This is the first A330neo in 1:400 I’ve seen, and as they’re still few and far between in service, I haven’t yet seen one in the metal.
Delta only took delivery a month ago and the first is only just going into service. A second was delivered on June 13th.
The A330neo – this is an A330-900, is part of a 35 aircraft order by the airline. Fitted with the Rolls Royce Trent 7000 (the only available engine), powers the aircraft and it seats 29 business class, 28 premium economy and 224 standard economy (total:281). That’s a different set up to the A330-300’s that are 34/32/227 totalling 293 seats.
Delta it seems, has finally understood that profitability can be gained from satisfied happy customers, in nicer seats with better service, rather than packing them in like sardines.
I very rarely buy a Gemini these days, and it is only because this is an A330neo I even did. Of course we all know this is the JC Wings mould, that had those over-angled flappy wings that looked utterly ridiculous on the new mould A333 that came out nearly three years ago now.
The A330neo itself has 95% parts commonality with the A330 – and that tells you that not much has actually changed. However the 5% is mostly wings – they’re not entirely new, but key aerodynamic changes have been made – and the engines. Some of the wing parts and engine nacelles are composite and the wings 64cm (25.2″) longer than the old aircraft. The cockpit has been completely upgraded and A330/A330neo/A350 all have the same pilot licence for crew interchangeability, which is big deal to airlines that fly all three types – like Delta and Virgin Atlantic (when they get theirs in a couple of years).
There have also been some tidying up exercises done to streamline the fuselage and nose, but nothing so drastic it changes the mould.
New cabins, lighter seats and fixtures and ease of use systems have been introduced. Most importantly the A330neo exceeded economy tests and Airbus claim that the 15-21% target has been surpassed and is closer to 25% in reduced fuel burn. They’re also nearly 20% quieter on runway take off and 50% quieter on overall departure profile.
One look at the engines on the model will show you how massive they are compared to the old versions.
Another neat feature, though not all airlines are adopting it, is the black anti-reflective “bat-mask”.
Well there’s no arguing with its exceptional neatness and refinement. Paint and detail are excellent, as they should be this far into the 21st Century! It’s unquestionably a really detailed and superbly painted and printed model, for the most part.
Everything is crisp and high definition abounds. When you think that only a couple of weeks ago Gemini disappointed, as they do so often, with that sad effort of a BA-BOAC 744, this is the sort of standard I expected that to be.
It has three aerials up, and yet in truly tight-fisted style, not one of the four underneath – NOT ONE. That’s really a bit pathetic and a bit cheapskate.
And in a stunning omission – because who on earth didn’t know if they had any real professional interest, like the supposedly leading model maker of all time might have for instance, that it had a wi-fi dome? They haven’t even bothered to pretend it’s there with a printed outline. Just extraordinary really, indeed, incompetent.
Now these would have to be a new mould and it seems JCW have finally appreciated the abomination they originally created was a fail, and have made an effort to get these to look right. The mould is excellent, and it fits really well into the fuselage – on one side. The port side wing is perfectly fitted, but the starboard side wing is a full 1.5mm proud of the fuselage at the rear edge.
The result is that if you look from straight ahead – and this is perhaps a little picky, the No.2 engine points inward a little more than it should, as the wing in effect tilts inwards from the leading edge.
The mould detail is excellent, but there is something odd about the upper wing paint. The inner grey panel is different to the outer grey, that’s fine, but it has an odd finish, in that the outer part is matt and dull, but the inner part is relatively shiny and gloss. I think its been mishandled before the paint is completely dry and the shine is the result of greasy fingers during assembly. And it has a scratch across the surface of one wing. Nice.
Disappointing. They look OK, they’re just poor quality. The main gear on the starboard side is actually very weak, and the bogie is totally fixed in place, none of the wheels rotate. On the port side the rear wheels rotate, the bogie tilts back and forth, but not easily, and the front wheels are rigid.
Most of the tyres have very small lumps.
Nose gear looks fine and the wheels fully rotate, tyres are lump free. You can just about make out the ETOPS 320 number and the red bar at the bottom of the nose gear door. however they’re feint. I’m not entirely happy with the size of the nose gear doors either. They are small, but these seem too small by around 10-15%.
There are two aspects to these engines – accuracy of detail and the engine build itself.
At last, we have an engine with a gorgeous chrome rim, a see-through high bypass fan that is not just detailed but superbly coloured, and an accurate enough exhaust system and cone. All of that is superbly fitted to the pylons. The fan isn’t quite as centred as to be perfect, but I am being very picky here and I’m not scoring down on something so minor.
The other aspect is that other than painting it blue, there’s no detail on the nacelles at all. And there should be markings in red and white at the base and side, that delineate the point the fan rotates inside the nacelle. It would have been better to have something close to being accurate than nothing. They just couldn’t, again, be bothered.
It’s neat and well detailed. the one small issue is that the A330-900 under the nose is off-centre.
6. Tail detail
No issues, superbly detailed, everything fits.
8.Score and conclusions
- -4 for the missing aerials
- -3 for the missing wi-fi dome (or even the printed on pretence at one)
- -2 for the lack of nacelles detail
- -1 for the under-nose A330-900 off centre
- -4 landing gear problems
- -2 for wing fit issue
- -4 for strange paint effect on wing surfaces
- -2 for the wing scratch, straight out of the box from new!
Overall score: 78%
I have to say that getting this out of the box, the initial feeling is this looks good. Clearly the pieces are in place to make that possible, but poor quality parts and assembly, inefficient quality control, soon mount up to reveal another very expensive model from Gemini that doesn’t live up to expectations.
You mighty ask why I’d be surprised? This is what Gemini does, they produce the mediocre and charge high prices for it. OK but this is a relatively new mould, with new wings, the latest in paint and tamp printing technology, and this is what we get? Add to that the lack of research – they probably hadn’t seen the photos by the time it was signed off, but couldn’t be bothered to look at the Delta A333’s, or make what by now, should be highly educated guesses as to what would be on the aircraft? They could have shown some degree of effort surely, some gumption, some initiative? But no, the least the can do is the best they can do.
Sit this model out at three feet or more away and you’d not know of course, because you can’t see quality from that far. Maybe that’s good enough for you, it shouldn’t be but I know how much the FOMO gets to collectors; many would have it at any cost or in any condition, and retailers play on that. Gemini certainly does.
I’m looking forward to seeing new versions from Phoenix and others eventually, though I doubt anyone else will tread on Gemini’s toes and make a Delta version of anything.