This is one of those models that’s been hard to find. Originally one of just 200 made, it was packed in the dual branded Singapore Cargo and Great Wall Airlines box.
The reason for this, is that the liveries in this case are extremely similar, with only the SIA tail and the airline tiles on the white fuselage being much different, it’s something of a Chinese cocktail. Great Wall leased the planes from SIA and then flew one of them (this one) for SIA Cargo. Great Wall Industries was sanctioned by the US Government for shipping missile parts illegally to Iran (never proven), but eventually was allowed to operate again. By 2011 It was owned by China Eastern and SIA and then merged off to Shanghai Airlines. The Chinese Government is now demanding cargo airlines merge to compete better with western companies and it’s likely to be merged further. In the meantime she’s registered as B-2428 and operating under Great Wall’s AOC from Shanghai.
Apollo along with it’s parent/co-brand Witty vanished early in 2014. There were all sorts of rumours as to who got their moulds and one has to wonder where they came from in the first place. For one, they used two kinds of 744 mould, one with cradle wings and one with inserts, usually reserved for the Witty brand. I spoke to a friend in Hong Kong who is familiar with the manufacturers and he didn’t have a clue how or why they split branded, and his invoices (he purchased direct) didn’t even differentiate them. As some (mostly Witty) were stunningly good with a few flops and the Apollo were mostly average with one or two that excelled, why they even had two brands I’ve never understood.
So to this model….
It is a very neat model, a good mould, and really nicely painted and printed. The brand was pretty good overall for quality and is straightforward and simple in it’s elegance. Frankly I can’t find anything wrong with the whole thing, it’s a simple, beautiful, neat model overall.
2)Wings and landing gear
This is possibly the best cradle mould any of these manufacturers ever produced. Apollo/Witty have managed to seal the gaps and make it one in part, with the fuselage, nobody else seems to me to have ever tried doing that. The wheels are not brilliant, being the old tyre on a spigot system, but overall the quality is fairly good. What always leapt out though was Apollo/Witty’s penchant for excessively bright silver work on the wings and engines. It’s too model-like and too decorative and it detracts from the realism.
The moulds and general finish are excellent bar one engine which has a bit of hash at the rear, shown in this photo, the big detraction is the hideous silver paint. It might be neat and well applied but its a ghastly bright silver that smacks of decoration rather than realism.
4) Nose detail
Superbly done. This is what gave Witty such a good reputation during the 2012-13 period as they started to emerge. They did detail like nobody else on everything, not just one model or one type of model, but on everything. Their packaging and model excellence were a joy to behold on big ticket items like the China Southern A380 for example. It was (even though the mould wasn’t the most accurate, it beat JCW & Gemini), utterly superb in every other way. This is no exception in terms of effort.
Neat, detailed, lovely print, paint and finish.
The blue tri-tonal is excellent and they developed a special colour for this – one not from any old pre-selected available close matching tin, but an accurate representation. It’s almost like a matt metallic and it does the real thing justice like few others. This was another Witty ‘thing’ – they seemed to strive for a new level of accuracy though they didn’t always quite get it there on some models. The overall paint finish was always blemish free and no dust and crap found it’s way into the paint.
7) Score and conclusion
There are a few issues, all relatively minor. For the most part it was always the fact that Witty/Apollo seemed to try to do things better, even if they used an old mould system they made up for it by doing their best to make sure it worked as well as was feasible. They were always more expensive than the others, but they drove up competition, Phoenix fought back hard in the quality stakes – now with nothing to disturb their complacency they have slipped backwards to the point of being beyond unacceptable. 92% for this old girl. What I wouldn’t do to get Witty/Apollo back, just to keep us away from the tedium of Phoenix failure and the limited options from Gemini and JCW.