China Airlines A350-900 B-18908 ‘Blue Magpie’ Phoenix 1:400 04150 Oct 2017

 

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China Airlines, the flag carrier of the Republic of China known to most of us as Taiwan, has already taken delivery of eight A359’s at the time of writing.

The first one MSN 049 B-18901 has been given the Mikado Pheasant (Syrmaticus Mikado) and this one, MSN 121, the seventh to be delivered, is in the Urocissa Caerulea or Blue Magpie livery.

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I was lucky enough to see B-18901 come into San Francisco from my spot at the remote edge of Anza Fishermans Park on Burlingame Point on the 22nd September, the pheasant livery is quite striking when seen in full daylight.

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The bird on the model, the Blue Magpie, is found only on Taiwan, and is apparently something of a pest, as most magpies are, but also in common with magpies around the world, has a reputation for bringing good or bad luck depending on your attitude towards it.

The other interesting fact about B-18908, is it was actually the 100th customer A359 delivered by Airbus.

The A359 is a key part of the China Airlines expansion into long haul routes that won’t sustain a 773ER, and they’ve effectively replaced the A343’s the airline operated until June 2017.

Fitted with two Rolls Royce trent XWB–84’s and 32 business, 31 premium and 243 economy seats, the A359’s operate to Sydney, London, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Vancouver, Vienna, Amsterdam and Singapore at present.

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Prologue

1400Reviews has published several articles outlining the fact that both the JCW/Gemini and Phoenix moulds are flat-out incorrect in a number of ways, not least the nose shape, which is terrible on the former version and only a little better on the Phoenix.  Both versions were rushed to market rife with inaccuracies that will be with us for years.

To add insult to injury JCW used the same mistakes in the A350-1000, and I suspect Phoenix to save money, will eventually do the same thing.

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Phoenix went from really quite good with the A359 to turning it into a laughing-stock of a model in the last half of 2016 and first half of this year. They’ve been so bad – the TAP Portugal one’s wings fell out, engines dragged on the ground etc. etc, that I stopped buying them.

So this is the first one in months and I really want to see an improvement.

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1.Fuselage

Other than the nose shape and the general dimensions the Phoenix looks quite good this time. Paint and print on these has never been a big issue, and they’re not on this one. Everything seems to be where it should be, the technical print is reasonably good and the livery generally is accurate.

The Magpie and vegetation beneath it seem to be accurate for size, though as ever with these things, they’re never quite there when it comes to colour.

 

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I’m going to be keeping an eye on these too, because they’re kept in the dark to keep the light off them except for when they’re on the diorama, and I’ve noticed a couple of older model versions have been loosing their colour – especially the Faces of Swiss 777-300ER.

Three roof aerials are good, well painted and well fitted, but the comms dome, which is a push in affair, is off centre, tilting to the right by a good ten degrees from true.

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when you look at it even at this angle the roof dome is clearly turned off-centre

Two aerials underneath are also white and well painted and fitted, especially as they’re in a sea of lilac belly paint.

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The model also accurately carries the Urocissa Caerulea tiles in English and Traditional Chinese on both sides between doors one and two.

Paint is actually really excellent, with no blurs, bleed or mistakes.

2.Wings and landing gear

The wings are grossly over glossed as always, but do have detail and a quality fit and finish, a big improvement over past versions where they just fell out.

Phoenix always did a great job with the wing tips too, which have the unique capacity to appear as flat as a pancake from one angle, while at the same time looking like a modern art sculpture of sensuous curves from another.

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Landing gear. In order to overcome the oversized landing gear complaints, Phoenix went to a correctly sized set – and found that the engines were on the ground. They then went back to the oversized sset to correct the problem. They now seem to have gone to another set that’s taller, but without the huge tyres, and it works.

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The probem however is the crappy tyres which are abominations of lumps and bumps. What is so difficult Phoenix? Really doesn’t anyone look at these and think, ‘they’re crap, maybe I won’t ruin the model for 1 cent of leaching chemical crap?’  Obviously not.

The silver paint on the landing gear is also far from ideal. Thick and bright, it’s a bit much.

The nose gear is very good, the tyres here are the only ones without lumps.

3.Engines

These remain a highlight of the Phoenix A350, with their see-through fans, neat rims and quality exhausts.The fans are good but not ideal colour. In real lif they’re dark, verging on black, not a mid-aluminium colour.

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4.Nose detail

Frankly superbly done. That nose paint can be a problem on some models and this has been finished exceptionally well, all the detail is where it should be, logos for Skyteam, excellent cockpit windows, picot tubes, the works, all done to a high standard.

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5.Tail detail

All round excellence to be entirely fair. Fitted and painted beautifully, with no issues.

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6.Colours

I have no issue with the paint colours, only to a small degree with the Magpie. It’s a bit dark and I’m not convinced of its longevity. It appears to be a print rather than a transfer, and it is good,. It’s hard to get the luminosity of these details to work as well as might be desired. I’m not moaning or saying it’s bad in any way, just that it’s not quite as good as I might like. Having said that it’s more than adequate for 99% of buyers!

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7.Score and conclusion

  • -8 for the 8 lumpy tyres, unacceptable that all of them should be so poor
  • -4 for the dome – the skewed angle is obvious and annoying
  • -4 for the over silvered landing gear, it’s too bright and too toy-like
  • 84% Very avoidable quality issues have reduced a potential perfect high score to an only just acceptable one.

It is entirely down to ancillary parts – tyres, gear, dome, that this is failing to achieve a high score. It’s a constant lament with this model that it is too often spoilt by cheap ancilliary parts, and generally poor QC.

My recommendation: It passes muster, just, but that dome is really irritating, as are the tyres. If you could see it before you bought it, that’s one thing, but if you do buy it, and it’s not good enough, send it back!!

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