By Rod Ward
The plastic kit was a new phenomenon in the 1950s. A number of small plastics companies bravely entered this novel and specialist market. Airfix succeeded beyond their wildest expectations, growing into a large industrial organisation and creating the generic name ‘Airfix kit’ for this type of product, whereas others, such as Rosebud, Eaglewall and Kleeware had a shorter shelf life. Large toy and model groups Lines Bros, Matchbox and Mettoy, also joined in, with varying degrees of success. Competition from foreign kit ranges and outsourcing of manufacture by British firms to the Far East meant that no large-scale kit production remained in the UK by the 1980s.
This Monograph describes most of the firms who made plastic kits in Britain, but in such a small space we can only skate over the subject, especially as far as the more extensive ranges are concerned. Additional information is available in more detailed works by others, devoted to specific makers of plastic kits. We tried to exclude kits which were imported, and simply packed in boxes in Britain. This was easier said than done, especially in the case of makes such as Revell and Aurora, which were said to be British-made at some time, but which were often imported from the USA and re-packaged. If there was some British manufacture of a range, and if there is doubt about exactly which kits were produced in the UK, we have included a full list here. Among plastic kit makers described here are Airfix, Matchbox, Frog (-Penguin), Eaglewall, Rosebud Kitmaster, Merit, Inpact, Kleeware, Playcraft, Aurora, Corgi kits, Paramount, Sebel, Tri-ang Model Land, Replikit, Lincoln, Guiterman, Selcol-Strombecker, Revell (GB), Merit, Harbutt’s Replicars, Scalecraft, Tower, Hadfields, Davric, Keil Kraft, Amerang, Dapol and Knightwing.