Airfix History Books
– Sixty Years of Airfix Models – By Jeremy Brook
– The Vintage Years of Airfix Box Art – By Roy Cross
– More Vintage Years of Airfix Box Art – By Roy Cross
– The Other Airfix: 60 Years of Airfix Toys – By Arthur Ward
– The Airfix Book of Scale Modelling – By Jonathan Mock
– Airfix Kits (Shire Library) – By Trevor Pask
– The Boys’ Book of Airfix – By Arthur Ward
– Airfix: Celebrating 50 years of the greatest plastic kits in the world – By Arthur Ward
By Jeremy Brook
The best-known and most important manufacturer of plastic model kits in the UK, Airfix has been at the forefront of the industry since 1955 when the first Airfix aircraft kit appeared in UK branches of Woolworth’s. The kits were made to a constant scale and covered a wide variety of subjects, from aircraft to birds and from tanks to dinosaurs. In 1981 the famous London-based company closed down and only the kits survived intact. For the next twenty-five years Airfix was run by Palitoy and later Humbrol, but suffered from a lack of investment. In 2006, Hornby Hobbies Ltd, the train and Scalextric manufacturer, bought the ailing company and transformed it. Money and resources were ploughed into the range, and today Airfix releases around twenty new kits per year, designed to an incredibly high standard. The old kits of the 1950s and 1960s are gradually being replaced by new state-of-the-art tooling, all bearing that most prestigious name – Airfix. Published to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of the first Airfix aircraft kit, Sixty Years of Airfix Models, tells the full story, year by year, of the company and its products.
By Roy Cross
Airfix has been commercially producing plastic kits since 1952 and its models have been made by successive generations of young boys and men alike. In the 1960s, a talented graphic artist called Roy Cross was commissioned to paint some of the box art for Airfix, and for a ten-year-period he provided many of the glorious paintings seen on the boxes, setting new standards for realism and accuracy. Many are still being used today, a full four decades later.
By Roy Cross
Airfix was started in 1939 and, since it produced its first plastic kit in 1949, has grown to be the United Kingdom’s leading model kit manufacturer. Several generations of young and young-at-heart modellers have made Airfix kits and, despite turbulent times in the 1970s and 1980s when the company changed ownership several times, in the twenty-first century it goes from strength to strength under the wing of Hornby Hobbies. The 1960s and early 1970s might be called the vintage years of Airfix, when some of their best and most popular kits were produced. For ten years up to 1974, renowned artist Roy Cross produced some of the stunning paintings that appear on the boxes of Airfix kits of the era. Roy set the standard for such artwork, to the extent that many are still used today, four decades later. Roy Cross’s The Vintage Years of Airfix Box Art contained a host of the paintings he prepared for Airfix, but the unearthing of many more images in old Airfix files has enabled this entirely fresh look at Roy’s work to be presented, coinciding with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the first Airfix kit. Thus the remainder of Roy’s ten years’ work for Airfix is reproduced here.
By Arthur Ward
Airfix is synonymous with plastic model kits. The brand name has virtually become a noun, occupying a special place in that lexicon of trade names alongside Hoover, Sellotape, Perspex and Aqua-Lung. Throughout the war years Airfix survived on government contracts for a whole range of plastic items and by virtue of Kove’s tenancious apetitie for business and doing a deal. By the war’s end Airfix was the market leader in plastic injection moulded combs in Britain. By the time Airfix had released its first proper construction kit, a tiny model of Drake’s flagship Golden Hind, in 1952, the firm was well established as a leading toy brand. Indeed throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s Airfix invested heavily in developing new toys or manufacturing them under license for large US toy companies such as Hasbro. Very soon Airfix extended its activities beyond toys into games and arts and crafts and in short time famous names. Indeed so successful was Airfix at diversifying that by the 1970s the company had grown to such an extent that it had acquired other famous toy brands including Dinky Toys, Tri-ang, Meccano, and Romper Room. With its subsidiary Crayonne Airfix even harnessed the design talents of the then Terence Conranne in attempt to elevate plastic products to the rarified atmosphere of designer chic. So there’s a lot more to Airfix than many might think and this book is the first attempt to document the myriad successful lines, outside of plastic kits, which contributed to the company’s dramatic growth before a combination of factors forced it into brief liquidation in 1981. Written by someone with a lifetime’s fascination for Airfix and who has written other books about the better known construction kit side of the business, The Other Airfix is a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
By Jonathan Mock
The Airfix Book of Scale Modelling is the essential guide to getting the most out of this fascinating and rewarding hobby, explaining how to build scale models to suit all levels of modelling skill.
With full colour photography throughout, the book covers the history of modelling and of the Airfix company, and shows how injection moulded kits are made. It then describes and reviews the major modelling scales, as well as outlining the range of paints, tools and accessories that are available.
Chapters include guides to choosing a kit, tools for the job, painting, decals, conversions, figure-painting, dioramas and more. Common problems and how to solve them are addressed, and there is also a series of step-by-step construction projects, including expert builds of the F86 Sabre jet, the Aston Martin DBR9, a Panzer IV tank, the Airfix yeoman figure (reissued for the London 2012 Olympics), a Trafalgar class submarine and a scenic diorama.
By Trevor Pask
With the aid of stringy glue and scalpel-sliced fingers, young and old have turned display cabinets and bedrooms into mini-museums, or tiny battlefields. This book looks at the fascinating tale of this British company – a pioneer in the world of modelling – as well as its products, its changing fortunes over the years, and its links with popular culture. Accompanied by color images, Trevor Pask explores this thriving pastime, allowing Airfix kit lovers to indulge in a nostalgic journey and those new to the hobby an intriguing insight into its history.
By Arthur Ward
In 2009, Airfix, the most famous plastic model construction kit company in the world, celebrates its 70th birthday. Founded in 1939 by Hungarian Nicholas Kove, Airfix holds a unique appeal for boys (and girls) of all ages and has been part of the fabric of childhood for generations. Packed with photos of the kits from the 1950s to the present,The Boys’ Book of Airfix is a nostalgic look at one of the greatest brands ever. In addition to the history behind the models, from the first Airfix kit – a model tractor – right up to today’s exciting Doctor Who releases, it tells the story of the dramatic twists and turns of the Airfix saga. In the autumn of 2006 it looked as if the great name might disappear for ever when its owners languished in receivership, only for the company to be heroically rescued by Hornby. If you were ever responsible for sending an Airfix Messerschmidt to a fiery doom from your bedroom window, this book is for you!
By Arthur Ward
Airfix models will be 50 years old in 1999. Only a very sad minority of men aged 30-50 did not make Airfix kits when they were boys. This book enables the rest of us to relive the glory days of our plastic air forces (or tank fleets) and perhaps to pass the torch to our children.
Superbly executed studio photographs show all the obscure and highly collectible kits as well as the best sellers, with illustrations of the packets, box art, adverts in 1960s and 1970s magazines, and a mass of period ephemera. The accompanying text charts the rise, fall and rise again of Airfix models. It’s a jolly read, a nostalgic reminder of kits long vanished, but with a happy ending: Airfix are now re-releasing 40 kits a year, bringing back some not seen for twenty years.