This section contains a smorgasbord of items that aim to show how vacform models developed in the years up to about 2000 A.D. The quality of the models that were produced during these years may be a surprise to many.
Very little seems to be known about these kits from the mid-1950s. They were released under the name 'Wimco Hollows'. Information provided by Peter-van-Lune says;
'Wimco of course stands for Wilmot/Mansour. It was part of the Sebel Co. All models were designed by Albert Judge, once also part of the FROG/IMA team in the 1930's/40's. They were crude (no landing gear was fitted for example) and commercially not successful.
They were first advertised in Aeromodeller Magazine in January 1956. Three models, all 1/144 scale, are confirmed: Gloster Javelin, Canberra B.8 and Vickers Valiant (shown below - from my own collection).
The packaging shows outlines of other models like the Lockheed Lightning, Super Sabre, DH110 Sea Vixen, Martin B-66, Avro Vulcan and DH 10 Comet. Probably ideas for future releases. The Vulcan and Bristol Britannia have been found in advertisements and rumors exist that the Hawker Hunter
was also released.
The box nor the instruction sheet give an explanation about the use of the term "hollows". Perhaps Wilmot/Mansour tried to introduce a new term, but that is guessing of course.
On Jetex.org there is the obvious comparison between "hollow" and "solid", which is another clue that another type of production is referred to than injection moulding.
The kits, however, do not appear to have been commercially successful.
This discussion may be useful for further information.
The Hobby-Time company released several kits that consisted of vacformed parts. These were intended as flying models to be launched by a rubber band. It could also be posed on a display stand. The scales were between 1/32 and 1/24.
There is more information about these models at this site.
Ventax Plastics (Ventavia)
In the December 1959 issue of the RAF Flying Review, there was an article with the title 'Cut it out'. This described a set of new kits from Ventax Plastics, a Paris company. The kits were; Nord Gerfaut II, Lockheed F104, SO Trident 2, Gloster Javelin, Northriop Snark, Convair Metropolitan airliner. The kits are described as 'stamped out' on a single sheet. One has to cut out the parts. The scale was 1/100. They cost between 1s 5d for the Gerfaut and 5s 9d for the Convair, though there was a 50% import tax also to be paid. These kits can be seen at this web site. Some extracts are shown below.
The web site is keen to point out that these french vacformed kits were available some 10 years before 1969! They were released in time for Christmas. There is reference to Ventax (or Ventavia)
kits in Scalemates.
First Rareplane vacform in a modelling magazine
This short note appeared in the British IPMS magazine in July 1969. It reads as follows.
Member Gordon Stevens advises us that he entered the kit field with limited productions of models of types which it is extremely unlikely that kit manufacturers will produce. The first of these will be a 1/72 scale Seversky P-35. The price will be 9/6 and details may only be obtained or kits ordered diret from Gordon Stevens at 8, Hillford Place, Earlswood, Surrey, England.
Vacform kits in France
The French publication L’Album du Fanatique de l’Aviation of November 1970 managed to announce RAREplanes new Seversky P-35 model ‘soufflee’ and devote 3 full pages of close copy to vacuum-formed kits and their construction - yet did not manage to say where they came from! Never mind, La Maison du Jouet shop in Paris did well with them for many years.
Vacforms in the US
This advert comes from the U.S. Scale Modeler magazine, August 1970. showing the style of construction and the choice of five different subjects available at that time. Skinning with Metalskin self-adhesive material was incredibly effective when done with care and patience..
Bob Archer's Hobby World
An advert from Scale Modeler in 1975 showing the growing range of vacform kits that were available in the USA. These included the TSR2 from Sutcliffe (Contrail) and the Super Constellation from Rareplane.
MWH Models in Keighley 1981
As this avert from Scale Models August 1981 shows, there was a large number of vacform kits available by then. Airmodel and Execuform, for example, were producing kits that injection kit manufacturers were not making. Many of these kits are now rare and much sought after.
Pioneer vacform modelling
This 1970 photo shows some early models made by a Belgian modeller, Gaston Botquin. The techiques needed to build these vacforms were new at the time but he seems to have mastered them very well.
Click on the photo to see them in larger size. See how many you can identify.
Vac News June 1986
Here is the back page of John Burns VAC NEWS No2 of June 1986.
It was a six-page quarterly giving chat, letters, classified adverts
and a comprehensive guide to articles on vacforms in the model
magazines. It existed for a few issues, then John incorporated it
Into his regular KCCH magazine. The Classic Plane ad shows what
Detlef Schorsch had to offer in West Germany. With Airframe,
Formaplane, Roseplane, Libramodels and Joystick all producing
WW1 vacs at such a fast rate, the ‘stick-and-wire’ fans were lucky.
Also shown in VAC NEWS was the Tee-Jay advert for a Bessonneau WW1 hangar in 1:72 scale, mastered by Joe Chubbock in 1968 when he went free-lance after his employer BMW (Formaplane) folded.
Vacform articles in magazines (list)
Modellers who were interested in building vacform kits were quite well served by magazines during the 1970s and 1980s. This contrasts markedly to magazines today where the appearance of any kid of vacform kit is most unusual. This list provides a sample of these articles.
Vimy Conversions (Contrail); by Hugh Markham - Scale Models December 1975
Etrich Taube (Airframe); by Ray Rimmell - Scale Models September 1974
An unusual Sopwith Snipe (Rareplanes) by Ray Rimmell - Scale Models August 1973
Rareplane's Connie (Rareplanes); Scale Models June 1975
Short Singapore (Contrail) by Hugh Markham; Scale Models September 1977
Short Singapore (Contrail) by Hugh Markham; Scale Models October 1977
Gloster Meteor Mk V111 (Slipstream) 1/48; Scale Models October 1978
Junkers Ju 188A-2 (Airmodel conversion) by Brya Philpott; Airfix magazine February 1972
US IPMS winner 1978
This cutaway model of an EC-121 Warning Star was made by Larry Templeton of Los Angeles using a vacform RAREplane 1;72 scale kit. It was brought to the US IPMS Nationals at Atlanta by air freight but arrived in pieces so the owner spent three days repairing the damage to nine months work. He did win the top award at the show in 1978.
Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star
A RAREplane vacform of the Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star made especially for permanent display at The Pentagon, Washington, D.C, USA and built by Tom Ersted. A RAREplane Douglas C-54 Skymaster and Boeing C-97 Stratotanker were also chosen for this display in 1982.
Airframe advert; Airfix magazine February 1972
This advert is typical for its time. Vacform (spelt Vaccu-form on the page) kits were providing modellers with types that the main injection manufacturers did not, in this case, the Wellesley (later released by Matchbox).
The cost of the kits at around 90p does not sound much, but would work out at about three times the cost of an injection kit. The Wellesley kit cost £1.25 - a Hasegawa 1/72 scale F86 cost 34p. Dri-dec was a type of rub on markings.
Gotha WW1 bomber by Dennis J. Ugulano
The name of Dennis J Ugulano is well-known amongst WW1 model makers. This RAREplane Gotha was his first vacform which in 1984, gained a smart gold trophy and went on to win more competitions on the West Coast of the USA.
Model show in 1984
This photo shows part of a model show at the Horticultural Hall Westminster, London. Click on the photo for an enarged view and see what you can identify on the table.
The early days of vacform (or vacuform) modelling
The files below have been taken from Airfix Magazine July 1975. They were written by Alan Hall who at the time, was a well-known contributor to the magzaine. He specialized in making conversions of standard injection kits, often using balsa wood with dope and talc to fashion new parts.
Open the files to read the complete article.
So you want to build vacforms?
This article comes from a vacforms supplement that appeared in Scale Models August 1982. It provides detailed guidance on the techniques that can be used to build a vacform kit.
Open the files to read the complete article.
The Formaplane kit releases list 1986
Early in 1971, RAREtanks issued two vacuum-formed kits in the popular 1:76 scale.
The first, a Somua S-35 French medium tank was a popular choice, as was an A7V
German tank of WW1.
Many kits were sold and many requests followed for more
subjects but the aircraft programme took priority and armour kits were dropped.
However, the Airmodel company copied the RAREtanks style to produce many
German tanks of WW2 in vacform.
These photos show models made by a variety of modellers dating back to the 1970s. Click on the photos to see the type, kit manufacturer and name of the modeller.