In 1939 Nicholas Kove, a Hungarian businessman producing rubber inflatable toys for children, founded Airfix. The name was chosen to ensure the first entry in alphabetical toy catalogues. By 1947 Airfix had introduced injection moulding of plastic materials. In 1949 a promotional model of the Ferguson TE20 tractor was commissioned in cellulose acetate plastic. Hand assembled, the model was distributed to Ferguson sales staff, with a kit form being sold in F.W. Woolworth stores.
In 1954 Airfix produced Sir Francis Drake's 'Golden Hind'ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ ship kit in polystyrene plastic. Two years later the Supermarine Spitfire aircraft in 1/72nd scale appeared. Hobby kit making took off, and the Airfix range expanded to meet demand during the 1960s and 1970s. Models in larger scales were introduced, including the 1/24th scale Spitfire and Bf109 Messerschmitt. Complex items included the 1/12th scale 4.5 litre Supercharged Bentley, with an optional three-volt motor.
Airfix diversified into producing many games, dolls and toys, as well as art and craft products. Failing companies, such as Triang, were absorbed, along with Meccano and Dinky Toys, making Airfix, by 1971, the UK's biggest toy company. The Airfix magazine was published from June 1960 to October 1993, together with the Airfix Annual and range of books on classic aircraft, ships and modelling techniques.
The Airfix Industries Group struggled in the 1980s, and was bought by the American kit-maker MPC, owned by General Mills, before being sold to Borden, owners of Humbrol. In 1994, Allen & McGuire acquired Humbrol. By 2006 Humbrol was in administration, allowing Hornby Industries to acquire Airfix and resurrect the famous brand.