Aifix Collectors Club

 
Airfix Logo Types

AIRFIX LOGOS

Possibly one of the most important elements of product awareness is the product(s) logo. One only has to look down a crowded street and see the BP or Shell signs to know instantly that one can fill up there and get your loyalty points! Similarly, when one sees a Superstore, the sight of the logo immediately tells you that you’ll get even more loyalty points. Of course a striking logo is only any good if you recognise the company or product that it represents.
There are lots of toy companies out there but only a very few that the general public associate with a particular product. Mention Hornby and Scalextric and everybody immediately thinks “trains and racing sets”. However, mention Hasegawa or even Tamiya and many people would probably have to be prompted to reply. When it comes to construction kits, excellent though these two companies are, there is only one company (certainly in the U.K.) that virtually everybody recognises and that is good old Airfix.

There are very few companies whose name is generally regarded as the name for that product. One almost invariably says that someone is HOOVERing upstairs, when in fact they are more likely today to be DYSONing, but we all call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover. The same is true of Airfix. The famous kits were only a part of (and a later addition to) a prominent plastics company but they would come to take over the name in the public’s perception and also be the only part of the group that would survive intact after 1981, and still be eagerly sought after.

Long before the kits were thought of, Airfix was probably only well-known to a few people and then for probably toys. However, if you’d mentioned Airfix to a ‘spiv’ in the late 40’s he’d have instantly whipped out his comb. So, therefore, every company, whether a household name or not, needs a recognisable logo and Airfix is no exception and its logo has evolved into one of the most recognisable ones, certainly in the toy and hobby trade.

Type 1.
The earliest known logo is the “Airfix Products in Plastics” one which probably lasted longest. Later the “Products in Plastics” would disappear as the brand became more well-known. The logo was originally based on a scroll with the two ends unrolled or turned back. In essence it has remained a scroll but later incorporated into a circle so that the logo adorning the new Javelin kit is still recognisable as a scroll with the ends turned back, albeit stylised. If we are to give them “type” numbers then this is clearly Type 1.

The Type 1 logo reigned supreme throughout the early days at Airfix up until Type 2 packaging was first used in around 1959/60, about 20 years! Not only was a new box/header style introduced, but the logo was also modernised to suit it.

 

 
Type 2.
“Products in Plastics” was dropped and “Airfix” was enlarged to fill the scroll. The font was changed to, probably ARIAL, and italicised. In fact the whole scroll was “italicised” and sharpened up. The turn backs now met in the middle and were generally left white. The background to the main part was usually coloured with the word Airfix left in white. Sometimes Airfix was in black, with or without the other colour.

AIRFIX without the scroll background was sometimes used on catalogues and leaflets, etc. When the Motor Racing sets were introduced, the turn backs were lengthened slightly and had black and white squares added, presumably to resemble the ‘Chequered’ flag waved at the winner! Later AIRFIX::MRRC would be inserted into the logo.

This new logo should be referred to as Type 2 and lasted until Type 4 packaging was introduced in late 1971.
Type 3.
However, two subtle changes occurred with the introduction of Type 3 packaging in 1963. Firstly, the Type 2 logo was placed inside a coloured circle (usually red), and on the kit boxes/headers, details of the scale were added; e.g. “AIRFIX-OO SCALE” or “AIRFIX CONSTANT SCALE”. Some of the 1:24 American cars used a blue circle. Although it is not strictly speaking a new logo design, I shall refer to it as Type 3, because it keeps us in step with the packaging. It also represented a transitional style to Type 4 and introduced the concept of the round Airfix logo.

The 1971, Eighth Edition catalogue and leaflet both used the red circular Type 3 logo. However, the “Summer Reprint” leaflet displayed a new Type 4 logo which was clearly an update of the Type 3 logo and was to form the basis of all subsequent logos.
Type 4.
Oddly, although the new logo appeared on the leaflet in its final form, the Ninth Edition catalogue showed it with the turn backs in red and the first Type 4 packaged kits (Type 4a) showed the logo in one colour (e.g. Islander – yellow). Type 4b packaging used the two prominent colours from the box illustration and it was only on Type 4c packaging that we get the red, black & white logo used exclusively. It is the logo currently used on the front of Constant Scale. Some Type 4 boxes (Collector’s Series) used an all-white logo.

Although red was the standard colour, some other ranges such as Arts & Crafts used orange or blue/green for the background colour.


 
Type 5.
When Type 5 packaging was introduced, the Type 4 logo was still used. However, on the front of the 2nd Edition 1977 leaflet and First Edition 1978 leaflet a revised “italicised” logo was shown, but not on the back! It also featured throughout the 15 Edition catalogue alongside the standard Type 4. I’m not aware of it being used on any kit boxes. It was used on the 1977 Toys & Games catalogue and was used by Airfix MRRC and Airfix Motor Ace. Since it was around at the time of Type 5, this makes it Type 5.
          
Type 6.
1979 saw a further alteration to the Type 4 logo. Apparently many boxes were getting longer and to incorporate a reasonably sized round logo with similar-sized titles would result in a greater incursion into the boxtop illustration. Anyway, someone at Airfix sat on the idea and produced a ‘squashed’ logo. Now a much larger logo could adorn the boxtop because it was wider rather than deeper. It was used on Type 6 packaging and was the basis for the GMR logo on the rebranded trains of the same time. It thus becomes, conveniently Type 6.
Type 7.
In the last few months of Airfix Products Ltd, a new logo was devised and it adorned the 1981 catalogue, although very few of us got to see one! It seemed to hark back to all the earlier logos, combining bits of each to produce a logo that was instantly unrecognisable. With hindsight it does seem strange that if money was so tight in 1980, that a considerable amount should be expended on a costly redesign of the boxes and logo to seemingly little effect. Perhaps I am being unfair and there were sound commercial reasons for doing this. What about the logo?

It returned to the circular shape of Type 4, using the red circle of Type 3, only now smaller. AIRFIX was written in a font similar to the original Type 1 and the “Precision Model Kits” reminded us of “Products in Plastics”. On the catalogue, these words were replaced by “New Kits for 1981”. Boxes using this logo with paintings or photographs of the model are referred to as Type 7, so the logo becomes Type 7 also. Thus far the logo has more or less coincided with the box type but following the 1981 buyout by General Mills, they began to diverge.
Post 1981.

Type 8.
When Palitoy, like Humbrol and Hornby later, took over Airfix, initially they would use the existing designs and logos, etc, including Type 6 and 7. Then in the 1982 catalogue two new logos appeared. The first and main one was a modification of Type 4 where the black and white was reversed. The red was the same. A small “R” in a circle was added after the X presumably to indicate “Registered” as in Registered Trademark. It first appeared on Type 8 packaging and so is a Type 8 logo.
Type 9.
The second was a modification of the Type 6 logo without the turn backs and with stylised lettering for Airfix. It also had the small R. It mainly seems to have been used on U.S. originated kits and two issues of “Model Trains”. It should probably be referred to as Type 9.

When Humbrol acquired Airfix in 1986, the Type 8 logo was used for several years. In the 19:90 catalogue it was used in modified form to indicate the contents of the page.
Type 10.
A modified logo was introduced in the 1995 catalogue to coincide with the introduction of Type 11 packaging. AIRFIX was now outlined in yellow and the turn backs were italicised as per Type 5. It has remained as the standard logo ever since with a couple of minor variations. It becomes Type 10.


 
Type 11.
In 1999, it was given a 3-D effect complete with shading and highlights which made it reminiscent of the old enamel badges one often wore at school to denote ‘prefect’, ‘librarian’, etc. although it is the same layout as Type 10, I shall refer to it as Type 11 as it is different enough to warrant a Type number.


 
Type 12.
In 2001, however, it was modified again when it lost its ‘enamelling’ and the red parts were now in a raised shaded effect which almost looked plastic. The little R was also dropped which made it a much clearer and satisfying logo although it has recently been added to the new Hornby releases. Its use was continued by Hornby and it looked particularly effective on the new Type 15 boxes initially used by Hornby. It is, by my reckoning, Type 12. I suppose we should refer to the early one as Type 12A and the Hornby one, with the little R as Type 12B.

                       

Type 13.
In the 2009 catalogue, the 60th anniversary of the founding of Airfix, Hornby introduced a new packaging style, Type 16 and a new logo.
It was similar to Type 11. The yellow outline was deleted so it was now red, black and white. Combined with the new red Type 16 boxes it looks particularly effective. Appearing at a time when Hornby was announcing an exciting programme of new moulds it seemed to herald a renaissance in the famous kit company.


 
 
Hopefully, the artwork accompanying this article will make the above clear. I have tried to produce an example of every variation but most members will have a collection of kits and literature showing these. There may have been one or two minor variations, not mentioned above, but on the whole I believe it is fairly comprehensive.

However, there is one logo which has not, so far, been mentioned and that is the corporate logo. This was used to represent the main company of the Airfix group, Airfix Industries Limited, and was used on company stationery, financial documents and even lorries! It was a stylised “A” and was in use until Airfix called in the Receivers in 1981 and is shown below.
 Airfix Corporate Logo 2
 
Jeremy – November 2013

This article last appeared in "Constant Scale" No. 29 - 2007

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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