Panda & Waffle:
As I recently explained in a blog entry on the same topic, Panda Models has been focusing on developing relationships with distributors in the model airplane arena. Tensions between Panda and other manufactures are frosty at best. But the effort to alienate Panda from the other 1/400 constructors hasn't been successful. This is in part due to multiple specially commissioned models that are being ordered be specific retailers.
In the past few months, we've seen a multitude of A319s, A320s, 737-300s, 737-700s, and 737-800s being made at the request of shop owners. These models always end up exclusively available on the respective e-stores and this can be very beneficial to both Panda and the specific commissioner.
RM Models, Prairie Diecast, El Aviador, and Waffle Collectables have all made deals with Panda to produce a wide variety of highly desired, and sometimes obscure models that frankly just wouldn't get made. Without the muscle of the distribution companies, consumer demand is only sometimes enough to send a model concept onto the production queue.
If I've been managing my math, Waffle Collectibles is set to receive their 3rd, 4th, and 5th specially commissioned 1/400s from Panda Model. Each of these models have been produced in 2022. The first was a Sun Country 737-700, the one pictured just above, registered N716SY. The second, another Sun Country 737-800 registered N842SY. The other three were just announced. Each of these are classic in nature and are based on the nicely retooled 737-300 mould owned by Panda.
Southwest 737-300: N654SW
Built and delivered to Southwest Airlines in 1997, line number 2918 is shown here below on touch down. The tricky 'mustard rocket' or 'desert sand' color of this livery is very tricky to replicate and is known to look very different depending on the light. It's certainly difficult to determine exactly where on the spectrum the color fits. It matters more to me how the model looks once side by side with stablemates. There's really only one way to determine that.
Southwest Airlines 737-300: N629SW
Line number 2796 was delivered to Southwest Airlines in 1996. Essentially a gift to itself, the airplane represent's the airline's 25th anniversary. The costly buffing and polishing of bare metal surfaces was abandoned in favor of silver paint. The airframe is still active today flying on behalf of iAero Airways. The sample looks pretty clean and the livery details transition from tail to fuselage quite beautifully.
Southwest 737-300: N609SW 'California One'
Coming off of the production line as number 2744, the elder statesmen of the trio is likely the most historic. The ultra recognizable California One livery first graced the American skies in 1995. The airplane, like many 737s spent its entire career with Southwest. The frame was completely used up and retired from service in 2017, then scrapped. The California One color carrying responsibilities were passed on to a younger member of the SW fleet that year, N943SW.
With the these rapid fire special retailer releases happening all the time it is truly impossible to keep up. Hard choices await most collectors these days and this trifecta contributes to the ire. Say what you will about Panda, but by the looks of things they did a really nice job with these. They are very high up on my list.
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