I must have built many hundreds, if not thousands, of kits in my life. Some were memorable because they were very good, others because they were terrible. Most, however, fit somewhere in the middle, anonymous, enjoyable to build at the time but soon forgotten. Occasionally though a kit will take you by surprise. These days this is quite rare as I generally know what kits are good and avoid at all costs the “dogs” The Airfix Seasprite helicopter was a very pleasant surprise being completely out of my normal field of interest namely: 1) Modern (well reasonable modern) 2) U.S. Navy 3) A helicopter.


Airfix Packaging in 1983 was not inspiring…

I purchased mine at a car boot sale last summer and only bought it as I knew that it was a reasonably rare kit. The vendor wanted £3.00 but I soon knocked her down to £2.00 as it was part-built. Looking at it in detail when I got home I had bought exactly what I had expected, a part built model put together badly with liquid poly, missing a tail plane, a couple of support struts and two wheels. The biggest problem I could see were the two drops of liquid poly that had got onto the cockpit glazing and produced nice white 3mm circles.  Normally, I would just write to Airfix and ask if they could supply me with a new set of transparencies but with a kit like this last produced many years ago I concluded that they would not be able to help.

Re- building the model went on a back burner until I could think of a way of saving the glazing. Last month I decided to try and do something with it and throwing caution to the winds scraped off the damaged surface of the kit s windscreen using one of the scalpels that were available free at the last club meet. This is something I have never attempted before and after a couple of minutes scraping carefully I found that I had removed the offending glue spots. I then decided to buff the windscreen glazing s surface with a flex-I-file polisher/finisher using all of the polishing sticks surfaces. To my surprise and delight the glazing polished up pretty well, in fact once it had been dunked in “Johnsons Clear” twice it was almost as good as new! As this model was for me alone and not for competition I felt that this part was good enough to pass muster and so on with the rest of the kit.

I started taking apart most of the model, thankfully the junior modeller who had started the kit did not use liberal quantities of liquid poly and after twenty plus years the joints were weak and so the whole lot returned to its component parts pretty easily. I was then finally able to appreciate and appraise the model in its almost un-built state.


The offending   windscreen is now acceptable after a bit of work

The kit was released in 1983 probably at the time when Airfix s fortunes had reached their lowest point, the kit was moulded in France at the Heller factory and mine came in the “Palitoy style box” On a shelf in a 1980 s model shop such as Beatties it would not scream “Buy me” The box top illustration is a photo of dark grey helicopter sat on a blueprint set against a black background!  Inside the box the parts are moulded in a dark grey plastic, which is quite brittle compared to modern releases, supplemented with an instruction sheet printed on poor quality paper, a slip of paper with a chart on it giving the comparable tin numbers for Airfix and Humbrol paints, a complaint slip and the decal sheet. The package is all very grey, dull and uninspiring. There isn`t a Roy Cross box top illustration here of the Seasprite doing battle with a Soviet  Typhoon class submarine, no colour printed guide  giving painting  and decal information, just multi-grey shaded line drawings listing obsolete Airfix paint numbers, one decal scheme and there is not even an invitation to join the Airfix club! So very depressing, no wonder few people bought Airfix kits in this period. At first glance this kit does not inspire, in fact I almost filled out the complaint slip to let Airfix know how depressed I felt by this kit.


The overall quality of the kit is   apparent in this view


Much work still to do but at least the model is looking like a   Seasprite

Despair not, whilst the Airfix marketing people should have all been sacked the kit designers and toolmakers were on top form in 1983. The parts are beautifully moulded they fit together perfectly, there is no filler on my model, the detail is superb, in fact this is one of the best Airfix kits I have ever built. Despite the fact that mine was a very tired half-built example with a few made up bits taken from the spares box it has gone back together brilliantly. In fact when you look carefully at the model photographed for the box top you can see what a nice a job someone has made  of this kit and how they have added a few tweaks to improve it that bit more. For me this is Airfix at their best, yes the rivets are there but I think that they look okay on this helicopter, the detail and the fit of the parts are excellent and it makes up into a fairly colourful model, even the decals went on without any problems. The only snag is getting hold of one, the kit was released initially in 1983-84 and again in 1986-2001 (according to the Airfix tribute forum) so be prepared to pay a few pounds for an example as it is probably considered a “collectors kit” at the moment. If you have one and you don’t want to capitalise on your asset it is certainly worth building or if you want a Seasprite in your collection buy this Airfix kit. I am very pleased with my model even though it is not quite finished yet and despite the rubbish packaging what lies within this box is truly worth building.



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