Airfix kits are also hugely popular abroad. This comes as no surprise
though. I posted to rec.models.scale some months ago how I thought the
company was making the same mistakes as it did before all over again.
Essentially, it was flooding the market with rehashes of old kits which had
neither the quality to command a decent price nor were cheap enough to
attract casual buyers. Airfix were a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
"John Ruddy" wrote
The result of little investment on the plastic kits side, and significantly
decreasing quality of their paint products in my opinion. We get nothing
but complaints about Humbrol paint, and sales have nose-dived since
production was switched to China.
I wondered whether Hornby would be interested. Radio 4 was talking
about this 2 mornings ago and the problem seems to be that the French
supplier went into administration some while ago and the French will
not realease the moulds. Without them there is nothing to actually buy.
I can't see that the name is worth a great deal on its own.
That could be the attraction. The existing kit range is so far
behind the curve for quality and detail in plastic models (so
I'm told, anyway) that they're probably not much of an asset. OTOH,
if Hornby can buy up the brand name cheaply then it can be used
to market - well, whatever they decide to do with it.
Hornby could do well to design brand new kits of lineside structures,
shops, etc, under the Airfix name, for example. Pola have a few UK style
buildings, but not nearly enough. With current CAD/CAM and die-sinking
technology, technology, making new dies would cost less in real money
than Airfix's original dies cost. There are some really nice paper/card
kits available, i know, but the advantage of plastic building kits is
that kit bashing is a lot easier than with paper/card kits.
There's no point. Airfix' biggest asset is its name. This is universally
associated with plane kits. Whenever they've diversified into other fields
they've gone bust. There's no caché associated with Airfix railway models
like there is with Airfix planes. They may as well produce them under the
It was 'plane kits I was thinking of as a first step: perhaps using Airfix
as a brand name for importing some of the Chinese-made plastic kits
that are available, but generally only through specialist dealers:
would be an example. If those could be marketed under the Airfix badge
(and through the same channels) the increase in volume for the manufacturer
could be worth the cut Hornby would want for marketing them.
Bear in mind these kits are probably as much of an improvement over the
Airfix ones as current-Hornby is over Tri-ang.
That could be one angle. Another is that Hornby have shown themselves
to be fairly adroit at the film tie-in market (think scarlet Castles..)
which Airfix ignored. There could be opportunities there, as well.
Then there's the old "dinosaurs" line which was, once, a big success
for Airfix. I'm pretty certain that there'll be plastic kits being
made somewhere in China that'd suit for a revival.
Being a bit more speculative, there'd be scope for using the Airfix
brand as a vehicle for a slightly diluted, western-friendly version
of the .jp anime-related model kit scene. With the increasing popularity
of japanese film in the west that could be a growth market.
Those are all just possibilities, but Hornby seem to be pretty
on the ball when it comes to spotting market niches (I can
imagine the live steam stuff going down a storm in .de, now
they've got a market base there), so I reckon they'll be alive
"Wolf Kirchmeir" wrote
Hornby already has a new range of structures, it's called Skaledale, and if
our experience of sales on this range is anything to go by, the public just
don't want kits, they want finished buildings!
I've some sympathy with that view, and we're already seeing signs of
over-supply on the model railway market.
Incidentally no-one's picked this up as yet, but the current boss of Hornby
was formerly with Humbrol/Airfix.
"John Turner" wrote in
Niethr has anyone pointed out that Hornby have just moved in to the
plastic kit market. I bought my son a Ford Focus rally car during a
recent trip to The Lakes (and got myself a very nice Fowler tank at the
same time). It wasn't until I got home and handed it over that I noticed
that it had a Hornby badge on it. Very simple kit but very well made,
all the parts already cut from the sprue and ready for assembly.
It would be a simple matter to change the Hornby badge for a Airfix one
and cash in.
Um, yes, that's my experience over here, too. Walthers offers most of
its structures as "built-ups." Woodland Scenics is offering a new line
of ready built structure, "the only one hand painted" in fact.
But I remember Airfix as a RR kit supplier, not as plane kit supplier.
By the time i was interested in plane kits, we'd moved to Canada, and
there was and is a vast range of plane kits here.
Oh well, no point hashing over stale cabbage.