Airfix Packaging Styles

I receive many e-mails asking me to explain the terms "type 1" or "type 3" etc when it comes to Airfix plastic bag styles.

These terms refer to the layout, artwork and design of the header card. The header card is the piece of folded paper that is stapled to the top of the plastic bag that contains the kit parts. On the front of the header card is the name of the kit and a picture of the aircraft, ship or whatever. On the reverse side is a description of the real item. Inside are the assembly instructions. Airfix changed the design of its header cards over the years. It is from the design of the header card that you can determine the age of the kit, and hence its rarity, collectability and (I guess) value.

The following is not a comprehensive catalogue of Airfix plastic bags. I will not try to describe all the various "flavours" of each type. There are, for example, variants known as "type 2a" or "type 3b".

OK? Let's start.

Airfix models were first available in the early 1950s and the plastic bag headers were of various styles until about 1956/7 when they standardised on the Type 1. Enthusiasts refer to all these early designs collectively as "Type 0". A good example of a Type 0 is the "scroll-style" header cards on the early ship series like the Santa Maria etc (see below).
Type 0 This is an example of a Type 0 header, from the early ship range. There are actually two slightly different versions of this type of Ship "scroll" header card, the second version being more close to the classic Type 1 header shown below.
Type 0 This is another example of a Type 0 header. It is the General Store kit from the Airfix Trackside series
Type 1 This is a example of an early Type 1 header. The artwork is a crude line drawing, and the design is split into red and white halves. The Airfix logo is a scroll which also contains the words "Products in Plastic". Because of their age, these early Type 1 are real collectors items now. Header cards by themselves (no kit!) trade at almost $10 each.
Type 1a Later Type 1s for the Series 2 kits were a more sophisticated style, but the artwork is still pretty simple. The example shown (Supermarine Walrus) is a Series 2 aircraft kit. As these kits were physically bigger than most Series 1 kits, the plastic bags and hence the Header Cards are also of a larger size. Original Series 2 were plastic bags, but quickly changed to boxes. Series 2 plastic bags are therefore something of a rarity and should be treated with respect ! 
Type 2 This Type 2 style was introduced in about 1959/60. The card is again split vertically in two colours with another vertical coloured stripe between the two halves. The Airfix logo looses the words "Products in Plastic". A variant of the Type 2 had a multicoloured vertical stripe - this was usually seen on the military vehicle series. The military vehicle variant can be seen on the 25 Pounder kit header sheet shown on the Instruction Sheet page of this site.
Type 3 The Type 3 was introduced in the Autumn of 1963. It is the most well known style of plastic bag kit as this design lasted into the 1970s. Almost the complete sheet is taken up by the brilliant artwork of Roy Cross. "Airfix - 1/72 scale" with the model's name occupies a small white-background segment. There are two main variants of the Type 3 - one in which the Airfix logo has a background of thin black stripes and another where the kit name appears separately super-imposed on the artwork. For more information on Type 3 Header Cards click here
Type 4 The Type 4 was the last plastic bag design before the blister packs were introduced in 1973. The Type 4 plastic bag is not well known. Although I know of one person who only collects Type 4 kits, there are also keen Airfix people who never realised that the Type 4 bag existed. I believe the Type 4 was only used on 3 kits - this Lysander, the Brewster Buffalo and the Cessna Bird-Dog

And, of course, there are other minor flavours and varieties. Changes from one type to another was not consistent across the ranges, and the Catalogues add to the confusion because sometimes old photographs were used, incorrectly suggesting a style lingered on into later years.

Boxes followed the styles of the Type 2, Type 3 and Type 4 in approximately the same time frame. Additional information on box types follows:
Type 0 The term "type 0" is generally applied to any box style before the standardisation on the distinctive type 2 below. There are no known "type 1" boxes, this style being reserved for the plastic bag kits only.
Type 2 Applied consistently across the range, Type 2 boxes are easily identified by their vertical stripe. The stripe was sometimes multi-coloured as seen with the Fokker F-27 Friendship kit (generally, the colours of the stripe depicted the national origin of the kit's subject)

Type 3 The Classic Airfix Type 3 box- 1963-1973
Type 4 The Type 4 is characterised by the new round logo and kit name being in a corner box panel - 1973-197?

Roll your mouse over the image on the left for a display of the other Type 4 variant
Type 5 The Type 5 featured a full-top artwork - available up to 1977
Type 6 The Type 6 featured the short-lived Airfix oval logo. Otherwise it was similar to the previous Type 5. The Type 6 box remained in production until the early 1980s.
Type 6a The amazingly ugly Type 6a was issued for the HO/OO trackside range only.
Type 7 Precision Model Kit - the short-lived Airfix box introduced in 1981, the year that Airfix went bust. Many of the kits seen in the very rare 1981 catalogue were briefly marketed in Type 7 boxes. When Airfix re-appeared after its collapse, the Type 7 box quickly disappeared
I believe Airfix have now reached box Type 12?
Here's an early box that doesn't seem to follow any style :

And here's the end of the Airfix plastic bag !!

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