China Airlines 777-300ER “Dynasty Dreamliner” B-18007 Phoenix 04092 July 2016

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This was never on my buying radar and then quite by chance on May 28th I watched her come into land at SFO over the bay, but the photo was heavily distorted by the mist and heat. As it turns out it was her maiden flight there, having only been delivered 12 days earlier. Seeing it made me want it! This is the full build and paint video for B-18007

“Dynasty” is China Airlines (based in Taipei, Taiwan) call sign and the Boeing co-branded Dreamliner livery was first used on a 744 back in 2004, and known as the Blue Whale. This is the last of the ten 773ER’s the airline ordered to give itself a bigger boost against competitor Taipei based EVA Air especially, but also compete with improving product offerings from competitors on mainland communist China, notably Hainan Airlines and Air China, as well as Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong and Singapore Airlines.

To make more of the interiors, China Airlines appointed an award-winning interior designer, Ray Chen to develop a more unique approach to the design, which includes a “Family Couch” in economy. The link below shows the interior after some external in-flight beauty shots.

The first of the 773ER’s was delivered on 4th October 2014 and received a great deal of press publicity around the world for her interior fit. There is no first class, but a Premium Business Class with a more sophisticated bed-seat-mini-suite concept, then a more standard business class and a modern, and pretty decent looking economy class. On top of that there is a conceptual “Tea Bar” and on board communications and wi-fi systems of the latest types available.

I have to say its very Chinese “old style” made modern, and has a sort of traditional yet sharply current look to it that made it deserving of the many positive comments, and the large amount of coverage it garnered. You can find the review from two years ago here: China Airlines 777-36N(ER) B-18051 Phoenix Item:10997 October 2014 Release in 1:400 

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The livery design is a sharp departure from the standard with some interesting blue transition shades, the horizontal grey lines, and deep curves. The tail livery is notably different from standard.

Fitted with 40 Premium Business, 62 Business, and 256 Economy seats for a total of 358 seats she’s actually a 777-309ER and owned by the airline, the first four were ordered by GECAS so were 777-36NER’s, and leased to China Airlines as a client. One other -309 was leased from elsewhere, so 5 are owned outright and 5 leased.

1.Fuselage

Phoenix do make a nice 777 mould but they do have issues when it comes to complex detailing sometimes. This is one of those times.

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Firstly the basic door and window outlines are all spot on, no problem there. What hasn’t worked is something Phoenix often do very well, the red and very small detail on the doors, is just a pink blur, what you can see of it.

The horizontal grey lines at the upper part of the sub-window line, which then translate to white and blue as they drop, have also been applied really well.

There is also a grey-white band towards the nose and above a clean white line break that looks like an air current streak, again for the most part this has been well reproduced on the sides, but, sadly along with the blue, at the nose it’s all gone a bit messy. Oddly again, this is also – a common trait – worse on the port side than the starboard.

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The darker blue is also very poorly defined in places, far from being crisp and clean, and if I can see it without my glasses on at two feet, that’s not good.

Bizarrely, the lighter blue in the drop curve behind the wings looks like it might be less well defined, but is in fact better; it’s the grey horizontal lines that break it up and cause a distortion effect to the human eye. In fact if you look at the image of the real thing at the top of this review, the exact same thing happens.  It’s much less noticeably close up on the real thing, because the spacing of course, is that much greater, the effect is minimised.

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Something else that hasn’t worked brilliantly either is the Boeing logo. It’s white printed on a royal blue, and the white paint isn’t strong enough, so it looks like it has a blue tint from the paint beneath.

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Also unimpressive is the front satcomm dome, neither the front or rear of it is sealed to the hull. These are getting better, but still a way from perfection. I’d rate this one at about 75%.

The worst part of the fuselage however is the mess above the port side wing root. You can always tell that the person assembling the model is right or left-handed from the way this happens.

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The wing has been pushed in, held in the right hand and pushed by the left, glue leaks out and the thumb at the top of the wing meets the body leaving a thumb end print and messy glue. The glue dissolves the blue paint and tiny blue splatter marks are left from the assemblers thumb. I’d go as far as saying they wear a latex glove to do this from the crease and pattern spread. I really need to stop writing detective novels.

2.Wings and landing gear

No issue with the wings themselves, just the usual ultra-gloss finish that lacks realism. Totally detail free underneath, save for the registration under the port wing.

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The landing gear doors however are showing signs of a return to the low quality rubbish we saw at the end of 2014 and into early 2015. Paint barely covers up what amounts to rough moulds and possible zinc rot beneath. This is not good enough, if they think this is going to be acceptable they can think again. I will not accept a model that has failings like the Finnair A350 for example.

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Other than that the tyres are reasonably good, the silver wheels all rotate and the bogies move, almost excessivley. I still think the toy-like silver Phoenix use for the hydraulics is too much.

The nose gear is excellent.

3.Engines

The rims aren’t too bad, but far from excellent. I do know why they are like they are, its crap paint quality, lack of technique and no quality control. How come when they do the paint of the 787 engines they can get it so good and on these it’s so-so?

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Worst of all the paint on the port side engine has also peeled off it’s base coat at the exhaust – see the landing gear photo above.

4. Nose detail

As mentioned above, Phoneix haven’t done well with the main body paint and detail meeting at the nose. They seem to have a real issue getting this to work well at times. A process and technical review is required to understand what goes on. It’s your job Phoenix, it’s what you do, you have to try harder. You can clealry get it right, but don’t do anything about it when you see mistakes. 1400Reviews-ChinaAirlines-773ER-B-18007-Phoenix-CpywrtJonChamps2016 10.jpg

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This side is nowhere near as bad but you can still easily see uneven blue around the nose and elsewhere with the naked eye

5.Tail detail

It’s a very different tail to the standard aircraft, even the vertical stabiliser is different, fading to white at the top and the lilac colour slides down onto the fuselage.

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This is one of the best parts of this model, with no discernible issues.

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6.Colours

Exceptionally well done. A big plus for Phoenix in this field, I think they’ve done a remarkable job of getting it right.

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7.Score and conclusions

  • -3 for the engine paint peel on no.1
  • -2 for engine rim paint
  • -2 for the comms dome poor fit
  • -4 for the landing gear door quality
  • -10 for the general nose paint issues, poor definition, lack of QC
  • -5 for the finger marks, paint and glue issues over the wing join
  • 74% is not a pass mark by any means and exceptionally disappointing, it’ll need replacing.

I have no problem singing the praises of great models. Likewise I will not tolerate failures for the prices we are being asked to pay.  This should have and could have been much, much better than it is. It’s a rare day that Boeing shares such co-branding, it’s effectively a one-off livery.  It needed to be much, much better, not half-hearted.

You’ll notice that this has a different issue number than Phoenix usually use. When they issue 04 numbers it’s usually different or special in some way, often it’s a commissioned model. These can be very iffy at times. The Transavia they produced last year for AMS in Amsterdam was awful. This is not a shining example either. I know many of you will just shrug it off and never worry. Not me. I earn every penny of my money and I don’t dish it out to sub standard manufacturers of anything, and Phoenix until now, have been doing well this year.

Let us hope this is not the start of a slide again.

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