Skybirds – Identification

Is It a Skybird?

Skybirds

As you might expect, Skybirds tend to be rare nowadays, especially if you want one in good condition. Moreover, most Skybirds kits were assembled by relatively unskilled hands (sometimes by children) to varying qualities. And if the constructed models are hard to find, unmade kits are as rare as hens teeth! Most of the time, therefore, the collector has to be content with constructed models of indifferent quality.

This, in turn, prompts a question: how do you know if the models you possess are by Skybirds, and not another make? The name is often applied to wooden models of that era as a sort of catch-all description, but without cast-iron provenance or the original packaging, how can you be sure? To illustrate the problem, let’s take a look at a famous warplane of the Great War, the S.E.5.

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Skybirds – Introduction

Woodworking Made Simple?

Skybirds

With Skybirds, we jump back to the 1930s, and what many consider to be the birth of aircraft kits. Yes, we are going vintage!

‘Skybirds’ was the name given to a range of aircraft kits produced by A.J.Holladay during 1932-46, with a hiatus from 1942-45 as materials were reserved for the war effort. The range was the brainchild of J.H.Stevens, a young designer and artist who designed them, drew the plans and illustrations, and wrote extensively on the subject of flight and aircraft. He has been credited with inventing, or at least establishing, the 1:72 scale which has been the mainstay of aircraft kits ever since (there will be more on this subject in a later story).

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Matchbox Skybusters – Introduction

Simple and Snazzy

Matchbox Aircraft

In 1973, Matchbox introduced two new ranges of aircraft to the market. The first has already been covered in these pages – plastic construction kits. The second was a range of diecast models, the Skybusters.

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Dinky Aircraft – Big Planes

Bigger and Better?

The Big Planes

The last of the roughly 1:200 series of aircraft models that we have so far been examining was produced in 1960, and the range fairly quickly faded out of production. But after a short hiatus, the first new aircraft of what is generally called the Big Planes range was released in 1965, and this was followed over the next 10 years by another 15 models.

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Matchbox Aircraft Kits – Updating

Keeping Up To Date

When manufacturers release kits of contemporary subjects, they usually represent the version currently in service. Sometimes, in the haste to release a kit of a new subject then in development, they have to base their research on prototypes. This can pose a problem of accuracy if the subsequent production version differs to any great degree. But even an accurate kit can find itself left behind if the subject it models is upgraded and visually altered during its service lifetime, as often happens with successful aircraft. What does a manufacturer do in this situation?

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