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Big Trouble in Model Britain

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Geoff S09/03/2019 21:35:16
3897 forum posts
56 photos

I've just watched the documentary of that title on the IPlayer. It's mainly about Hornby, so model railways and Airfix kits rather than the sort we're mostly interested in. I found it very entertaining and a lot of it relatively familiar in that it was about the problems facing small manufacturing and retail.

It'a narrated/presented by James May, who I find the least objectionable of the trio of Clarkson/May/Hamilton and who's done a few practical documentaries that appeal to me.

Oddly I find the railway side a bit more interesting than the Airfix 'planes. Mainly because they actually move on rails whereas the planes don't fly.

It's worth a look. It's on BBC 4 - part 1 of 2.


Steve Hargreaves - Moderator09/03/2019 21:44:19
6765 forum posts
199 photos

I've just watched it too Geoff & as you say well worth a look if only to see the fine job made of the new Airfix model ready for it's debut......thumbs up

Ray Wood 409/03/2019 22:28:44
256 forum posts
44 photos

Hi Geoff

Most of us surely started aero modelling with 2/- Airfix kits I certainly did and with 100+ RC aeroplanes built & flown, I still enjoyed the plastic kits 😀 variety is after all the spice of life ?

Regards Ray ( confirmed James May fan )

Trevor Crook09/03/2019 22:28:58
1026 forum posts
71 photos

Watched it yesterday, I'm a fan of James. Lots of old model railway stuff in the loft, Scalextric too. I also build the odd plastic kit, but never know what to do with them when they are finished.

Hope Hornby can keep going. I notice Hobbyking are selling the railway stuff now.

Stuphedd09/03/2019 22:44:08
730 forum posts
376 photos

I enjoyed it but found some facts a "little close to home "!

Like when the Airfix builder went into His well stocked garage of many boxes of unbuilt kits , and added that he was a member of S.A.B.L.E.!!

( Stock Available Beyond Life Expectancy )


Geoff S09/03/2019 22:54:58
3897 forum posts
56 photos
Posted by Stuphedd on 09/03/2019 22:44:08:

I enjoyed it but found some facts a "little close to home "!

Like when the Airfix builder went into His well stocked garage of many boxes of unbuilt kits , and added that he was a member of S.A.B.L.E.!!

( Stock Available Beyond Life Expectancy )


I think a few of us are in the same boat but flying model kits tend to be bigger than plastic ones so we need either more space or fewer kits

I wasn't very impressed with wiring/soldering quality of the switch board they were repairing. I suppose when a poor connection doesn't mean potential total disaster and bits in a bib liner you can be a little more casual.


Ronaldo09/03/2019 23:17:58
273 forum posts
21 photos

Thanks for the heads up ! Just had a pleasant nostalgic hour watching it thumbs up


Denis Watkins10/03/2019 07:33:09
4656 forum posts
132 photos
Posted by Trevor Crook on 09/03/2019 22:28:58:

Watched it yesterday, I'm a fan of James. Lots of old model railway stuff in the loft, Scalextric too. I also build the odd plastic kit, but never know what to do with them when they are finished.

Hope Hornby can keep going. I notice Hobbyking are selling the railway stuff now.

The market for your stuff is very hot on the auction site at the moment Trevor, if you want your money back..

Now is a good time to list items

New stuff is very expensive, so the pre-owned market is thriving

Trevor Crook10/03/2019 08:06:23
1026 forum posts
71 photos

I've actually got the Scaextric cars down to look at refurbing some. The railway stuff is mostly old 60s Triang, so maybe worth something to a collector. Don't know if any of the locos run. Must get it down and catalogue it for potential sale!

Peter Miller10/03/2019 08:07:48
11588 forum posts
1384 photos
10 articles

I remember a program where James May went to an auction and bought mint , boxed Hornby trains and then upset all the collectors by throwing the boxes away and actually USING (!!!!) the locos etc.

Did my heart good to watch the collectors scream with horror at the sacrelidge!!

They are meant to be used or you can't appreciate them fully.....and the same goes model model aircraft engines!!

leccyflyer10/03/2019 08:28:50
1672 forum posts
349 photos

Thanks so much for posting that, I'd missed the programme entirely.

Having watched the programme and, though I'm not a model railway enthusiast, I feel immensely gratified to be a part of the greater modelling community. It was a beautifully crafted programme and what came through, for me, was what a thoroughly nice bunch of gentle folk modellers are. Persoinally I can;t stand Top Gear, but James May is a consummate presenter and writer of such programmes, and the modeller is treated with respect and genuine affection in his offerings.

Made up for the folks at Airfix with the success of their new model. Like many of us , I know that Airfix was a very important part of my not growing up and hundreds of aeroplanes built over the years - not to any great standard - have been a cause of much enjoyment. It's many years since I've built a plastic kit, but I can definitely relate to the S.A.B.L.E comment in the programme and there's a whole cupboard full of plastic kits, bought with the excuse that they would provide some scale detail inspiration for flying models. Maybe it's time to get out the polystyrene cement and paintbrushes for a bit of nostalgia.

Thanks again for an hour well spent.

Bucksboy10/03/2019 08:55:44
579 forum posts
109 photos

I too enjoyed the show. I watched a similar programme years ago about train collectors. One chap explained that he used to buy two examples of every train he bought. One to display in its box, it was never removed. The second one wasn’t even removed from the transit packaging to maximise its value in years to come. I remember thinking that he could be in for a big surprise when he sold the brown paper wrapped package some years later.

Cuban810/03/2019 10:37:56
3098 forum posts
1 photos

I had a lengthy chat with a plastic modeller at the recent model engineering show at Ally Pally. His specialisation was commercial airliners and his knowledge of them was quite incredible, as were his models on display. He'd tried R/C flying a long time ago but found that it wasn't for him, but needed to satisfy his love of things aviation, hence the plastic kits and eventually many years as his club's secretary.

Had a bedroom full of Airfix, Revell, Heller kits when I was a kid, but what I really liked were the kits of NASA's early manned spacecraft, Mercury and Gemini. Might have been Monogram that produced them, can't be sure now, but I used to spent ages after school in a wonderful hobby shop in Hackney's Mare Street during the early 70's, admiring the fantastic box art of US rocketry models. They were very expensive so had to be saved up for. Had the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft, but sadly they were all lost when I moved away from home. That wonderful shop of delights was eventually closed and was converted into a housing authority office, until is was razed to the ground during the riots of the mid 80s.

Before all that, I did have the large Airfix Saturn V, Saturn 1B and LEM. I didn't make a bad job of them for a ten year old, and in my imagination I could hear and feel the roar and vibration of the real ones lifting off. Still puts the hairs on the back of my neck up today. My wife found an unstarted Airfix Saturn V on Ebay a couple of years ago and bought it for my 60th birthday - looking forward to putting that together.

BTW, Ray - the two bob kits that you mention......were they the slightly better ones that came in boxes? I spent a fortune on the 1/72 kits that were packaged in plastic bags and I'm sure that in the mid 60s they were 1/3d each. Used to get half a crown a week pocket money, so it was either two kits, or one kit and a delta catapult glider with a few coppers left over. Simple pleasures that forged a life-long interest, so sad that modern kids don't have anything that really matches it and the genuine thrills we got from our labours.

Devcon110/03/2019 10:59:33
1426 forum posts
494 photos

Good shout Geoff.

Nearly missed this. Watched episode 1, some great characters, particularly the Curator of the museum.

There surely is a slot for a very focused look at our interests in the James May style, I know we had the BOB series which was great.

Given plastic bashing is my other passion, current project a cutaway Mosquito. I was one of the thousands who have the Hellcat on Pre Order, can't wait. How true is SABLE.



Geoff S10/03/2019 11:13:35
3897 forum posts
56 photos

I liked the museum curator, too. The way they 'bleeped' his opinions of the former management with loco images across his mouth was brilliant.

I built a few Airfix kits when I was much younger (that would have been in the early 50s). I assume they were Airfix. I remember making a so-called Red Label Bentley as well. My main problem was the finishing and detailing (I'm the same now) so they never really satisfied me.

I had a model railway which I used a lot. It wasn't a Hornby Dublo but a Trix Twin. I had lots of track and especially points because I liked making goods yards and shunting. I never bothered much with scenery but I was fortunate to have my own play room (it was a very big house) so I could have track on the floor as long as I chose.

The local squire (the family of the former coal owners) was a customer of ours and he had a huge model railway layout in the basement of his small stately home. He used to get local railwaymen in to help him run it.


Ray Wood 410/03/2019 11:34:27
256 forum posts
44 photos

Hi Cuban

Yes the 2/- kits in plastic bags from Woolworths 😀 imagine that level of availability these days. The 1/24th Airfix Mosquito kit was my first plastic kit costing over £100 it's wonderful . When it's blowing a Gale outside great therapy 😁

Regards Ray

Here is the srn1 from 1959 when I was 4 years old, should I build it ??img_20190310_112122.jpg

J D 810/03/2019 11:47:43
1655 forum posts
83 photos

I had a Monogram P51 who's outer surface was all clear plastic so you could see all the fittings inside. engine, The engine,fuel tanks, spars, gun's,cockpit interior,ect.

It was mounted on a stand with a power system in it, Press a button and the prop would spin,pull a lever and bombs or drop tanks would release. But best of all another button retracted the gear including the tail wheel with doors. The only retract UC plane I have had.

   I had the SR-N1 Ray but like may of my plastic models fell victim to the air rifle pellet in later days. One or two flying model's also ended their days on the firing rage just like many a full size aircraft / tank.

Edited By J D 8 on 10/03/2019 12:04:38

ken anderson.10/03/2019 14:26:23
8795 forum posts
814 photos

probably they.... airfix and Hornby..... are suffering in the times we live in as the kids aren't fussed about train sets and building plastic model kits...most of the present day generation are into the electronic stuff...tablets,PS 4's,X-box's...and not forgetting mob phones......

ken… modern times dept.

Devcon110/03/2019 17:02:23
1426 forum posts
494 photos

Interesting point Ken,

I know of some youngsters who are into plastic kits and there was certainly a young lad sat round the table at the Plastic Kit Club on the programme but they are a minority.

I wonder if we were just a minority in the same way many years ago as I suspect if you looked at the profile of RC, Train and Airfix stuff 40 years ago it was the then older generation who had, similar to now, the buying power.

I think it's been said before but I think we will always have an older age profile in the hobby and it will always be so.

The 15 year old will at some stage some grow old and transmute into a shed dweller just like many of the great characters on the programme.

Looking forward to Episode 2 and what a great personality Simon Kohler is.

ken anderson.10/03/2019 17:21:59
8795 forum posts
814 photos

hopefully devcon,the youngins will develop the need for a mancave....

ken dept.

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