It’s been a good year for Icelandic airlines – WOW has had it’s A333’s and Icelandair finally got the Hekla Aurora from Gemini and Herpa, though the later is still so far from being delivered it’s like looking at spec of dust through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. September they said, back in April.
The Gemini Heckla Aurora was relatively expensive, and now, from the numbers on eBay seems to have been over supplied from a second production run. Pricing, they said, was to cover the cost of the paint and quality. Yet it was on the old mould, the nose gear is pants, the tail colour wrong. It’s not a horrible model by any means, but it wasn’t as good as it should have been. See the review here: Hekla Aurora
Before this, I had just one Icelandair model, 753 (without winglets) TF-FIX. It’s a Gemini/Schuco, the engine yellow is pretty good, but the logo in the tail is weak. Most of all though, it’s the only one that’s got the blue right, and I’ve always loved it.
Icelandair have been developing their strategy for years, not just to the country as a tourist destination in its own right, but as a major – and cheaper – transit hub for Europeans and North American’s on a Trans-Atlantic journey. It’s working, so well that they took on two 763ER’s in 2015-16 and will take on two more in 2016-17.
Some aircraft have amazing histories, this is one of them. She’s been transferred 17 times since delivery to Air New Zealand as ZK-NCO in August 2000. They kept her 7 years when she went to Flyglobespan as G-EOCD who operated her for Air India for 6 months. She went off to Santa Barbara Airlines for two months and back to Air India in 2007-8.
In 2009-10 she operated for Nas Air in Saudi Arabia, before being off-leased and stored at Shannon during the worst part of the recession. GECAS then bought her in 2010 and she went to Kenya Airways as 5Y-KYW until mid 2015, then to Nordwing Airlines as VQ-BVD. In August 2015 she was delivered as TF-ISN to Icelandair who purchased her, then sent straight out to Saudia in September 2015 for two months, finally entering Icelandair service in November 2015.
The winglets were only added in April 2016, and she was named Svörtuborgir. Fitted with 25 business class and 237 economy, she’s powered by 2x GE CF6-80C2B6F’s.
The detail is all very neat and crisp, commensurate with the scale and superbly done. The satellite dome is brilliantly done, one of the best I’ve seen installed, and it’s quite a large size for this aircraft but they’ve done it well. Three aerials up, all very neatly painted and seated, one underneath they’ve even gone to the trouble of painting red, as it’s the waste water de-icer.
Graphics are spot on. However there are other issues, and they are naked-eye visible, though considerably less seriously bothersome than on some models. It only happens on the port side, but the blue immediately behind the wing root is not very good. Oddly enough the double-yellow coach line has made it look less offensive than it would have if it was plain blue to white, like on BA.
While there is that problem, the coach line itself is superb. There are some extreme close-up issues but these aren’t visible to the naked eye.
2.Wings and landing gear
The wings are slot-ins and there is a small amount of roughness around the insert, again on the port side, but that’s being picky in the extreme. Most people would never notice it, but I see so many models doing reviews, I do.
The real issue with the otherwise highly detailed, and rather splendid wings, is the over-glossed paint on the rears of the upper surfaces. It just floods out the detail of the flaps too much, and it’s way to shiny. Yet the silver-grey on the upper surfaces, along with all the printed detail, is outstandingly good, top, bottom, and leading edges.
The massive winglets are superbly done, beautifully painted and the graphic looks superb on the inner and outer faces.
The main gear is rigid but everything rolls. Two of the tyres had truly massive lumps on them but they actually came off with ease, not that they should have been there of course.
Nose gear is perfect, first-rate. All the gear has a delicate level of silver applied; it’s a refreshing change from the thick blobby stuff they seemed to over indulge in previously. These are so much better!
Has Phoenix done something lately? Have they opened a school on how to paint engines properly? The rims are superb, the fans are superb, the whole unit on both sides, is superb. All the way down to the colour of the fans and inner rims. The quality is a major improvement – though to be fair the SF Airlines 763F was also a superbly high standard a few months ago.
Really though, a truly excellent set of engines.I’m impressed and you know how hard that is to achieve!
4. Nose detail
Everything is so detailed, so neat and so finely applied, I love it. Even the name on the nose is visible and legible, and that must be less than 0.3 point. Just superb.
The crucial bit here is understanding that the tail logo can vanish into the blue if it’s not strong enough. This is good, it works well. The tail assembly and paint generally work brilliantly. Except….
And this ladies and gentlemen is where it all goes wrong. For whatever reason, I can’t quite fathom even from photographs, the blue is too far to the green end of the spectrum. As long as you keep it out of bright light, it doesn’t notice unless you know. Put it under the harsh scrutiny of daylight and it leaps out, and slaps you round the face like a wet haddock, then comes back for slap two when you see the engines, the colour of which would make Donald Trump’s hair colourist jealous.
Gemini’s Heckla Aurora was the wrong tail colour, but the base blue was right. This isn’t anywhere near close.
It took me quite literally 10 seconds to pull the entire Icelandair Corporate Brand Guidelines from Google. This is one page:
And this is the key colour ID page. It tells them exactly what the colours should be so a fail like this is utterly inexcusable. Just look at the colours compared to what’s been used. The top three are the aircraft colours, the supplementary colours are for signage and print/on line.
The correct blue is Pantone 2747. The one on the model matches PMS3025 which is miles out. The yellow on the engines should be Pantone 130, but they correspond to PMS1162X. Clearly all they’ve done here is guess.
Just to point out how important it is to Icelandair this is their wording:
STRONG COLOURS FOR A STRONG BRAND
People can recognise brands as easily by their colours as by their logos. It is therefore important to have a distinctive color and use it well.
The three main colours used in Icelandair branding are blue, yellow and white. They are our standout colours. We will use them consciously and carefully, to maximise their impact.
There is, not for the first time, a rather pathetic irony here. The image on the box is EXACTLY the right blue colour, so somebody in packaging did their homework. Silo manufacturing again, one group doesn’t talk to the other.
7. Score and conclusions
- -10 for the main blue colour fail
- -10 for the engine and logo colour fail
- -2 for the lumpy tyres
- -3 for the print/paint fail port side rear
- 75% – That’s a poor score entirely due to lack of research, and poor guesswork.
Technically, from a build point of view, this is really very good as models go. In fact close to excellence. The colour fails are inexcusable when the details are there in front of you.
Many of you won’t mind, some of you will but you’ll keep it anyway, and in this case so will I because no matter what Gemini produce, if they ever do, it’ll have that lumpy cradle, the quality likely won’t be there in the build, and they’ll expect us to pay twice as much.
If this was a horrible model, badly made or the technical detail was bad – and it has been in the not so distant past, it would go back. The thing is, despite its colour fails, it’s not a tragedy and I’ll get over it (the engine colour will always hurt the eyes though), largely because it’s rarely in the sort of light that makes it stand out. The greenish slant in the paint is far clearer in natural daylight. And the box? That’s so irritating, it’s exactly correct on the blue, though the yellow is miles out.
I just wish Phoenix would make a bit more effort to get these things right when they have the information so readily available.
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