With the Thomson brand soon to be extinguished as the global trend towards brand homogenisation continues at ever faster rates, and Tui set to become the only name to carry this livery, it might be the last time we see a Thomson model for a while. Sister company Arke dropped its name for Tui only in the last couple of weeks.
This particular aircraft flies in and out of BHX regularly and I see it overhead often. She was originally delivered in January 2008 and is leased from Royal Bank of Scotland Aviation. Most of the Thomson’s, including the previous 738 Phoenix produced, G-TAWL, now have split scimitars fitted, a piece of kit that greatly improves economy, and in my opinion, looks pretty good, but thats not everyone’s view.
This is the first attempt that Phoenix have made to produce these wings and it required a completely new set from scratch. Gemini introduced them on the Alaska Airlines model N586AS in May – you can see the review of that here: Gemini Alaskan with split scimitars . You should seriously consider reading it – or rather looking at the wings. Gemini’s version, I’ll tell you now, is so far ahead of this Phoenix, you may as well be in another dimension.
It isn’t even that the much admired G-TAWL, a greatly sought after model, and deservingly so, has been equaled. It hasn’t. This model is a sub-standard derivative that deserves never to have seen the light of day. It’s truly an atrocious model. Not only does it fail in terms of quality, the wings are a travesty, the detail is random, the consistency with the previous models, in everything other than basic colours, has been ignored. Overall quality is well below the prior model and shows a continued deterioration in Phoenix standards.
While the mould is a good one, the paint is terrible. The white-blue transition is pathetic, and it notices especially at the rear and nose where the blue dips down. The Thomson logo is the wrong size – and I’ve checked it against current photos taken as recently as September. It’s also the wrong colour, but at least its the same as on all the recent versions of the livery. There is also some sort of ripple in the paint under the tail, God knows what caused it. The dark blue to light blue transition is as equally shoddy with easily visible blur marks and bleed.
It has two aerials but the rear one is upside down. I hate these aerials, the idea is a good one, but the execution is often so poor I’d rather be without them.
2) Wings and landing gear
These are the core problem with the whole model. The mould is truly, absolutely hideous. The panel lines are trenches. I half expect a First World War infantry regiment to be hiding in them they are so deep. They have nothing in common with the real thing. Over-exaggerated hyperbole you might say. Only because that’s the issue with these wings, everything about them is physically exaggerated, it’s a ridiculous mould; just plain wrong.
The scimitars themselves are a good shape, and match the Gemini exactly for detail. However they are 50% thicker – lacking delicacy, the inner wing tip where the upper and lower meet just looks like a bad mould.
Add to all of this a bucket of paint, badly printed black lines on the upper surface that don’t seem to be in the right place, a dreadful integration into the body – they just don’t seem to fit the mould of the fuselage well at all, and some hideously over bright silver leading edge paint, and you have a truly abysmal set of wings.
Which brings us to the landing gear. The main gear is actually OK, but the nose gear is awful. Not only is the gear bent, the wheels are so loose and wobble about so much, that the possibility they will remain on the model past midnight can’t be guaranteed. If cinderella needed them for her carriage on the way home from the ball, she’d be having a conversation with a pair of mice and wearing a pumpkin.
The mould is OK, but the chronically over-silvered paint looks like the job was contracted to the Mao Tse Tung first day kindergarten class to have a go at. In fact, it’s perfectly possible a chimpanzee could fling paint at them and do it better.
4) Nose detail
In the weired world of Phoenix – where of late nose detail is often where failure manifests on even the best of their models, this is not good, but barely passable, the paint looks as bad as the rest of the blue-white transition. It’s not the worst part of the model though. Don’t think that that matters because the rest of the model is a turd wrapped in a toilet roll.
5) Tail detail
Possibly the least offensive part of the model, but there is something about it I can’t quite put my finger on. It seems to lack a good finish, it’s almost got a matt look about it, and it seems strangely rough, but not obviously so. I can’t work it out but it just isn’t up to the standard of G-TAWL.
Well it has to be said, I’ve said it about every Thomson Phoenix have made, and Gemini’s are no better, in fact worse. They are wrong, out by several shades and they lack vibrancy – the Gemini are the other way being too bright and over-vibrant. The red is also wrong. However, Phoenix have at least been consistent in their error and all of the Thomson’s of late have had the same scheme used, so they look good in a fleet on a diorama.
7) Score and conclusion
-30 for the wings, – 10 for the engines, -10 for the fuselage paint issues, -5 for the nose gear and wheels, -1 for the upside down aerial, -6 for the atrocious engine intake paint. This model scores a pathetic 43% THE LOWEST SCORE EVER RECORDED. It qualifies it for an instant return to retailer for a replacement or a refund.
What have you let happen to yourselves Phoenix, what is it that you have allowed your quality and standards to slip so appallingly badly this has happened? You obviously don’t care about what you make or consider them nothing more than toys. I’d just ordered another couple of models too, for next month, but now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t cancel them. It’s a dismal moment when in the space of a year you go from the best model I have ever seen overall (the ANZ 787-9 All Blacks), to one of the worst that’s ever come out of a factory anywhere.
Do you know your market? Have you any idea who buys these? Passionate aviation enthusiasts is who, people who love the models because they love aviation. People you charge a wedge load of money for what is clearly, utter drivel. This isn’t good enough. Somebody needs to shake this incompetent company by the neck and get them to see the error of their ways. Gemini have many faults, but they are improving and showing they can do better with every month. Phoenix, are simply devolving, they are a third tier manufacturer now for whom I am fast loosing all respect.