Saudia Cargo 747-8F HZ-AI4 Gemini Jets GJSVA1555 Dec 2016

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I’ve so been looking forward to this model. I’ve wanted one for ages and second-hand ones rarely come up. It’s one of the key 748F’s missing from the now almost complete collection of current 748F for RLSI Worldport.

Not long ago I reviewed Saudia 787-9 HZ-ARA and have great respect for Phoenix for having nailed the colour accuracy on the model. I said then that it is quite hard to pin down as colours go. However it can be ascertained, there are plenty of images and the one below is an official Saudi Cargo image. At the top you can see the upper fuselage colour.

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Saudia Cargo only has two 747-8UF’s HZ-AI3 and HZ-AI4, this model.  This particular aircraft was delivered from new in the new Saudia livery of 2012, on 19th April 2013. She joined 19 744F’s, and four 777-FFG’s have been added since.

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Being a mostly desert kingdom, Saudi Arabia imports a great deal, and the immense wealth of some of its ruling elite means that everything from race horses to caviar and expensive cars need to be moved about all over the world.  However for the most part, the 748F’s are used on scheduled hub services, running from Riyadh to Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and sometimes Damman King Fahd International on the Saudi Persian Gulf coast. I had to go back almost 9 months to find one destination that wasn’t one of those – and that was Jeddah.

Before I continue, please remember this model was listed for £55 ($75US). It was only a few pounds cheaper in Euros.

1.Fuselage

I have no issues with the Gemini/JCW mould in general. There are three roof aerials – all as they are on the real thing, and they are well fitted, no visible hole and painted white. Most of the technical print – cargo doors, windows, red operational alert, wording is absolutely fine. However the giant CARGO logo is not well-defined, almost to the point of blurring.

The under-body detail starts to reveal a few minor issues. There is a small problem with the mould at the point the wings are inserted at the forward-most root edge. This has resulted in the port side wing not quite fitting properly. When I turned it over  to get the stand out (not an easy fit), the No.4 engine pylon detached from the wing, appearing to have no glue to hold it on, it appears to have been held on by paint.

The white under-body is fine, with no issues.

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I wish it was a joke, but that is the real body colour, a total fail in colour terms. As I took it off the stand the engine on the far side fell off.

The next concern is the starboard side gold coach line. This is clearly a transfer and not a painted line as the upper clear line of the transfer, is clearly visible under the paint, giving it a slightly grey look. Oddly enough the other side is nowhere near as bad. It is visible in places, but not on the entire length of the body as this is.

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Note how a tweak to the saturation and color levels can bring the colour up closer to what it should be but still well off

And then we have the Saudi flag, up under the top deck windows, which is actually quite a noticeable brighter shade of mid-green in the real world. Not here it isn’t. It’s dark blue, the same dark blue as the logo and tail.

Then we have the primary upper fuselage colour. It’s almost impossible to describe the utterly pathetic, erroneous, totally inaccurate, monumental colour fail of the worst type that this actually is. Even worse they used the same rubbish colours on the box, although there, the flag is green.

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Dust and dirt trapped under the transfer/roller line beneath the paint

2.Wings

The wings are totally the wrong colour. On the aircraft itself they are a pale grey on the model they are a mid-dark grey. They could not be further from accurate. At least they are the landed rather than the in-flight version.

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This is the real thing, you can clearly see the wings are NOT dark grey.

The port wing is also not sufficiently well inserted because of a fuselage mould problem.

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Getting the model somewhere the flash woudn’t cause a colour shift, and would reveal the true colours  took some hunting, but this is pretty much it.

The landing gear is reasonable, but every wheel is stiff and they don’t easily roll. Being coated in some sort of clear lacquer has stuck some of them rigid.

3.Engines

One of the few almost successful elements. The moulds are good but not excellent at the exhaust, the paint on fans, rims and exhausts is all good. The down side is that No.4 fell off the wing at the pylon. Just a joke really at these prices. I have to emphasise it wasn’t snapped off or an accident, it just dropped off – you can put it back without glue and it will stay on for a while, that’s how it’s designed, but it had no glue to keep it there.

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One down three to go?

4.Nose

No issues not already covered.

5.Tail

The gold isn’t right in the Saudi crest, it’s far too yellow by a wide margin (there are at least a dozen different shades of gold I know of), and the Saudi crest should be more to the Antique red-orange end of the spectrum. Otherwise well assembled and painted.

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6.Colours

A disaster. A blind hermit monk who lived in cave in the Sinai during the Roman occupation would have a better chance of getting this right praying for enlightenment.

It is a massive, utterly unprofessional colour travesty of the worst type. I cannot for the life of me, imagine what the person who signed this off was thinking, never mind the ‘research’ person or people. I am simply aghast, flabbergasted, utterly unable to comprehend, what planet they were on when this was being planned? It is, quite simply the worst colour fail in the living history of colour fails. It should never have reached production, and the sample model surely must have given it away?

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Add to that the dark grey wings and we have colour fail model of the year!

And I know exactly why they got it wrong. I can make it look right with no trouble at all; tweak the saturation, tint, temperature, color balance, brightness and guess what? It all looks perfectly OK. It took me about 2 minutes to match it to the photos, and even less to match it to the Phoenix 787. Somebody misread the CMYK numbers, and didn’t get the correct Kelvin for the temperature/tint settings. If an amateur like me can work it out using an old programme like Aperture….

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7.Score and conclusions

What an utterly crap model. You can print everything and mould everything to superb levels of quality, but if you cannot get the colours right, you’ve no business making models. There is “just not quite right”, and there is, “totally off the scale wrong”.This is the later without any doubt.

For me this model represents the utter indifference of Gemini whose brand this is sold under, and who must have signed it off. Their lack of basic knowledge is clealry evident, even a passing interest cannot be present for someone not to have seen what was wrong, and, if they did notice, to do nothing about it is even more inexcusable.

JC Wings who make the thing may have the shiny new production line, but they really have no idea what is going on. Add this to the JCW Cargolux cutaway, the Gemini Silkway, that makes three 748F’s all cocked up in a row, then the Lufthansa A359…what on Earth are these people doing?

  • -15 for the upper fuselage signature brand colour fail
  • -10 for the wing colour fail
  • -4 for the flag colour fail
  • -4 for the grey roller/transfer line and trapped dust
  • -6 for the engine detaching
  • -4 for the landing gear stuck solid
  • -2 for the poor definition on the CARGO logo
  • -4 for the wings not fitting properly because of minor mould issues
  • 51% is a terrible score for something that cost this much money

If you’re on a minimum wage in the UK/US which is around £7.20 an hour for an over 25 adult and around $10 in the US, this model represents a full 8 hour day of work. It is cheaper by miles in almost every other market. That though isn’t the point. By inflating prices, we are entitled to expect better. They were not that brilliant before, they’re getting worse now.

What a sad way to finish Gemini’s last model review for 2016. Total dissapointment. Not at all how I wanted this to go. Now I’m still missing a Saudia Cargo 748F.

My recommendation:  Don’t buy this model, it’s terrible, not worth anyone’s time or money. Mine is being sent back for a refund. 

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