Some of you will know I have collected a number of Alaska Airlines 737’s over the years. Some are more attractive than others, but this one celebrated something significant too, the 100th anniversary of Boeing.
Alaska is supposed to announce this month (Feb 2017) wether or not it’s going to swallow the Virgin America brand and let it die, or not. I believe it would be a major commercial mistake to let it go. Few airlines have a devoted fan base of customers like VX, acquired at huge cost. To simply let that asset rot would be ludicrous, even if in the end, the airline does move over to 737’s for uniformity of fleet and operational costs. Brands mean different things to different people, you’ll never know what you lost if you get rid of it, but you’ll definitely know what you gained if you keep it.
Alaska was in many ways driven to purchase Virgin America by the power of the US majors, whose easy amalgamation, in an age of continuous Chapter 11 bankruptcies following 9/11, and then the 2008 meltdown, have sucked up almost all the competition. Delta especially, have put Alaska under considerable pressure, moving in to their main base at SeaTac.
Alaska operates a fleet of 158 737 variants, 14 -400’s, 14 -700’s, 61-800’s and 66 -900’s. I think I’m correct in saying they’re the 900’s largest single operator. At the time of writing the oldest -900 is only 4.3 years.
This aircraft is striking because of its quite intense livery, which you can clearly see in the photos above. I’d like you to bear these in mind as you read on….
There are some who don’t like the new JCWings derived mould, and I understand their concerns with it. However, with very few manufacturers producing a 737 in current liveries – Herpa sometimes, but very rarely, Phoenix seem to have abandoned them after that fiasco with the wing mould on the Thomson, and, now and again, Aeroclassics might produce one. Only Gemini/JCW seem to produce any quantity of them now. So it’s either ignore it or, now and again, buy one.
Aerials and so on are well fitted and the technical print, doors, windows etc, is fine. What though, has become of the body colour and the graphics? The main body colour is way to dark a silver, and the graphics for the large forward Alaska and the 100 years storng, are weak and verging on pathetic, because of the undelying paint. They’re not dark enough nor clear enough. In fact it has to be said, they’re nothing like the real thing colourwise.
If you turn the model to an angle you can almost make the graphics vanish they’re so weak.
Utterly inadequate at these prices and proof that once again, JCW/Gemini have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to colours any more. After the colossal failure of the terrible Saudia Cargo, and the yellowed body of the Lufthansa A359, this just adds more evidence that Gemini is in decline when it comes to standards. This is not even vaguely ‘as real as it gets’.
2.Wings and landing gear
I’ve always said it, and I stand by it, the wing mould on this version of the 737 is outstanding. detail, fit, finish, the outstanding split scimitars, a genuine triumph.
The landing gear is of course, quite small at this scale, but all of the wheels rotate. The nose gear is a little too low and the tyre rubs on the doors, never mind the excess rubber that looks frightful.
These I object to, because like the stabilizers, they’re plastic. The fans are too deeply recessed, and while the rims are well painted, the fans are bright silver. Fans as I always have to repeat, are not, and never were that I remember, bright silver.
The No.1 engine is also not fitted as well as it should be.
Commensurate with the rest of the model, tainted by the wrong fuselage paint colour, but some technical detail is visible if you look for it. Cockpit is fine, though why it has silver frames I don’t know.
I’m pretty sure the horizontals are OK, even if they are plastic. The underbody is very good and the Eskimo tail logo excellent.
The main fuselage colour is too dark – far to silver. The under body colour, the mid-grey that Alaska have used of late, seems closer. The lettering on the fuslegae is supposed to match this, but because the base colour is too dark, the whole contrasting element has been completely lost. It just doesn’t work. A miserable colour fail. Again. The list of Gemini/JCW colour fails just goes on and on…
7.Score and conclusions
- -15 for the fuselage primary colour; just too dark and it’s spoilt the model completely
- -1 for engine not quite fitted right
- -4 for the nose gear wheels too close to the doors and shredding of the tyre
- -2 for the silver of the engine fans
- 78% is below the absolute minimum level of acceptability in my book, but to be honest I’m so disappointed it’s got to go back. The colour is too far out, the nose wheel is a mess, the engines too mediocre.
My Recommendation: unless you’re a die-hard fan of Alaska and can’t live without it, do yourself a favour and don’t bother. The idea of owning it ‘at any price’ is mad. It’s just not that good.