I thought for today’s review I’d try something different; how about take the original Gemini N718AN – the first American Airlines 773ER they released back in early 2013, and compare it to the very latest version released this month, January 2018?
Theoretically you’d expect them to be identical wouldn’t you? Same type, same airline, same livery, same engines, same seat configuration. All the photos say they are indeed identical. However they are glaringly obviously not on so many fronts and in so many ways it’s almost impossible to keep count.
I believe without looking it up, Gemini have released at least two others, and I can only sit here and wonder what sort of transitional mess they must all look lined up.
N718 wasn’t without its detractors when it was first released. The main body colour was far too silver, the escape markings were missing over the wings and there was much argument about the wing colour being wrong (it is).
I’ve had about ten American new livery models and not one single one matches any of the others for paint. In fact so bad were many that with the exception of the 757-200 (which appeared at BHX now and again during that services short life), the 788, the Oneworld 772 and a 763w – all the rest have been sold off.
I’ve always liked the new livery American use from the day it came out and I still do. What I can’t abide is this silo mentality that every model is treated individually for colour selection. It’s simply inappropriate in around 90% of standard airline livery cases.
Sadly it once again also highlights the terrible problem Gemini have at present with colour selection, because guess what? It doesn’t match any of the others either.
The reason I purchased it (N721AN) was to see how they’d come on, and to get an updated version with aerials. In terms of price, the new one, at retail is literally twice that of the original. 100% inflation in five years. That’s four times the actual inflation rate. So let’s see what we get for our money and what’s better – or worse now than it was then?
The mould is the same and it still has the same problem in the same place; namely the inability of the cradle to fit properly at the right side of the forward wing root. Five years and they couldn’t even be bothered to fix that.
The basic colour which was actually derived from a marketing vice-president’s Audi company car, while senior execs were stood in a hangar comparing options back in early 2012, is totally different to the 2013 N718AN version. I knew the colour because my Audi S5 then was exactly the same!
The difference here is monumental, we’re not talking a shade here, we’re talking one is silver and one is grey, they’re as different as Korean Air Blue and KLM’s Delft blue.
There’s also a marked difference in the American logo, the colour separation is vast, N718 is dark, almost anthracite grey, the new model is actually pretty accurate. It isn’t the same as on the 2015 772ER N796AN or the 788 N800AN, but it is much closer than N718.
The Eagle logo is not as good on the new model – it’s literally missing its head until you look very closely and realise, the eagle’s head has been coloured far too lightly, and has in fact vanished against the background.
On the roof the only similarity is the two black markings amidships. The new model is much more detailed, with two rear aerials and one just forward of the wing root line. Underneath neither of the two aerials visible on the aircraft are present, which is poor, especially for the prices charged.
There’s a minor issue with the larger forward aerial at the rear, which tilts left.
The two upper domes, which are relatively shallow but big enough to be either moulded in or a push-in, are simple paint-on’s. The rear most is white the foremost a barely visible grey. They’re both a white-ish grey on the original model.
Possibly the least good part of the new model’s fuselage detail is the extremely poor lines for the cargo and luggage doors. For a while I actually thought they were missing but, in 1200 lumens of light you can just make them out, but to all intents and purposes they’re invisible.
Other than that most other detail is neat and accurate as well as being high-definition.
Same mould, totally different colour. The new model does have escape details on the wings however. The oddest part about them? Neither colour is correct, indeed the new model appears to be worse than the original. With Gemini’s colour selection problem over the last 18 months it doesn’t surprise me. The original was a too pale grey, this new model of N721 is far, far darker and completely wrong.
Other than that they’re a match. The cradle fits (sort of) reasonably well until you look underneath.
This is where the new model is very much better than the old one. The main gear on that is 12 tyres on spigots, with the nose gear, strangely, tyres on a small wheel.
The old main gear bogies don’t tilt either and they do, though somewhat stiffly, on the new model. The cause may be disgusting brown slime that’s dried all over the tyres and gear, presumably some sort of glue.
Overall the new model is distinctly superior in this area. Another good thing – the hydraulics colour is correct too. It’s that brown slime that looks so unpleasant, like sewage has leaked out of a tank and run down.
However there is an inconsistency again, the new ones gear is far higher at the nose than the original – buy as much as what would equate in the real world to about 3ft/1m.
The new models engines are more detailed, with markings under the nacelles, but the fan colour is darker and much more realistic on the old model. Why is even this inconsistent? The old one had the white ‘6’ spiral on the engine fan centre, the new one doesn’t.
The biggest difference though? The main nacelle colour. The old one was a very light silver, the new one matches the fuselage paint – it’s far better, but, the rims aren’t as good and the exhaust paint on the cone is far too light. these were all perfectly fine on the original.
The picot tube markings are all different on the new one, but nothing significantly wrong.
The main difference as mentioned above, is the difference in nose height. the new landing gear is much better and more detailed, and taller.
This is mostly about the US flag livery on the tail. Firstly the old one is much darker – too dark. I’ve been through many of the photos I’ve taken of 773’s at Heathrow along with many others. The new N721 set is too thin in density, and a little light, the old N718 set is the exact opposite – too thick and too dense making it too dark.
It’s just totally inconsistent. As a stand alone model you probably wouldn’t notice, but as a fleet display and in terms of simple accuracy, they’re very different, as is the underneath of the tail, totally different shades of gray. The new version also has the horizontals coloured the same as the wings, so they too, are too dark.
In the end this is all about colour, far more than anything else. These models are similar, but by no means are they identical. They’re not identical with the real thing and they’re certainly not identical with each other. They are at best an approximation, an unfocussed simile, a vague attempt to reproduce the real thing in model form. If I was a conscientious fleet collector I would be deeply disappointed with the accuracy levels.
8.Score and conclusions
If you took aspects of one and crossed them with the other, you’d have a better model. The new one, N721AN looks better as an individual model, if you pretend you know nothing. It’s closer to the other models. Then you get to the wings, and whoever the idiot in charge of colour is at Gemini is, screwing wing colour up for the last 18 months seems to be their main achievement.
The score for N721AN (GJAAL1700):
- -10 wrong wing colour
- -4 for lack of proper domes
- -2 for no aerials underneath
- -2 for inadequate fan colour and detail
- -2 for poor exhaust colour
- -10 for the main fuselage colour being different yet again to every other model of the same livery
18/50 for Accuracy
- -4 slightly crooked cradle
- -2 less than perfect silver engine rims – too big to be missed
- -1 left leaning rear aerial
- -6 as not one of the wheels on either bogie rotates or can be made to do so because of the brown stained glue
37/50 for Quality
Overall score: 55% “Extremely Poor”
So there we are, reasonable quality certainly, not the worst by a considerable margin, but the accuracy and detail levels are almost guesswork. Nobody at Gemini is really paying the slightest attention to it, they are, at best offering a cursory similarity and expecting you to buy it.
I can almost hear the groaning, “oh he just hates Gemini”. No I don’t – they’ve won Model of The Year in 2015. They’ve had some wonderful models in the past and where credit is due they’ll get it. What I can’t stand is the fact they charge so much money, and so many people just buy it, and put up with it. It’s like all those collectors who sit there saying “the JC Wings A350 nose is better” or Gemini’s A380 is better than Phoenix’s – they’re not, provably so, its not a matter of opinion, it’s fact, but if your happy with sub standard dross, that’s your business, and Gemini will love you all the way to the bank for it.
The fact that Gemini don’t get to use the new 773ER mould from JCW for whatever reason – probably because the old mould is so profitable – is annoying. The only people who don’t get what they deserve are collectors.
My recommendation: If you dont’t mind paying outrageous premium prices that match a small 1:200 model, and you can live with the inaccuracy, be my guest…if you have to have it at any price Gemini will love you for it. I cannot in good concience recommend it.