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Airfix - Making History
December 26, 2012 12:23 PM   Subscribe

The Royal Air Force Museum London will be launching in Summer 2013 a signature exhibition commemorating and celebrating the national institution that is Airfix. This will chart the history of this Great British Institution by displaying original Box Art as well as Airfix’s most popular models from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s in the Museum’s Art Gallery. In preparation, this post will focus upon the history* of the company, its founding in the late 1940s by a Hungarian immigrant, through its boom years in the 1960s, the later years of decline and under investment, and finally its current resurgence in the market place. Look at the ways in which Airfix products are developed, including the painstaking research and the cutting edge technology used to design and manufacture modern kits. (text inspired by numerous sources)

*While technically accurate, this entry has a glaring error regarding the founder's names.
posted by infini (17 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some of those links appear to be pretty obvious irony, though I don't get the joke.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:28 PM on December 26, 2012


Mr. May, Mr. James May, white courtesy phone, please. Mr. James May, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Thank you.
posted by eriko at 12:30 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Humbrol 4 lyfe.
posted by Faux Real at 12:41 PM on December 26, 2012


Growing up, I was a big model-making addict (or was that a model glue addict?). Unfortunately, finding an Airfix model in my corner of Indiana was something akin to stumbling across the grail. But, they did occasionally appear on my local hobby shop's shelf.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:48 PM on December 26, 2012


Kind of funny seeing this running at the same time as the Gerry Andeson obit.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on December 26, 2012


Some of those links appear to be pretty obvious irony, though I don't get the joke.

I don't get your comment, please explain.

Mr. May, Mr. James May, white courtesy phone, please. Mr. James May, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Thank you.

I read the link and don't get the connection, please explain.
posted by infini at 1:01 PM on December 26, 2012


@infini, I don't get the last 3 or 4 links. "Cutting edge"?
posted by clvrmnky at 1:12 PM on December 26, 2012


James May did a short TV series called "Toy Stories." Each episode celebrated one style or brand of 20th century non-electronic plaything, and included a grandiose toy-based stunt - a human-sized Lego house, a real working pedestrian bridge made of Meccano, etc.

One of the episodes was all about Airfix, and included the construction and assembly of a 1:1 scale Airfix-style kit. It's available on YouTube at the moment, but as it's not authorized it's likely to disappear anytime.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:20 PM on December 26, 2012


Memories. I loved making airfix model planes. Then I learnt to adapt them to have a firecracker inside and used to throw them out of my bedroom window after lighting the blue touch paper.
It was somewhat difficult to explain to my parents why their flower beds were coverered with bits of charred plastic.
posted by adamvasco at 1:34 PM on December 26, 2012


Great post. The models are neat, but as kids my brother & I loved to collect the boxes of the little HO scale army figures from all historical eras. "Airfix Guys" is what we called them around our house.
posted by marxchivist at 2:08 PM on December 26, 2012


I don't get the last 3 or 4 links. "Cutting edge"?

text inspired by
posted by infini at 2:08 PM on December 26, 2012


Airfix men
posted by adamvasco at 2:19 PM on December 26, 2012


I really couldn't say if I ever made an airfix model, though since they went mostly broke in '81 and I would have had my peak glue-sniffing period around then, they were probably Tamiya or something else. But I distinctly recall making a hurricane, a mosquito, a spitfire, a P-39, an Fw-190, and a boat or two. I almost never managed to make a clear cockpit, it would always be clouded with superglue.
posted by wilful at 2:20 PM on December 26, 2012


"Cutting edge"?

Given the the product's original concept is to use the "raw materials" provided to put together a model of some sort, permanently glued into position, you'll note the the product design concept given that specific link is looking at ways the material can be reused again. In the context of the company and its product line, that's cutting edge. But yes, there's no Arduino or strawberry pi in there, no.
posted by infini at 2:23 PM on December 26, 2012


I was going to to a post on Airfix box art. It's utterly stunning really. I used to pore over the airfix catalog back when I was very small.
posted by the noob at 4:08 PM on December 26, 2012


Cool post - I enjoyed the T.V. show as well.

So ... Airfix invented the plastic model industry, is that correct? That's a pretty big influence over several generations, across the world.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:19 PM on December 26, 2012


On a roll, infini, keep the hits coming in! :)
posted by the cydonian at 6:30 PM on December 26, 2012


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