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Injection molded plastic assembly kits are the popular (and about the only) means currently available on the market to make small scale display models. With pre-molded and formed parts, the kits have become highly detailed (and expensive in many cases) - creativity and craftsmanship are not necessarily required to assemble the plethora of plastic parts into a recognizable airplane, but the authentic painting, reworking parts, weathering, customizing with added detail, diorama settings, etc. have elevated plastic kit "bashing" into an art form - go to any IPMS show and marvel at the miniature airplanes which defy your visual perception - they appear to be real airplanes yet your eyes signal that the craft is only a few feet away! I have a few on display in the gallery that were constructed by a professional and they are elegant, yet any 8-year-old could have assembled the same kit parts to create an equivalent form, just not elegantly.

Of course, plastic kits haven't always been around, although if you are a "boomer" or a later addition to the planet's burgeoning population, you may easily believe that hobby shops (an endangered species) have always been built around a cluster of plastic kit boxes. At one time you could even walk into your local hobby emporium (if it wasn't run by a crotchety old man) and open one of those kit boxes to review the contents. Now they're sealed in a non-permeable plastic wrap and you are considered to be a potential thief if you suggest that you might like to peek inside of that sacred container of plastic pieces.

The majority of hobbyist-built solid display models were constructed from wood until the plastic revolution struck by around 1950. Wood model kits commanded the market from their beginnings in the late 1920s up to the advent of plastic model kits. Wood kits varied greatly in quality and difficulty of construction - some were just blocks of wood and a plan, but others had pre-carved and pre-cut parts, some very nicely formed. By the end of WWII, and into the 1950's, many wood kits became more sophisticated with the addition of metal and plastic detail parts along with accurate decals. Many examples of wood kits are offered on this website and the history of one well known wood manufacturer, StromBecKer, can be viewed by Clicking Here. Solid wood kits (a natural, "green" product!) became an insignificant part of the hobby market as the 50's proceeded and the oil-based plastic industry took over (so that's what happened at the gas pump).

The first injection-molded plastic kits did not originate in the U.S., nor were they sold here in quantity (see Penguin Hart info below). The British FROG Penguin assembly kits, in 1:72 scale, first came out in 1936. The first plastic kit was the Gloster Gladiator with a date of November 30, 1936. The 1:72 scale was commercially established by the British Skybird series of wood kits earlier in the decade. The early FROG Penguin kits were made from cellulose acetate but wartime shortages dried up the supply of plastic and FROG made a few 1:72 wood kits with plastic parts until 1946. The original Series 1 of FROG Penguin cellulose acetate kits was completely dropped by 1949. FROG went back into the plastic kit business in 1955 with a new series of kits, but now constructed of polystyrene.

The Lines Bros. Ltd. FROG Penguin Hampden, Kit 58P, in 1:72 scale, came out in February 1940. Production wound down as WWII precluded the use of plastic for non-strategic items. The plans were well drawn and a very detailed instruction sheet was included.

Note the lit cigarette in this July 1941 FROG ad in the British magazine, "Aero Modeller."

Although not widely advertised nor generally known by the dedicated plastic kit collector, the FROG Penguin plastic kits were sold/distributed in the U.S. prior to WW2. Peter van Lune, a FROG historian, has uncovered a FROG Penguin Hawker Hart kit which has on it undeniable evidence that it was sold in the U.S. The label clearly states that the kit was imported by H. Hudson Dobson of New York. H. Hudson Dobson, as distributor, issued catalogs for Dinky toys in the late 1940s and 50s - they had a showroom at 200 Fifth Avenue in New York and were headquartered in New Jersey. I don't have information as to whether the Penguins were ever included in a catalog by this firm. Anyone know? A photo is also shown below of a 1939 Dinky catalog cover which has the H. Hudson Dobson stamp on the cover - perhaps all of the distributors catalogs were of this type.

The Penguin Hawker Hart kit box and a detail of the H. Hudson Dobson label are shown below.

"Aero Modeller" December 1939

The first American plastic kits were introduced in the late 1940's; the Varney 1:48 scale PT-17 Kaydet may be the first and appears to be the first advertised in model magazines with a full page in the May 1946 Air Trails. This PT-17 kit is semi-solid and made of yellow cellulose acetate and is representative of the desk-type manufacturer's models, such as Topping, being offered at the time. The Hawk Model Company came out with a 1:48 scale, all plastic kit (#600) of the Curtiss R3C-1 with a plan dated 1946 and they had a line of seven plastic kits on the market by 1950. Lindberg came out with six 1:48 scale racers in 1948-1950 carrying the name of O-lin. Renwal and Empire also had kits that came out during the later 1940s, so any of these companies could have been the "first," an honor that will probably never be established.

The EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin opened a new exhibit, "Little Wings . . .Big Dreams, Sport Aviation in Miniature," on March 20, 2010. The exhibit covers model aircraft of all kinds, with an emphasis on the historical progression of model building through the years. CollectAir has loaned the museum a Varney PT-17 model for the exhibit. A friend, Garrett Van Wyk, attended the 2010 EAA Air Show and took several snaps of the PT-17 which are presented below. As of January 2011, the EAA extended the "Little Wings . ." exhbit for another year and the exhibit closed January 2012.




Any collector of plastic airplane kits should own this informative book by Craig Kodera. Packed with color illustrations of box covers of the golden age (WWII through the mid-1960s)and expositions of the famous model companies that pioneered the plastic model industry, this book offers a "knowledgeable, yet refreshing look at model collecting." Printed by Specialty Press, you can purchase this book online with your favorite book seller.


This website contains informative articles on diverse aviation subjects, some of which are seldom printed. You are invited to explore these pages. There are also pages of photos and descriptions of items for sale including vintage display models, wood model kits, paintings, ephemera, books and miscellaneous airplane artifacts. This on-line "catalogue" will be frequently updated so visit CollectAir often to catch the newest offerings.

I am somewhat disappointed that many of the web pages on this site are seldom visited. I invite you to browse the many pages shown in the column to your top left - it's like thumbing through a magazine. As an example, the Articles page has an eclectic mix of aviation related stories and photos; you might just find something of interest!



INJECTION MOLDED PLASTIC KITS


A selection of plastic kits from the 1950s and 60s are offered below; some are relatively common and others are scarce. Almost all of the boxes show some shelf wear - scuffing, a wrinkle or a bend, aging etc. Contents, in many cases, have been "examined" by the original owner and parts may be separated from the trees. However, I do guarantee that each kit is complete to your satisfaction; I'm not going to count parts so if you're not satisfied that all the parts are there, then send it back. No trades. Also, if it's not on this list, I don't have it. I can email pictures of individual kits.




REVELL

H633:50 Warbird S.E.5a 1:72 $12.00
H270:198 "S" Fokker Triplane DR-1 1:27 $95.00
H258:98 "S" Martin PBM-5 Mariner 1:112 $SOLD
H297:98 "S" Fairchild F.27, 7 decal sets 1:94 $150.00

H1836:150 Apollo BOX ONLY $7.50
H241 "S" Douglas A3D Skywarrior $95.00
H239 "S" Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune 1:104 $155.00
H287 "S" Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker 1:139 SORRY SOLD
H256 "S" Capt. Eddie Rickenbackers SPAD 1:27 $100.00
H269 "S" Douglas AD-6 Skyraider $SORRY SOLD
H197:198 "S" Sopwith Camel 1:28 $95.00
H211:380-A Catalina PBY-5A Black Cat including 33 rpm record 1:72 $SORRY SOLD

H1552:598 Allison Prop-Jet Engine moitorized 3/32"=1" $SORRY SOLD

H223:98 "S" H-16 Piasecki Transporter 1:96 (see Helicopter Page)
H656:70 Boeing P-26A Peashooter, 1:72, 1971 kit $25.00


COMET

PL-24 Aero Commander 680 1:81 $SOLD
PL-802:98 Convair B-58 Hustler 1:96 $sold

This kit has been started; fuelage. pod and engines assembled nicely. Instruction sheet is included.

PL-501:69 Republic P47 Thunderbolt 1:53 $30.00


AURORA

102-79 Sopwith Camel 1:48 Oval logo $SOLD

374-198 PBY-5A Catalina 5/32" scale, West Hempstead 1:74 $150.00
375-198 Convair B-58 Hustler 5/32" scale 1958 SOLD

110-.69 De Havilland Tiger Moth DH 82A 1958
139-00 Temco TT-1 Jet Trainer (ex-Strombecker) 1962 $65.00
116-98 Curtiss Hawk P-6E 1:48 Famous Fighters $125.00


Aurora re-boxed some kits in 1972 as "K&B" Collector's Series and dropped the line a year later in 1973.

1115-200 Boeing P-26A 1:48 scale with battle terrain display base $75.00


HAWK

503-98 Viscount Picture Gallery multiple decals 1:96 $155.00
209-200 Lockheed U-2 1:48 1962 $110.00
563-100 Westland Mk II Lysander 12 1/2" $25.00
565-130 Cessna Super Skymaster 1/4" 1968 $30.00
510-100 Ryan ST/PT-20 1:48 1966 $30.00
215-200 Grumman F8F-2 1/4" Bearcat Chrome Plated 1968 SORRY SOLD
562-100 Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat 1/4" $22.50
600 Curtiss Racer 1:48 Red,White,Blue one-piece box $175.00
601 Gee-Bee II 1:48 Red, White, Blue one-piece box SOLD
207-200 Authent-I-Plated Lockheed T-33 1961 $25.00
618-60 Supermarine S6B 1:48 SOLD


LINDBERG

72542 Curtiss P6E 1:48 $SOLD
567 B-70 1:169 $45.00
404:29 Knight Twister 1:48 SOLD
R503:79 Republic Seabee 1:48 Boy Craft $SOLD$
533-98 Winnie Mae 1:46 $48.00


The Winnie Mae box art is one of the dozens of illustrations for Lindberg done by the outstanding artist, Ray Gaedke. A biography of Ray Gaedke, with many illustrations, can be viewed by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return to this page.


MONOGRAM

PA148:150 AC-47 Puff the Magic Dragon pre-painted 1966 $45.00
PA31-149 TBF Avenger 1958 $47.50
PA53-98 A3J Vigilante 1:76 $SOLD
PA33-98 F-105 Thunderchief 1:72 $SOLD
PA66-98 Grumman F4F Wildcat 1:48 1960 $36.00
PA54-149 Douglas SBD Dauntless 1:48 $48.00

PA30-99 Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk 1:40 $50.00
5300 Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk, 1973 reissue $35.00
PA58 Grumman Gulfhawk STARTED $SOLD
P20 SA-16 Albatross 1957 1:72 $75.00
PE 252M-298 Wright Cyclone 9 (c9 HE) motorized 1"=1' 1959 $SOLD$
PD40 Missile Arsenal 1958 with booklet 31 models (see Missiles Page - $600)
PA67-498 Phantom Mustang F-51D 3/8"=1' 1961 $355.00

P19*98 TWA Lockheed Super-G Constellation PlastiKit 1:131 Four Star $250.00

Tom Kalina is a professional pilot and an Artist Member of the American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA); Tom specializes in oil paintings of 50s airliners and his work is outstanding and has won many awards. Tom built the beautiful Connie shown below to give you an idea of what a craftsman can do with a plastic kit.

P403-49 TU-16 Badger 1/195 Forty Niner Compact Model $35.00
P14-98 T-28B U.S. Navy Trainer 1:48 Four Star Plastikit $85.00



RENWAL

212:100 2 for $1.00 Antoinette 1908, Voisin Farman 1:72 Aero-skin fabric not printed SOLD
550:149 NIKE Box Only $5.00
802-1095 The Visible V8 Transparent Operating Auto Engine 1/4 size 1960 $275.00

Renwal ad from October 1962 "American Modeler."


AIRFIX

1415-100 Boeing Clipper, Craft Master 1:144 $SORRY SOLD


ENTEX

8515B Beech Bonanza V35 1:48 $10.00


AMT

T638 Beechcraft G17S Staggerwing 1:48 1977 $SOLD
T639 Stinson Reliant SR-9 1:48 1961 $50.00


UPC

5052-100 Jake Aichi E13A1 1:50 Marusan $$10.00


IMC

The Industro-Motive Company (IMC), Troy, Michigan, was famous for its line of car kits but did produce some aircraft kits before Testors bought the company in 1971.

401:200 Lear Jet 1:40 $40.00
482-100 F-100D Super Sabre 1:72 Batle Damage Parts 1956 $30.00


PYRO

321-1.49 Hall Springfield "Bulldog" 1961 $35.00


STALCO

SWF 298 Space Needle Century 21 Official Hobby Kit 1962 $Sorry Sold



Current Space Needle brochure cover.

Space Needle website.



BIG PLANE

A wonderful little Boeing B-17F by "Big Plane." Big Plane is not even listed in any kit guide that I can find, so perhaps this kit was also made under another name. The box lists this model as being 1:240 scale but really it is 1:200 scale with about a 6-inch wingspan (the B-17F has a 103' 9" ws).

The same mold was used to make the Entex (Los Angeles) B-17F using grey plastic instead of white. The Entex version has a printed instruction sheet in English but also mistakingly gives the scale as being "1/240." However, flap type box for Entex Kit 8464B gives the scale correctly as "1/200." The Entex kit was "Made in Japan" and is identified as "Air Giants." The definitive plastic kit guide by John Burns (no longer available) states that the Entex "Air Giants" came out in 1971 - apparently Entex re-boxed kits from other companies; the guide lists this kit as originating from Fuji and gives the scale as "1/204". Entex sold the plastic kit division to Anmark in 1981.

An attractive model with panels and control surfaces. Propellers but no gear - it has a stand. Decal sheet included. The parts are in a sealed plastic bag. The instructions are printed in English and Japanese on the inside of the box lid. This 1:200 scale model is the same size as the German Wiking models (see the B-17 in the Friend or Foe? Museum). A collectible B-17 for only $10.00.



DML Dragon


2507 YF-23 1:72 $20.00


Life-Like Hobby Kits


09401 U.S.S. Hornet, Table Top Navy $10.00


Russian


CEBEPRHKA 1:450 scale submarine $10.00


Accurate Miniatures


3402 P-51A sealed $50.00


MPC (Airfix)


5008-50 Boomerang Commenwealth CA-13 1:72 $10.00


ESOTERIC MODELS


NAV-2 Curtiss Goshawk II BF2C-1 1:72 Resin/white metal $25.00


Minicraft Hasegawa


1155 DC-9 1/200 scale $25.00


Heller


077 Bf 108B "Taifun" Made in France $20.00


Hobbycraft Canada


HC1585 Spitfire Mk. XIV 1:48 $25.00


Williams Bros.


32-460 Caudron Racer 1:32 scale $35.00


48-161 Pitcairn Autogiro 1/48 $35.00


VacWings


7201 Yokosuka E14Y1 Glen 1:72 $20.00


Rare Planes Vac Forms


Republic Lancer P-43A 1:72 Made in England $18.00


Skywave 1/700


SW-200 #10 B-17 and PBY Catalina "Famous Airplanes of the World" $SOLD


SHIP KITS


NOVO SEA KITS - 1:500 - USSR - 1970s


These four NOVO kits were made in the USSR. From John Burns: "In 1977, Frog production ended and a new arrangement was worked out with the Soviet toy industry, NOVO was formed in the UK to serve as the printing, packaging and distributing segment of the arrangement. All Frog molds (except those of WW2 'Axis powers aircraft which were acquired by Revell) went to Russia where the kits were molded and sent back to NOVO for the rest of the process. This arrangement was to have lasted for five years but didn't quite make it. The Soviet molding technology was not quite up to the task and no NOVO kits appeared after 1980. The ex-Frog molds stayed in Russia and were assigned to many different Russian toy factories which issued them from time to time. When Eastern Europe opened up in the early 1990s, many of these kits were issued by several different small firms and companies." For the full story on the NOVO/Frog connection, see the book, Frog Model Aircraft, 1932-1976, for sale on the Books page.

These four British ship kits from NOVO are available only as a set for $30.00.




HELICOPTER KITS

G-MARK

The G-Mark Bell 47G-2 helicopter model kit in 1:20 scale is the ultimate in scale model helicopters. The Bell is the Kawasaki version of the G-2 with wood blades (as opposed to the G-2A with metal blades). The fuselage frame is all scale, soldered metal tubing, including the tail rotor drive shaft, battery holder and skid gear. The rotor mast, swash plate, rotor head and blade attachments are all metal and assembled. The doors are metal framed and the balance of the ship is plastic with a highly detailed engine, cockpit, controls etc.

G-Mark of Chiyoda, Japan is listed in some plastic kit information guides as being the company that distributed kits molded by Gakken of Tokyo. Gakken currently produces fabulous kits including adult science "toys" such as tube radios, Stirling engine, electronic kits, etc.; basically grown up science kits. How about an Edison-style cup phonograph kit? Or a steam car? Some kit collection guides list Gakken as making the Bell 47G-2 as kit number GP-1003, yet Gakken is not mentioned on any of the kit contents of this helicopter.

Information on the instruction sheet sets the chronological origins of the G-2. "Kawasaki had produced 207 Model 47G-2 helicopters by 1970. . . .The Model 47G-2, a prototype of the kit, is a most popular helicopter in Japan, and in fact, 90 out of 100 helicopter pilots might have been trained on this model. Bell had applied various modifications on their Model G in 1953, such as horizontal stabilizer interlocking to cycling pitch and additional two separate fuel tanks on both sides of the fuselage. In 1955, the main wooden rotor blades were replaced with metallic blades - this model was named as H-13H by U.S. Air Force. However, the model G manufactured by Kawasaki has wooden rotor blades and is distinguished from model G-2A which has metallic blades with more powerful engines."

This Bell 47G-2 kit was purchased in the 1970s. The kit is labeled as G-Mark with no identifying kit number. The kit is complete and in excellent condition; a very thorough instruction manual, with both Japanese and English text, is included along with a large decal sheet covering many Japanese variations of civilian markings. This is not only a marvelous helicopter kit, but it is seldom offered for sale. You can own this 1:20 scale kit for SORRY SOLD.

G-Mark also made model engines and other model accessories; if you can provide information on the G-Mark, Inc. of Japan, we would be interested.



HELICOPTERS FOR INDUSTRY INC.

Four helicopter models were produced by Helicopters for Industry Inc. in the early 1950s. By 1956, the molds for the kits were acquired by Aurora and kits were reissued under the Aurora banner. The ad shown below is from the December 1954 issue of Air Trails Hobbies for Young Men.

Helicopters For Industry was founded by Eugene Rodin, M.D. who once owned the Westchester County Airport. The following story appeared in the June 1952 issue of Model & Hobby Industry.

The Piasecki HUP (H-25) Army version in 1:48 scale by Helicopters for Industry is offered here. The kit is complete and in excellent condition. The attractive box has not been crushed and rates about an "8" with one internal flap missing and one loose. This hard-to-find HFI kit is available for $475.00. The complete instruction sheet may be viewed by clicking here.

Helicopters for Industry kits for the Marine HUP and the Navy HUP are also available at $475.00 each. The kits are pictured below.

The Navy kit is shown below. The box rates about a "7" - adequate display box. the kit is complete and all parts are in perfect condition with original tissue wrappings. Be advised that the other wheel is in the kit and is hiding in the photo!

The Marine kit is complete and all parts are in perfect condition. The box rates about an "8" - nice display.

Don't miss one of these rare kits - choose the service.

The following writeup appeared in the August 1954 issue of Air Trails.



NICHIMO

Nichimo (Sanocity, Japan) began producing plastic kits in the 1960s, in some cases copying kits from other companies. Production was sporadic after the mid 1980s and no new kits appeared after 1994.

The Nichimo Kawasaki Hughes 500 Helicopter "Superkit" is in 1:20 scale and can be motorized for display. This is a marvelous kit containing many details for the original Hughes 500. The Hughes 500 is very popular in the current R/C helicopter field with many different body shells available for both electric and motorized R/C helicopters.

Some kit guides list this kit as Number S-2003 although the box has a factory applied label pasted on which states, "Nichimo 3500." The directions and other paper work in the kit do not have any kit number listed. This kit is available for Sorry Sold.



IMC

The Industro-Motive Company (IMC), Troy, Michigan, was famous for its line of car kits but did produce some aircraft kits before Testors bought the company in 1971.

The IMC Bell Jet Ranger kit (number 402-200) is in 1:32 scale and is quite detailed. This kit may be finished in an executive marking, a police version or military. A number of these kits were produced by IMC in an olive drab plastic in 1967 for employees of Bell and their customers. The kit features the engine, removable panels, opening doors, rotating blades and is supposed to include a pilot and four Green Beret figures which are missing from this kit. The kit is molded in white plastic and chrome parts. The box rates a condition "9". This kit is priced at $30.00.






HOBBY-TIME Western Coil & Electric

901:98 U.S. Army Convertiplane Bell XV-3 1:43 POR




EARLY HELICOPTER "KIT" OF SIKORSKY H-5 (S-51)

Correspondent Christopher Cross sent the following photos of a Sikorsky H-5 helicopter which was constructed from an Irwin Kit #692; this "kit" was the only kit made by Irwin and it is questionable whether this snap-together helicopter should be considered just a toy or whether it is truly a very early helo kit. In any case, it is a cute item and not a bad representation of the Sikorsky H-5 - presented here because I like helicopters (and, a Navy version was the first helicopter I rode in). The Sikorsky H-5, S-51, appeared in many toys, a few wood kits, and some plastic kits in 1:72 scale. The German company, Wiking, made a 1:200 scale H-5 in silver plastic in the 1950s.


Correspondent Jay Hendrickson suggested that the Saunders Swadar helicopters should be mentioned. These kits were toy-like and were issued in the 1950s under "Saunders-Swadar" or just "Swadar." Photos of the Bell HSL-1 kit box and the Bell H-13-E box are pictured below.




Check out the models on the HELICOPTER/VTOL DISPLAY MODELS Page by clicking here.


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