This aircraft will need little introduction, there are so many versions of it over the years. I published a review of the old 2012 current Billboard Livery model back in August (2016), knowing that this model was ordered and on the way.
I don’t really understand why Gemini felt the need to re-do the same registration. Why not G-VBIG, or G-VROC from the now disbanded Heathrow Five? Externally there is little difference, although the seating layout on the Heathrow aircraft was different and they didn’t all have the same engine type.
The point however is not lost, in the end the struggle to actually do this livery properly, and as accurately as possible has been a long one. Finally, six years since it’s introduction, Gemini have mostly got it right.
You can read about the technical aspects of the paint and more about the aircraft itself in the August review of the 2012 model to be found here: G-VXLG 2012
I have to admit that I have a very small collection of 1:200 models – just three. All Virgin Atlantic; the recent A346 G-VEIL and the 789 G-VNEW, and now this too. The 1:200 is a truly splendid model, but it too suffers from one mistake, the very same one that the 1:400 suffers, which I suppose is no surprise as one inevitably follows the other.
The new body colour is the best so far and deserves commendation. The true test of its accuracy is its ability to morph in different light to a slightly different colour, but when faced with daylight to appear almost plain white. The mica-mettalic lustre works well and it’s as good as anyone is ever going to get. I congratulate the manufacturer for finally getting there.
The general detail is simply faultless for this scale and they seem to have employed all the latest techniques to the same standard as the Etihad Cargo 744F last year. Why do Gemini have so much success with high quality on 744’s, and yet lose the plot on an A320?
Quite simply the fuselage is excellent, every dome and aerial is outstanding.
There is one thing that isn’t quite there, and it’s the same on the 1:200. It’s close but it isn’t quite close enough to be 100%. Photographs are hopeless at picking it up, only when you stand there and look at the real thing, not in too much bright daylight, but slightly overcast, and you catch it at the right angle, do you see the true aubergine colour of the lettering. When you see it you realise quite how purple it is, but the type of paint diffuses and dissipates the reality of the colour so well, it tends to look flat black even on some high-end cameras. If it had been two Pantone shades lighter, maybe even one, it would have attained full marks.
However, it has to be said, its way better than on the 789 G-VNEW – that was jet black. If you’re in doubt as to what the aubergine should look like, at the top, you’ll see the official logo in the official colours.
Overall it’s a very good effort, and it doesn’t really detract from the model.
2.Wings & landing gear
It has to be said that once again the cradle mould is as tight, and well fitted as could ever be required. The whole wing assembly, and detail are first-rate, with outstanding paint and general finish. Even the winglets are the correct metallic red, with the Virgin logo inserted visibly and well.
Tyres aren’t lumpy, and all the neatly detailed wheels roll, the standard 4 sets of 4 look exceptionally neat in grey, rather than toy-like silver. The bogie assembly is also far superior to what we’ve been seeing recently. No brassy metal showing through from bent and half-open closures. It’s all really rather good. Even the nose gear is fault free and looks high quality.
First, the 1966 Candy Apple Red is just completely spot-on excellent, something that can be said for the entire model. It oozes accuracy and quality.
The GE engines always seem so small by modern standards, and they have a small defect that can be seen on close examination but don’t affect the overall stature of the model. Sadly some of the silver rim paint isn’t thick enough and traces of red can be seen coming through.
The colour of the rims is the same as the colour of the fans, which is an odd compromise. The rims aren’t bright enough, and the fans aren’t dark enough, but it has to be said they’re not so bright as to be offensive or toy-like. The camera tends to exaggerate the brightness, they look better in real life than in an image, set in bright conditions with a flash.
The engine exhausts, both in mould, and paint are excellent.
4. Nose detail
Amazingly, even the barely 1 point lettering of Ruby Tuesday, the aircraft’s name, is completely legible. Even the flying lady is far better than we’ve seen on earlier models.
The radome line is visible, the cockpit windows and screen wipers all neat and accurate.
Here we have a frankly, not immediately obvious problem. The tail is offset to port by about 2 degrees. It notices only from the rear because the front of the vertical is on the correct centreline, but the whole thing has been pushed about 0.5mm too far forward, so the rearmost edge isn’t where it should be. That’s resulted in the underline of the Virgin logo not quite matching the small element that rolls onto the fuselage.
The reason it notices from behind is because the red on the roof goes to a point in the centre and it really doesn’t line up with the top of the tail. If you look directly from the rear, eye in line with the APU, it’s as obvious as daylight.
Now it’s not a deal breaker because it really only notices from two unlikely points, if the angle had been worse, it would have to have been a reject, because it would just look stupid.
Other than that, the paint is amazing, the red mica metallic is superb. One of the photos makes it look like the red on the fuselage section is wrong, but that’s a combination of flash and daylight bulb differentiating the paints, because the fuselage red has been painted on top of the white-mica. Human eyes can’t tell but the light frequency change notices on the camera.
Finally, the perfect body colour, the perfect 1966 Candy Apple red, and an acceptable, if not quite there aubergine. This is superior to what Phoenix managed, and they did make a considerable effort, especially when compared to the G-VNEW 789 models (The Gemini version of that was a catastrophe). The later Gemini G-VAHH was vastly improved, yet still not as good as this in overall finish, especially the white.
In the paint alone, it’s a resounding success. Please Gemini, remember it, don’t go and screw your next Virgin Atlantic up by forgetting you’ve already got it right. Use this paint combination and quality, and you’re 80% of the way to a successful model.
7.Score and conclusion
- -2 for the not quite right Aubergine (it’s only a tad out afterall, not a total fail)
- -3 for the tail being off-centre – that shouldn’t have happened
- -2 for the engine rim paint – again, its only a minor problem, and they got so much closer, to getting it right
- 93% is excellent and qualifies it for MOTY 2016.
This is a super model, so is the 1:200 version. Overall I’m very pleased with it. Between you and me, if it had dropped below 90% it was going back for a swap because in the UK this cost a staggering £44 – and that was not list price which is £51! ($57 and $66USD respectively). Even allowing for the currency drop in values, prices are becoming higher, and if they think they can just keep adding more when inflation around the world (in China, US and UK it’s almost zero), is so low, and not improve, they can think again.
The more it costs and the quality isn’t there to match it, the harsher, and harsher criticism will become. You and I have a legal right in at least virtually every EU state, the UK and in most US States, to expect a commensurate level of quality related to the price we pay. The more you charge, the higher the expectation.
In this case that expectation has been met, by exceeding my requirement of 90% for quality. Gemini and the manufacturer deserve credit for managing a first-rate model. It isn’t quite the Etihad 744 of last year, but it’s close.
Finally something decent to review, a great model and a worthy addition to the collection!
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