Tuesday, June 28, 2016


AIRFIX KITSTARTER IS AN EXPERIMENTAL concept in retro-modelling. It’s your chance to decide which selected vintage Airfix kits are put back into production for a limited edition run.

SMN report: The Airfix model kit archive includes a staggeringly wide variety of subjects, ranging from historical figures and birds to ships and aircraft - and even a few dinosaurs. Airfix sources say that more kits will be added each month to grow the KitStarter project, a method of judging popularity so that early kits can be reintroduced to enthusiasts. There is an online forum so modellers can discuss ideas for further suggestions.

One of the popular KitStarters at the moment is the 1:72 scale de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, a classic little kit if ever there was one. In fact, I didn’t recall that the original came with a floatplane option, which makes it much more interesting to me, as I flew in one many years ago over the lakes, trees and mountains of British Columbia, Canada.

Kitstarter makes an interesting comparison to the survey method of Fantastic Plastic. Airfix has, of course, been producing kits since 1949, but even allowing for takeovers and other industrial pushing-and-shoving, many of the original injection moulds thankfully survive in acceptable condition.

Original instruction leaflet (below) provided all the information needed to build a nice little model. Love those floats.

As Airfix puts it, “…We've delved into the archives and pulled out a selection of old tooling for some classic Airfix kits. The tooling has been carefully restored and tested at our factory in the UK, ready to start producing a new limited run of kits.”

And that’s where the interactivity kicks in. Airfix says “…You can back a kit by placing a pre-order. Once a kit reaches a threshold number of orders, there's then a two week 'last orders' period for any remaining orders to be placed before the kit goes into production.”

Diorama (below) shows off the Beaver really well. Flat-topped floats allow easy entry and exit for pilot and passengers.

The obvious question to ask is how long do I have to wait after my pre-order for that blast from the past to arrive on my model bench? Airfix has an answer of sorts: “…That depends on how popular your KitStarter is! Once a kit has reached its threshold and the Last Orders period has ended, the kits will be manufactured here in the UK and you can expect delivery of your kit in approximately four weeks.”

The Beaver had a 20-year production run, from 1947-67, during which some 1657 were built. That gives you the widest possible choice of markings, from US Army (below) to brightly coloured air tours machines.

The Airfix Kitstarter choices won’t be available through normal retail channels, although uber-popular subjects may go through the KitStarter process again, for another production run.

Less popular items might not make it as far as production, in which case you’ll get an email that tells you so. Which is fair enough, especially as Airfix won’t take your money until production and despatch are complete.

Well done on this innovative idea, Airfix. We hope it contributes to the rescue plan for Hornby we reported on recently.

I’d back an SRN4 Hovercraft, as I used the massive machines to cross the English Channel, long before Eurotunnel went into service.

View Airfix KitStarter here.