Whither Airfix...

Hey all!

Got into a discussion with a firedn recently about Airfix models. He claims that airfix is such a low quality that they ought to just quit and get out of the business. I countered that although they may be lower quality thatn HaseJimiEri kits, they provide a worthwhile opportunity for people with low abilities, low in- come, and low expectations to get a start in modelling. I also pointed out that Airfix has done some rather unusual kits in their time (Westland Scout, Bloodhound Missile, first C-130) and should be given some respect for at least FORCING some modellers to acquire finishing and detailing skills which they otherwise would never gain with the top end $30 kits.

What do you guys think? Does a company like Airfix have a really good reason to be in the market? Dothey need to change their business plan? Should they dump the old kits thus forcing either themselves or other companies to create new molds?

Inquiring minds want to know! :)

Reply to
Drew Hill
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Drew Hill offered me a plate of cheese and whispered:

Airfix *should* stay in the business, if only to keep their 1/48 Spitfire 24 on the market! :-D That's a very nice kit. It is detailed enough for newcomers to the hobby to produce a decent model from it. It is accurate enough to satisfy experience modellers. And it provides a useful source of Griffon engines to build MkXIVs, MkXVIIIs and MkXIXs from your favourite late-Merlin kit!

But Airfix are by no means finished. Look at the popularity of their recent TSR2 kit. Many modellers are looking forwards to their forthcoming Canberra and Nimrod.

As for the older kits... although they may have their problems with lack of detail or hideous rivets and trenches, many of them are quite accurate in outline. A modeller can add detail if required. A kit assembler (not that there is anything wrong with kit assembly) can ignore the Airfix kits and concentrate on the modern Tamigawa stuff. Everybody is happy.

Also, I don't believe that the dumping of an old mould would necessarily force companies to create new high quality moulds of that prototype. The FROG Gannet hasn't been freely available for some time, yet none of the mainstream manufacturers have seen fit to replace it with a new injection moulded one. Some types are just a little too exotic for their own good. As for the old Airfix moulds that *would* sell in a new guise - well, there

*already* modern moulds of Spitfires, Bf109s and F-4s. The fact that Airfix haven't already withdrawn their old kits shows that they must still sell.
Reply to
Enzo Matrix

Exactly! Imagine some child with their face stuck up against the shop window, looking on in awe at the boxes and at least being able to buy one of the cheap 'in a bag' kits for a few dollars.

They'll be so enthusiastic they won't want to build it over a week or month. They'll want it done in a few minutes. It'll be done relatively badly, probably with glue on the canopy but the important thing is - it'll be their model. They'll probably run around the house and garden with it in their hand pretending that it flies and it'll break. After a few tears it'll be forgotten as they know next week and another visit to the model shop is not far off.

I think this was the sort of thinking behind the Airfix household ever since their unwitting success with the advertisers model of the tractor and plough made out of Biro's and rubber which prospective clients for the real thing actually enjoyed building or at least giving it to their children to play with.

From feedback from my mate who has been in the kit selling and making business for some years, it would be financial death to try to gain grounds over the metal units industry in this "I want it now and don't even think that I want to paint or make it!" time.

The production costs for designing and making the molds are very high indeed and if there is no real take-up on the resultant kit then you are in big trouble.

I think their thinking is still tied to the old family Triang/Meccano/Lesney way of doing things and that's to give good service even after the kit is sold. Is there a lost piece in the kit ? I don't know of many young hopefuls who have been turned away by Airfix ?

Although I am still mainly working in 3D graphics I still use kits like Airfix as a good reference over plan form documentation and I do plan to build them when I get my large shed built with bench and tools, and as support to Airfix I've joined their club! :-)


Reply to
Richard Brooks

As I've posted here before, Airfix is curently sited in neither one end of the market or the other. They are neither cheap enough to be a source of spares nor refined enough to attract premium customers. It annoys me that Dragon can issue a complete sprue of new parts for an already-good model while Airfix reissues a kit that was considered incomplete even in the

1960's. Airfix is all about "marketing" these days ie: "How can we inflate the price of this model with fancy packaging and making it a limited edition".

Not completely but they should bring them up to date by issuing new detail parts and/or reprice them in line with the general basicness they offer.


Reply to

Why do they keep making Spitfire kits? Because they sell. Airfix has a niche in the starter/low price range that the high-price makers don't serve. Their kits are also not "over-engineered"--the worst example in that range being the recent Hasegawa Harriers. Like Monogram in the US, Airfix makes a kit that you needn't be Shep Paine to make look like the thing on the box. And other companies release their old stuff in new boxes as well. It took a master modeller to make the Hasegawa/Minicraft F-105 look as good as it does--it being a 30 year old mold.

Reply to

Their new "true" 1/72 scale armor kits like the Jeep, CCKW and the LCVP (OK a boat) are pretty nice, but may be more on account of Heller's involvement. Some of their old 1/76 armor kits are still respectable.

Reply to

who else would do a 1/72 bv 141 and keep it in production? airfix kits can be as good as you want them to be.

Reply to

Airfix isn't done, but unless they come up with some new good stuff, they don't have much credibility any longer. Many of their older offerings have been supplanted by newer, more complete kits with all the bells and whistles. Latest two that come to mind for me are the Valom TBD and the MPM Hudson. That being said, even their old stuff tended to be scaled right and accurate in shape. According to the latest Ginter book on the Devastator, Airfix got the cowl right; Valom missed...

40(ish?) years after the Airfix release! (I haven't really done the pepsi challenge myself, but you get the point)

Airfix does have lots and lots of ancient stuff that they keep pumping out. Their latest kit, the TSR-2, is supposedly a limited issue beastie; I don't actually believe that for an instant. They'll ride the wave as long as they can, probably long after anyone else would have. That's Airfix business.

The last 'new' Airfix kit I picked up was the DC-3 (ex-Italeri) and I mostly bought it for the gorgeous Canadian decals. For only US$10, it was more than worth it. Will they keep re-selling other companies' work, and adding decals? It was a formula that I liked.

--- Stephen

Reply to
Stephen Tontoni

Hey! Stop digging around in my memories!

My first-ever kit ... must have been ca. 1974 ... the Airfix Gazelle helicopter in one of the card-and-plastic "display packs" ... glued together in approximately half-an-hour (or less), painted with my older brother's left-over Humbrols (what do you mean, Gazelles aren't silver and gloss green with a glossy red rotor?), a complete disaster (the skids wouldn't stay on, the canopy had more glue and paint on it than was left clear, and the main rotor broke off within minutes). But it was *fun*. And it had me hooked.

Bruce Melbourne, Australia

Reply to
Bruce Probst

I knew there was a reason I liked their stuff.


The answer to that could be a flat, do they make money at it? That's cold but it is the reason they are in business.

If we want people to get into modelling do we want them to spend mucho dinero on something that they're going to futz the first time? There are a lot of kits out there now that cost a lot and I often wonder if newbies don't get discouraged at, 1. the seeming myriad of parts, and,

  1. the unlikely event the model will look at least as good as the one on the boxlid.

I remember the constant chant during the late '60s and into the '70s was, "I'd gladly pay more for a kit with better decals, better and more detail and of the Farleigh Fruitbat that I love!" Well, Fruitbats aside, we have some tremendous kits out there and they do indeed cost more. Are we building more?

Now you have a piece of mine. ;Þ

Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.

Reply to

ahhhhhh...........Airfix My family still laugh about the time I came home in tears after going into my local shop pointing at the DR1 and saying to the woman.........'I'll have that Fokker there please !'....and promptly got asked to leave! well I was only 8 at the time and in them days not many 8 year old knew language like that !

Regards SiG

Reply to

Like most of the other posters, I feel Airfix, Matchbox (even though, I belive, RoG has most of their molds) do serve a couple purposes. They do have that lower end of the price range covered for entry level builders, experimenters and Fruitbat hunters. How many modelers would spring $15-$24 for a 1/72 anything for a paint dummy? Not me! And there are kits from those two that I like better than Tamygawaimi offerings, as well as from R/M. Turning out a very nice piece OOB from one of these kits is a reward in itself but when they outplace high fallutin' detailed glamour kits, it is like a bit of Heaven :-)

As a casual vendor, I cringe as Dad picks up Junior's first kit from a selection of the high dollar stacks. It isn't that I think 'what a waste' but more, as mentioned before, Junior will probably get so disgruntled by too many parts, too fiddly a fit and watch in horror as that $20 kit goes crashing to the floor from an accidental dropping. Would you give a 15 yr old a Vette for his very first car?

Yes, all the improvements made in kits over the years are very nice and welcomed by all of us whom slapped those 8-12 piece wonders together, so long ago. I'm glad we had to wait for them. Our skills were finally ready for them.

-- Chuck Ryan Springfield OH

Reply to
Chuck Ryan

That's exactly it and back then, companies weren't just hard-faced money grabbing monoliths with 'client-sponsor interface situations'. They seemed like an old uncle who probably made them in a dusty old garage somewhere. They didn't need a whole publicity unit to jump into action to help out with a missing piece.

In fact some of that is nearer to the truth. Steering away from plastic for a second, just look into the history of Meccano as an example of old-style business (starting at 'Mechanics Made Easy').

I'm hoping to make a visit and buy some of those bag sets that can be found at the back of the (I think it's called) Model Miniatures in Clapham, London which is a tiny little hovel with some nice surprises in the dark corners.


Reply to
Richard Brooks

Like most companies, I think Airfix has produced some GOOD kits as well as bad ones. I can think of a few companies that produce far worse kits than Airfix.

I think the market will take care of itself. There are brands that I an d many others will not buy at all. I suspect those firms will fall out of the market. Airfix has been around long enough that it MUST be attracting repeat buyers.

Reply to
Don Stauffer

many don't like lindberg kits, but i've found that they can be built as nicely as you want. i built a do335 with open panels and the engines from their ju 88 kit. it was easy to scratch enough detail to make it look really good. i removed the rivets, filled seams, scribed lines and built a chunk of autobahn from balsa sheet. this was in 1972, it got many favorable comments and is still extant in a house in ma. i saw it last year and it held up. total cost then must have been $5. airfix kits had similar bashing done. most are gone and i wish i had them back. if you want a shake and bake oob wonder kit, you pay for it. with a dismally small selection of what I like.

Reply to

You don't even have to go for a shake and bake kit.

The built and painted models from MRC under the Easy Model label are really quite well done. Shapes and details are just right and each subject is offered in one of five color schemes. Some, such as the F4F Wildcat, even offer different variants such as the FM-2. Priced in what now is just about pocket money for kids, they are flying off of the shelves. The sales people tell me that age range for these models is accross the board.

This is a new trend that may be important to the retailers. More models, but no after market sales such as paint, tools, decals and the like. I already have a couple to convert and use different markings, but I don't see that happening very often.

Ready-made models are not a new idea. Many Frog Penguin kits were available as built models. Monogram and, more recently, Revell have offered pre-painted kits. Diecast models have reached high levels of accuracy and detail.

Will this trend make a dent on sales? Only time will tell.


Reply to

i hope i don't live to see it become the norm. how much less creativity can we encourage in the young?

Reply to

But isn't the whole idea to learn hand-eye coordination for one thing. In the UK they'd be re-badged under the "I can't be arsed" label and sold alongside video games that have already been finished for you so the hardest part is putting your name in.

The market in pre-made objects is already being saturated as my mate has already finished a commission from (I think) Matchbox for Warburton's Hurricane and already, even after more ideas for commissions coming in from his bosses, they're talking of making several tens of thousands just to dump half of them or melt them down again.


Hopefully it's a trend to get kids out and about running around and getting some of that fat off!

The pre-made metal models are making a dent in kit sales but then again the enthusiasm for new metal models is tapering off. Hopefully there'll be a backlash and the next generation of kids will be taught that hand-eye coordination and other skills are a good thing and there'll be a mold making kit to make your own plastic injection items! :-)


Reply to
Richard Brooks

Richard Brooks wrote in news:6Y- snipped-for-privacy@bt.com:

To be honest some of them, look do look nice. However, I have such a large stash of unbuilts that i would feel look a dork buying a prebuilt rather than finishing something. About the only exception i'm considering is some of the 1/144 stuff as there is some items for which there is no kit and for soem of the dio ideas I have German halftracks and/or softskins would be nice. I did find a guy in England I think that makes 1/144 minatures that are kits or unpainted at least. Other than that I just couldn't do it.

My son bought some prepainted 1/144 airplanes but I think he had mixed feelings about it.


Reply to
Gray Ghost

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