Witty Wings is still missed by those lucky enough to have one of their models. Not only did they have some of the better moulds, their attention to detail was well above anyone else, their overall quality, even now well above anything that comes out of the mainstream producers.
In effect there are only three primary suppliers left, Aeroclassics, JC Wings and Phoenix. Gemini are nothing more than a virtual brand, produced for the most part by JC Wings, but on rare occasions, Phoenix too, have made models for them. Not of course, that anyone wants to remember that! Gemini’s cleverness is all about branding, but the substance is nothing like the price point suggests, and certainly well below it when the product is in your hand.
I remember when this China Southern arrived. It was one of those rare moments when it was actually thrilling to open the box. Inside was a large white-sleeved cube. Removing the sleeve revealed a heavy-duty, superbly printed split-form box. Lifting the top half off wasn’t easy as it was designed to fit to perfection; if you’ve ever opened a new iPhone box, you’ll understand! As it finally started to slip off, inside was a thickly layered grey semi-firm sponge-like packing material. Carefully lifting that off, there, nestling inside, was the A380.
Everything about it was a delightful experience. Once it was out of the box, the first thing that hits you is its enormous weight – nearly 400g (16oz). It’s a fact that weight is an important part of the human perception relating to quality assessment. Car doors don’t need to clunk, they don’t need to feel heavy, in fact it would be ideal if they were lighter, it doesn’t take anything away from their strength and saves fuel. Humans however, place huge store in the weight of a car door, and the noise it makes when shutting. Millions are spent making sure they’re perfectly tuned to satisfy showroom appeal. It makes you feel you’ve felt what quality is.
As you look over the model, the second thing that hits you is the exquisite detail. Fine print like this was almost beyond other manufacturers at that point, though they were improving. This was almost god-like in its levels of precision.
The next thing that springs to your attention is the paint quality. In 2012-13 this was a revelation. It was a mile ahead of everyone else. It reeked of quality, the difference between some cheap cubic zirconia and the finest clarity diamonds – when you see them together, the difference is beyond obvious, it’s startling.
The layers of rich royal blues and mid-ocean blue, coupled with the gold stripe in the astonishingly 1950’s ‘ocean liner’ livery, are perfection.
Every join, every point of attachment, is seamlessly integrated. It seems almost wonderous, you know, that quite simply, you have in your possession something truly special. And it didn’t stop there.
Because the next thing you see, is the engines. The vast Rolls Royce units, as wide as the fuselage on an A320, aren’t just any engine, they’re well, in all honesty, and in full awareness of pushing a metaphor a bit far, the Rolls Royce of model engines.
Made up of several parts, with a unique and immaculately painted silver rim, a completely separate nacelle section, inside which is a complex see-through high bypass fan. At the rear the most superbly fitted and painted exhaust systems, with the tell-tale Rolls Royce ultra-marine blue exhaust cone.
There are no mistakes, there are no dust marks, paint screw-ups or issues, they are, simply, perfect in every way.
The landing gear too, is a full rolling, lightly tilting set, with great tyres and superb bogies.
The wings are so heavy and realistic they look like they needed to be flown in their own Beluga to the assembly line.
Whenever I look at this model, it never stops reminding me of what can be achieved. At the time it seemed hideously expensive and I’d dithered over buying it – it was £42 new which was on the high side then. You have to pay that for a sub-standard Gemini branded A330 now.
Time has shown that the mould shape was a little off at the nose, superior to the JCW/Gemini but not the accuracy of the light weight aluminium Phoenix A380, which overall is the best now available.
It didn’t have aerials, and for some that’s an issue, but I never mind. It remains a superb model, equalled only by the Singapore Airlines and Korean Air A380’s I also bought from Witty.
Four, nearly five years on, and it’s still better than anything else that’s been made. Nobody else has made it this far yet, though they’ve come close.
Some things are special, this is one of them. If you were to experience it yourself, you would see it immediately, feel it immediatly and love it, immediatly.
We can all be cynical; we can, as popular social media would have it, be aggressive, strident, and opinionated to the point of unreasonable, and some of the worlds political leaders bask in such behaviour. In this quiet spot, even for those who dispute the nature and purpose of the A380, if you place that to one side, behold this only as a model. You, and I, each a connoisseur of 1:400 scale reproductive skills, could but wish everything was built to this standard, all of the time.
The patience to seek perfection, even when you know it can never truly be achieved, is an art form in itself.
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