MONARCH A320 G-ZBAA Gemini Jets GJMON1430 March 2016

I laughed when I saw this in the box. Welcome to the latest model making travesty.

A bad Monarch model to me, is a bit like someone using green yellow and pink on the Stars & Stripes instead of red white and blue. I see probably 12 of these aircraft a day and about three times that fly overhead that I don’t see. They’re usually a couple of thousand feet away at best.

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Front to back: Gemini’s G-ZBAA colour fail, their G-OZBX colour success and to the rear Phoenix’s G-ZBAO polar opposite fail. How can it be so hard to get this right? Especially when you already did it once before!!!!!

This model is the victim of extremely poor research and then shoddy manufacturing. They clearly used photographs on a CRT Monitor from 1993 with the green colour gun gone,  to do the work, rather than refer to their own records or do any real research, or contact Monarch’s PR/Comms/Marketing agency for the precise colours.  There is a wealth of knowledge out there professional and amateur, but of course why ask the people who know?

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Does this, the real thing, look even vaguely like the colour on the model?

It’s only two years, if that, since Gemini produced G-OZBX in absoloutly spot-on colours. The livery was no different (give or take some minor wording), and nothing changed before this aircraft was sub-leased to Frontier as a result of Monarch’s re-financing, sale and reorganization in 2013-14.

The decision, now fully implemented to dump the last A300 in Europe, 2 A332’s, a handful of 757’s and even some of the new (and more expensive to lease) A320’s and move away from being a part-charter/holiday part scheduled, to a full scheduled low cost carrier on the easyJet model, wasn’t taken lightly. Most of the fleet is A321’s, but even more of a drastic move was the decision to replace all of the Airbus fleet with 30 737-8MAX from 2017. Monarch felt they better suited their usage profile.

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G-ZBAA in Frontier livery leaving EMA after her respray, she flew over my house that day going into BHX just prior to delivery.

Monarchs’s main operating base is in effect my local airport, BHX. It has an excellent hangar operation there and while it also operates out of Luton and is nominally headquartered there, BHX, is where most flights originate from.

So when I saw this lemon curd turd, with it’s oh-so wrong tail colour, and the not quite right indigo blue I had to laugh, because it’s just a joke. Why oh why is it so hard to get this colour right? Especially when they got it right last time round on G-OZBX?

If you search on google images there isn’t one photo that has it this colour. It’s mind bogglingly inept. Incompetent more like.  I sent a photo of it to my niece, ex-cabin crew who now works in marketing at the airline, and all she could say was, “how much did you pay for that!?” I’m too embarrassed by it to tell her!

1)Fuselage

The basic mould is OK other than being too long in the nose, it’s the paint finish and quality that while not bad isn’t especially good. There’s quite a bit of rough-edged blue into the white and it’s worse on the port side than the starboard.

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you can side on how No2 engine tilts down further than No.1

Basic detail is fairly good and the Monarch.co.uk logo is fine.The aerials are also well seated and fixed, two up one down, though frankly they look too big for the model.

This aircraft didn’t carry the “FLY YOUR WAY EVERY DAY” tiles like many of her sisters.

The yellow rear, well I it think I made it plain above, is just a colour fail of galactic proportions.

2)Wings and landing gear

The cradle is very poor, badly fitted, as usual port side rear and starboard side front. It’s quite the worst one on a Gemini since the dreadful batch of 789’s from December. Untrained monkeys could have flung this onto the model from fifty feet and done a better job. It looks, if anything, like it was pushed too far forward when added to the model.

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The blue paint is terrible, looking like it was done by kindergarten first years, there’s barely an even line in sight. The upper surface of the wings are fine. The sharklets are weakly lemon curd coloured with the M logo. The lower wing surfaces look like they have a half-gloss paint but it’s not a bad thing.

Landing gear is mediocre. The starboard main gear tilts in slightly and the port side main gear has what appears to be rust but I suspect is glue that’s run and then not been painted. Port wheels roll, starboard wheels don’t move at all. Nose gear is fine though too vertical, it should be slightly wheel-forward,  the tyres on the nose are thin, and rather lumpy.

3)Engines

From a distance the detail looks good, but it’s the thin rims of silver; No.1 engine has a nick in it and the silver is visibly wobbly all round the engine. This model isn’t a patch on the recent Alitalia for instance.

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The exhaust cones are also less than brilliant from a quality paint perspective. Blue paint is blurred all over the No.2 engine pylon.

No.2 engine tilts down more than No.1.

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The nick in the silver paint on the engine intake stands out.

4)Nose detail

Good, passes the eyeball test.

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5)Tail detail

Very poor.  You may recall the awful Alitalia tail, a model I had replaced. This is not as good as the replacement for fit but not as bad as the first one which was a joke and off centre. The wishy-washy lemon curd paint is just laughable. The join has a full length gap on the port side.

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6)Colours

Have I said it? Did I mention the colour? The indigo blue is just about OK but a tad out, the tail you know about.

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7)Score and conclusions

If you read this far you know what I think. How have retailers not been inundated with returns? And you wonder why the manufacturers never do anything. Gemini have the words “as real as it gets” on every box. Give me a break. As an advert for a Crawford’s custard cream biscuit it might pass (9 out of 10 Brits voted custard creams their favorite). As ‘worst colour ever used that anyone tried to convince me it’s Monarch’, it passes.

  • -20 for the appalling colour fail
  • -5  for the landing gear issues
  • -10 for the cradle/paint fiasco
  • -2 for the engine paint and tilt.
  • 63% is not good. Unacceptable.

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Thoughts….

I know my detractors think I’m over critical, picky, expect too much. I’ve seen some descriptive names used! Has it stopped me? Most of them can afford not to care, many collectors cannot. Many choose these models, maybe one a month if they are lucky and they deserve the very best. If you can afford to buy ten models a month and not care much about the quality, that’s your problem. But for those who get a small amount to indulge their passion and pick what they buy with care, well it’s not acceptable that they don’t get better product.

We’ve discussed ‘commercial acceptability’ as a principle before. If a manufacturer in any industry runs an efficient business (some do), every item sold has built into it’s price a few cents to cover the rejects and complaints retailers/wholesalers may ask compensation for, which will be credited to their account. Thousands of sales soon amounts to a backup fund of thousands of dollars to cover failures.

The maker knows there will always be issues. He accepts them rather than addresses them because thats the cheapest, aka most profitable, way of doing it. It’s the way industry in general has worked for years. My better half recently consulted on a distribution system for faulty returns for a major domestic appliance manufacturer. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese made kettles and toasters, sold, faulted, returned and sent for recycling every year, because that’s the cheapest way of doing it. Doing something about cutting the faults is not even on the cards.

Famously, Ford worked out it was cheaper to let people die in the Pinto and pay compensation than it was to fix the exploding fuel tank and not kill anyone. That case changed consumer protection for the better around the world.

Now we aren’t talking life or death here, but the underlying principle is the same.

Every time they get away with a low standard, ever time they pass this type of fail off and get money for it and no complaints, is one more nail in the quality coffin and nothing will ever be better than commercially acceptable. In other words, below average.

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