Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Airfix Handbook

Title: The Airfix Handbook
Author: James May
Publisher: Conway Publishing

Ostensibly this slim volume is a tie in to the recent James May Toy Stories television show. However, it also functions as a short and sweet Airfix history and a good reason to never judge a book by its cover. (Ouch, is that ever a ugly cover!)

This small format hardback opens with a short history of Airfix drawing much inspiration from the Arthur Ward books, a short photographic tour of molding defects, some Roy Cross boxart, and a listing of all Spitfire kits issued by Airfix. We then have a modeling tip interlude by Chris Ellis on "10 things I wish I known when I was 10" before we get into Mr. May's project to create a 1/1 scale Airfix Spitfire. Obviously this project was better illustrated on the TV show, but it still an interesting read. Sprinkled throughout this section of the book is a short chapter on making a war movie out of Airfix tanks and a listing of the "10 Airfix kits every modeler should build." (I would quibble with the choices and suggest that most of the kits listed as honorable mentions (the 1/72 Pup, Lancaster, Vulcan, and Hurricane), should be on the main list, but isn't that what these kind of lists are for...disagreement?) Finally the book wraps up with a short build of the newer Spitfire XIX by Jonathan Mock, and, again drawn from the Ward books, a listing of Airfix kits issued year by year.

This is far from a definitive history of Airfix, but a quick and enjoyable read written by an Airfix fan. Fun.

P.S.: David, I looked in the whole book and never saw the phrase "Finish the Spitfire!"

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