Gemini Jets May-June 2021
June 2021 is business as usual for Gemini Jets. No new moulds, few surprising releases, and compared to last month, fewer models over all. While I'd like to believe the few models is a result of people begging for more neatly made models, I'd wager the real reason for a slimmer group this month is labor and shipping issues in China, and globally. Either way, the factory samples Gemini uses for catalog photos have arrived and this means it's time to take a look at what 1/400 scale collectors can expect from Gemini Jets by month's end.
Antonov AN-124: UR-82027
If Gemini Jets are having issues with the global economy, sourcing the materials to make diecast versions of the largest military air transport aircraft in the world isn't one of those problems. Twice in the last seven months Gemini have released versions of the AN-124. Last time, in December of 2020, it was a Volga Dnepr and this time in official Antonov Design Bureau (ADB) colors. The aircraft itself is one of eight in ADB's fleet and has been active since 1993. There isn't much to either love or hate with this mould. It's the only mould available for the aircraft besides the Herpa version and while it is visibly aging, it does clearly demonstrate that it is what it says it is. The size and profile of this monstrous aircraft used to transport everything from the Atlas-V rocket, to manned submersibles to other aircraft parts and components will be a solid seller and is also the twelfth time Gemini has called on the mould. There are 55 of these behemoths out there. While virtually all schemes have been done, many rereleases are possible. Score one more for the freighter junkies.
British Airways Embraer 170: G-LCYG
Moving from the biggest model of the month to one of the smallest, June sees the return of the Embraer 170/175 mould. The mould first appeared in 2014 and debuted with the navy U.S. Airways livery. Since then the mould has been used twelve times and this BA 170 will be the thirteenth. The difference between the 170 and the 175 is that the later is stretched ever so slightly. This means that the same mould can be used for both versions and Gemini Jets adjusts the amount of windows appropriately from eighteen to twenty. The mould in this case appropriately doesn't have the angled winglets as this is an option only available to the 175. G-LCYG is operated by BA CityFlyer Express. This is a wholly owned subsidiary of British Airways. The company currently operates 23 EMB-190s and has phased out the six EMB-170s it once had. It seems as though this particular aircraft is still property of CityFlyer but is being shuffled from one storage area to another over the past year while waiting for a newer suiters. While it seems modern, it is at this point a historic aircraft but surly will be a good seller in the UK and for BA fleet builders worldwide. It is the first BA EMB-170 in 1/400.
Regional Express 737-800: VH-RQC
It's not surprising when one of Gemini's monthly releases carries a VH- registration. It is however unusual when that registration isn't either Qantas or Virgin Australia. On March 1st 2021 REX, or Regional Express Airlines began jet service. REX was born from the ashes of Ansett Australia in 2002 and has remained focused on regional air service between Australia's six states. Successful management has allowed the company to expand through the lease of six 737-800s with more on the way. They also are planning on replacing their Saab 340s with ATR 42s and 72s. This should mean more REX jets in the future. Gemini has had their eye on REX for a while.
SkyWest CRJ-700: N604SK
"Don't put all your eggs in one basket." SkyWest have truly taken these words to heart. The airline serves more as a facilitator than an actual airline. SkyWest contracts with Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, and United to provide small capacity shuttle service away from major hubs. In kind, SkyWests' 500 plus aircraft are indistinguishable from their partners except in rare cases such as this. This self identifying aircraft was dressed in SkyWest colors for a short time, then in 2006 it took up Delta colors shortly after being delivered to the parent company. It served with the airline until 2019. It has since been withdrawn from service. This aircraft is fairly niche but I'd imagine the use of the CRJ-700 mould is more intriguing than anything else. On forums and social media, the model seems to be well received, but the bigger question is, will it suffer the same fate as other CRJS from 2021? On a final note, the colors don't look to be as dark as they should.
DesTWA (Trans World Airlines) 757-200: N725TW
Trans World Airlines took up 757 line number 891 in 1999. That makes this a relatively young aircraft in certain terms. Interestingly though it is portrayed as a classic in this TWA livery it first dawned. It is currently in service with Azur Air after spending notable time with American Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Nordwind Airlines, and Tajik Air. Gemini may never reinvest in a new 757 mould. They use the mould very frequently but have shown no desire to upgrade past the ariels or rolling gears. Before ceasing in 2001, TWA operated twenty seven of these airplanes. Despite this, it has only been represented in this scheme once before. NG Models very much beat Gemini Jets to it back in 2019 and this version can still be found in certain corners or the internet for under 100 USD. For those that missed out on this superior 1/400 model a inferior version can be had for around forty dollars flat. I haven't ventured in this version of the TWA livery, but if I ever did, I'd spend the extra cash to get the NG version. This will sell, but I predict it will do so slowly and will sit on the shelf for a long time. Once again, Gemini Jets again are displaying poor listening skills. The demand for old planes is there, but putting those schemes on ancient moulds isn't the answer.
UPS MD-11F: N281UP
Returning to familiar territory, Gemini will produce it's 15th UPS MD-11F in June 2021. While many of the moulds this month are in need of improvement, the Gemini MD-11 mould still holds it's own. The mould has been given the expected updates that most other moulds have seen with ariels and rolling gears. For anyone who may not have a UPS MD-11 yet, this is a nice rerelease. UPS hasn't changed this livery in years and it really has no need to. The brown and gold are instantly recognizable and on this particular sample, look fantastic. N281UP was first issued to LTU in 1993. The aircraft was off the line as number 533. It Served with LTU for five years and then was sent to Swissair in 1998. From there the aircraft worked until it was reconfigured and sent to UPS in 2005. The ship is still active.
Wizz Air A320-200: HA-LWC
Wizz Air has been in operation since 2003. But it took nearly ten years for it to be first represented in 1/400 scale by Phoenix. The initial offerings were joined by additions from JC Wings, then Panda, then NG, and now finally Gemini Jets have recognized the ultra low cost carrier from Hungary. Equally surprising is that Wizz Air operates the largest Hungarian fleet of passenger aircraft in the country yet it is not Hungary's flag carrier. That title belonged to Malev until it ceased in 2012. As of now, Hungary has no official flag carrier. HA-LWC is one of 120 aircraft on Wizz Air's roster. The serial number is 4323 and was delivered in 2010 to Wizz Air. The aircraft is currently parked for unknown reasons but presumably it is undergoing maintenance or is simply parked due to Covid-19. I appreciate that Gemini have decided to go with a standard A320 mould instead of the A320neo. Not that their A320 is a strong mould but it is certainly better than the engine dragging A320neo they seem to enjoy using. While once again, Gemini is late to the party, the fluorescent pink on this jet will be alluring to American collectors who aren't usually interested in other brads who already have 1/400 Wizz Air models on the market. I'm glad to see Gemini pushing the limits a bit on this one.
1/400 MACs: A330-200 MRTT & P-8 Poseidon
A nice pair of MACs wrap things up this month for Gemini Jets. While they are not part of my criteria, it's interesting to see that the MRTT is French and the P-8 is Australian. They highlight here to me is the P-8. Gemini wasn't the first to make this mould, but I think theirs is the best.
The models for this month have yet to arrive at retailers. I am hoping that the slimmer release schedule will mean high quality products. I do believe it is more likely a reflection of limited output in China as a result of Covid. Other manufactures are showing similar trends. The best mould this month is easily the P-8. The best model over all may be the UPS in my opinion tied with the REX baring any production issues. The most interesting is probably the Wizz Air even though it's lateness to the market makes it a bit stale. I'd say this month is a average to good month when you take into account the variety of aircraft available, but the subject matter largely is made up of things many people already have in some form or another. It will be interesting to see how these all turn out once collectors start posting their personal pictures. Until then, we'll see you in July, Gemini.
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