A great idea from Airfix. As one of the world’s oldest model companies, they have a huge backlog of discontinued kits, and still possess the moulds for many of them. Now they’re letting modellers choose, Kickstarter style, which ones will get limited run re-releases.

So much nostalgia. So many kits I made and then wrecked, or never got a chance to make. Right now, they’ve only got 1:1 bird kits up, but I’ll be checking back to see what else they offer.

Source: KitStarter / Customer Login Airfix Airfix

The Brig Diomede of Salem

Brig Diomede of Salem, by Roy Cross

On Monday, I went to an auction in town specifically to buy this. It’s a signed print of a painting by Roy Cross, and I bought it because of the artist, rather than the subject matter.

Don’t worry if you don’t know who Ry Cross is. I didn’t either until a couple of years ago, but he played an important part in my youth. Roy Cross painted much of the box art for classic Airfix kits- action packed shots of planes, tanks and ships in battle. Every so often some of his original art comes up for sale on eBay, and my long term plan is to have one of those original paintings on the wall. If it can be from something I’ve built, that’ll be even better.

I got the print for £10 (plus fees), a total bargain. The I foolishly went and bid on another lot, thinking it was a few prints of old Manchester and some bits and pieces. Now I have two dozen framed pictures, of various sizes and subjects, that I don’t know what to do with.

1:32nd resin car bodies

Every so often I’ll get obsessed with a particular modelling subject and buy lots of kits, most of which may never get made (by me at least). A couple of years ago, whilst writing a “propellerpunk” sci-fi tale, I got loads of models of less well known planes- prototypes which never made it into production, Luft46 fantasies, that sort of thing. I’ve still got the flying wing, and that may yet get built, but most of the rest have gone the way of EBay.

My new obsession is 1:32nd scale model cars. They don’t take up too much space and they come in some interesting subjects. Arii do some cool Japanese retro vehicles, though I have to find them on EBay as it seems no-one in the UK stocks them. Airfix did an equally interesting range of British vehicles. But they’re mostly out of production now, and the rarer ones can get a bit pricey.

These resin slot car bodies by Pendle Slot Racing may be a source of interesting British classics to customise, if I ever work my way through the backlog I’ve already got. The bodies are £20-£40 each, it’s true, and I’d have to provide chassis and interior detail, but I could have fun creating a very British custom car meet with a few of them.

Or I could buy myself a Scalextric track, build them for their intended purpose and re-enact chases from The Sweeney and The Professionals with them.

Objects of Desire- Original Roy Cross artwork

Currently for sale on Ebay are several pieces by Roy Cross, one of the main creators of box art for old school Airfix. If anyone wants to get me a Christmas present they could, for example, buy me this piece for the SAR Boeing Vertol helicopter. It’s one of a batch being sold, along with several vintage models, here.

Fairey Rotodyne

Steam Geek was a companion to Scale, where I posted about cool old technology, particularly of the “What if?” variety. As it’s been dormant for a while I think it’s time to bring its archives across to Spinneyhead. Some of these links may no longer work.

I won an Airfix model of a Fairey Rotodyne through EBay, so the helicopter/plane hybrid made a good subject for a first post. I was a little lazy and just rounded up data from the Internet-


The Fairey Rotodyne was a compound helicopter of unprecedented size at the time of it’s first flight on 6 Nov. 1957, having originally been ordered by the then British Ministry of Supply, later the ministry of Aviation, in August of 1953.

First Flight : November 6, 1957

Engines: 2 * 2.800 hp Napier Eland NEL7
Cruise Speed: 300 km/h
Range: 700 km
Weight: Max: 14.900 Kgs
Rotor Span: 27.43 m
Length: 17.88 m
Height: 6.76 m
Disc Area: 591 m2


The Rotodyne was extremely large, with a cabin volume of 93m3 cubic feet. The logistical attributes of the machine were considerable with rear clam-shell doors allowing the loading of large motor vehicles. A forward-located door permitted simultaneous entry and exit of passengers, which would have allowed a quick turn-around in a commercial airline operation.

It was estimated that a passenger load of as many as 48 could have been carried by the Rotodyne. That passenger compartment was 14m long, 2.4m wide, and 1.8m in height.

Scale Model Aircraft Kit Reviews has two build articles on the Airfix kit, one in original livery and one in imaginary Qantas colours

Groen Brothers excerpts an article about the role the Rotodyne would have played in cutting intercity congestion

The Fairey Rotodyne originated from an idea for a large compound helicopter by Dr. J. A. J. Bennett and Capt. A. G. Forsyth of Fairey Aviation, whose original study dates back to 1947. Their concept evolved into the “Eland” Rotodyne prototype, which sucessfully completed its maiden flight in November, 1957. Its four-bladed rotor was powered in helicopter mode by tip jets, driven by compressed air. This compressed air was lit with fuel at tip jet combustion chambers to drive the rotor, removing the necessity for an anti-torque tail rotor. The tip jets were extinguished at about 60 mph after a normal helicopter takeoff, converting the aircraft to an autogiro. In autogiro mode the collective pitch of the rotor blades, and hence rotor lift, was reduced with up to about half the weight taken by the wings, allowing much higher speeds than conventional. When approaching to land the tips were relit, converting the aircraft back to helicopter mode for a normal helicopter hover and landing.

And that’s just the first few results from a Google search. I’ll be mining the results for further info as the build approaches.

Airfix 2008

Agapemodels drew my attention to the 2008 Airfix catalogue, and I just had to go out and buy it. There are quite a few releases lined up that I’m interested in. I’ll have to shy away from the really big stuff, like the 1:24th Mosquito or 1:48th TSR2 (I’ve got the 1:72nd version and it’s staying in storage until I’ve a far bigger workspace and somewhere to store it) and go for smaller items like the 1:76th Land Rover. In fact, I think a selection of Land Rover related products on Spinneyworld might be in order.

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Airfix Tardis

The first new kits announced by Airfix after being bought by Hornby are a bunch of Doctor Who tie-ins. I’d quite like a model Tardis. The report says it will be eight inches tall. Assuming the phone box is seven or eight feet tall, that would make the model 1:12th scale, or thereabouts (if the maths had been any harder I’d have given up, and the height of the TArdis is an assumption).

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Wish List Time

At the moment I’m collecting, more than making, models. And I don’t have the money or the space to do much of that, either.

But that’s not going to stop me drawing up a wish list of kit’s I’d like to get my hands on or see produced. Quite a few of them are driven by a desire to start painting 54mm figures, particularly Andrea’s character series and placing them in dioramas involving relevant vehicles.

1. Arii’s Collectors’ Series available in the UK. I’ve developed a crush on these 1:32nd scale curbside models without ever seeing one or reading a review. I’m watching a lot of Kung Fu movies at the moment and I want to put Bruce Lee on a street with a delivery trike behind him and scattered boxes and other debris. I could order the models from Japan, or EBay shops in Australia or Hong Kong, but I’d really like to be able to get them from my local model shop or one of the bigg online shops like Hannants.

2. More of Airfix’s 1:32nd scale ’60s and ’70s saloons re-released. I’ve read that some of the moulds were damaged or lost, and I may be the total market for a Morris Marina model. What I really want is the Ford Capri and Ford Escort. (I know the latter was in last year’s three car special set, so I’ll see if I can pick up one of those.) I don’t have any plans for these in figure terms, just an abiding fondness formed from reading Street Machine and Custom Car in my youth. Whilst we’re about it, let’s have a Ford Pop (Anglia in the States, I think) in that scale. I know there was a 1:24th, or 1:25th van version by one of the US manufacturers, but let’s have the saloon beloved of British hotrodders.

3. Photoetched parts for 1:72nd scale cars such as the ones from Cararama. You can get them for 1:87th cars (and, a little, for 1:76th ones as well), so let’s have them for my braille scale of choice. I’m going to start producing transfers and stuff again, so one day I may be the person who satisfies this desire. (Affiliate link Cararama 1:72nd cars on EBay)

4. Retro robo. This is a personal project, I don’t want anyone to produce it. I just need to find an appropriate Japanese robot to kit bash and lots of spare parts to use in the bashing.

5. Preiser 1:72nd stuff. I know they do a lot of good stuff in this scale, I just can’t find it in my local model shops.

That’s what I want right now. That, and the money to afford it all.

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Amazonian Airfix

Amazon really are trying to sell everything. In their Toys & Games section you can now get Airfix models. I stumbled across this list whilst searching for something completely different. They also stock Revell, AMT (but not much), Tamiya, Italeri, Hasegawa and no doubt others. They’ll never have the arcane stuff available from a specialist shop or site, but might be worth checking out every so often.

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Hornby buys Airfix

In a deal thet’s been rumoured for a while, Hornby has bought Airfix (and Humbrol, another report I read said). There’s no mention of the Heller held moulds, the non-release of which drove Airfix into bankruptcy in the first place. I’d like to see that resolved and more of their classic kits re-released.

At the moment neither or are up, But Hornby’s site has an item about the acquisition.

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Bye bye Airfix

Airfix has gone into administration. They’re blaming the closure on the collapse of Heller earlier this year and the French company’s refusal to hand over certain moulds.

It’s a damn shame. The company was going through something of a revival and had released, or planned to release, quite a few kits I was eager (if too poor) to buy. I did get their TSR-2, but I also wanted the classic cars collection and various of the smaller military models. Wonder what this is going to do to the price of their kits lying around in model shops?

As yet the official Airfix site has nothing to say on the subject.

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