Friday, August 02, 2019

Airfix/Bachmann aeroplane

Here's a little mystery for you. I recently picked up a tiny plastic aeroplane. It was supplied ready-painted and assembled.

The mystery is the box.

Airfix Bachmann?

When did this happen? How did it happen? Why did it happen?

This is a mystery that has baffled everyone I've asked, and I've asked people you might expect to know. My guess is that this dates from the 1970s or perhaps early 1980s. But that's all it is, a guess.

The range, judging from the model on offer, encompassed quite a range of prototypes. Scales seemed to be determined by the size of the box as the airline I saw was only a couple of times the wingspan of this model.

Can anyone shed light on the history of these models?


Jody said...

I've found this online which might shed a bit more light on things-
The Bachmann firm was founded in 1833. Originally, it produced small items, such as ivory combs. In the 1960s, its toy trains and model railroad accessories became popular.

Bachmann introduced Mini-Planes in 1969. The small, highly-detailed plastic model aircraft were sold, fully assembled, in red and blue boxes. Initially, the boxes had cardboard faces and the models were packed in foam sheets. Most of the Mini-Planes were sold packed in vacuum formed plastic trays inside window boxes. Around 1976, the blue sky backgrounds, with the models in the series listed on the back, appeared. All boxes featured some basic information about the particular aircraft. Bachmann offered gift sets. The last of the models were sold packed on blister cards in the very early 1980s. Kresge stores sold the models as "World Famous Airplane" and Airfix marketed Mini-Planes in the United Kingdom.

Made in Hong Kong, Mini-Planes could be divided into five groups: early monoplanes and biplanes, with the 1903 Wright Brothers' Flyer (Kitty Hawk, NC) being the earliest; 1930s airplanes and one airship; World War Two fighters and bombers; 1960s-70s jet airliners; and 1960s-70s military aircraft, including helicopters.

Children found Mini-Planes appealing because of their overall appearance and moving parts: spinning props, retracting undercarriage, and opening bomb bays. However, because the models were fragile, they were better suited for display. Today, many examples in their original boxes survive.

James Finister said...

Mentioned in Jeremey Brook's "Forty Years of Airfix Toys". A 1971 collaboration that also saw Bachmann in the USA sell Airfix 1/32 figures individually packaged and already painted.

Paul said...

Hi Phil, this page on Flickr has details of the history of the range
"Bachmann introduced Mini-Planes in 1969. Kresge stores sold the models as "World Famous Airplane" and Airfix marketed Mini-Planes in the United Kingdom."

Phil Parker said...

Wow! Thanks everyone for this. Fascinating.

James Finister said...

I recommend the Airfix Toys book, it will bring back some memories of products you'd forgotten