In the past decade the dominance of the Boeing 777-300ER has made it seem that the type’s success was ordained, however during the mid-90s Boeing’s new 777 was battling it out with the A330/340 family as well as the struggling MD-11, whilst the 747-400 sat pretty as the queen of the widebodies. It is easy to overlook the fact that the earliest members of the 777 family saw only limited production runs and great to see that Phoenix have recently taken us back to where it all started for the stretch 777 .
THE REAL THING
The 777-300 was a simple, albeit impressive, stretch of the 777-200 by 20% giving a maximum capacity of 550 not dissimilar to 747SRs. The original 777-200 had only entered service with launch customer United Airlines in June 1995. I remember well that Boeing initially offered the 777 with folding wingtips for fear that there would not be enough airport gates available to take the large twinjet since at the time Boeing was aiming it squarely at the Tristar and DC-10 replacement market.
By February 1997 the 777-200ER was in service with British Airways giving true transatlantic range to the 77 for the first time, however although the 200ER would sell well (422 built) it would be the stretched 777 that would enable the type to truly find its future. As with many initial stretches the series 300 traded payload for range and was really a widebody regional type aimed especially as the Asian marketplace.
The first 777-367, N5014K, made its maiden flight on October 16, 1997 and gained certification less than a year later on May 4, 1998. The initial series 300 only sold 60 aircraft with the majority of aircraft being delivered in 1998 and 1999 to Asian operators such as All Nippon, Cathay Pacific, Japan Air Lines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. Deliveries dwindled into the 21st Century with only three aircraft being delivered in 2001 (compared to 55 200ERs) however the 777-300 base variant did provide the platform for the B model 777-300ER.
Externally the 300ER is discernible from a standard 300 by the extended and raked wingtips but it wasn’t until April 2004 that the ER entered service, with launch customer Air France. Subsequently it has easily become the best selling 777 variant with 839 ordered. With the success of the 300ER the base model has rather been ignored but has continued to serve widely throughout Asia. Despite many of the frames approaching twenty years old 55 of the original 60 remain in service. N5014K, the prototype aircraft was delivered to launch customer Cathay Pacific as B-HNE and she remains in service. Cathay has recently announced it will begin retiring its 12 777-300s but the over 53 777-300ERs in the fleet will serve for many years yet.
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 Phoenix 777s represent one of the classic 1:400 scale moulds and it is only within the past year or so that they have been matched (maybe surpassed) by the new JC Wings offering.
The fuselage and vertical stabilizer are near perfect as are the wings (slot in not cradles) and horizontal stabs. Being the series 300 and not 300Er this mould uses the same wing section as the series 200 i.e. the wingtips are traditional flat ended and not raked.
All four aerials are present whilst the small bump just after the wing is in good relief (although it’s almost obscured by the livery on this model). There is actually a fifth aerial on the real thing (on the rear underside) but it is so small I doubt it could be modeled in 1:400 scale.
Looking at the mould front on I do think the engines are a tiny bit too small, however it is a minor concern hardly worth mentioning. Even better unlike the majority of newer moulds in this scale there is the correct amount of ground clearance between the engines and tarmac.
One of the nicest features about the mould is the undercarriage. Phoenix usually have great gear legs and wheel hubs but on the 777 maingear it also has the nice feature that the triple wheel bogey can be moved up and down to simulate take-off and landing attitudes.
SCORE – 10
PAINT & LIVERY
The 1980/90s natural metal Boeing house colours livery is simple but beautiful. The sheer size of the 777-300 makes the shiny silver all the more impressive, although elements like the nosecone, engines and pylons and tailfin show the creeping increase in composites which would seal the doom of such natural metal schemes.
Reproducing natural metal in 1:400 scale is more difficult than it looks but Phoenix have done an excellent job. They have also played very close attention to those areas that are made from composites and coloured those in an appropriate light grey. The low red, white and blue cheatline is well placed along its entire run and sweeps up onto the tail to be met by correctly recreated 777 300 titles using the right font.
The extra details of this scheme are small flourishes mainly to be found around the first entry doors on both sides. Above the L1 and R1 doors it says ‘EXPERIMENTAL’ in extremely small text, which nonetheless is visible clearly under magnification. Also forward just above the cheatline is the 777 programme motto ‘Working Together’ in italicised script. Additionally Phoenix have gone to the trouble to colour the couple of blocked out windows underneath the Boeing titles correctly in orange as on the real thing.
The aircraft and model also has the eight customer tail logos inset in white cubes. From the port side these are in order: Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, All Nippon, Thai Airways In, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Asiana. They are so small on the model that seeing any detail with the naked eye is almost impossible. Using magnification you can see Phoenix has attempted to recreate the airline tails. Some are more successful than others but they are good enough to hint at the airlines, which is about all that you can expect when they are a couple of mm high.
SCORE – 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Printing is sometimes not a strongpoint for Phoenix but especially considering the huge silver canvas, which often obscures detail, there is a wealth of it present on the fuselage. There has been no attempt to indicate the panel joins of the aircraft components but this is probably for the best. Photos tend to show up some and not others – I think it’d look weird if all were visible. The only areas that could benefit from extra detail are the engine nacelles and as usual the underside is quite light on content. Nonetheless this is one of the best print jobs I’ve seen on a Phoenix model.
It is almost expected nowadays that Phoenix models will come with tyre tabs so it is a surprise when they are not present as in this case. Even so it is the construction that lets this model down slightly. The portside horizontal stabiliser is poorly fitted and not glued properly. Fortunately it can be pushed back into place and there has been no associated damage.
The starboard side maingear door illustrates a little of the regular bumpy rough finish that seems to impact some Phoenix models.
SCORE – 8
This is an excellent model from Phoenix – a great combination of an excellent mould and attractive scheme well done. Manufacturer house liveries are a niche market but they are important for showing the heritage of the people making the aircraft and this model is a fine addition to that area.
FINAL SCORE – 28/30