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Airfix interview

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The Airfix booth was one of the most impressive at this year's Toy Fair in Nürnberg. The British manufacturer has announced over 70 new items in his 2011 catalogue of which many are brand new tools! Mr. Darrel Burge, Airfix & Humbrol Marketing Manager, tells us more…

Aeroscale: "Two years ago there was an impressive video about the 1:24 scale Mosquito. Last year the model was available. Was it a way for Airfix to say "we are back!"?"
Darrell Burge: "Yes we wanted to show that we are indeed back in business. The Mosquito was a way to show that Airfix could deal with new technologies, especially CAD (Computer Aided design)."

A: "Is the Mosquito a good seller or does the 1:48 scale Bf 109 perform better?"
D.B.: "These are really two different animals and it's difficult to compare. They both did sell well but of course the volume reached by the Bf 109 is bigger. However the most attractive subject for British modelers remains the Spitfire!"

A: "The Airfix aircraft model range is quite large now, between the older and newer tools. Is it the goal of Airfix to replace all the classic kits by new ones sooner and later?"
D.B.: "Over a period of time, maybe yes. Currently we focus on replacing the good sellers. The artwork of the kits however will be rapidly replaced by the new ones of Adam Tooby who does some incredible 3D computer work. "

A: "How does Airfix produce its kits today? Designed in England and tooling in China and India?"
D.B.: "The design of the plastic parts is indeed made in England. The box art, the decals and the instructions as well. Tooling and injection are made in China or India."

A: "Some say the the quality of the kits, especially the rendering of the panel lines, varies depending on which country the kits are produced?"
D.B.: "This can't be true. The quality between China and India produced plastic parts is the same. For the Spitfire Mk.XII for example, the design was made in England, the tooling was done in China and injection in India. In fact, the quality of the parts depends on the earlier design work on the computers."

A: "There have been a lot of new items in the last couple of years. How do you keep the pace?"
D.B.: "It's easy to explain. In the old days there was one designer who still did the drawings by hand. Today we have no less than four designers who work with computers. The process is now much faster!"

A: "The Spitfire has the honors currently…"
D.B.: "Yes, like I said it remains a very popular subject. Our goal, over a period of time, is to have all the Spitfire versions in our catalogue in both 1:72 and 1:48 scale."

A: "The TSR.2 will be re-released in a quite strange boxing. Can you tell us more about it?"
D.B.: "The TSR.2 MS release was the result of a meeting with one of our distributors in Japan 3 years ago. The Stratos4 manga serie is quite popular there and we realized that the original aircraft wasn't altered that much in the comic. So we have produced some extra sprues for the kit (additional rockets) as well as new decals. However, the original markings remain in the box so it is possible to do the real prototype with what is provided in case one wishes so."

A: "The 1:48 scale Lynx helicopter seems to suffer from some delays. What are the problems and when will it hit the shelves?"
D.B.: "Well, the Lynx is a complicated aircraft. We hit some problems identifying and designing the parts for the various versions. Overall it delayed the release of the model quite a lot but we expect it to be available in late summer."

A: "A lot of people are looking forward to the 1:48 scale Land Rovers…"
D.B.: "Today, we think it is the right time to do them, given the sensibility of the subject (Afghanistan). They will represent a nice accompaniment to the Lynx helicopter in the same scale. Figures and maybe even some buildings will follow next, allowing the modeler to do a representative diorama."

A: "Will other 1:48 scale vehicles be produced and for what era?"
D.B.: "We will probably do other modern vehicles. The releases will be based on contemporary military operations and figures will follow as well. We do not plan to do WWII vehicles for the moment."

A: "The 1:72 scale Vickers Valliant promises to be an impressive kit. Is the kit almost ready!"
D.B.: "Yes definitely! The Valiant is almost ready to ship with April as the expected availability date."

A: "My last question may be strange, but why are the new Airfix kits molded in white?"
D.B.: "Oh, no! What you can see here in Nürnberg are mainly test shots which have been done in white. Be reassured, the plastic in the boxes will remain grey!"

A: "Thank you for answering our questions."
D.B.: "You're welcome."
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About the Author

About Jean-Luc Formery (TedMamere)
FROM: MOSELLE, FRANCE

I'm mainly interested in WW2 aircraft and I build them in 1/48 scale.


Comments

Nice one Jean-Luc! The new Seafire and Lynx look great. It's very neat how they've handled the former's folding wings, and it looks like the sit of the canopy in the open position might be a lot better than in their FR46/FR47. It's nice to see the Angel Interceptor again. I built that when it was first released in the '60s. We'll have to get it for ModelGeek. All the best Rowan
FEB 15, 2011 - 05:09 AM
Great interview Jean-Luc. Very interesting to see the new kits. Didn't build it in the 60's, but the 70's, and I loved that kit, even if it was brush painted (badly). Andy
FEB 15, 2011 - 05:34 AM
Hi Andy Yes, mine was badly brush painted too - and that "A" on the bottom really had me struggling! Where was Mal with his Miracle Masks when we needed him! All the best Rowan
FEB 15, 2011 - 05:39 AM