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Hornby rescues Airfix

£2.6m deal saves plastic Spitfire for Britain

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Model train manufacturer Hornby has rescued plastic kit legend Airfix from oblivion, Reuters reports.

Hornby announced today it was acquiring "several assets from the administrators of toymaker Humbrol", including Airfix and Humbrol paints, for £2.6m.

Airfix owner Humbrol went into administration at the end of August after a protracted decline in the face of kids' preference for video games over sprue and glue.

Administrators Grant Thornton said at the time: "The brand names and intellectual property of the business are potentially very valuable and we are looking to sell those to investors."

While the news that Airfix has been bought by a UK company will be welcomed by plastic Spitfire aficionados, Hornby warned that change was inevitable. The company said it was planning "a new range of Airfix's plastic tanks, planes and ships adapted for a younger generation with a shorter attention span than its parents".

Hornby chief exec Frank Martin told Reuters: "We wouldn't rule anything out. At the younger end we might produce kits which are already painted, already clipped together.

"Instead of working on something for a week, children can work on something for an afternoon. If that's what they want, we can give it to them."

In the short term, Hornby is looking at "character licensing and film character-related products", Martin added.

Hornby did, however, say it would "not desert products for the brand's older fans". Martin promised to keep the classic kits flying, stating: "Many of them sell year-in, year-out because they are iconic subject matter." ®

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