Tui 787-9 G-TUIJ Phoenix 11331 1:400 March 2017

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Tui Group, who own Thomson Airways in the UK, plan to eliminate the Thomson brand as they have others around Europe, for example ArkeFly. As a result this, the first of the  787-9’s delivered to the airline is British registered, legally assigned to Thomson Airways Ltd, but branded as Tui.  The process seems to have slowed after Brexit, and I wonder if it’s not going to happen, brands are sensitive to local opinions.  Thomson has a now relatively rare retail travel agency business across the UK too, and it relates far more to maintain an anglicised name than the nondescript Tui, that most Brits don’t know how to pronounce, and refer to as T U I. That’s not helped by the indecisive use of the logo. Is it TUI as on the aircraft, or is it lower case as they keep wanting to use in literature, or the tail logo?

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If you collect 1:400’s you know the best 787 Dreamliner’s are almost universally produced by Phoenix. Unlike the A350 which they seem incomprehensibly incapable of producing properly.

Having named the aircraft Pixie Dust, Tui have fitted the 787-9 with 63 premium economy and 282 economy seats, (26 more PE and 38 more economy than on the 788 versions).

1.Fuselage

This is one of the UK’s best-loved airlines, millennials who grew up with it, are particularly fond of it, offering as it did first memorable family holidays. The livery is designed to suggest sea, waves and sky in tropical environments, and does it really well.

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Phoenix settled on a set of paint colours a couple of years ago and seem to have stuck with them on everything from 737-800’s through to 767-300 and 788/789.

Generally speaking the technical detail is excellent, three upper and one lower aerial are present and the small rearmost dome is moulded in.

There is only one flaw which is disappointing because it’s easily seen – the rear half of the starboard blue to white paint is shaky and uneven, which upsets the curvaceousness of the line.

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While the print quality is high, the TUI lettering is the wrong colour, wrong font and incorrect thickness. The red colour Phoenix have never gotten right, so while it’s wrong, it still matches the rest of the aircraft in the collection.

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2.Wings and landing gear

Superb mould, as they always have been, fitted almost seamlessly. Paint seems a little bit lighter in thickness but has retained the quality finish. Silver leading edges are excellent.

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Landing gear is perfectly assembled, fully rotating wheels, and no lumps and bumps. Gear doors are perfectly OK, not the sort of shambles we see on the A350 model. Nose gear on this handsome 789 is equally as good.

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3.Engines

These are GEnx-1B’s, and while on mine the TUI.com on the nacelles seems a match for the images, I’ve heard that more than a few have been delivered with them printed inaccurately.

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The rims are generally excellent the fans good both in finish and the correct colour, though the inner No 2 engine rim is a tiny bit rough. The blue exhaust cones are excellent.

4.Nose detail

The very tip of the nose has rubbed on the packaging, not the only model in this batch that’s happened to. There is a slight wavyness to the blue-white that notices in close-up but not from a distance.

Cockpit detail is neat and accurate enough, as are nose dome lines and markings.

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5.Tail details

Very neat, very tidy, nothing to complain about except for the red of the logo which is the wrong colour, but, as I say above, fits the rest of the model fleet.

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6.Colour

Well, it’s been a fact of life with these models from day one, that Phoenix have never gotten the colours spot on. Close but not perfect. The point is they’ve now been consistent for a long time in using the nearest they’ve been able to get, so unlike the tragedy of Gemini’s AA models, which have 8 different versions of the current scheme, at least this is the same on everything they’ve done, and that’s the only reason I’m not marking down the score.

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7.Score and conclusions

  • -8 for the poor definition of the starboard side blue-white line, rear half, and at the nose
  • -1 for slight untidiness in the inner engine rim
  • -4 for the wrong font and lettering size
  • 87% is well above average, but not as good as Phoenix have managed with complicated liveries, like the AeroMexico Quetzalcoatl livery

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Colour aside, it’s the lack of high-definition in the print, blue to white on the starboard side that spoils this model, though it has to be said it’s not a tragic fail, just not really as good as we know Phoenix are capable of with the 787.

My recommendation: it’s possible there are inconsistencies in production standards on some models from things I’ve heard, so if you get to see it first look for them before you buy. If you’re an on-line order junkie like most of us, you’ll have to determine what you’ll accept, but I don’t see any reason not to buy this model.

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