THE 2018


First a reminder of 2017’s winner, a remarkably good model by Aeroclassics.

Sadly the aircraft is no longer in service with TAP and is now with Air Canada, the livery consigned to history.


Last years worst model – The Rotten Zinc Award went to the Phoenix Conviassa A343 that arrived pretty much as a self assembly kit!

So because we always start with the worst and work our way up…..


Goes to:

Gemini Jets for the British Airways A320neo G-TTNA

Gemini seem to have a knack for producing crap models. Two this year were very bad, three others were very poor. The dreadful United 747 ‘friend ship’ – that was a model I really wanted to be good having seen and photographed it at Fleet Week in San Francisco. It wasn’t. This BA A320neo however ran past it in the awfulness stakes at speed, all the way to a ZERO percent score.

It’s a truly dreadful model, there is no quality, it’s a total abomination and should never have left the factory. The fact that it did, that it cost what it did, tells you the deluded world Gemini live in cannot be in our universe.

You can read the full review, but it’s too depressing. The model was a total failure.


This year saw the introduction on a more general basis of NG models and their other brand, HYJL. They’re both the same and for this award will be treated as such. Other contenders are Panda, Phoenix, JC Wings, Gemini, Aeroclassics and Herpa. Yes AV400 are out there but I still haven’t been able to get one and the one on order shows no sign of arriving any time soon.

In short we have more manufacturers since the great recession hit and wiped most of them out in 2009-12.

Just one of many mediocre models from Gemini; this once great model maker, now more concerned with making money than producing quality models. The wings were a mess, over sprayed on one, under sprayed on the other, aerials missing, just horrible and VERY expensive adding insult to injury.

As usual we have one, Gemini, with an ability to produce turgid rubbish and charge a fortune for it, which defies belief, another in Aeroclassics whose forays into modern era aircraft this year have been less than a success, one being an utter embarrassment (737- Max 8 TF-ICE). We have Phoenix, who have the remarkable ability to produce hideously inaccurate models one minute then defy logic and expectations, with a total gem the next.

Yes this fiasco of a 737 Max 8 TF-ICE from Aeroclassics, was an abomination – the wing issue a joke. I kept it to prove how bad it was – expecting it to win The Rotten Zinc Award for 2018. And yet worse was to come…really!
Phoenix seriously screwed up this Qantas Bilaranji model. A total colour fail riddled with detail failures on top of that.

Herpa have produced more than usual, but the landing gear has ruined its CS100/300 models and we haven’t seen anyone produce it yet as an A200 series. The Gemini Delta version was basically the same model with the same gear as the Herpa.

Still one of the better Herpa 1:400’s the E-jets were a welcome addition.

JC Wings models have been hard to get, filled with uncertainty as to when they’ll ever turn up and for me of little appeal this year with an almost tedious level of lean towards Chinese airlines, but things change. Quality has been OK.

JC Wings 787-10 Singapore Airlines 9V-SCB, was a little bit disappointing, the Phoenix is marginally – and I do mean marginally better.

NG has been a little more available and their efforts so far are pretty good to say the least. The Icelandair 757 and the SF 757F are both noteworthy and the Qantas 789, well that was something else entirely, especially when compared to the Phoenix one which was a travesty.

NG’s Icelandair 752 TF-ISF above and the SF Airlines 752F B-2899 below, took us all into a happy place! At last new models, new quality, new ways of doing things.


To win this award requires 100% score. Only two models made it that high this year, so I once again turned both over to my ‘special consultants’, one a curator at the British Museum in London, and one a pilot for a major airline operating out of Heathrow. Both discerning model collectors, both with an uncanny eye for accuracy and neither of them swayed (much) by my opinions!

And they came up with one result for the winning spot.


A joint win for two simultaneous models, the Panda A320’s with the 5StarHansa liveries, D-AIZX and D-AIZB. They scored 99%. You can find that review here: Lufthansa ‘5Starhansa’ A320 D-AIZB & D-AIZX Panda 1:400 Feb 2018



This was one of the two models that scored 100% but, in the view of the Special Judges, despite its quality and detail, it lacked some reality, and refinement in comparison to the winner. Second place goes to Phoenix and their HiFly Swiss Space Systems S3 A340-313 9H-TQM. You can read the full review from the link below. It’s just a truly gorgeous model, it looks expensive, it looks awesome and it’s just a delight to have on the diorama!

Swiss Space Systems (S3)/Hi Fly A340-313 9H-TQM Phoenix 1:400 04161


Little is ever going to make dislike this model in any way, I love it




This model is simply pioneering in its it accuracy, it’s detail and its thoroughness. Attention to detail is simply stunning. The mould refinement is above and beyond even the best so far produced by JC Wings. The complex print and reproduction of every last detail, especially the colours, a remarkable achievement compared to the others, and especially compared to the failure that was the Phoenix version.

NG have taken the top spot by storm, it’ll be interesting to see how they fare in 2019. You can see the original review here: Qantas 787-9 VH-ZND ‘Bilaranji’ NG Models 1:400 Dec 2018

So congratulations to NG, not jut for the best model of 2018, but for seeming to care about what you produce. That matters, possibly more than anything else.


This year we have more entrants than ever before. It’s a good time to be a model collector if you can actually get hold of the models! And its just as hard for me as it is for most of you to get some of what we really want.

Last years winner, JC Wings, fell 3.14% overall in 2018.

  • Aeroclassics collapsed their score from a new high to a new low, loosing 16.33%
  • Herpa had enough reviews this year to qualify
  • Panda had enough reviews to qualify
  • NG had enough reviews to qualify
  • Phoenix drop 4.7% across the year
  • GeminiJets fell by 10.76% across 2018 to an all time low




  1.  NG Models with an overall score 94.5%
  2. Panda with a score of 91%
  3. JC Wings with a score of 87%
  4. Herpa with a score of 86%
  5. Phoenix with a score of 80.22%
  6. Aeroclassics with 73%
  7. Gemini Jets with 67.71%

Congratulations to NG, it’s not easy producing models that impress – and it seems to me that this will be an unsurprising and popular choice, because if you own one of their models, there is no way you’ll be in disagreement with their win.

The quality and detail are outstanding, they just need to find a balance between what they can produce and the quality needed to sustain such high scores – and popular customer satisfaction.



Gemini’s quality issues and old moulds continue to bedevil it, some of their new ones are not much cop either – and they share those A320’s with JC Wings. Their success is in marketing, making sure that newbies think they are the best, and there are always newbies, easily persuaded, until they find out there are alternatives and Gemini’s never-ending price rises start to make you think twice.

Gemini’s highest scoring model is still the oldest, worst mould of the 787 on the market

For me Gemini make models worth having only very rarely. I rarely want one any more and if I do I’ll walk over hot coals not to pay full price for it. Their mistake is equating financial success with quality and thinking this is what people want. It is what they want, until they learn there is better out there for less. Gemini is now entry-level for collectors who don’t know better and think everything comes at a premium. Once you mature in your knowledge of ‘1:400 world’ and learn, you’ll quickly pass them by. The speed with which the newcomers like NG and Panda have been welcomed, the demand for their product, has to be a red-alert Klaxon sounding in the ears of every other manufacturer.

Aeroclassics lost the plot in terms of accuracy and detail, never mind overall quality this year – they’d be better off sticking to, well Classics…

Aeroclassics lost the plot with newer aircraft types this year. The Max was a mess. Whatever they were doing last year just seemed to have been forgotten.

Phoenix have had some outstandingly good, outstandingly bad and perfectly mediocre models. In that they remain consistent, just reaching the point where they are above the line of bad but never good enough for long enough to be excellent. Phoenix will succeed as long as they maintain variety and a good price point. They’re better than Gemini but not by a lot and they’ve had more than a few issues in the past year, good and bad.

As an airline HiFly made a strong showing in 1:400 this year; an A380, A343 and A330 all appeared. Yet while Phoenix make the best A380 mould, this is probably the worst model they’ve ever made with it score wise, at just 77%.
A343’s are finding a new lease of life in the secondary market, having surprisingly low fuel burn for a 4 engine aircraft, balanced against cheap leasing costs. This one was a combination effort with European collectors – Phoenix asked for and listened to feedback, and the result? A really good model scoring 94%.

Herpa, well they make a few 1:400’s and that’s a good thing, but they too have issues, because they treat them like oversized 1:500’s. They’re never going to change.

JC Wings managed to sustain a high level of quality, but a low-level of delivery reliability is still the reason they don’t appear as often as they deserve, or would, if I could be sure they’d arrive! Their year of innovation is over, they set new standards, but already they’re not the best. How fast things change!

JC Wings pioneering ‘flaps down’ 777F trounced the rubbish one by Phoenix

Panda have gone from strength to strength. Their A320’s are superb, but the quality can be variable on some, as pressure mounts to produce more – and they’ve become aware of their possible success in the international market. That’s the critical point where they can either sustain quality and produce less, but charge higher prices, or produce more and risk the quality, charge the high prices and upset the customers who loved the quality. Quality should rule the day every time.

This model should be ringing alarm bells at Panda – This is not the direction we need them to go in. The subject is fine, it’s the quality and colours that failed it, scoring just 56%.

So it’s over and out from me here at 1400Reviews for another year. I actually don’t know when the next model is due to arrive. I got caught in a bizarre matrix of not wanting any of the Gemini or the Phoenix, we’re heading towards Chinese New Year in February/March which always screws up deliveries, and who knows what will or won’t arrive from anyone else in January?

Great as it is to have new manufacturers, it’s not so great when they produce new models so erratically!

So thank you for your support in 2018, here’s looking forward to what may well be a very interesting 2019!







6 thoughts on “MODEL & BRAND OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2018

  1. Thank you for a whole year’s supply of detailed reviews, very good read, educational and in many ways assured me that my unforgivably high expectations from manufacturers are normal 🙂 If there’s one, the “1/400 Reviewer of the Year Award” must go to you.

    On a separate note, with regard to NG Model’s Qantas 787-9 VH-ZND ‘Billaranji’, when viewed top down, I did notice that the forward tips of the nacelle pylons (both L and R) are angled away from the fuselage thus with the engine pods thereon mounted, the outward angles become even more obvious, especially the R pod.

    As I have two of the same models, I have observed the same occurrences with the both of them. It is unclear if it’s just bad luck I have two with similar occurrences or is this a batch phenomena. Have you observed similar occurrences with yours? Appreciate your advice on this one, puts some closure to my curiosity.

    1. First, thank you for your very kind comments. Without readers there would be no point so it makes me happy that you are! As to the NG 787-9, I understand your point, but as yet I haven’t seen enough of them to notice a trait. The trouble is that none of them are perfect, its more about who makes the least imperfect! I always find that odd, as in the end a scaled model should be exact if done properly, and the dimensions are very public!

  2. I own an Qantas A330-300 VH-QPJ (New Livery) by Gemini and it is TRASH. Like now at this point I just buy the Gemini 767, 737, 757, 747 and the A320neo(Still very careful when buying). Only exceptions are models that no one else made and I need (ex. Westjet 787-9 or Pakistan International Airlines 777).

    Aeroclassics could, at the very least, just change the gear up a little bit.

    JC Wings make a great 787. I own a Norwegian 787-9 in the Unicef livery and it is very well made. Coundn’t find much bad about it.

    So to end this off, I hope that Gemini will at least try, the smaller model makers become more available and just for a great 2019.

    1. Thank you! I made a decision not to buy short haul modes from ‘out of area’ unless they were of exceptional interest to me personally – which usually means I’ve flown on it. So to answer your question, no. But I suspect there will be others!

Comments are closed.