A small casualty of Coronavirus

Wingnut Wings, the remarkable little company established by Hollywood director Sir Peter Jackson to build the highest quality model kits of aeroplanes ever seen, appears to have made its last stand.

The impact that Jackson’s emporium has had upon the modelling world and, in particular, for fanning the flames of enthusiasm for aircraft from the 1914-18 period, has been profound. The man who brought Middle Earth to life has made many and varied steps to keep the First World War readily-accessible to new generations, of which Wingnut Wings was a small but hugely meaningful part.

Jackson’s passion for these machines has seen him build a full-size Jurassic Park of WW1 aviation, with tool room copies of original aircraft flying with authentic restored or recreated engines from The Vintage Aviator. Although the full-size business took a break it has been operational again, and the same research that went into the full-size machines was translated into the 1/32 versions.

Working in the hitherto unfashionable 1/32 scale meant creating highly detailed and yet sensibly-sized models of small fighters such as the Sopwith Pup, S.E.5a and Albatros D.V initially, before branching out into ever-larger and more expensive fields. The highest profile releases have been a range of 1/32 Lancaster bombers from WW2 (tied in to Jackson’s ongoing battle to remake The Dam-Busters), and the similarly-sized biplane bomber, the Handley-Page 0/400 from the First World War.


The Wingnut Lancaster retails for £400 and measures just under a metre in wingspan


The Handley-Page is similarly sized but does at least fold its wings!

Hindsight may suggest that these were possibly a step too far in terms of size, price and complexity for all but a minuscule proportion of the potential model-makers out there. However, the official notices on the firm’s website are hold the Covid-19 pandemic responsible.

There is still hope that the astonishing array of talents that he has discovered in New Zealand will be able to ply their trade elsewhere and that the all-important toolings for the models might be sold on to a company who will cherish and maintain them.


Hopefully the many riches of Wingnut Wings will be preserved…

Eduard’s Royal Class

Model makers appear to be enjoying the S&G’s manual for the S.E.5 fighter, which has been given the thumbs-up from Military Modelling magazine – thank you, chaps. In the appendices you will find what was hoped to be the definitive list of scale models of the type but, rather annoyingly, a brand new model kit has since appeared. The good news, however, is that Eduard’s new 1/48 S.E.5a looks like a gem.

The headlines have all been stolen in recent years by Wingnut Wings and its staggering output of 1/32 scale kits of World War 1 aeroplanes. In part it is because of the phenomenal level of detail in such a (comparatively) large scale, and also the quality of the fit and finish. There’s also the star quality of knowing that these models were produced by Lord of the Rings movie mogul Sir Peter Jackson as part of his lifelong crusade to see Great War aviation remain in the spotlight.

While the success of Wingnut Wings has been staggering, the smaller scales have been left in the shade as a result, including the seldom-less-than-brilliant offerings from Czech firm Eduard. That has changed with the release of its long-awaited S.E.5a, however.


Eduard’s S.E.5a broke cover earlier this year (pic IPMS Deutschland)

For British modellers, the downside of Wingnut Wings kits primarily revolve around the steep price that must be paid to own one, thanks to Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise. There is also the size of the things to be considered, however. A 1/48 scale kit bridges the gap between the hyper-detailed world of Wingnut Wings and the tiddly 1/72 ‘gentleman’s scale’ modelling that most of us attempted in our youth at one time or other.

To date the Eduard S.E.5a kit has only been available with the British-built Wolseley Viper engine. Now, however, it has been treated to a deluxe ‘Royal Class’ release, with sufficient parts to make two different aeroplanes, and for both the Viper and the Hispano-Suiza engine around which the type was originally designed.

All of this presents the modeller with a myriad of choices to make on colours, pilots, squadrons and setup for each model. Fortunately, Eduard has also included a Royal Flying Corps-themed hip flask with the plastic content, upon which the lucky owner can take the occasional pull while making their mind up.


Sumptuous detail in miniature form: Eduard’s S.E.5 can be made ‘undressed’ (pic IPMS Deutschland)

The basic Viper-engined kit appeared about a week after the S&G’s book was published and sells at £21.99. This new Royal Class edition will be very limited and retails at a healthy £65.00 but includes so much in the way of photo-etched metal parts, resin upgrade parts and, of course, the commemorative flask, that it looks like good value and can be found for around the £50 mark with a bit of smart shopping.

All in all it looks like a great deal. Here at the S&G we have dabbled with Eduard kits and they do make even ham-fisted amateurs look like fairly decent modellers. This one will doubtless be much the same – so why not give it a go?

Classic buildings in miniature

After cornering the market in ultra-refined models of classic GT racers to go on your 1/32 slot racing track, Graham Poulton has done it again with a collection of iconic trackside buildings.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to decorating a slot car track, from minimalist to full-on scale model venue. It’s always nice to have something dressed to fit the era or type of cars that you particularly like to run – and for historic fans, Graham has produced just the sort of set dressing that is going to go down a storm.


Scenic slot tracks can vary in scale of ambition

Reims, Goodwood and the earliest post-war Silverstone buildings feature large in the collection, which come as flat pack assembly kits with all the hard work of decorating them done for you.

Compared to the price of cars these days, the buildings look extraordinary value and can be ordered direct from Graham or via Pendle Slot Racing. Here’s some of the loveliness that Pendle has on sale:

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Reims pit boxes (could double for Brooklands)

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Bumper box set of Goodwood timing tower and pit boxes plus the grandstand

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Another Goodwood icon: the SuperShell building

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Typical of the wartime buildings at Silverstone for its first 40 years: the original timekeepers’ hut

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The original press box from Silverstone faithfully recreated…

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…along with the press box from Reims

We’re sure that there will be many similar additions – Le Mans is always a favourite, maybe some pit scenery from Monza or Spa would be fun too. Well done, Graham – keep up the good work.

Christmas shopping for Aston fans

Some people have a passion for a particular rock band or author, others for an aeroplane or yacht. Graham Poulton’s passion is Aston Martin, and he lavishes it upon replicating the finest of GT cars as 1/32 models for static display or high end slot cars.


The DP214 in all its (miniature) glory

The devil is in the detail when it comes to miniaturisation. Aston Martins are somewhere between two and ten a penny in the model making world because, as beautiful things, lots of people want them. But Graham’s keen eye wouldn’t rest until there was something spot-on, which led him down the path to whittling and crafting his way towards perfection.

That doesn’t just mean the bodywork, by the way. Exact replicas of the unique Aston Martin wire wheels are available and Graham has even colour matched his own paint – although Ford Forest Green from Halfords will often suffice.

Now you too can own one of Graham’s little masterpieces. They are available in kit form – and even a halfwit could make a decent fist of them. Alternatively, GP has been known to turn out fully-finished models to order. They’re well worth the asking price, especially when you look at what is being charged for mass-produced and inaccurate die-casts these days.

Upcoming models include the DB5 in various guises and even some other non-Aston models. Already available are the DB4GT, DP214, DB4 GT Zagato and – oh, blasphemy! – a Ferrari 250 GT SWB.


Graham’s kits are user-friendly and take only enthusiasm to get right

So why not head on over to GP-Miniatures to drool awhile, then get your chequebook out and have one of these magnificent little beasts in your life?


The DB4 GT Zagato is always popular – for very good reason

A splendid enterprise

Christmas shopping need be a chore no longer, thanks to Marlon Foakes. Well known in the model car racing world for his exquisite scratch built Grand Prix machinery, Marlon is now letting people share in his glory by producing a range of kits and ready-to-race slot cars representing some of the finest cars of the 1920s and early 1930s under the name Shadowfax.

For those not versed in Tolkien, Shadowfax was Gandalf’s chosen steed: the Lord of all horses from the race of the Mearas, the greatest horses of Middle-earth, who was said to run faster than the wind. So there you go.

The bare bones: a Shadowbox Alfa Romeo P2 in kit form

First out of the blocks are a trio of Portello’s finest offerings: the Alfa Romeo P2 in both 1929 and 1930 guise and, for fans of the Thirties, there is the 1938 Alfa Romeo 308 – sleek, streamlined and the best non-German car of the 3-litre era.

Not only has Marlon carved and cast the bodies, details and drivers but he has also developed an adjustable chassis that can allow the models to sit correctly and steer with the front wheels turning in harmony with the guide. As a result, your miniature Varzis and Nuvolaris will be able to drift correctly around the track.

The Shadowbox chassis can be adjusted to fit various cars

A raft of new types is expected to follow shortly – these include Bugattis, Delages and Maseratis of the kind that graced grids from Brooklands to Buenos Aires. For further information, contact Shadowfax here.

The finished product! Achille Varzi’s 1929 Alfa Romeo P2

The real thing to compare with its new replica

Airfix encouraging kids to build Spitfires

Not content with extending its range of ever-better kits with the new Lancaster, Airfix has now created a project to give schools and youth groups a chance to build its recent and highly acclaimed Spitfire Mk.I

Home-made hangars and airfield accessories complete this group

Home-made hangars and airfield accessories complete this group

Project Airfix allows schools and recognised youth groups and organisations to buy 15 kits, 18 pots of paint, 23 brushes and 15 tubes of glue for just £39.99 inc. UK postage. Not only that, but for as long as stocks last there will be 15 Messerschmitt Bf109E kits thrown in for good measure – so that’s 30 kits with paint and glue for less than £40.

The 'new tool' Spitfire kit is one of Airfix's latest acclaimed releases

The ‘new tool’ Spitfire kit is one of Airfix’s latest acclaimed releases

Sounds like an entirely brilliant scheme to us… so if you have a school or youth group in need of some constructive entertainment, point them in this direction: Project Airfix


Airfix delights little boys of all ages

It’s not every day that Airfix releases an all-new Avro Lancaster. In fact it’s about once every 20 years on average. To mark the 70th anniversary of Operation CHASTISE and the ingenious ‘bouncing bomb’ created by Barnes Wallis that was delivered by the brave young men led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, an all-new model kit in 1/72 scale has been produced and it goes on sale this weekend:

New box, new model... a happy day for big kids

New box, new model… a happy day for big kids

Today model kits, like Scalextric cars and pretty well everything else these days, are made using 3D CAD design, making for the most crisp, detailed and accurate miniatures around. Well, they do if they’re done properly. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so here’s one that has been done in advance of the model’s launch:

Pre-production model put together by one of the members at Britmodeller.com

Pre-production model put together by one of the members at Britmodeller.com

It looks like the only way you’ll get a better Dam-Buster Lanc is to be Peter Jackson!Curiously neither of the versions included in the decal set is the celebrated AJ-G flown by Gibson himself. Presumably they think that enough people will have those decals left over from older kits. Instead you get AJ-T, a reserve aircraft flown by Ft Lt Joseph Charles McCarthy DFC RCAF, and AJ-E flown by Flight Lieutenant Robert Norman George Barlow DFC RAAF.

And if the kit isn’t enough to satisfy your commemorative urges then there’s a new print available by the same chap who did the box art. Yes, the ‘painting’ is also done on computers these days…

New Dam-Buster print by Finest Hour designer, Adam Tooby

New Dam-Buster print by Finest Hour designer, Adam Tooby

The kit carries a retail price of £29.99 but discounts are often available from specialist retailers. The print is available from Finest Hour Art (click to visit) at £24.99 for A3 and £29.99 for A2.

A perfect way to unwind…

A good weekend’s work: 1950s model kits reissued by Airfix

In the 1950s, Airfix released its first 1/72 scale model aircraft kits. The Spitfire was first of course, but among the aviation icons that followed soon after was the pre-war de Havilland Comet racer, hero of the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race and several other record-breaking flights through the late 1930s.

It was astonishingly basic, with just 24 pieces to glue together and a single colour to paint.

Recently, Airfix has reissued the kit for the umpteenth time but, this time, there’s a twist: rather than the winning aircraft from the 1934 race, ‘Grosvenor House’, it has released its two stablemates: ‘Black Magic’ and the unnamed aircraft known to all as ‘The Green’Un’.

The passage of 60 years and many, many hundreds of thousands of kits stamped out from the original moulds makes the kit quite hard work at times… sandpaper, plastic filler and a decent stock of swear words are required. But the results – even for a rank amateur such as myself – are well worth the investment in my view.

I hope you agree…

‘Scalextric’ cars with a difference

Lovespeed's exotic slot cars

Lovespeed’s exotic slot cars

Yes, it’s a trio of 1/32 scale model cars. Yes, they’ve each got an electric motor that picks up power from a slot in a track through metal braids and a guide flag to steer it round. But this is, as you will already have noted, far from being a standard ‘Scalextric’ car – or Carrerabahn, for our German readers!

This is a long-since deleted series of models by a German company called Lovespeed. It’s a faithful reproduction of that rarest of beasts, the Porsche Typ60K10. This was intended to take part in – and win – the proposed road race between Berlin and Rome in 1940.

These sleek two-seater sports cars were built by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and his team at Zuffenhausen from standard Volkswagen parts and some exotic extras such as larger valves and higher compression in the motor and plastic windows to save weight. The aluminium coachwork was by Reutter and proved to be more efficient than any future Porsche for several decades.

The Porsche family's wartime runabout

The Porsche family’s wartime runabout

Although the celebratory Berlin-Rome race never happened, three of the cars were built. Chassis 1 became the Porsche family runabout and was written off during the war. Chassis 2 was used as a development vehicle, but destroyed by US soldiers in the immediate post-war period. The final car survived the war and was used to develop the Porsche 356 before being sold to a private racer who won his class on the 1959 Alpine Rally with it.

If not quite as rare or valuable as the real thing, the Lovespeed models are without doubt some of the most sought-after slot cars in the world. If the baby Porsche doesn’t quite do it for you then how about the 1940 BMW 328 coupe? If you can find one, you generally need to have more than £200 to hand even for a rough example of Lovespeed’s brilliance.

Money well spent, I’m sure you agree…

Lovespeed also made the glorious BMW 328 coupe

Lovespeed also made the glorious BMW 328 coupe

A Valentine’s Gift Worth Receiving

There is a fair amount of tat in the world, much of it on sale in the multitude of Ferrari Stores that have opened up from Maranello to Dubai and beyond. But every so often a little something bucks the trend.

Witness the Bluebird cufflinks produced by GTO London, for example…

bluebird cufflinks

Made to replicate the streamlined disks fitted to each corner of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Land Speed Record cars of the 1930s, these are really rather special. It’s the fact that they lack any real ‘novelty’ value and are just pretty things in themselves that really wins you over. That they’re a fair representation of such an iconic line of cars from 1931 to 1937 is an added bonus:


Each cufflink is handmade in hallmarked sterling silver, finished with a black rhodium plated ‘tyre’ and deep blue iolite stone wheel centres. They have been developed with the Campbell family and carry their official approval. For more details visit www.gtolondon.com or visit their outlets in Selfridges (Oxford Street) and Harrods (Terminal 5 Store).