I got my first Airfix figures on my 7th birthday (zoo animals). From then on, I collected every set that came out, and they were far and away my favourite toys. How excited I used to be whenever I went into the local toy shop in the nearest town (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England) and found a new set on the shelves.
My favourite dream as a kid was that I went into a toy shop and found lots of boxes of exciting new figures on the shelves - figures for all my favourite films and books and everything that my imagination could conjure up.
I started painting them in my early teens, and collected everything available on into my mid-to-late teens, until I left home to attend university. When I left England to live in the Far East (Taiwan's been my home for the last two decades), I left everything in my bedroom in my parents' house. When my parents passed away, my brother packed up my stuff and stored it in his attic - which is where all my old Airfix figures are lying now.
In the ensuing years, I had no idea about the developments in the hobby. I'd heard that Airfix had gone bankrupt, which made me very sad, and sometimes wondered if anyone else was still making 1/72-scale figures. I still occasionally had those lovely old childhood dreams about finding lots of exciting new sets of figures in a toy shop, and sometimes mused about the possibility of setting up a small manufacturing operation to produce them myself in China - though I was always too busy with work to do anything about it.
It wasn't until early last year that I discovered, to my tremendous delight, that the hobby had entered a new golden age, and my childhood dream of hundreds of colourful and very well made sets had actually come true. I was idly browsing the Internet, and I decided to Google Airfix to see if those old figures had become collectors' items and might be worth a bit of money now, and that perhaps it would be nice to pick up a box or few to relive those glorious childhood memories. What a wonderful surprise I got when I clicked onto Plastic Soldier Review and found the pictures of the hundreds of different sets made by so many different manufacturers.
I spent hours looking through the PSR site, and of course I immediately wanted to buy lots and lots of the figures. I found a seller in Taiwan, and started buying dozens of sets from him. The ones he couldn't supply I ordered from the US and elsewhere. In no time at all, I had at least 500 boxes stacked up around me in my study, and was like a kid enjoying a never-ending Christmas.
My wife didn't quite know what to make of my indulgence in this boyish hobby, but I guess she realizes that it's a lot better than many other ways in which I might be spending my free time and money. I show her the most outstanding of the new figures, explaining a bit of the history they represent, and she tries her best to show an interest in them, so I can't complain.
So thank you, Airfix, not only for the countless hours of joy you gave me as a child, but for sowing the seeds of this most satisfying hobby to enjoy now in my middle years!