Were you a member of the “Airfix Modellers’ Club”?

Constant Scale Issue 74 - Cover

The latest issue of Constant Scale, the quarterly journal of the Airfix Collectors’ Club has just been published. This A4 size, 32 page magazine features Eagle and Swift artist Roy Cross’ artwork for Airfix’s Bentley kit on its cover.

Inside are copiously illustrated articles on Shopping for Airfix in the 1950s by David Welsh, the Green Line bus that advertised Airfix in the 1970s by James Bridges, who also reminisces about the Angel Interceptor as well as Danish wrapping paper(!), book reviews and reviews of the latest Airfix kits by Jeremy Brook, and the original instruction sheets for both Airfix’s original 1/72 scale B-TK Spitfire kit and the Aurora 1/48 scale B-TK Spitfire kit in almost a spot-the-difference fashion (which rather does seal the idea that Airfix copied that Aurora kit back in the 1950s).

Airfix Modellers’ Club - Complaint Form
The back of one of the complaints slips that Airfix put in with their kits in the 1970s which promoted the Airfix Modellers Club pages that appeared in Battle and Buster, and Lion and Valiant before them. Based on the address on this one and the different address on earlier slips, it would appear that the club was being run from IPC buildings and not from Airfix buildings. Do any former IPC editorial members remember anything about the club pages?

However the most interesting article for comics’ fans will be downthetubes contributor Jeremy Briggs’ article on the Airfix Modellers’ Club page that appeared in Lion, Valiant, Buster and Battle comics between 1973 and Airfix Industries falling into receivership in 1981.

The article was originally written to tie-in with the relaunch of the modern Airfix Club which has now, unfortunately, been postponed due to the lockdown.

“The editor was generous in giving over seven pages of the 32-page magazine for the article and the accompanying illustrations of comic covers and club pages,” Jeremy reveals.

The Airfix Modellers’ Club page featured greetings from club president, then popular TV comedian, Dick Emery each week and gave members the chance to claim a free kit if their membership number was printed. The club proved so popular that membership numbers in the 148,000 range were being printed towards the end of the club’s run.

Airfix Modellers’ Club Page from Buster, cover dated 27th November 1976
Airfix Modellers’ Club Page from Buster, cover dated 27th November 1976

“The club page in the comics featured greetings from comedian Dick Emery each week,” notes Jeremy. “However, the Airfix Archivist tells me that Airfix employees of the time say he was just a figurehead and had little to do with the club.

The club page was not a typical theme for covers of the comics but two issues of Battle featured illustrations promoting club page competitions. Ian Kennedy illustrated a Stuka attack on an Allied truck convoy to promote the 1/24 scale Stuka Superkit competition in Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant in November 1976 when that kit was still brand new, while previously in October of that same year the second issue of the combined title featured a competition for the rather more toy-like 1/32 scale Combat Pack.

Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant, cover dated 30th October 1976
Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant, cover dated 30th October 1976

The Combat Pack featured a British Cromwell tank and a German Hanomag half-track, plus a selection of soldiers from both sides, and disc firing pill-boxes to shoot the soldiers over with.

The interesting part of the illustration on that issue’s cover is that the Cromwell tank is firing backwards at the Hanomag. It can be assumed that the unidentified IPC artist was given the Airfix publicity shot for the Combat Pack in which the photographer who set up the shot obviously couldn’t tell one end of the Cromwell from the other!

Airfix Modellers’ Club Combat Pack 1976 - Photo Kit Catalogue 15

As well as these Battle covers, the article features the very first and last club pages and the ongoing explanations to readers of the closure of the club in 1981 and what would replace it. What did replace it in both Battle and Buster, for a short time at least, was the Humbrol Modellers Club and Jeremy tells us that a follow up article on that club is due in a future issue of Constant Scale.

Airfix Modellers Club - Introductory Letter from Dick Emery
Airfix Modellers Club – Introductory Letter from Dick Emery
Airfix Modellers Club - Membership Certificate
Airfix Modellers Club – Membership Certificate
Airfix Modellers Club - Membership Card, owned by "Michael Tucker" - now better known as top visual effects artist  MIke Tucker, whose credits include Doctor Who and much more
Airfix Modellers Club – Membership Card, owned by “Michael Tucker” – now better known as top visual effects artist MIke Tucker, whose credits include Doctor Who and much more
Airfix Modellers Club Badge
Airfix Modellers Club Badge

The Airfix Collectors’ Club was originally formed in 1994 by a small group of like-minded enthusiasts to document the history of and encourage the collecting of the models and toys made by Airfix Products Ltd.

It was re-formed in late 1999, and is a non-profit making organisation, dedicated to linking fellow collectors and enthusiasts world-wide for the exchange of information, advice and archive material about Airfix since its formation in 1939. It is officially supported by Hornby Hobbies Ltd, the current owners of Airfix.

Constant Scale, the Club journal, is published four times a year and includes articles about the history of Airfix, its products and information supplied by former Airfix employees who are members of the Club.

Constant Scale Issue 74 is available to members of the Airfix Collectors’ Club. UK membership is £20 per annum and details on how to join are available on the club’s website

With thanks to effects designer Mike Tucker for supplying photographs of his Airfix Modellers Club kit

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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