Models involved in this comparison are:
KLM 787-9 PH-BHA By Gemini Jets in 1:400 scale: Ref GJKLM 1507
KLM 787-9 PH-BHA By Phoenix Models in 1:400 scale: Ref 11194
This is a direct comparison test, as such there is no score at the end, each section, one will be judged to have the superior result, and usually this makes it the winner, but sometimes it’s more than just that that makes a model worthwhile. I aim only to present the facts as I see them, it’s down to you to decide which is the one that best suits you.
We’re going to work from general issues through the aircraft from nose to tail.
Overall both the Phoenix and the Gemini are correct for wingspan and height. The Gemini appears to be, in scaled down sizes, 1.61mm too short and the Phoenix 1.41mm too short. To most of you that’s pretty much irrelevant.
The fuselage width is spot on give or take a fraction which is nothing at these sizes. However – and the reason the moulds at the nose on both are wrong, the fuselage height is out by 1mm on the Gemini and about ½ mm on the Phoenix.
However there is one big fail on the Phoenix when it comes to landing gear positioning. Both models have the nose gear in the right place, but Phoenix have put the landing gear almost 2mm too far back and they are 3mm too widely spaced. When you put the pair wheel to wheel, you realise quite how big a difference that is, even at 1:400.
Gemini have failed on this for colour accuracy of the primary blue. It isn’t even the same blue as they used on their own 737-800 or on the E190. The bright white is as good as you would want or expect on both.
The exception is the Phoenix vertical stabiliser. The KLM logo in the tail is lighter than the Gemini version, which retains the body colour. Sad to say, this is incorrect, and as the few photos of PH-BHA yet available show in real life, it’s the Phoenix that carries the day here. Also the Phoenix at least matches the blues of the other recent models, and frankly it’s a pretty good representation of the real thing.
Another colour issue at the nose end is the radome/nose markings. These on the real thing and the Phoenix are white. Gemini chose silver for the the whole thing, which looks black,and is wrong.
The above-door markings, Phoenix chose white (wrong) and Gemini chose correctly, black.
The door seals at the bottom of each door on the real thing are black with a greyish middle strip, Phoenix chose the blacker colour, Gemini chose a silver colour.
The reds on the nose gear doors, ETOPS and the marker line, are both wrong (and too thickly applied on both models).
Phoenix haven’t really bothered with the reds of the door handles and emergency open signage. Gemini have and the colour is right, just too thick.
The coach-line appears to be correct on both models (until it gets to the nose).
Overall, Phoenix win this section, mostly because the most visible aspect is clearly the KLM blue and the tail logo. Unusually Gemini have not done well in an area that is so often their greatest strength.
The nose/radome detail mentioned above is really, a Phoenix win, they used the correct colour and detail.
The flight deck detail, is without doubt a Phoenix win, the black framed grey is far more convincing than the straight black used on the Gemini.
Both have done similar jobs with the Skyteam and Air France-KLM logos.
The biggest nose issue is the design of the mould. Both are inaccurate, it’s simple enough to see, but Gemini have failed the most on the one thing that defines this aircraft livery – the way the curved line comes down to the nose.
If you look carefully at the real thing, the curve drops and turns to a level that equates with a position around 66% down the cone. On the Gemini it’s a straight line at the 50% mark and completely looses the concept of the livery. It’s also a paint botch. They got it right on the 737-800 PH-BXZ, but this is just wrong. A Phoenix win.
The nose gear and nose door design is wrong on the Phoenix, way too big and the wrong shape for the doors. Gemini’s is spot-on, but plastered in glue.
Phoenix as usual have three aerials, Gemini have two up top both have one at the rear. The Gemini and Phoenix comms domes are well fitted – it’s taken a year to sort this out for both of them. Neither really have the correct shape. The rear dome is moulded into the Phoenix but not the Gemini which is just a painted line. Phoenix also have superior detail in minor roof markings.
From a naked eye perspective, to be honest I prefer the door detail for the handles on the Phoenix., they just look more refined and neater, but this a personal preference.
In respect of the cabin windows, it’s a draw. Both are excellent.
I hate to say it but the coach-line, in terms of precision and detail, it just isn’t as well produced on the Gemini, especially at the nose. There is a caveat to this: you can’t tell with the naked eye (except at the nose)!
In the end the livery is far more accurate on the Phoenix, they win.
From above, Gemini win the detail, they bothered with the small black wording ‘NO STEP’ markings, Phoenix didn’t.
The method of integrating the wings is unquestionably a Phoenix win, the Gemini’s cradle system just doesn’t have the same finish and realism. The back bottom edges of the cradle are too wide for the fuselage and despite the tight fit, it just doesn’t have the same finesse as the Phoenix, especially on such a fundamentally aerodynamic looking aircraft as this. With tooling costs at anything up to $75,000 a mould this isn’t going to change any time soon.
Because the wings have the stand hole on the Gemini (they’re in the fuselage on Phoenix), I have to report than the Gemini didn’t fit it’s own-brand stand, and had to be worked on with an optical screw driver to remove enough metal to get it to fit.
Despite the markings victory, this is a Phoenix win, the Gemini wings are good, just not good enough once you see the underbody fit.
These are the General Electric units, not that either manufacturer makes any concession to the differences between these and Rolls Royce (mostly ground clearance issues). I would swear that both use the same supplier because the differences are purely cosmetic. However in overall detail, above and below the Phoenix has far more, it just isn’t painted as well in the fans and suffered packaging rub. The Gemini has better finish on the fans, but is full of dusty tiny particles you can feel easily, and see up close. Having said that the Phoenix also has dust, but the Gemini has a small paint chip in the outer nacelle silver.
Now to be fair, from a naked eye perspective it’s the damage on the Phoenix from packaging rub and the lack of fan paint that stands out. Takeaway the rub damage and you have a draw. Neither is better than the other, with one exception that has bedevilled Gemini 789’s before – the engines tilt too far by just a tiny bit too much and have a slightly odd look because of it. This shifts the win to Phoenix, but only just.
Main landing gear
As mentioned above the Phoenix model has the measurements for these completely out in terms of position and spacing. The Gemini doors look slightly better in finish, but loose any advantage from visible glue. The wheels – well that’s a matter for you, I prefer the Phoenix ones being silver-ish because thats what they look like on brand new aircraft, but the Gemini’s I don’t object to, though they look a bit plastic. Tyres are all good, we seem to be going away from too many excessively blobby black lumps at last!
Phoenix have to loose this section because they’ve just messed up on position so badly and frankly the Gemini’s doors are a much nicer finish and accurate look. Gemini win, but again only just.
The tail fin is a slightly better shape on the Gemini, that hasn’t changed. The Phoenix isn’t quite right at the top but it’s way better that what the were doing 12 months ago (there were no curves). The logo is far better colour on the Phoenix and as I’ve said earlier that really notices. The APU finish is better overall on the Phoenix. The EU and Netherlands flag along with the aircraft registration are equally good on both.
What isn’t as good is the Gemini stabilisers fit. They don’t look pushed in well enough and the join is far from smooth and neat. It’s scruffy, that’s the word I’d like to use. Untidy rather than horrible, but not as good as the Phoenix. Overall it’s another Phoenix win.
In my opinion, when Phoenix do it right, the 787 is their best model by a very wide margin. I think they deserve to be chosen for my preference for their stand-out wins. The colour in general, the tail logo colour and most of all, the correct interpretation of the new livery, which Gemini simply failed to do right. How did they get it so wrong?
Yes the Phoenix has other failings – the silver engine paint is annoyingly frustrating, but on this model and ONLY this model (The Gemini BA 787-9 is next), for overall impression and accuracy, it’s Phoenix.
Now if you ever wondered if I get second and third opinions before I do these comparisons, I do. I had two. I always ask two people who know nothing about the nitpicking detail and obsession that fascinates me. I sit the Gemini down next to the Phoenix and they both picked the Gemini, not on its technical merits, but because, and I quote, “it looks nicer”. When asked to justify their answer, they preferred the blue, it was that simple.
So you buy what suits you. My Gemini is going back in the box and off to eBay. This isn’t an issue of just basic quality as so often it has been, though it has a part to play. It’s about which is actually technically more accurate and a better model. In this case it’s the Phoenix. The position of the wheels is irrelevant for the most part, their livery is what truly stands out. I’m not convinced yet that the BA version will work quite so well in their favour but I’ll see when the photos are done!