WOW Air A320neo TF-NEO Aeroclassics 1:400 August 2017

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WOW Air is proving to be a formidable force in the low-cost market to Iceland, causing IcelandAir more than a little concern as it continues to eat into their customer base. At the same time both airlines have proved to be major contributors to the Icelandic economy, because rather than just divvying up a fixed market, they’re actively expanding the passenger numbers. Iceland is suddenly an ‘in’ place to go (despite its blisteringly expensive food and drink), for a short stay or as part of a longer trip. You can pretty much do the main sights in two to three days, just know what you want to do before you go.

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Arriving in Toronto

Reykjavik Airport has become a sort of Arctic Dubai in miniature, acting as a major transit hub for those going on to other destinations in Europe and North America. WOW’s three A330’s travel as far afield as LAX and SFO, and the A321’s cover Europe and NE US and Canadian destinations. In many cases it’s up to 20% less than flying direct. Cost is often more important than journey time to many, especially younger people. The infamous “millenials” – those who turned 18 in the year 2000 and those who will be 18 in 2018, an entire generation in fact, have grown up accepting and embracing the concept. Personally I freak out at the idea of a plane filled with 180 economy seats if the journey lasts more than 90 minutes!

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At Tenerife Sur Reina Sofia in the Canary islands.

The concept itself of making Iceland a hub may not last terribly long. The growing Norwegian model, and soon others will join in, Primavera Air starts operating out of BHX on A321neo’s to JFK next spring for example, flying direct on long-range narrow bodies, MAX-8’s, A321neo and soon the A321neoLR, could swiftly undermine the US East Coast routes. And yet if demand continues to grow, it may yet prove more durable. Besides which these airlines are flexible, what’s stopping them moving into European bases themselves?

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The A320neo is leased from ALC and WOW introduced it in June on the Toronto Pearson route. Four will be delivered in the coming months. The airline is also getting 3 A330neo’s next year that will replace the leased A330’s in current use.

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1.Fuselage

The standard A320 from Aeroclassics, still the best mould for overall accuracy and shape.

Windows and technical print, especially doors and cargo hatches are all excellent. The huge WOW logo, white on the pink lettering, looks neat and accurate, with just a fractional hint of the pink showing through.

Overall quality is excellent and there’s nothing detrimental to be said.

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2.Wings and landing gear

The A320 wings with sharklets are some of the best, with sharp, detailed moulds, a level of paint that doesn’t expunge the mould detail in a sea of gloss, but keeps it clear and visible, but not excessively so, strikes a good balance. The underwing though lacks any outstanding features.

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Fit and finish of the wings into the fuselage is almost completely seamless – and the problem with corner of the right wing underneath not quite fitting seems to have been resolved.

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The downside of all AC 1:400 A320 series is the landing gear. It’s not a mess, but it looks cheap, plasticky, and the tiny tyres on spigots isn’t the best or most reliable solution. They loose tyres with such frequency that I find it easier to place a thin glue layer on the ends of the spigots – it stops the wheels falling off. You try finding an AC nose gear tyre when it goes missing!

The other issue is that the standard gear is always too short. It’s almost like a large 1:500 set is being used on a 1:400.

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3.Engines

AC have done wonders with the new engine mould – in this case its a pair of Leap-1A26’s, and the detail is excellent, but not accurate. The “Going to Iceland?” tile is neat and legible on both units. The rims look OK but I have seen better. The silver fans are an error. Silver fans will always be an error unless there is evidence to show them that colour! Show me the in-service commercial airliner that has viciously bright silver fans?

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That grainy rim paint on he engines is a bit yesterday, AC can and should do better

Also if you look at the actual engine the markings at the base are too far back on the model, the one above the question mark is missing. The square silver marking on the top photo of the real thing was a temporary delivery item since removed, so is accurately not present.

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The exhausts are excellent, and the engine pylons, as demonstrated on the Lufthansa A320neo multi-test (you can find it here: Neo: GJ, Panda & AC compared) capture the correct shapes, something the JCW and Gemini versions fail miserably on. We’ll find out about the Phoenix soon!

4.Nose detail

Even on the real thing there is little visible, except for the silver-white square, and that is present. The Icelandic flag is amazingly detailed for its size as is the wowair.com tile. The cockpit windows are excellent, simple and clean.

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5.Tail detail

Faultless, well fitted excellence.

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6.Colours

The photo at the very top was taken in low light which has changed the colour, the second photo is far more representative. AC have done an excellent job of colour matching these – a really excellent job. Colour matching has been an AC issue for so long, but they finally seem to have been able to put it behind them. Keep up the good work!

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7.Score and conclusion

  • -2 for the bright silver fans – because of the pink livery they’re very, very, noticeable and it’s not a good look
  • -2 for the rims, they’re not special and the choice of silver paint, the large particle flakey type doesn’t help.
  • -1 for the minor engine details being misplaced
  • 95%. Really? Yes another Aeroclassics A320 scoring that high!

Aeroclassics seem to be on a roll at present. They don’t always produce something I’m looking for, and that’s fine, but I would ask them as Airbus aficionados, to look at doing an A359 at the very least. They would get the mould right, the proportions would be correct and we’d finally have one that was good enough to buy, and not the bad nose jest that JCW/Gemini have adopted or the miscreant engine pylons, oversized wheels and off nose mould of the Phoenix. 

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My recommendation: a really  nice model, a great price, better than anything coming out of GJ/JCW or Phoenix right now. If you want to be wowed, buy one!

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