Marred Marvel: Aeromar ATR-42-512 XA-TKJ by Gemini Jets

Gemini Jets do not tend to venture far from the modern US market with the majority of their releases, however one area they do appear keen on is that of Mexico and they have pleasingly released a few interesting Mexican airlines. April 2017’s releases continued this trend and included an ATR-42 of Aeromar. Not only is this an attractive livery but it is great to see the regional aircraft moulds getting some usage as they tend to be under-represented in this scale. The only problem is that small models tend to magnify some of the manufacturer’s failings so how does this ATR score?

THE REAL THING

XA-TKJ in 2012. Photo by Kambui from Wikipedia

Transportes Aeromar, S.A. de C.V is a Mexican regional airline that seems to have gone about its services from its Mexico City hub since 1987 without a great deal of fanfare. It is in no way affiliated with the now defunct and colourful airline of the same name from the Dominican Republic and unlike that airline, which operated a random fleet of Boeings, including 747s and 767s, has based its fleet around the popular and successful French-Italian ATR series.

The ATR-42 still seems so modern that it is hard to fathom that the type’s first flight was on August 16, 1984, with service entry in December 1985. Aeromar was an early customer taking delivery of a single ATR-42-310, XA-PEP, on October 19, 1987. The fleet of the 48 seater grew gradually with extra new ATRs added in 1988, 1990 and 1991. A few second-hand ATR-42-300s also joined the fleet, which was further expanded in 1995 with the addition of the first of 13 ATR-512/515s. The series 500 ATR had many improvements over the 300s including new engines and a new cabin. The most obvious difference externally however was the replacement of the four bladed propellers with six bladed propellers. The new PW127E engines gave the series 500 improved hot and high performance, which was no doubt very helpful to Aeromar.

XA-TKJ in 2010. Photo by AeroPrints.com from Wikipedia

Aeromar appears to have largely avoided the ups and downs that have afflicted most of the other airlines operating in the Mexican market, although following the delivery of ATR-42-512 XA-TRJ in July 2000 there were no extra fleet additions until 2011. This followed the signature of an agreement with Continental Airlines in April 2010 by which the pair would co-operate with each other on a frequent flyer partnership and lounge share in Mexico City. Accordingly the airline upgraded its services with a pair (later a trio) of CRJ-200ERs. These three aircraft were however withdrawn in May 2015. The airline has instead rebuilt its ATR fleet with the addition of a pair of ATR-72s in 2013 followed by another pair in 2017. ATR-42s are still important as well with 3 new ATR-42-600s joining in 2016.

Aeromar’s fleet now stands at 13 ATR-42s and 4 ATR-72s although the aircraft depicted by this model is no longer in the fleet. XA-TKJ joined Aeromar direct from the factory in October 1998 and served for 19 years before sale to EasyFly of Colombia as HK-5219 on May 6, 2017.

THE MODEL

The format for my reviews is to split them into three key areas:

  • The mould of the aircraft
  • The paint and livery
  • Printing and quality control

Each can get a maximum score of 10 for a section giving a maximum combined total score of 30.

 

THE MOULD

I am a big fan of most of the JC Wings/Gemini Jets stable of regional airliner moulds and the ATR-42 is one of the best, no doubt aided by how short the undercarriage is on the ATR. Undercarriage is always a problem the smaller a mould gets and only Aeroclassics seem to have really worked out how to do proper undercarriage for smaller aircraft. Anyway in theory the undercarriage on the ATR mould is fine, we’ll talk about in practice later in the quality section.

The fuselage of the mould is really very good. The only issue I have is that the nose is a little too pointed running down from the cockpits to the radome tip. The tail and engines are also well shaped so there’s no problem there. It is lovely to see small details like the tail top light are in relief with the mould, although Gemini haven’t gone so far as to fit aerials – the ATR has one large one forward and one on the rear underside. One thing it would be nice to see detailed somehow is the ATR’s diagnostic tailcone landing light. Although the mould is shaped correctly there is no suggestion the light is there. Is this a mould issue? Maybe it is more of a printing thing?

There’s no detailing of the ATRs diagnostic tailcone light
A comparison of the older ATR-42-300 and newer ATR-42-500. Note the different props

The last element to call out is the propellers. As stated earlier the series 500 and 600 ATR-42 have six bladed examples compared to the four bladed props on earlier models. Gemini has both sets available and the six bladed examples are beautifully curved just like the real thing. Overall this mould is really very good especially considering it is one of the smallest moulds in 1/400 scale.

SCORE – 9

PAINT & LIVERY

Aeromar has a simple but attractive livery using light blue striping and a dark blue understripe. Gemini have gotten the colours correct but that is about all they have gotten correct. It really makes you wonder whether the designer even bothers to look at the photos of the model when they do their work. It certainly seems they only look at one side and then just mirror it onto the other side and that has caught them out in a big way on this model.

From the starboard side things look good
XA-TKJ in 2013. On the starboard side the logo reads left to right AM. Photo by André Du-pont from Wikipedia
XA-TKJ in February 2017. Note she has gained the web address. Note also that on this side the logo is clearly AM not MA!!! Photo by Gabriel Mora Aldama from Planespotters.net

The Aeromar logo is a stylised AM, but if you look at the portside of this model Gemini has simply transferred over the AM from the starboard side of the model to the port side so it now reads MA! They have doubled down and repeated the mistake on the vertical stabiliser as well (oh and on the inside of the engines). Inept is too small an insult to throw at them for this – this is a cock-up of the highest order and I can’t believe it got past the quality checkers.

Huge fail! Note the logo is misprinted three times on the port side of the aircraft covering the entire livery! Eedjits!

It isn’t even the only problem. The whole livery is printed a little too high. I can live with that but the printing isn’t straight at the rear of the fuselage either. Both the windowline and the stripe angle slightly upwards plus the end of the stripe is poorly finished.

The livery and windowline is printed a little too high

I shake my head at this livery rendition and only hope it wasn’t made for Aeromar themselves!

SCORE – 4

PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL

The impact of printing issues on very small models are magnified and so it is that a mark that may appear on a larger model that may not matter much could ruin something the size of an ATR. Overall the printing on this model is just ordinary. There is a scratch and black splodge on the portside rear door, which is very obvious, and the letter J in the registration has a defect that makes it too high. Also there is no TKJ printed on the nosegear doors.

Note the scratch on the door and what is going on with the letter J?

This is a very small mould so it requires some deft handiwork to be constructed well and sadly that has not been the case here. This model is not unique either as other examples I have seen are equally slipshod. The basic fuselage, wings and vertical stabiliser are well attached but the smaller areas of detail, the undercarriage and props, are not. In fact the model is a bit of a mess. Starting with the propellers and they hang at a rather odd angle because the propeller radome is not butted up against the engines. It is actually a long way from them. The props are not glued in in anyway so I have tried removing them and then replacing the parts, however it is clear that the element just doesn’t fit the hole for it. It is too long and I am not keen to start mucking about with it further due to the fiddly nature of it. Annoyingly this means the props rather droop.

The prop shafts don’t fit into the engine mould properly

The undercarriage is very poorly fitted. I have other Gemini ATRs and on these the gear sits nicely flat against the ground. On this Mexican example the gear are not anywhere near level. It is really noticeable and impacts the models ability to stay upright. Poor construction of this sort on multiple examples of a model smacks of poor supervision of a sloppy workforce. I know this is a small model but the price differential between this ATR and an A330 is negligible so why should we be willing to accept poor craftmanship like this? The nosegear also doesn’t sit level, although given its tiny size I am willing to almost forgive that.

The maingear and nosegear aren’t level so the plane doesn’t sit properly
Rubbish fitting of the maingear
The TWA release shows how it ought to be done!

With small models the manufacturers really need to try their best as cock-ups are so noticeable. Unfortunately in this case Gemini have been badly let down by JC Wings as this model is a mess in the quality stakes.

SCORE – 4

CONCLUSION

This model is rubbish – there’s no two ways about it. The fact that it is small is no excuse as Gemini has done much better before on their ATRs. Of all the models I have reviewed so far this is the worst and the score only doesn’t reflect that as the underlying mould is so solid. It’s a real shame as the choice of an Aeromar ATR is a good one and more adventurous than you’d usually expect from Gemini. Oh well it’s a missed opportunity that’s for certain.

FINAL SCORE – 17/30

1/400 Review Scoring Chart

3 Comments

  1. Great write up, Mr. Stretton. I really appreciate the review. I was about to order this regional prop. This is good consumer advice and hopefully many others will read this and avoid! Here’s to looking forward to the day GJ and JC get these quality control issues worked out!

  2. I got an Iranair ATR 72 from JC and it was perfect. It makes me wonder, does JC do this on purpose with Gemini models? Because every Gemini model I have has a flaw of some sort. JC Wings models haven’t yet.

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