One thing that RLSI has never had – because there were never any around to buy – is a set of 1:400 ARFFV’s – Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Vehicles. Panda has changed all that.
You’ll all know that these tend to be made in small numbers, and therefore the unit cost tends to be high. Moulds and development are expensive. Two sets effectively cost me the best part of £50 which makes them £12.50 each. I know they really aren’t worth it in terms of materials, but if you have a hobby, and you’re passionate enough about it, anything that makes a diorama that bit better is desperately sought after. The manufacturers know it and you either pay or shut up!
Gemini’s pre-Vietnam war set of vehicles are frankly atrocious. Not only are they hideously expensive and poor quality, unless your airport diroama is set around 1959 they’re so dated as to be a joke. To be honest they are so bad that the three sets I bought over the first year I had the space to build a diorama, all of the catering trucks fell apart and had to be glued, and most of the rest just fell into disrepair. The containers and the tug were the best bits.
Herpa have done a few vehicles in 1:400 – the best items have to be the Lufthansa Sky Chefs catering trucks, but also coaches (very pricey, passable), and tractors (again pricey, but a bit cheap looking).
Gemini recently delved into a couple of sets of buses, and I didn’t buy them because buses are the one thing I don’t need. However I know people who had the US Airways set and weren’t exactly thrilled by the quality, especially at the prices charged.
So when these became available from Panda in the UK through an eBay seller, well they were a must have!
Both types are based on the Austrian made Rosenbauer Panther 6×6 S, which is the smaller option of the Panther range. Most seem to be the larger 8×8.
The Panther 6×6 S is no slouch. Costing $500,000 a piece, they are mostly custom built, so its hard to find a basic one that looks exactly the same as any other. The green version is a Boeing liveried unit, used at Paine Field and came with a “Congratulations Boeing 100” on the box edge.
The red ones I gather, are Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) in Chinese on the sides, although the image on the box is one from Flüghafen Innsbruck!
The nearest image I could find is the TAG Aviation one at Farnborough.
The tech specs are very impressive, 700hp diesel engine pushes them to 80kmh in 27 seconds and they have a top speed of 120kmh – thats amazing when it carries 9,200 litres of water, plus 1,200 litres of foam, 250kg of powder and can power that out onto a fire at 6,000 litres per minute, while also carying 4 crew. The main roof jet water pressure is capable of breaking through the metal outer skin of an aircraft hull from 33m.
The main selling point of this particular type of unit is that the Panther 6×6 S is designed for aircraft emergencies, and deployment to any other airport related incident, wheras the larger vehicles are more specifically for aircraft incidents.
So now I’ve got them what do I do with them? Time for a 1:400 modern fire station?
These are truly superb. Ridiculous prices of course in terms of material, put in repsect of adding quality and realism to a diorama, just outstanding. Panda need to face the fact that while they like to tinker with a few models for the Chinese market, the demand out there, is way larger, and anyone who prduces quality like this needs to think twice before ignoring the potential market. The traditional manufacturers need to take a good long look and realise there days could be numbered unless they kick up the quality and buckle down to less exploitation, and a bit more brand salvation.
Panda get my undivided attention with these models, they recently released a Lufthansa A320neo before anyone else – and it’s accurate. So let’s see if they start to spread their wings a bit further afield. A superb job superbly executed. More please!
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