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The Boy's Book of Airfix


S u m m a r y


The Boy's Book of Airfix



Media and Contents:

Hard cover; 192 pages , B&W and Colour Illustrations



Review Type:

First Read


A comprehensive History of the Airfix Brand from prewar to present


 Editing & writing Style


Highly Recommended


Edbury publishing

Reviewed by Al Bowie

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AIRFIX is a household name in many countries and has become synonymous with and a defacto title for plastic kits worldwide. Most baby Boomers grew up with Airfix and they dominated the plastic kit market in most countries in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

I think it is fair to say you would be hard pressed to find a male between the age of 30 – 80 that has not built an Airfix kit at some stage in his life. The company has been through many tribulations and owners as is still trading profitably after 60 years which is amazing for a toy company. This book is not the first to cover the life of the Airfix brand and its not even the first by the Author on the subject either. It is however the most current and covers the present day and future plans for Airfix.


  • Boy's Book of Airfix Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Boy's Book of Airfix Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Boy's Book of Airfix Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Boy's Book of Airfix Review by Al Bowie: Image
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I personally blame/thank (alternately) Airfix for introducing me to the wonderful consuming hobby of Plastic Modelling. My Father was a Woolworth’s manager in the 60’s UK and used to bring me home all the built up display models every month when Airfix changed their displays. This firmly hooked me and I still have a soft spot for Airfix today.

The book is a wonderfully nostalgic title and brings back lots of happy childhood memories which has endeared it to me. It is a hard bound edition with high quality of images in colour and B&W throughout and follows a logical layout with Chapters covering:

  1. ASSEMBLING AIRFIX – The early Days

  2. BOXING CLEVER – Bigger and Better, HO-OO soldiers and the introduction of Railway models and Historic Figures

  3. BOOM TIMES – Expansion during the 60’s, James Bond, Dick Emery and the Airfix Club

  4. AIRFIX TAKES ON THE WORLD – The 1970-s awards and acquisitions, Tri ang, Dinky, Meccano, Five new kits a month.

  5. TROUBLE LOOMING – Industrial Disputes and receivership, General Mills purchases the company and move it to Palitoy.

  6. A BRUSH WITH HUMBROL – The famous model paint company purchases Airfix.

  7. CHOCKS AWAY! – Hornby purchase Airfix and revitalise the brand.

  8. APPENDICES – Full Kit catalogue, What’s hot what’s not, Personal Favourites, Top tips for a better Kit.

  9. INDEX

Arthur Ward, the Author is has a long history with Airfix and this is his third or fourth book on the subject aside from his column in the Airfix magazine beginning in 1984. He is passionate about Airfix and the subject line on the cover “Who says you ever have to Grow up” may be letting on a little about his long association with the Airfix brand. He has brought his extensive knowledge to the fore and compiled a very detailed history of Britains legendary Kit Company and exposing a lot of the myths along the way.

The book is lavishly illustrated with many shots of kits, personalities and packaging. These are good quality and cover a lot of the rarer subjects some of which I was not aware of despite having a fascination for Airfix that extends to most available texts on the brand. The offshoot brands and the toy range have not been forgotten with many pictures of these adorning the pages although the Airfix FN Rifle seems have gotten a lot smaller over the years!

Mr Ward writes in an enjoyable style which makes it hard to turn the light of and go to sleep but I did find parts of this book which read like blanket stitch in that he seemed to go back over the same thing from the page before. I found many such parts and I attribute this to poor editing however it doesn’t detract much from the title.

The Author writes about the personalities behind the brand, particularly the artists who painted those wonderful box tops until they were replaced by those awful ones with poorly made kits on them. He explains the reasons for the changes in box tops and the modifications to the artwork some of which IMHO was bordering on criminal.

Interviews with the current management and designers gives an indication of where Hornby want to take Airfix and what may be coming. Throughout the book the Author has interviews with the people involved and this helps to paint a picture of what was going on at Airfix at those times. The book certainly shatters a few of the myths about Airfix and its various problems over the years.

Rounding out the book is an appendix listing all the Airfix production catalogue from the Massey Ferguson to the 24th scale Mosquito.

If ever you wanted to know the history behind the kits you have built or just get all soppy looking at the box art from the that set of toy soldiers when you were four this is the title to find what you are looking for. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Airfix whether they are a modeller, Historian, Collector or even just a nostalgic Baby Boomer.

It would be remiss of me not to quote James May (of Top Gear Fame) in closing:

This is a very important book. No-one should underestimate the importance of Airfix in turning British Boys into the well rounded men they are today
Highly recommended

Thanks to Specilaty Press for the sample

Review Copyright 2009 by Al Bowie
This Page Created on 7 October, 2009
Last updated 13 October, 2009

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