Unique Selling Point
When it came to choosing subjects for their aircraft kits, Matchbox seems to have followed a policy of backing two horses. On the one hand, they followed the other major manufacturers in creating kits of the most well-known and popular aircraft but on the other, they also modelled some very unusual subjects.
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The first aircraft models were released by Dinky in 1934, and the range continued, with a break during World War 2, up to 1965. As with their contemporary range of military vehicles, there were two main periods of production: the first models were created during the 1930s, and then a new set of models replaced them in the 1950s. During both periods, separate but complementary selections of models were produced by the UK company in Liverpool and by the French factory in Bobigny.
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Style vs Substance
Matchbox were keen that their models were attractive to young people, so attached a lot of importance to their visual attractiveness, and their ease of completion. But did this focus compromise the quality of their kits? Were they less accurate as a result? To check this out, I’m going to take a closer look at the Matchbox kit of the Hawker Hunter.
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Matchbox kits were colourful. Very colourful. In fact, some people think they were too colourful! To understand why, let’s enlist the help of a small Finch…
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In 1973, Matchbox, until that time known chiefly for their range of diminutive diecast vehicles, entered the plastic kit market. Their most numerous products were 1:72 scale aircraft, of which they produced about 120 up to the end of production in 1989. A variety of warplanes and civil aircraft were modelled, including both classic warbirds and some unusual subjects. The range was notable for containing parts moulded in 2 or more bright colours. Many of the moulds were subsequently acquired by Revell, who continue to release some of them to this day.
The warbird par excellence is, of course, the Spitfire, and it is unsurprising that this iconic aircraft was one of the first releases made by Matchbox. It’s a great starting place for examining the Matchbox range.
Continue reading “Matchbox Aircraft Kits – Introduction”