recognise or do anything about. I’ll tell you now, if this model (which was sold as new, regardless of the discount), had cost anything like its full recommended price, it would be winging it’s way back to the retailer.

The paint ripples and marks are at their worst here, even bright light fails to mask them
The paint ripples and marks are at their worst here, even bright light fails to mask them

Firstly the paint roller impression in the paint is at it’s worst here, and the strange thing is it appears that the stabilisers were put in before the roller paint was applied, because the roll marks are on the inner edge of the stabiliser fin where it meets the fuselage. Secondly there is an excess of dust which is small but rough to the touch.

The way this paint has happened is, according to a close friend who works in automotive manufacturing and is an expert in paint application, down to either the temperature of the metal at the time of application, lack of degreasing after the metal has come out of the mould and poor spray technique. Either way it’s not the first time it’s happened on a 757 – the Condor, reviewed HERE, was especially bad in this respect, covered in an orange peel effect paint.

6) Colours

Gemini’s colour inconsistency – it’s becoming more noticeable. It usually looks right on a model by model basis, but compare the underbody to the United 744 or the 789 and they are completely different shades of a similar light-mid grey.

1400ReviewsUnited752N17128GemniJonChamps 2

7) Score and conclusion

-20 for the paint issue, it’s just poor quality control and technique. These are what we pay Gemini for. They claim to get “as real as it gets” and you know and I know, that if Gemini painted real aircraft to this standard they’d be banned by the FAA and no airline would touch them. And -10 for dust and glue, -5 for the poor cradle fit. 65%, so very poor.

1400ReviewsUnited752N17128GemniJonChamps 15

It’s a pity about the dust too, again, it’s all about quality and standards. They do seem to be aware of their failings (not that they’d ever admit it), because later models  – the recent Delta reviewed HERE and the really excellent AA 752 released earlier this year, reviewed HERE, are much better examples. At least we seem to be getting better models now. However, this one is before the improvements and boy, does it show. At a bargain price it was worth it, at full retail it’s a travesty.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @1400Reviews
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
@1400Reviews
Like us and see more on Facebook!
Like us and see more on Facebook!