Etihad A330-243 A6-ETH Panda 1:400 Jan 2018

Etihad-Airways

I’ll be honest, the only reason I wanted this was because it’s a Panda A330 and I haven’t had one before. Other than the A332F by JC Wings its the first Etihad A330 I’ve bothered with.

The livery is standard with a Happy Global Shopping 11.11 tile from November 2017. English on the right and what appears to be Chinese on the left, with a weird-looking cartoon blackbird character holding a box. Make of it what you will!

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Etihad isn’t having the best of times lately. The ME3 – of which Etihad is very much the smallest, are in viscious competition with each other, and newly refurbished Saudi, Omani, and Kuwaiti airlines, with Bahrein’s Gulf Air also about to catch up in the modern aircraft stakes, all increasing competition. On top of that there’s a whole host of new low-cost and regional carriers making off with ever more customers. The scenario is made worse by the blockade of Qatar, which seems to have simply exacerbated the competition to European regional and long haul US destinations, never mind through traffic to the Far East, India, and Australia/New Zealand.

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This particular aircraft wanders far and wide, serving everywhere from Bangkok to – and as I’m writing she’s actually just about to transit the UK to Dublin. Mostly its second tier destinations, Dusseldorf, Chengdu, Brussels and many more besides.

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This aircraft was one of the pair painted in the EXPO Milano livery during Etihad’s short-lived flirtation with putting European airlines like Alitalia to rights – or wrongs – as the episode with it, and AirBerlin, cost it an estimated $3 billion for no return whatsoever.

Delivered in on April 24th 2006, fitted with a pair of Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60’s, she carries 22 business class and 240 economy passengers.

1.Fuselage

You know how rare it is for me to be bowled over by anything – you do get a little jaded when you see so many mediocre models. Well this is a moment when I’m delighted to have one of those wow moments!

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This is a superior A330 overall.

The shape is excellent, the details first class, the print and livery quality sublime, really top-of-the-form 21st Century as-it-should-be quality! The moulded-in roof dome at the front end, three aerials up top and one underneath, plus a big satcoms dome of the correct type between the rearmost aerials.

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It’s fault free and truly excellent. All the way down to the odd little graphic on both sides.

2.Wings

An outsandingly clean mould with a superb paint job, preserving the details while providing an accurate colour set.

Fitted in to the point of seamlessness, they look amazing, with the same superbly high quality style of paint finish that looks so realistic.

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Even the leading edges are superbly done, with the thinnest and neatest application of fine aluminium paint. Other manufacturers could learn from these!

3.Landing gear

Proving that lumps and bumps, shoddy paint and crappy moulds don’t have to dominate the future of landing gear, along with the brown sludge so loved by Gemini, this model demonstrates a high quality finish yet again.

4.Engines

Both engines and pylons are plastic of course. The pylons and their colours are superb, the engine moulds first-rate. And – are you ready for this? Someone has looked inside an engine, seen the fan colour and replicated it as it should be! Yes real fan colour fans! And it has silver rims, and the paint isn’t lumpy or flaking!

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The engines form part of this light weight livery special, with “TMall” tiles in English and Chinese.

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The exhausts are the only place there’s a problem on the whole model – the exhaust rim is too dark – exactly what happened on the the Aeroclassics A330 CS-TOV, which happens to use the same engines and exact same pylons…(raises eyes and looks into space while whistling)….so the parts supply must come from the same source.

5.Nose detail

Superbly faultless, love it.

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6.Tail detail

Superb, fault free, exquisite.

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7.Colours

As close to exact as I have ever seen. I’ve had Gemini, Phoenix A380’s, 773ER’s, 787’s, A332F, and this is by far the best and most accurate. Only when you see them together do you really understand how much better, how much more prescise this is.

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8.Score and conclusion

Accuracy

  • -2 for the wrong colour engine exhaust rims – should be lighter silver

48/50 for accuracy

Quality

Faultless

50/50 for quality

Overall score: 98% – simply outstanding, a brilliant model, verging on perfection but for one small error.

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When you think what we’ve had this year, Gemini’s recent four – three of which were classed as sub-standard, despite the fact they cost premium prices, Gemini just trades on its name now, and the fact there are so few alternative suppliers.

JC Wings is unreliable and quality varies, Phoenix can be good, bad or indifferent, depending on the time of the year and what mood they seeem to be in.

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I know Panda are hard to get, I don’t know who makes them, I’m not really sure anyone knows exactly (at least outside of China) and I almost don’t care (and yet I almost do).

Either way, let me make it perfectly clear, I want more, I want better quality like this for every model I buy. And thats why the next two reviews are also Panda models. Lets see how consistent they can be?

Meanwhile congratulations to Panda for a stunningly good model.

My recomendation: BUY IT NOW!

 

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