Manufacturer of The Year 2015 goes to…

This year I reviewed 70 new 1:400 scale releases. The Manufacturer of The Year 2015 is worked out based on an average of all their scores for all their models reviewed. It does not include models not delivered as new in 2015.

One thing that seems consistent is that the fewer releases they issue in that month, the better the overall quality seems to be. Hardly rocket science, but there is a correlation.


Despite some variable quality models – especially in December 2015, there is no doubt that Gemini set a marked improvement in many areas over previous years. Some models were far from perfect, but this was the first year since 2010 that not one Gemini fell apart out of the box. There have been some notable quality upgrades – even allowing for plastic parts – the 738 with split scimitars completely outshines the old 738. There were some notable highlights many of which have found there way into the top 15 for MODEL OF THE YEAR 2015, published tomorrow 31st December.

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Gemini’s excellent AA 752.


There were some excellent models – the most disappointing caused by a fundamental mould error on the new Delta A333 from Gemini/JCW – what is going on with those wings? And that Phoenix wing mould for the split scimitars is a joke.

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And the livery fail, on the new 787-9 for KLM was a Gemini low point

There were some deeply flawed models too, not least of which the very poor A350 in Vietnam livery – both were horribly wrong, and that KLM 787-9. Others leapt out – ironically models on old moulds, the American Airlines 752 in new livery being one, along with the AA OneWorld 772.

Whichever way you look at it, Gemini made the biggest improvements in some areas, while their main competitor, Phoenix seemed to implode on the quality front in 2015. Both were pretty shocking at times in their misplaced colour choices, but Phoenix gave us nose wheel drop outs, missing aerials, bent and broken wings, shoddy paint, bad finish, and worst of all if I’m to be honest, the terrible zinc rot-encrusted landing gear and doors on models like the Finnair A350 that were a low point I thought I’d never see.

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The appalling doors on the Phoenix Finnair A350 (and several others) – add to that the disastrously bad Asiana A330, WOW A321 and a host of other fails

All of them have a lot to learn about quality control, all need to get a grip when it comes to consistency. Phoenix, well they need to scrap their 744 mould, and make more of an effort to get colours right across the board. Many are glaringly, obviously wrong, others spot on, almost uncannily accurate.

Gemini need to do something about the 787-9 particularly, how can they make that cradle fit so badly? More colour consistency for example on American Airlines is also a ‘must try harder’.

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Aeroclassics body colours are good, but the graphics fail badly

Aeroclassics need to be more consistent in quality. They have the best moulds in the A320/A330 but often let them down with ropey landing gear and way-off colours. The Norwegian 738’s were outstanding, the Tin-Tin A320 pathetically bad and the SAS A321 missed its colour mark.


So in scores averaged over the year the manufacturers are ranked as follows:

  1. Gemini Jets  83.16%
  2. JC Wings       82.25%
  3. Phoenix         72.75%
  4. AeroClassics 68.39%

I sincerely congratulate Gemini overall, they have made great strides, slowly, but volumes seem to hit quality terribly no matter who the manufacturer is. Phoenix lost the plot this year, having trounced everyone with quality items the year before. Once Witty vanished, Phoenix seemed to go down the tubes, like it didn’t matter anymore how it was made. JC Wings branded are a gem one minute and dross the next, the same applies to AeroClassics.

Caveat Amptor – Buyer beware

The end consumer also needs to take stock of what they buy. If this is just a passing phase and you don’t really care about quality, well thats your choice. Think of each model based on minimum working wage hours.

A £34 model, say the Phoenix A350 is what you get for working 7 hours if you’re 16-17 years old, and around 5 hours if you’re over 18. If I gave the A350 in Finnair livery to you as your pay, they way it arrived, after you’d worked hard for those hours, would you really be happy when you saw the rubbish quality, paint and rotten gear doors? Really? Would you honestly say nothing?


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