The first thing you’re going to ask is why am I reviewing this model? For one its a very limited edition of just 56, made exclusively for aircraftmodlestore.co.uk. Secondly, I was asked to offer up any comments on colours and details to try and ensure it was as accurate as possible.
The document above is the original spec for the model supplied by Phoenix. There’s not much to say except to encourage them to continue to use the red, but having also had G-VNEW in 2015 in 1:400 and 1:200, try and improve the print quality and the body colour which was to be fair, a little less than brilliant. It needed to be thicker and more pearlescent, closer to the excellent 1:200 Gemini 744 G-VXLG from 2016.
AMS had two made, G-VNYL and G-VBEL. I chose G-VNYL because I’ve flown on it, and it’s also a little more relevant. It was also the last of 17 787-9’s delivered to the airline over almost 4 years. It’s also one they actually own rather than leased. Also having G-VNEW in 1:200 (the first one delivered), it just made sense.
G-VNYL refers to the old 12″ vinyl records (undergoing a bizarre renaissance at present), and her name is Penny Lane after the Beatles hit from February 1967. It’s also a tenuous but still relevant link to the origins of Virgin, which came out of Richard Branson’s music business, Virgin Records, and was sold to keep the airline flying in its darker days, for some £900m.
I struggle to accommodate these 1:200’s, I only have 5 including this and they’re all Virgin Atlantic, indeed G-VNEW is probably going back to her box as there’s just not space for more than 4 on display, and one of those has to ‘fly’ above the others on its stand!
The aircraft itself was delivered in March 2018 and is fitted with 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium and 198 Economy including the extra leg room seats. Of course she’s powered by the now infamous Rolls Royce Trent-1000.
As I write this Virgin Atlantic have just signed up for no less than 14 A339’s. By the time the first arrives the oldest 789, G-VNEW will be nearly ten and at the end of its lease. What I wonder will they replace it with? They added an option for six more A339’s which would cover off most of the first 789’s leaving service in 2024-26, if taken up.
I’m not sure they ever willOrder more . The engine issues with Rolls Royce have been a serious problem, costing the airline dearly. And the UC seating has had more than a few problems, being ridiculously over complicated, and not overly intuitive.
Another thing that’s always irritated the airline is that it can’t board UC passengers uniquely through the nose as it would like. That’s because the air bridges get caught on the nose sensors and rip them off!
The moulds for these I have no issues with and never have, they’re good, but not strictly accurate. Most of these moulds were created long before anyone actually saw the real thing, and like the original 1:400 it lacks the under-body ridge. Other than that all the aerials, domes and details are there.
Phoenix have never quite got the pearlescent paint right on the fuselage. It’s good, but it’s not like the paint on the admittedly 60% more expensive Gemini 744’s. However one of my advisories was that if anything the paint needed to be thicker and less grey – in comparison to the G-VNEW model from 2015. And in that they succeeded, giving it a deeper finish than the previous model.
I also asked for their to be a fine look at the print detail – it was feint on the prior model in places and again, that’s been improved without over-doing it.
Having flown on no less than 7 of Virgin Atlantic’s 789’s out of 9 return flights on them, and often choosing the same seat every time – 22K in Premium or 3A in Upper Class, I get to have a good look at the wings and their layout.
Especially in Premium, as you look back right over the whole thing from just in front of the leading edge, and its bright white, superbly replicated on this model. They could perhaps have been more seamlessly fitted, but that’s how it is, and even the £150 Gemini 744’s wings are no better.
Phoenix don’t bother with detachable landing gear to give the full in-flight option,which is a lot cheaper of course, but what is there is reasonably neat, with a little visible flashing, but everything functions and is sufficiently detailed if a little bit simple. The nose gear moves and steers, and this is an improvement on the 2015 G-VNEW which had very poor nose gear, thin and weak, that broke far to easily. Strangely the A320 gear fitted it perfectly and you’d not know unless someone told you!
On this model, its a thicker and stronger metal that works well.
These are something of a victory – great colours, good detail print – something I’d asked for as G-VNEW wasn’t so hot in this regard.
The fan colours work, and they all rotate, even with the white spiral at the centre. The exhaust is good and the striations detailed. There are two schools of though of course on the engine cone. They are, when new, a bright cobalt blue, but slowly the exhaust and heat darkens them down. You can see that here on a photo of G-VYUM’s engine.
model makers tend to pick a standard finish and apply it, reality isn’t always their goal, and too often there’s a toy makers mentality in the back ground in my opinion. However these pass, and they look the part, provided you don’t over illuminate the innards with a flash!
It’s so much easier to create good detail at this scale and the model doesn’t disappoint. The flying ladies – these are Virgin’s last aircraft to be so decorated as they become flying ‘heroes’ on the A350 going forward, being somewhat more representative, are good in their detail, but a little bit dot matrix for my liking. From a distance it makes no difference of course, which is what matters.
For the most part, no problems, although I find the tail cone APU exhaust a little lacking, the silver seems inadequate somehow, and the white centre hole is visible. Again it passes on the visibility and distant observation rules, and again remember the price point is about 65% of a Gemini model of this size.
On a 1:200 I expected to see that gap for the vertical/horizontal at least painted in if not present as a physical space. It isn’t even there on the model.
The red is very good, the wings excellent, the fuselage does its thing of throwing its environment colour back at you – that is what Virgin Atlantic intended, and you can see it do that in these photos. Whatever the light, it sort of becomes a reflection of it. However, it doesn’t have what is referred to as ‘showroom appeal’; that look under lights that simply wow’s. That’s something Gemini have on their 1:200’s and 1:400’s. It’s less accurate it what it achieves than the Phoenix, but it has what it takes to look amazing in a collection. That’s a paradox, and only you can decided which you’d prefer.
This isn’t the greatest and most accurate mould in the lesser detail, although it’s perfectly OK in general.
- -5 for the underbody ridge; too big a failure to go missing and its on the 1:400’s already
- -5 for small details like rear lights facing the tail, the lack of a ‘flap gap’, the white APU centre, overly grey exhaust cones.
- -2 for the flashing the main gear, too obvious at this scale
- -4 for wing fit, I just don’t think its good enough at this price point – I’ve seen better on 1:400 and that’s saying something
Overall score: 84%
It’s nice to have a 1:200 model of something you’ve flown on and of an airline that for me, ticks all the boxes more often than not. It’s also nice because it’s a very limited run of just 56 models and that’s special in itself.
So, to be asked to take part in improving it – and it is hugely improved over the 2015 version for which I am ruthlessly going to steal much of the credit, it’s still a Phoenix, and the lower end of the price scale.
However for that you get quite a bit, and you’d have to be seriously wondering why you’d pay 30-50% more for a Gemini unless it was drastically better.
1:200 isn’t my core area despite the obvious appeal. I will get an A350 when the time comes, but I’m sticking to Virgin Atlantic and only them, at this scale.
So that’s this weeks aberration review, next week we have an NG or a the BA BOAC liveried 744, or the Phoenix Egyptair 789.