KLM Boeing 737-8K2 PH-BXA “90th Retro Livery” Gemini Jets GJKLM919 2009

It happens every time, you want one, you can’t find one for love nor money and then two come along at once, somewhat like the proverbial London Bus. I had’t realised BXA was still flying in this livery but she flew over the house a couple of weeks back going in to BHX and I wanted it. She’s due to be sprayed into the new livery pretty soon however.

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The first of a long line of 737-800’s delivered to KLM from 1999, she carried the standard livery, then had winglets fitted in November 2007, and was painted into the 90th Anniversary retro livery in late 2009. This model dates from the same period. Unless they fit split scimitars and it’s a Gemini (because the Phoenix s/s wing mould is a rotten travesty of atrocious model making), this will be the last of the current KLM-737’s to join my collection, three plus a 737-700, E195, two 744’s (a Combi and full cargo), plus the soon to arrive 787-9 is quite enough.

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1)Fuselage

This was already a well used mould by 2009 and it sort of shows a little. These old liveries, from the days when people cared about quality, impressions and every little nuance, were quite complicated and therefore difficult to reproduce. In general principle Gemini have done a good job, but it has it’s downsides. The print around the ends of the fuselage looses quality slightly, but it’s the type of ‘big particle’ silver they chose that does it the least favours, and on this model there is a lot of it.  Sadly the silver is nothing like the colour used on the actual aircraft, which is more of a metallic grey than a metallic silver.

Liveries of this period were about decoration rather than straight down the line corporate brand image for it’s own sake. Something like the new Cathay pacific livery is the antithesis of this. One is complex, decorative and probably relatively expensive at the time. Cathay’s is all about cost savings, simplicity, practicality and getting brand recognition across without making complex re-sprays’s expensive.

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2)Wings & Landing Gear

A rather good cradle fit, this is some time before the mould had worn out and given us the age of the gap, now rectified by the new 737 we’ve seen in Alaskan livery for example. The wings are neatly printed and finished up top, but underneath seem somewhat over-glossed.

Landing gear is the basic black tyre on a spigot, the main gear rolls, the nose is glued into position.

The stand wasn't easy to fit
The stand wasn’t easy to fit

3)Engines

Overly silver like the fuselage, but very neat and even the tiny ’90th’ winged badge is actually very well done. Overall they are actually very good.

The excessive plastic visible is so small it doesn't really notice like it does on large HBE's on model engines
The excessive plastic visible on the fans is so small it doesn’t really notice like it does on large HBE’s on modern power plants

4) Nose detail

To be honest it’s pretty good, a little bit of paint deterioration in places but nothing tragic that would make you wince like you do with a Phoenix model these days.

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5) Tail and stabilisers

No issues, it all looks neat enough.

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6) Colours

The biggest downside of the model is the silver, it’s too bright and just plain wrong. The real thing looks nothing like it. It needs to be darker and less metallic.

Gemini Retro 738, gemini new livery 738, Witty 738 and Phoenix 737-700
Gemini Retro 738, gemini new livery 738, Witty 738 and Phoenix 737-700

7) Score and conclusions

Generally it’s not bad for the period, and would pass as fairly good today. The colour far is the most annoying aspect, and for that it must have a -10. There are also a couple of less than sparkling details in places, so -4 but relatively minor. 86% is a pretty good score for a model from 2009.

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I should add too that this, unlike recent models, has the benefit of the protective nose and upper plastic covers. These have given it far more protection and it has survived transport and storage far better than new models. These things need to be reintroduced, stop keep taking quality away to save a few cents! The cost cutting and price increases provide only more profit to the manufacturer while removing quality and benefits from the consumer. Thats’s YOU! Of course if you are happy with paying more money for less quality, less packaging and protection, do nothing. The manufacturers will love you for it as they cash their cheques in the bank.

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