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Airfix was founded in 1939 by Nicholas Kove, to make hollow rubber toys and novelties, and when rubber became scarce because of wartime demand for tyres for military vehicles, Kove switched to using plastics, and then to injection moulding.


Although the name is now synonymous with model aircraft kits, and it would be reasonable to assume that this is what the name stood for ("air-fix"), the name was actually a reference to the air-filled rubber building blocks (and toy ducks and other novelties) that the company originally produced.

In 1949 the company produced a moulded acetate model tractor as a promotional item for the Ferguson tractor company, and then started selling the parts through Woolworths, unassembled, as kits.

In 1952, this was followed by a "proper" moulded polystyrene kit of the Golden Hind ship, and then the first Airfix model aircraft kit - a Spitfire Mk1 - in 1953.

Airfix "Cutty Sark" ship, polybagged construction kit

However, the roaring success of these "poly-bagged" kits didn't immediately take over the company's whole output - a 1956 trade advert lists "construction kits" as the second entry for the company's output, after "polythene tea-sets"! The list goes on to mention "beach lines", "games" and "novelties, etc. etc".

It wasn't unusual for a plastics company to have different supplementary toy ranges for the Winter and Summer months ... the run-up to December would be producing toys for the critical Christmas market, while the quieter period after Christmas would be producing buckets and spades and balls and other beach novelties for the Summer Holidays. The attraction of the "hobbyist" market (exemplified by the growth of the "Hobbies" business) was that it dangled the promise of a population customers who might turn into reliable repeat buyers, and produce a steady year-round turnover.

Not a model aircraft. Part of a successful range of kits aimed at model railway constructors, the Airfix Trackside Series

Undated slip, text:

The AIRFIX Range includes over 300 Constant Scale Kits and among them are Aircraft, Modern and Veteran Cars, Warships and Classic Ships, Fighting Vehicles, Historical Figures, Rolling Stock and Trackside Series, 00 figures and Museum Models.

AIRFIX also produce MotorAce Home Car Electric Racing Sets and Accessories, New Artist Painting by Numbers, BETTA BILDA Building Sets and a wide range of Toys and for the modeller, publishes Airfix Magazine. For full details of each range see separate catalogues.

Adverts by year, 1958-1968

This spread of adverts (mostly from Hobbies Annual) from 1958 to 1968 show the arc of the Airfix product line over the decade. The Building Sets took up half the 1958 ad, Trackside appeared in the 1959 ad, and while these three "year" ads had the same lettering for the company name, it didn't look especially like a logo.

1961/1962 have a new logo and slogan "Just like the real thing", and focus on aircraft, 1963 focuses on the new Airfix Railway Construction Kits and uses a more recognisable "scrolled" logo. Betta Bilda still has a panel in 1965 and 1966, Airfix Motor Racing is in 1965 and 1967, but by 1968, the writing seems to be on the wall for both product lines, and the advert is exclusively about plastic construction kits.

Growth of the kits range

While the 1961 ad mentioned "nearly 100" kits, the 1966 advert boasted a range of 200 different kits, spread over 13 themes, by the 1968 ad, this had risen to over 250 kits in 19 ranges. The Airfix brand was now very emphatically about a plastic model kit company.

External links


  • Trevor Pask, Airfix Kits (Shire Library) ISBN 0747807914
  • James May with Ian Harrison, James May's Toy Stories (Anova, 2009) ISBN 1844861074 pages 128-169


This category has the following 19 subcategories, out of 19 total.



Media in category ‘Airfix’

The following 200 files are in this category, out of 253 total.

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