Jeremy Briggs article on the surprisingly long history of Gerry Anderson‘s Starcruiser concept features in the current issue of the Airfix Collectors Club‘s Constant Scale journal.
It’s a fascinating article charting the history of the kits and all involved that will be of much interest to those who both bought and remember both the model and tie-in Look-In strip.
Airfix had a run of Gerry Anderson kits – the Captain Scarlet Angel Interceptor, Space:1999‘s Eagle Transporter and Hawk IX and the Starcruiser 1, and Starcruiser Interceptor, the latter bearing some resemblance to the Space Battle Cruiser Dinky Toy.
Starcruiser was a series pitched to the US CBS network by Gerry Anderson and Fred Freiberger as a semi educational follow-on to Space:1999 for the 1976 season.
On the Space:1999 Catacombs site, Marcus Lindroos notes the initial format was apparently geared towards children and quite similar to that of another Anderson project, Into Infinity, commissioned by US network NBC – a family travelling through interstellar space.
CBS turned Starcruiser down, but Anderson managed to persuade Airfix to produce a 1/48 scale commercial model kit, based on a model designed by Martin Bower. An unpainted version features in the Space:1999 compilation film, Alien Attack.
Featured here is an unusual release for the Starcruiser 1 kit.
While it had already been released in North America by USAirfix in the original UK markings, after General Mills/Palitoy bought Airfix in 1981, the normally white Starcruiser 1 was rereleased in the United States by General Mills’ MPC brand simply as Starcruiser in black plastic with NASA “worm” markings.
“In the late 1970s, Airfix introduced two new concepts in its kits,” Jeremy notes. “Snap’n’glue, which was mainly modified existing tools, and Snapfix, which was new models designed for easy assembly. The latter may have been pioneered by USAirfix.”
Between 1977 and 1979, the Starcruiser concept also featured in a comic strip intended to explain science and astronomy that appeared in Look-In, running for over 75 issues, written and illustrated by sci-tech writer and editor David Jefferis.
Jefferis, whose work as an editor included producing educational books such as The Usborne Book Of The Future with Kenneth Gatland, attempted to revive Starcruiser in 2015 with “new state of the art adventures”, creating a promotional video and a now defunct web site.
The new project promised a fresh crew to meet, new books to read, and killer concepts to enjoy, told over an initial 12-volume story arc.
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.
• David Jefferis – Official Site
With thanks to Jeremy Briggs
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.