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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Sticky future for kitmaker Airfix
Airfix scale model of a Buccaneer jet
Airfix aircraft kits needed careful assembly and painting
Iconic model-maker name Airfix faces an uncertain future following parent firm Humbrol's entry into administration.

Since 1949, generations of children have struggled over plastic kit parts and tubes of glue.

In its heyday, Airfix specialised in planes, ships and tanks of World War II - among them favourites such as the Spitfire fighter and Lancaster bomber.

Thirty-one of 41 staff at the Hull firm have lost their jobs, with Grant Thornton of Leeds named administrators.

'Capable of sale'

The firm had been hit by "severe cash flow pressures" and also a disruption in supplies from its principal manufacturer in France, Heller SA.

The appointed administrator, Keith Hinds, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme that Airfix was an "iconic brand" which was "capable of onward sale and investment".

Founded by Nicholas Kove in 1939
First model - Ferguson tractor - in 1949
Humbrol Oil founded in 1919
Airfix in receivership in 1981
Taken over by Humbrol in 1986

"The company's been struggling for some time under the demise of general manufacturing and the lack of demand for some of its products," he said.

That had caused losses to build up, with cash-flow difficulties following - only for further trouble to come as Heller, too, went into administration.

"That's caused a blockage in supplies -- the accumulation of all that has brought about the insolvency of the company, Humbrol," said Mr Hinds.

'Great shame'

Jeremy Brook, of the Airfix Collectors Club, said it was a sad day for those with fond memories of having sticky fingers as they struggled with often intricate kit arrangements.

"When you think of construction kits, you think of Airfix," he said.

"All the schoolboys of the 50s, 60s and 70s remember them, being covered in glue and cutting your fingers as you assembled them.

Part of Airfix TSR.2 aircraft kit
Decals also have to be attached by the keen kit maker

"It's a great shame if Airfix is going to languish or go completely."

The Airfix range also included helicopters, cars, motorcycles, figures, trains, spaceships, sci-fi figures, and movie-related characters.

Last year it also announced it was launching a range of robot fighters from the 45th Century.

Humbrol is the principal trading business of the Hobby Products Group Ltd, which is also in administration.

The administrators said the group turnover was approximately 10m a year, and other brand names owned by the group include Plasticine, Supercast and Young Scientist.


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