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Model Of The Year


Brand Of The Year Awards 2016





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72 2016 released models were reviewed this year (the model must have been released as new from January 1st to December 20th 2016, older models, and reviews, are not included).

25 of those models scored over 90% to qualify – a huge increase over last year and an indication that quality levels have actually risen substantially in 2016.

9 were sent back for failing to pass the 80% acceptance mark, either refunded or replaced (but most were refunded).

Only 1 was so bad that it was simply not scoreable (Ethiopian A350 by Phoenix).

This Phoenix Ethiopian A359 was so poor it wasn’t even scoreable, so much was wrong – and nearly all were build and component quality issues, engines dragging on the ground, huge lumps of rubber on the tyres, rotten zinc gear doors, missing paint, badly fitted stabilizers and wings, crooked gear, metal missing off one wing tip. It went back in the box with the LATAM version for refunds.





The standard this year was exceptionally high for those that were the best, so isolating the top ten required a major re-assessment of models that qualified over 90% – in fact the top 12 scored 98%+ . This meant I had to go back over every 98-100% model and re-evaluate them.

Because things were so close, there are in effect nine runners-up and one overall winner.

To win it has to be more than excellent, it has to surpass every single marker for quality. That includes, satisfaction, and delight. It has to be an experience to see, touch and own, as well as technically perfect.

Aeroclassics: None reached the Top Ten; highest score achieved was 96%.

Aeroclassics missed out the top echelon with HB-JMJ – even at 96% it wasn’t good enough for the finals.

Gemini Jets: Lufthansa D-ABYT Retro Livery GJDLH1479 January 2016

This model was without doubt the best one offered by the Gemini Jets brand in 2016. To be frank, when I saw it in late January 2016, I assumed it was so good I pegged it as my odds-on winner. A brilliantly elegant, well crafted model that made the Phoenix version look like the cheap facsimile it was. However in the end it scored 99%, and it was the only Gemini model to reach that high all year. It was also one that I received more than a few messages, telling me it had arrived in bits, wings and engines having fallen off.

Original review: HERE

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HERPA: Swiss Bombardier CS100 HB-JBA November 2016

I was expecting three models this year from Herpa in 1:400 but only two made it, both the new Bombardier CS100. The second, based on the operational Swiss HB-JBA scored 98%. Such a pity the Hekla Aurora didn’t make it in time to be judged.

Original review: HERE


 JC Wings: TUI 737-800 OO-JAF ‘Family Life’ November 2016

JC Wings production problems this year cut their numbers down badly, with just 9 models making it to me out of 23 orders, two of which scored above 90% – this was the best at 98%.

It says a lot about the quality of the new 738 mould and wings – undoubtedly the best 738 on the market right now.

Original review: HERE



Much to my amazement, Phoenix managed a staggering array of models this year, and it rather scares me that they can be so utterly inconsistent. In a remarkable turn around from last year, all of the remaining 7 in the Top Ten are Phoenix – last year that accolade was Gemini’s.

The 99% Score

Swiss 777-300ER HB-JNA ‘Faces of Swiss’ Livery May 2016

Frankly, I was amazed this was as good as it turned out to be, and delighted too. Phoenix really made an effort with it and it shines as one of the best models of the year, and a personal favourite with the retro Lufthansa 748i from Gemini. If I went by favourites rather than scores, one of these two would have won (and don’t ask which because I’m torn between them!)

Original Review: HERE

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The 100% Scores

It says a lot about the change in quality this year that Phoenix managed so many in this high category. And they may surprise you.

Edelweiss A330-300 HB-JHR June 2016

I was amazed. In 2015 the bane of my life was the rubbish A330 from Phoenix – ironically enough this year its been the rubbish new mould from JCW/Gemini. But no, this model was superbly made, painted and detailed. It deserved its score, and praise.

Original review: HERE

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SF Airlines 767-300FER B-7593 June 2016

This one blew me away. The detail in the graphics, and their quality was like little else that I’d ever seen. It was truly exceptional, and a total surprise. It’s the highlight of the cargo collection, and certainly the best freighter this year by a wide margin in my opinion. A Beautiful model, executed perfectly.

Original review: HERE

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Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-867F B-LJN New Livery  September 2016

A stunningly well produced standard new livery model, a technical tour de force. Faultless.

Original review: HERE 


ANA 787-9 JA880A

Another superbly executed 787-9 Dreamliner model from Phoenix. They know how to do these so well. The mould is a marvel, the technical finish and execution, outstanding.

Original review: HERE


Cathay Pacific A350-900 B-LRB New Livery

Cathay Pacific got a good look in this year, with the new livery pushing them to the forefront of collectors minds. However in general, the A350-900 by Phoenix didn’t fare well. Most models were good but not excellent, and one was so bad, the Ethiopian A359, I refused to even score it because it was frankly, garbage. This one happened before the Great Decline, and is one of the reasons I was so incredulous at how bad the Ethiopian, and the LATAM A350’s were, and it seems December’s Singapore Airlines A359 is also dragging its engines on the ground. How can you go from this superb model to such rubbish in a couple of months?

Original review: HERE


So now you’ve seen the scores, you’ve seen the top models. You’ve probably been surprised, and I am, that Gemini never reached perfection once this year, when last year they were so dominant. I blame the people who make their models for that; JC Wings have been off their game the whole year so let’s hope that 2017 is better.

Do NOT however let the troubles of a competitor make you think that Phoenix have not improved, they have, markedly. They have also had some utter disasters, shameful models that should never have seen anything except a skip.

However this moment is about celebration, admiring the very best – so ladies and gentlemen, I give you this years winner of the

1:400 Model of The Year 2016


A truly superb technical achievement of accuracy, detail, refinement and quality unsurpassed in the last 12 months. In fact possibly the best model in 1:400 I have ever seen. A complex, detailed, highly individual livery that took Boeing 6 days to apply to the real thing. Phoenix have done it proud, it’s a genuine gem, a global sell out and rightly so. If you have one of these be pleased, it’s a truly outstanding  model, and an inspired livery.

Original review: HERE


Brand Of The Year Awards 2016

This is a lot simpler to work out. Every model scored, average the scores, and that shows you what the general quality levels are for the year, and allocates the award of Brand of The Year 2016.

But First….


Gemini had some serious contenders for this award with low scores of 51%, but Phoenix know how to drag the bottom of the rubbish pile when it comes to making bad models. This prize was theirs last year, and they retained it, but Gemini gave them a run for their money, barely avoiding winning.

Third was Phoenix’s truly dire Lufthansa A340-600 Bayern Munich D-AIHK , November 2016 at 57%. A model so full of flaws, paint chips, and colour errors and wobbly landing gear that fell off, it’s hard to fathom how much worse it could have got; then you see the second, and first placed models. A truly, deeply, disappointing model that ended up returned and refunded.

Original review: HERE


Second was Gemini’s awful Saudia Cargo 748F HZ-AI4, December 2016 at 51%. Terrible colour failure, and quality issues from fallen off engine to paint lines, and marks, dust, low definition graphics, just a terrible model, and it should never ever have seen the light of day. A true low point for Gemini – especially when you consider how much they try to charge. The worst of a string of dismal 748F’s they released this year. Returned and refunded.

Original review: HERE

It was almost impossible to find a single thing that was good about this model


The biggest looser though, with a dismal score of just 48%, for what was one of the most inaccurate, failed cock-ups, and quality disasters of the year:

Phoenix’s EVA Air 777-300ER B-16725 New Livery, January 2016 at 48%.  Truly horrible in almost every detail, a mess from one end to the other. It was sent back and replaced with a JC Wings version, which while not a quality failure of such proportions, was irritatingly inaccurate. It was doubly annoying because this was one of the best, and most complex new liveries produced by any airline since Virgin Atlantic’s in 2010. Fine mica metallics, curvaceous greens, and complex lines. Utterly misrepresented by Phoenix, it was a truly awful model. Technical print and gear quality flops, bad curves, inaccurate livery, that awful dome, the wrong paint types, a quality fail of the worst type. Returned and refunded.

Original review: HERE

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And now for a special annual award:

The Thank You! Award

To the manufacturer who went and made something we all wanted and yet there wasn’t much chance anyone would make it. I wondered if this would be the Hekla Aurora, but that was made by a few brands in various scales, in 1:400 by Gemini and Herpa so is ineligible. Only one model this year really fits it properly, it’s a little off the wall, not the most likely thing to have been made, but Phoenix did it. So thank you!



The Phoenix 744 mould is far from ideal, but that livery and splendid quality made up for its deficiencies!

Original Review: HERE


1:400 Brand Of The Year 2016

Some brands are not true manufacturers, so from now on this is more appropriately to be known as 1:400 Brand of The Year.

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The highlight of Gemini’s year came early, it’s just an awesome model, the paint was a triumph, but a few customers received theirs in bits.

I posted 133 reviews and articles this year, 72 were models from 2016. Add up the scores, work out the average, and it gives you the manufacturer of the year. The minimum number of models to enter is three, different types. Herpa only had one, so is ineligible.

Aeroclassics produced a superb “goodbye” model with this A343, HB-JMJ
  • There has been a big jump upward in overall quality this year by Phoenix. Their average last year was just 72.75% and they came third out of four qualifying brands in 2015. This year they gained an astonishing +14.8%.
  • Gemini have slipped, their percentage position in 2016 declined by  -2.69%
  • JC Wings declined by -2.14% in 2016, which given their issues this year is no disaster, but they are so random in terms of standards!
  • Aeroclassics put a really strong performance, gaining an outstanding +16%
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Models like this atrocious JetBlue A320 did Gemini no favours, indeed the whole A320 experience from Gemini has been a low point of 2016. Lets see if the new mould from JCW, and the long-awaited Neo finally bring it up to scratch in 2017 for both brands.

What is interesting is that Gemini have stagnated in terms of quality, drifting down a little, and close to JC Wings (hardly surprising given their relationship). It’s no coincidence of course that JC Wings have done the same. Aeroclassics is a small sample, as it is every year, yet the overall quality was very much better than last year.

The sad part is that the minimum acceptance score for a model is 80%, Gemini and JCW are barely within a fraction of that as an average.

Phoenix have produced some dross models, without them their score would have risen into the 90’s, which is truly remarkable. Indeed if Gemini hadn’t had so many rubbish A320’s, and insisted on deploying that flappy-winged freak of an A330  JCW make for them, they too would have been much higher. Another big Gemini/JCW fail this year is colour control. Something has gone horribly wrong in that department.

This splendid JCWings PIA 772 encouraged me to think they were on the way to new high standards, then that rubbish Cargolux we’d waited 13 months for arrived to prove quite the reverse.

It’s all about consistency. Gemini’s brand has proven to be consistently average with little that’s truly remarkable, never mind monumentally conservative, and commercially un-adventurous in the extreme.  Constant similar re-hashes of domestic US airlines gets tedious, and its way too expensive for the quality JCW produce for them, that Gemini package and market at a premium.

The Lufthansa A359 D-AIXA with its discoloured yellow fuselage, and the catastrophically bad Saudia Cargo 748F, capped off a year that combined with the A320, and A330 failures, plus the colour accuracy issue almost across the board, has rendered Gemini truly third-rate.

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Phoenix were unsurpassed with this version of the Swiss International Airlines “Faces of Swiss”, the JC Wings version wasn’t a patch on it

JC Wings looked like it was on the cusp of a renaissance, but it appears to have slipped down, and still shows no signs of getting any better. Indeed JC Wings is on the edge of slipping below an 80% average, and they’re taking Gemini down with them.

Aeroclassics is too niche to ever be a serious contender in the modern aircraft sector, and it doesn’t want to be. However it knocked Gemini into third place this year, with vastly improved quality and paint finish. Herpa sadly, never produces much in 1:400 anymore, but it does now and again, produce a gem, even if they are a tiny bit flawed.

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Two production runs by Gemini and a high retail price that didn’t hold its value second-hand, have led to over-supply, there are always sub-retail priced copies on eBay. It was a good effort, but the old mould, and that main, and nose landing gear, were really not up to supporting the excellent paint job. A highlight of Gemini’s year that couldn’t overcome a year of low quality models.

Phoenix are infuriating, inconsistent, inspiring, random, yet varied, a bit more willing to try something out of the ordinary, but they have, no doubt at all, made huge gains in overall quality this year, that are frankly amazing, and surprising. Some lines though, the A359 especially, need urgent attention. They need to break away from the fear of making models for some of the airlines they never touch, and challenge Gemini more effectively. But most of all they need to be consistent! Too many of Phoenix’s models are spoilt by poor components, engines, landing gear, and a lack of attention at assembly.

However, the gains this year, especially as we moved towards the second half of 2016, were spectacular on almost everything but the A359, which has quite bizarrely, devolved.

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This came close to winning – everyone I showed it to (including a UPS 767 pilot, an airline exec, and an ATC supervisor) was deeply impressed by how the graphics were so perfectly reproduced.

In the end, Phoenix gained + 14.28% putting them well ahead of all the other brands, and that, makes them:

1:400 Brand of The Year 2016!

  1. Phoenix        87.03%
  2. Aeroclassics 83.00%
  3. Gemini Jets  80.47%
  4. JC Wings       80.11%

I never thought they had it in them to be honest and I’m delighted they’ve proven me wrong. Congratulations Phoenix. Now try not to throw it all away in 2017…and remember the Golden Magic Word: Consistency!


Thank you for supporting during 2016

Here’s to 2017 and beyond!

January 4th: Look out for the JCW v. Phoenix 748F super test!