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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Sunday, 10 January 2016

From the sublime...

... to another type of sublime...

The marvellous Heyford, which featured in my last post, was still (just) in first-line service with the RAF in August 1939, when another aircraft took off for its initial flight. That aircraft, the He178 V1 is seen here with my Matchbox Heyford:


A tad smaller, as you can see.
 
 
The first prototype He 178 later received longer span wings, and a retractable undercarriage, but the RLM wasn't interested, and there was no production version.  The model is by 'Special Hobby', and is short-run:


 
The fit overall isn't great, but ok, and would be even more ok if I was more than a mediocre kit-basher. Still, the diminutive kit was a change from my Christmas hol Heyford bash. 


 
Poor finish in evidence here - the Humbrol acrylic seemed gritty, no matter how I stirred the pot. Odd.


I had hoped to have my hands on one of the new Airfix Whitleys, which  have on order at my local, independent, sort-of-a-model-shop.  But the proprietor tells me that he is having real problems with Airfix, and thinks they are playing tricky games. He says that they are announcing kits, putting them in their online catalogue, and taking orders, all at an announced price. However, it is taking a long time for orders to appear, and the prices have then been raised, sometimes considerably - he gave me an example of one of their 1/72 V bomber kits. All rather naughty - trying to see what price the market will bear. That's fine (it's known as 'cost-plus pricing'), but seems a bit underhand when done in that way.

12 comments:

  1. Poor show of Airfixs part.

    Love the look of the Heyford. It looks like it belongs on the cover of a Biggles novel.

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  2. The little jet is amazing! Especially next to the big ol' Heyford.

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  3. Blimey the design of the 178 appears well ahead of its time and while the Heyford is indeed magnificent,it looks at best of its time if not something of a throwback.

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  4. Two retailers in my neck of the woods have similar tales to tell regarding Hornby - one refuses to deal with them any more

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    1. Interesting you should mention Hornby? Why? Because they don't want to retail via third party shops any more, instead they want to sell direct online (no doubt keeping prices artifically high!). They also are not keen on reviews of thier products either and have stopped sending free samples to railway moodelling magazines.

      I wonder if Airfix is going the same way?

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  5. Further to the Hornby / Airfix discussion, Ihave just paid a trip to my local model and paint supplier - a shed in the grounds of a garden centre rather than a shop. Staffed by three stereotypically grumpy gentlemen. As I have been a regular customer for a long time I am allowed to ask questions if not guaranteed an answer. As they stock Airfix and Hornby / Humbrol I asked about the issues raised. They confirmed all of the above. Almost as if to confirm some of the issues raised, there in a stack on the floor were brand new tooled Whitley kits. There would seem to be a good case for the development of an alternative redistribution system. I can pick a Whitley up for you if you want.

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    1. Hi Chris, thank you for this kind offer, but, I'm hopeful the Whitley will pitch up this week. I was in the shop on Saturday, and had a long chat with the owner about this whole Airfix/Hornby business. I told him what you'd said about Hornby, and his experiences seem to bear out the general drift of the case. For example, he noted that Airfix have doubled the price of their catalogue in a year. He thought that was a way of getting people to use the online catalogue, in the hope that they would then buy online too. Further, he told me that he'd been chatting to a bloke who runs the nearby aero-museum shop, and he said that he was having increasing difficulties in getting orders from Airfix. All very iffy. If it is the case that there is some move afoot to cut out independent retailers, in the long run one would expect that to affect demand, simply because the 'walk in', young customer won't be able to see, pick up (and rattle?!) the kits, and might never get to kit bashing. I'm sure that more will come on this tale of modern woe. Al the best, Steve (Al)

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    2. Something the shed chap also mentioned was that he experienced problems with their distribution of kits. He said that kits are allocated to 3 types of retailers / outlets, firstly their own online shop - I had some experiences of this last year and they were without fail ghastly, which contrasted vividly with the spares dept, canopy for a westland whirlwind, certainly sir, arrived in days at very little cost. Secondly what could be termed major retailers, he mentioned Hattons and Hannants. Thirdly smaller independent retailers. He said that one problem was that stock once allocated to one of the 3 groups could or would not then ever be moved to another area even when demand dictated that they do this.He also thought that they were attempting to promote their online sales above all alternatives. You are so right about the walk in and rattle aspect, it worked for me as a child and worked yesterday, Supermarine Walrus, thank you very much, its having a rinse in the dishwasher as I type, I had no intention of buying it when I set out but there it was, almost bought the 1/32 17 pounder kit and fantasised about the 1/24 Mosquito - no way that this could have been smuggled past internal security or displayed once completed without attracting adverse comment. Carnot big enough anyway. It is almost as if Airfix are cutting their nose off to spite their face. How many young kit bashers are there who don't have a parent keen on the pleasures of the hobby, not many I suspect. Best of luck with the Whitley, what a lovely aeroplane, I found my copy of the Aeroplane magazine on interwar British bombers, full of fantastic planes, if I remember correctly you made and posted some a good while ago, a Bombay, that was a real inspiration that fuelled my interest in what were/ are rubbish planes and vehicles. Thanks very much

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  6. Have you got the Whitley yet,I have the urge to kit bash and am tempted by the Shackleton, hmmmmm

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    1. No - but the shop owner is doing his best. Meanwhile, I've got a Heinkel 115 out of the stash - I'm thinking of a Norwegian version. The new Revell Shackleton has had good build reviews in both Scale Aviation Modeller and Scale Aviation Modeller International. A good friend of mine (from school days - 40 years ago and more!) flew Shackleton's with 8 Squadron for years, until they were retired. When we were 11/12, we used to spend a lot of time talking about Biggles and Airfix models. He got to 'live the dream', while my dreadful sight sent me into libraries...

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  7. When I was a much younger a bloke up the road gave me a completed kit of a Shackleton that had been suspended from the roof of his, no doubt asbestos, garage, I will never forget the joy that kit gave me, I think it ended its days as a target tug for a friends older brothers BSA air rifle. How things change, the olderbloke would now be suspected of grooming and I would be in a young offenders institution at the tender mercies of the good folk of G4S. How is the He 115 going, another lovely aeroplane. I have had a severe bout of bashers insecurity and failed to start the Walrus, instead starting a Revell Horsa ????? Why ? The Shackleton has flown from the model shed so temptation removed, probably just as well as I would have made an almighty mess of it anyway, Whitley still there though, I moved it a bit behind a bigger box just in case. Hope that you are well.

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    1. Hi, Chris!
      You're right about 'the old days'. I bought a brilliant, horn-handled, sheath knife from the local sports-cum-model shop at the age of 11 in 1972 (still got the thing). Shop owner: 'why do you want this?'. Me: 'I'm a Scout'. Shop owner: 'Fine'. I was a Scout, mind you, but I never used it for Scouting. Mind you, a decade or so earlier and I'd have worn the thing with my Scout uniform. I suspect that does, in reality, not just in middle-aged bloke land, mean that society is worse than it was.
      The Walrus would put me off too - the engine among the struts, and the rigging, all pretty tricky and liable to spoil the show in the late stages. I honestly don't know how chaps do those beautiful First War kits from Wingnut and the other company. Amazing things. Patience of Job.
      Still no Whitley, but I'm really rooting for the shop keeper. His wife told me that it took them a year to get hold of an Airfix Swift! I saw in the Daily Telegraph last week that shares in Hornby had risen (despite expected losses this year) thanks to the sacking of their CEO. Perhaps that will change things!
      Steve

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