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Remember Saturday mornings and AIRFIX kits?

old man emu

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Can you remember when you were a kid, going to the local toy shop on Saturday morning to part with seven shillings and sixpence for an AIRFIX kit? Racing home to open it up, and spending Saturday afternoon with glue choked fingers putting it together? If you were lucky, you might paint it using Dulux enamels from a 10 fl oz tin. Primary colours only. None of the spectrum of colours in enamels, acrylics available now.


I thought building a model kit with my grandson might be a good way to teach him patience and attention to detail. I wasn't going to start with anything complex. Just a simple 1/72 scale plane, or maybe a car (a VW if I could get one because he loves the Transformer Bumblebee)


The first obstacle to tackle was to find a shop which sells model kits. They are a rare thing. The old favorite in Sydney, Hobbyco has closed its suburban shops, so it's a trip into the Sydney CBD to buy from the main shop. The local Town Centre has a toy shop with a small range, but they are mostly German military vehicles. Other hobby shops tend to deal only in RC cars and drones, or are railway specialists. A search of the 'Net directs me to lots of shops, but most of their catalogued items are marked "Out of Stock"


The second hurdle is the price. There's nothing under $15, and most simple stuff is just under $30. There are AIRFIX Quick Builds that seem to click together like LEGO, but with a shaped outer surface. Not the way to teach a kid patience.


Luckily there are lots of modeling hints videos on Youtube which show how to paint and detail models, and how to build scenes to display the models in a realistic way. It seems that with a bit of lateral thinking, the costs of the materials for a diorama are way less than the cost of the model to go into it.


And let's not get started on scale railways. Prices for engines, rolling stock and some scenery items make flying your own plane seem a more economic pursuit.



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You are "kicking against the pricks" OME. That's straight from the bible, so it's not rude.. Leggo gets them in and you spend a fortune keeping up with the latest offerings. I never had an "airfix kit but I did save up (sold newspapers) to buy a Frog 150. and the rest they say, is history. Tarzan's Grip and Britfix. were the glues. Need Britfix in the UK now.? Nev



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How old is your grandson OME?


I thought that would be a good idea a couple of Christmases ago but the kids were too young (at that time, 8, 6 and 4).


I bought them a kit each (because if one got one and the others didn't, WWIII would break out) - just a 1/72 P51D, Spit and Macchi jet I think.


Well, after 5 minutes of watching me and gluing themselves to the table they lost interest and I ended up building all 3 myself. They subsequently played with them, which means that the models that took a few nights to build ended up wrecked in a matter of minutes.


Not trying to dissuade you at all... just make sure they're at the age to do it - I reckon 12 at a minimum.


Oh, and those tiny parts which you could see quite well in your youth look absolutely miniscule (and blurry) now!



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The biggest problems with completed models were displaying them, and keeping the dust off them. No simple perspex covered bases back then to put them in.


The great thing now is the wide range of paints and other finishing items that are available Things are not black or white anymore, and there are more than 50 Shades of Grey.


You are "kicking against the pricks" OME. That's straight from the bible, so it's not rude.. Leggo gets them in and you spend a fortune keeping up with the latest offerings. I never had an "airfix kit but I did save up (sold newspapers) to buy a Frog 150. and the rest they say, is history. Tarzan's Grip and Britfix. were the glues. Need Britfix in the UK now.? Nev

The more refined versions of the Bible use the word 'goad' in place of 'pricks', whence we get "to goad" meaning to "urge on". I suppose kicking the goads wouldn't have the same effect as kicking the gonads.


I wonder if kids nowadays have the attention span to sit and build with Lego. Mind you, most Lego products now seem to be part of the movie merchandising push. You have to but the latest movie-inspired kit. No longer do you just buy a box of assorted blocks.


Selling newspapers? How bloody old are you? Did you do the swing on a toast rack tram on teh Bondi line?


Here's your chance to get a Frog 150: Vintage FROG 150 MK 111, 1.49 cc, diesel model aeroplane / airplane engine | eBay



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My grandson is 6. The wife and I pick him up from school and look after him until his dad comes to take him home. The usual story - mother and father split, kid spends week about with mum or dad.


Anyway, I figured that I would introduce him to a kit on Monday afternoon and tell him that we will do a little bit each day to see if it can be finished by Friday. I am planning of being able to maintain his attention with the building for up to 12 minutes each day. They say a kid's attention span in minutes is twice their age.


Like I said, I'm trying to instill a some patience in him. The rest of his generation seems to require instant gratification, or they will abandon the subject in minutes.



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I built quite a few model kits in my youth, Airfix , Monogram, Revell and Hasegawa as well as many more. From the little yellow Airfix 1/72 DH Tiger Moth, to a number of WWII fighters like the P51D and Hawker Typhoon, to larger models such as the Vickers Wellington. I also built a 1/72 model of the Bell 47J-2 helicopter which Ansett-ANA flew on the Essendon to city heliport shuttle which I rode many times, and a Vickers Viscount I painted in TAA livery. I also had a 1/48 scale Cessna 172, Piper Warrior and Beechcraft Bonanza V-tail.


Check out Frontline Hobbies website for many models from 1/72 scale kits starting at $7.99.



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I went to a local toy shop today to scout for something to make with the grandson. The model section had a small selection of Airfix Starter kits, which have paint and glue include. Since I've already got all that stuff, I didn't want to be paying for more. The selection was minimal. About a dozen kits, mostly WWII planes.


If I could have got a kit for a Cessna or Piper I wold have bought a plane, because he knows them from his visits to Camden Airport. I was trying to get a VW Beetle, since he is made keen on the latest Transformers movie. Not a zot. The model section had more RC cars and Drones than stuff you have to make yourself. Even the RC planes are ARF (almost ready to fly).


Looks like I'll have to cast my net further afield.



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It's a different era. A spitfire has no significance to a young person of today, and they have probably no use for a Tiger Moth either. They will tread on a flying model pretty fast retrieving it.. An aeroplane is something you get in to go to Auntie May's and you have to stay in your seat, and it takes ages to get there. and your ears hurt. Nev



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Postage on individual items like those is very high. Better to try to order one through a hobby shop, but I'd like to be able to walk in and walk out with a kit.


Old Ma Emu put her foot down and said I can't start any new projects until I finish the ones that I have already started. So I've got to,


  1. Finish the major maintenance job on my bike and get it back on the road.
  2. Finish the desk top foam cutter.
  3. Finish restoring the family cuckoo clock.
  4. Finish either the scale railway, or the scale diorama I've been collecting materials for.
  5. Tidy my side of the garage.
  6. Tidy the office.
  7. Keep the lawns in check.
  8. Finish my Grandfather's biography.
  9. Finish transcribing Army Registration Numbers for Harleys and Indians from WWII.
  10. Finish writing my instruction course for student drivers and their parents.
  11. Finish writing my autobiography.
  12. Put her family history on the family tree.


Glad I'm not a baker or there would be a Number Thirteen!


But I did remember that I had a 1/72 scale kit for a CAC-13 Boomerang that is still on the sprue. She had to accept it as I bought it nearly 25 years ago.



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