Thomas Cook Airlines (UK) Ltd is a primarily based in Manchester and London Gatwick airports and is a subsidiary of the Thomas Cook Group who also own Condor in Germany and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium. The UK arm was originally part of My Travel and before that was JMC, all now merged into one UK Airline. In 2013 Thomas Cook Group began merging the Condor and Belgian brands into one pan-European airline under Thomas Cook.
Originally all of the brands were supposed to be be replaced – the new livery was intended that way, but Condor has far more resonance in Germany than the Thomas Cook brand, so many of the aircraft remain branded that way. However, operationally, they all work across all brands. It’s not uncommon to find Condor branded aircraft operating UK flights and Thomas Cook in Germany.
The purpose of the airline is to transport package holiday customers from the Thomas Cook retail high street and on-line outlets, but they also fill these out with ticket only sales. They carry 6 million passengers a year.
The parent company is desperately deep in debt, over £1.2 billion and that’s lead to industrial issues with cabin crew as the airline tries to cut break times from one 20 minute break in six hours to one in 12 hours – the absolute legal minimum the CAA permits.
On top of that the crisis in Syria and issues resulting from it in Turkey, never mind Turkey’s war against its own Kurdish population and bombs in major cities, terrorism and threats of it in Egypt, then add the attacks in Brussels, have all hit company revenues, and profits are well down. Thomas Cook has long been a leading holiday supplier in Turkey and Egypt. The company made a loss of £288m last year and little is forecast to improve.
The airline operates 40 aircraft, 22 of which are A321’s, 6 A320’s, 2 753’s, 3 763’s and 7 A332’s of which this model is one.
The A332’s are all reasonably new, dating from 2012 up to April 2016. One, G-VYGK is actually a tanker converted to passenger use and leased from Air Tanker. She and one other are all-economy 321 seats, where the model example G-TCXB has 49 Premium Class (2-3-2) seats and 273 Economy (3-4-3) (total 322).
The A332’s are mostly used on long haul routes, G-TCXB flying Manchester to Cancun, LAX, Miami, JFK and Boston for example.
Now you might ask, and I wouldn’t blame you, for saying “you said you’d not buy another Gemini in that new A320 mould from JCW”. I did say that. But then I noticed one in a shop. It’s the A333’s that have the problem it seems and the A332’s just don’t. That means the problem is inside the mould, because there is no way this is anything like that Delta A333 we saw laye last year. (You can see that review here: Delta A333 HGW)
So how does this do as a model?
It’s an excellent mould as an A330-200. The aerials are in and fixed, but they have big holes that don’t look as well finished as on some recent models. Despite its recent introduction it remains a cheap skate in the that the roof domes are printed on, and these are after all, pretty much standard fit, and have been for a long time.
The transition from white to yellow is not brilliant, nor is the yellow to grey particularly special. Neither though are so bad as to be a fail. Generally the detail is very good and the print quality above average, though again, not outstanding.
2)Wings and landing gear
The wings on the A332 are where they should be, not the freaky tilt of the A333 version. Upper surface detail is excellent, lower is non existent, but the choice of a “silk” finish paint rather than shiny gloss looks much better. The wings are also perfectly fitted, adding realism the old cradle system could never manage.
The landing gear however is another pile of junk. The bogies are badly made and the rear particularly look terrible, almost as though they might fall apart at any time. The fronts are little better. Every tyre is lumpy and can’t physically rotate as a result. Unacceptably poor. The nose gear looks well fitted from the sides, but straight on it leans about 15 degrees to the left. It actually looks slightly bent.
Gemini need to get a grip with this landing gear issue, it’s fast getting out of hand – problems on almost every model from May and June show it’s getting worse.
Don’t look at them head on. The rims are poorly made and look like vandals took a hammer to them. They are poorly fitted to their plastic ailerons which seem thin and weak Despite the print detail being quite good, the rims and the fit look sub standard. No.1 engine is thinly painted at the edges, showing another rubbish old silver paint was used. Some colour effort has been made – the silver isn’t overly toy-like, but it’s not well applied.
4) Nose detail
Generally it’s good, but the printed cockpit windows are not the most precise, though they just pass they eyeball test.
5) Tail detail
All neatly printed, but the heart is just wrong. It’s also mildly gluey on the left side where it’s inserted into the fuselage.
The yellow is an across the board fail. Of the three in my collection, it’s the worst. The A321 is right, the Condor 757-300 (a pretty poor model anyway) is almost OK, but these colours are way too light.
Add to that the tail heart graphic, it’s the least accurate of all of them. It’s almost unbelievable that whoever researches this stuff at the manufacturer end is so bad at it. This sort of stuff is available on-line, you can find their details from a quick search. The oddest thing is that the yellow on the engines is different to the fuselage yellow.
How can something so easily be made precise, the information be fully available, and yet the end result be so mediocre?
7)Score and conclusions
- -10 for the yellow fail
- -4 for the tail graphic
- -6 (-2 each)for the lousy landing gear
- -4 for engine rim paint
- 76% – a mediocre model, not even commercially acceptable in my view.
As a model of and in itself, it passes muster provided you don’t care much. As a model in a collection, with others in the same livery by the same manufacturer? Not good enough, plain and simple. Gemini have had too many goes at this not to get it right, it isn’t that complex a livery. If you can manage Hekla Aurora or the Etihad 744F, this should be simplicity itself. That it isn’t speaks volumes.
In real life, the livery looks really good, it’s so disappointing when they just cannot make the effort to get it right on the model, each and every time.
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