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DT
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Hornby is planning to steam in with a rescue bid for cashstrapped plastic model firm Airfix.

Airfix, which has produced model planes, ships and tanks for generations of children to glue together, faces closure after its parent firm Humbrol went into administration.

Humbrol sacked most of its 41 staff on Wednesday, blaming a cash flow problem caused by the collapse of a French firm that makes the plastic kits.

But last night a Hornby insider said the firm was considering a rescue package - but wanted more details about Airfix's demise.

The insider added: "They've rescued companies before and turned them around. It's early days but they're definitely interested."

Airfix enjoyed its heyday in the 60s - selling 350,000 Spitfires, 80,000 Hurricanes and 60,000 Lancasters a year. But sales have slumped in recent years as children have turned to computer games and the internet.

A deal with Hornby would bring together two of the UK's best-loved toy firms.

Hornby was founded in 1901 and became famous around the world for its train sets.

It has fought back in recent years against more modern children's entertainment by bringing in a range of new designs, including a miniature version of the Hogwarts Express featured in the Harry Potter films. It also owns racing car game Scalextric.

Hornby chief executive Frank Martin used to work at Humbrol, which bought Airfix in 1949 after starting out making the paints used by model-makers.

Jeremy Brook, of the Airfix Collectors' Club, said the firm's collapse was extremely sad. He added: "Any schoolboy of the 50s, 60s and 70s will remember being covered in glue as you assembled them."

[Source: Mirror]
 

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It would be an interesting move.

There would be a lot of synergies between Airfix and Scalextric with the large 1/32 scale car range that Airfix have. Not too much for railway modellers though as Dapol have all the old Airfix moulds with a railway theme.

QUOTE Jeremy Brook, of the Airfix Collectors' Club, said the firm's collapse was extremely sad. He added: "Any schoolboy of the 50s, 60s and 70s will remember being covered in glue as you assembled them."

The issue today is that the typical schoolboy of the 00s is more likely to be sniffing the glue than getting their hands covered with it!

Maybe this was part of the addiction to Airfix kits in the past?

The lift you had as you constructed one!

The aroma of Humbrol paint and Airfix glue is very definitely stuck in my mind!

The last plastic kit I built was a Tamiya one 4 years ago which I recently sold on Ebay for £25. The buyer commented that it was a very well made kit nicely finished. Its was nice to know the old kit building skills were still present. Although I will admit to having some weird sensations when building the kit. I think the spray paint being used at the time was to blame.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE > Although no longer in the railway end of the market, it seems it might be
> the final end for a company thats been part of british life for many
> years.

The result of little investment on the plastic kits side, and significantly
decreasing quality of their paint products in my opinion. We get nothing
but complaints about Humbrol paint, and sales have nose-dived since
production was switched to China.

John Turner 53A models

I would think those moulds are pretty nackered by now, and old technoligy. Runners and injection pressures
have changed in the passing decades. I regard these airfix kits in the same light as those from Dapol, and anyone who has assembled one of their 00 kits will know just how poor they are. Compair the quality from a Fleishmann or Pola kit. Hornby need a hole in the head if they intend to revive this name from the past.
 

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Part of the problem was that Airfix was being manufactured in France by Heller who have already gone into administration. The moulds are therefore in the hands of a French receiver which might complicate matter for Hornby somewhat. They'd want to move production to China anyway! Heller also produced stuff for Javis and other model makes so the problem goes much further than just Airfix.

The whole hobby industry in Europe is on very thin ice at the moment, maybe we should count ourselves lucky that Hornby took the medicine early enough!

60134
 

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From the looks of the story on The Register which was linked on RMweb yesterday, it looks like it may be the goodwill of the name they're interested in, as much as anything?

(Did try posting the URL, but I cant cope with this software, sorry
. Here's the relevant line instead:

The Airfix name may, however, live on. Keith Hinds of Grant Thornton, which is handling the administration, said: "The brand names and intellectual property of the business are potentially very valuable and we are looking to sell those to investors."
 

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QUOTE (Pennine MC @ 1 Sep 2006, 16:07) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>From the looks of the story on The Register which was linked on RMweb yesterday, it looks like it may be the goodwill of the name they're interested in, as much as anything?

(Did try posting the URL, but I cant cope with this software, sorry
. Here's the relevant line instead:

The Airfix name may, however, live on. Keith Hinds of Grant Thornton, which is handling the administration, said: "The brand names and intellectual property of the business are potentially very valuable and we are looking to sell those to investors."

Plus, they still have designs for the moulds even if Heller owns the actual moulds. I would hope that a Hornby-Airfix would try and improve the quality, up to the latest Revell/Tamigawa kits, as an aviation modeller myself...

Y'never know, we may see a new-style "Kitmaster" range (An LBSC Atlantic in OO plastic kit form, anyone?)!

CIG
 

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There are some newer models that Hornby may wish to purchase the tooling for e.g. the TSR2 and the Nimrod that was in development. Other than that I expect that any 'rescue' will be to buy the name and gradually re-build the range with a mix of replacement models and perhaps a small number from the old range such as the Spitfires and Hurricanes that will sell in reasonable numbers.

Regards,

Dan
 

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Hopefully the resue will go ahead. It would be a real shame to see the demise of a great company like airfix. Maybe they are not the best but at least they have a huge range of non american stuff and comprehensible instructions. I still would like to make more of their models, if I can find the time.
 

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I really hope Hornby don't bother with this, especially as someone else apparently owns the moulds. Given all their other challenges in the model railway market it's the last thing they need. Hopefully Mr. Martin and his management team (despite their background with Airfix!) have more sense.
 

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DT
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
What they are buying is effectively a very well known brand name.

With it they could tap into the collective unconscious of all those middle aged men with large disposable incomes that remember the smell of styrene glue and paint thinners.

If they come up with some nice new products then they can make a few bucks.

The Dam Busters is being re-made by Peter Jackson, for some reason only known to himself, but just think of all those middle aged men and perhaps a few kids going out to look for Lancaster bombers to build.
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 2 Sep 2006, 10:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>What they are buying is effectively a very well known brand name.

With it they could tap into the collective unconscious of all those middle aged men ...
Do they mean us? They surely do


Good point Doug, ties in with my 'acquiring the goodwill' thinking. My impression of Hornby's business acumen over recent years, thinking about their other acquisitions, is that they're actually very shrewd and will know precisely what they're getting into. They've a history of being a diverse company, back to Triang days, and they dont have to put all their effort into meeting Bachmann head-on.
 

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From the rate at which Hornby have been acquiring companies I would say it's a pretty safe bet to assume they are serious and another one to say that production will move to china to improve margins. Hornby look to me as if they are trying to get their fingers into as many markets as possible to hedge their profits against poor localised trading conditions I would think that new Airfix models will appear but there must still be a market for the existing range
 

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QUOTE With it they could tap into the collective unconscious of all those middle aged men with large disposable incomes that remember the smell of styrene glue and paint thinners.

You just can't underestimate the nostalgia market. If they revamp and improve a lot of the old models they had the will certainly succeed. I would buy them even though I have nowhere to put them and I know I would get a slagging for it.
 
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