JC Wings v Phoenix 748F LX-VCM Cargolux Comparison Test

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Primary reference image of LX-VCM

The participants:

  • JC Wings 1:400 scale model of Cargolux 748F LX-VCM Item XX4709 announced in October 2015 and delivered in November 2016
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    JCW version – the flash removes the exessivley blue-grey colour and bleaches it out
  • Phoenix 1:400 scale model of Cargolux 748F LX-VCM Item 11328 announced in November 2016 and delivered in December 2016

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Phoenix version
The model is of a standard Boeing 748F with a special livery that celebrates Cargolux 45th Anniversary in August 2015. It has the largest graphics application ever carried out by Boeing on any aircraft. Cutaway artwork reveals some of the unusual items carried as cargo by the airline in its 45 year history.

When viewing these comparisons it should be remembered that the JCW mould is the same one used to produce Gemini 748F’s in recent years, though some have been Phoenix mounds in the past.

1)Boxes

They both come in a similar sized box and both have a little more plastic sheet protection than has been usual of late, especially the JCW.

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JC Wings Box
The JC Wings box shows the aircraft’s name, City of Redange-sur-Attert,  coat of arms and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg graphic. On the other it shows the Cargolux 1970-2015 graphic. The model outline is shown on a silver-grey background.

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Phoenix Box
The Phoenix box is far more simple, with just the standard type of livery box and the aircraft image over-printed.

2)Mould differences

The JC Wings has a more pointed nose than the Phoenix but doesn’t quite match the silhouette of the real thing, the cockpit angle isn’t quite angled back enough making it a little steep. Ironically, despite the overall nose shape being more pointed, the actual radome is slightly too rounded.

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The moulds at the nose are slightly different, Phoenix to the rear, JCW front. Ignore the colour balance on the  body – the flash changes the body colour, but the colour density in the cutaway is far deeper and more realistic on the Phoenix version
The Phoenix nose is angled a fraction higher, the radome is closer, but still a little too rounded, the cockpit angle is more accurate, but not high enough, making the roof line a little too low.

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JCW to the front, Phoenix at the back
Both have a mild inaccuracy in the roof dome slope rearward, but it’s very difficult to demonstrate without spouting a whole list of measurements. In effect it’s not going to make any real difference to your enjoyment (or not) of the model.

What is good, is that both have got the roof aerials position spot on.

The under-body waste water heater aerial both manufacturers have placed correctly, but only Phoenix have painted it red, as it should be.

The rest of the fuselage mould – with the exception of the wing root is pretty similar. Both are wrong when it comes to the upward angle of the rear under-body to the tail, but again, its such a small error you’d never notice and, and it makes little difference.

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JCW use the extended fuselage mould at the root and insert the wing into it
The wing root is a very different design on each model. JCW have gone for the mould extension method. This means that the fuselage mould contains the root of the wing, and the wing is inserted into the root. This has two advantages in theory. The first is it makes for a superior fuselage mould that appears wider, and more realistic. The second is the wing inserts should theoretically fit better, and will not compete for space inside the fuselage. That may seem odd, but as the mould ages, as we saw on the Phoenix A330 in 2015, the insert root can get messy, and actually stop the wings from fitting properly.

The other advantage to this is that the mould on the JCW being wider, it’s allowed the four V shaped air intakes to be moulded-in properly. They’re there on the Phoenix, but smaller, and often so heavily glossed over you’d be hard pressed to find them; often it looks like there are only two.

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Phoenix use the full slot-in  for the entire wing and root. Done really well it can look seamless
Phoenix use the full slot-in method for the wings, where the entire structure is pushed up into the fuselage. This means it’s essential for the wing to fit seamlessly to preserve the unified look of wing and fuselage.

This is where the Phoenix has the advantage in that if correctly fitted, the wing can be remarkably close, to the point you would hardly see the join, which doesn’t happen on the JCW, it always shows the join line.

Theory is one thing, and on the Phoenix version the starboard wing achieves the near-seamless look, but the port wing just doesn’t.  The further back you look along the wing join, the gap just grows, though it’s not an end of days issue!

3)Wings

It was never advertised as such but the JCW version was inexplicably fitted with ‘in flight wings’.  I personally have absolutely no time for IFW, at any level, being a hardened active permanent diorama user, they have no place in my collection. They make a ground model look utterly ridiculous.

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Phoenix wings shown here, only show this much detail in unusual circumstances! So much gloss paint tends to obscure it in most lights.
That apart, both sets of wings (and even on the standard JCW/Gemini 748i and 8F) are an equal match for each other, in terms of mould shape and general detail before any paint or print is apllied.

What goes wrong is Phoenix forget the technical print, and over-paint in high gloss, obscuring the detail. There is something about the JCW wing though, that looks a bit, (and I dislike the phrase) ‘over-detailed’. Personally I think the flap grooves are way too deep and far too wide. I’ve had the privilege of seeing these wings up close, and they just look far more seamless than the mould makes them out to be. It’s as though they expected paint to fill the grooves and then didn’t paint it heavily enough!

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The JCW wing seems over cut, grooves are too deep and too wide – they just don’t look like that in real life, or anywhere near it.
Both versions have relatively minimal under-wing detail.

One place the Phoenix however completely trounced the JCW on, is the engine pylons. These are far superior, not just in shape, but size and paint application.

3)Engines

Very simple. The Phoenix GEnx-2B67’s are not only superior, they are very much so. The JCW’s are too large in diameter, the fans are recessed too far into the nacelles and the exhaust mould is less well-defined. To cap it off the silver paint on the JCW exhausts is lurid silver.

Nacelles and fan colours are pretty much the same, Phoenix has fractionally better rim finish.

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JCW’s engine mould is not as good or as well painted – the fans are excessively recessed and the nacelle is too long.

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Phoenix engine is superior in every way in terms of paint, but the GE logo the red marker line are too far back. 

4)Landing gear

The JCW gear is rock solid, the wheels don’t want to roll, and despite the fact they all look neat, the plain body-coloured hydraulics seem like an excuse not to spend money on a different paint.

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JCW mould is wider because of the wing root and the four air intakes are clearly visible. Printed-on gear doors are evident, if overly heavy. Stand hole was especially tight and uncooperative.
The Phoenix wheels, and gear, are totally superior in every way, all rotate, tyres are excellent, centre bogies are the spring-loaded type, and the hydraulics are a very fine, neatly painted silver.

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Phoenix  gear just works better, stand hole was fine, air intakes detail is swamped with gloss pain,t and not as deep as on the JCW.

5)Tail

Both have the tail dimensions at the correct height for the vertical. However the more you look, the more you see. The leading edge of the Phoenix is more accurate, the way it slopes down into the fuselage is noticeably different, and more accurate than the JCW, and it uses less of a slot. However this is entirely marginal, only by looking at it as I have for a test like this would you probably ever notice. The point is the Phoenix looks more like the real thing, the JCW less so.

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JCW’s APU exhaust looks better finished, the long slot for the vertical stabilizer is a totally different method to the Phoenix short slot.
The JCW APU is better, it just looks more realistic and is better finished.

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Phoenix APU here, is less realistic, but the vertical short slot fit to the fuslegae is also more in-keeping with the real thing than the JCW version. The blue line matches far better and looks more refined on the Phoenix tail – and it’s the right colour.
The horizontal stabilizers look identical, but in terms of quality of paint, and overall appearance, the Phoenix are far neater and don’t have paint blemishes.

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The JCW (shown here) vertical stabiliser leading edge as it swoops into the fuselage is less accurate than the Phoenix version which is more elongated, but much tidier. The blue line at the tail looks like a messy join. The JCW mould seems square here when it should be rounder.

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The Phoenix vertical stabiliser (shown here) uses a shorter slot-in but it gives a more accurate leading edge, however the join and gap on this model look less tidy. On the other two Phoenix built Cargolux 748F’s, they look much better. An example of Phoenix’s inconsistent build standards. Take a look at the giraffes in the cutaways too; neither is brilliant, but from a distance, the depth of colour and detail on the Phoenix here, really notices. 

6)Technical print

This covers the detail print, doors, windows, signage, sensors.

There is a simple way to describe these on the JCW version; over-emphasised. Too heavy, too black, too obvious. You only have to look at a photo of the real thing to see that the detail is simply way too much. The nose door for instance, is almost completely invisible on the real thing. On the JCW it looks like the rubber seals have popped out.

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The nose detail and print colour – especially the city name,is lighter and more accurate on the Phoenix shown here.
All the detail is there on the Phoenix, but it’s been managed and applied far more realistically. A quite significant and important difference that’s clearly visible, and easily spotted by anyone.

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On the JCW the same detail is heavier, thicker and blacker, and the city name isn’t black on the real thing. The EU flag also has a corner missing and there appears to be a paint blemish.

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Phoenix (left) is correct for detail and definition, JCW (right) is excessively dark and innacurate -even more so without a flash

7)Colour – Wings, fuselage and corporate logos

The JCW primary wing and body colour is a complete fail. Totally the wrong colour. So far from being correct that it’s hard to understand how it got to be so utterly wrong. It’s too dark and too blue-gray. You can see the full review here: Cargolux 747-8R7F LX-VCM ’45th’ Livery JC Wings XX4709 Nov 2016

The standard colours and logos, black, red tail, white three-element cubes, blue flash, are all fine on the Phoenix, but too dark on the JCW by a couple of shades when it comes to the blue stripe.

However, the Phoenix colour is perfect. They used exactly the same base colour as were used on the previous two Cargolux models I have, LX-VCB and LX-VCJ. LX-VCB is a Phoenix produced, Gemini branded model, on which the colour is spot on.

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This image gives away a great deal if you take your time to check the detail. First the JCW at the rear – you can see the recess on the engine fans is far too deep, colours of the cutaway are paler, less vibrant, less well defined. It’s hard to tell – have a look at the full review of it – but the main body colour is much bluer-grey, and just wrong. The heavy black technical print is unrefined and inacurate.

8)The special livery

This of course is the famous cutaway livery, the largest ever produced and applied by Boeing to any aircraft.

Neither are perfect. It’s more of question of which is the least imperfect. There is no doubt that’s the Phoenix version.

You only have to look at it to see the depth and lustre of the colours, while not 100% accurate by any means, are far deeper, clearer, better defined, with higher contrast, brightness and impact, especially on the starboard side with the coach and sports car, where the differences are obvious. In some places it’s only marginal. However there is a qualitive finish on the Phoenix version that appears to be more of a print than a transfer, which really, model in hand, gives it a clear edge.

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There is no doubt in my mind that the Phoenix, shown here, is the better of the two. Both are flawed, but the Phoenix less so by some margin. When it comes to colours – get the two in front of you and you’ll see it in a split second. The JCW is just WRONG!

9)Conclusion

The JCW version is a no-go model I could not possibly recommend. It fails on colour, it fails on technical detail, it fails on engines, it fails on those in-flight wings, and it certainly fails on the livery graphics.

The Phoenix has its flaws, mostly mould related and the excess use of paint, lack of under-body, and under wing detail. It has some small fit and finish issues – the wing root being one, but overall, it’s a model I will keep and am happy with. Cargolux is the only airline I have three 748F’s of, and I expected much better of JCW after 13 months of waiting.

What this also shows yet again, is that JCW, who make their own models, and models for Gemini Jets, have totally lost the colour recognition and management plot.

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The depth of colour on the Phoenix graphics is so much better
I hadn’t spent much time looking at whose mould was better until now. I’d pretty much considered them equals. However, the tail, engines, engine pylons, tail up-slope on the fuselage, landing gear and aerials are all better on the Phoenix.

In the end if this is the best JC Wings can do after keeping us waiting 13 months, it’s a sad day indeed. Phoenix haven’t exactly managed a miracle here, but it’s an acceptable model with a score in the mid-80th percentile.

My recommendation: Buy the Phoenix, the JC Wings version is a waste of money.

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