Airfix models is, at least for the moment, out of business. (Somehow I missed the word earlier.) There are apparently hopes that another company will gather the pieces of the plastic-model maker and put something together, but how often does that work out? I didn't build many Airfix kits, mostly as my interests run to space history and science fiction and they didn't have much of that, but it's frustrating to have another plastic model company out. Pinball, ham radio, science fiction, plastic models, game shows, usenet ... one of these days I've got to pick up a hobby that isn't dying.
It's a bit curious that plastic model companies can be in such bad straits, since I'd have guessed that as a corporate genre plastic models many production advantages: raw plastic is dirt cheap, production should be easy to automate, stock is pretty near imperishable, and the moulds are all about the same size and not too big to store even for reasonable whiles. One article I found said Airfix had 41 employees, which supports my guess that it ought to be reasonably economic.
Some of the problem's that nobody builds models anymore, sure; at most people like me will buy them and then never get around to building them. Still, from their point of view bought and unbuilt is as good as built. Granted, the companies do their best to make roleplaying game companies look well-run, with feats like Bandai using its Star Trek license to make incredibly detailed, prepainted, fibre-optic lit models of Voyager and the NX-01 Enterprise, apparently unaware that the actually popular Star Trek shows were the original and The Next Generation. (All right, they made a 1701 Refit model, but not the original show, and not the 1701-D even though it's been fifteen years since anybody made a kit of that.) Even if I did get one, when the price is above fifty (US) dollars I'm scared to build them. Polar Lights started a great, fun, well-priced Original Series Enterprise, then picked as a follow-up project the Reman attack shuttles from Nemesis, which maybe the director's immediate family was hoping to see.
Trivia: Hugo Gernsback opened what may have been the first amateur radio shop in 1905, at 233 Fulton Street, New York City. Source: Signor Marconi's Magic Box, Gavin Weightman.
Currently Reading: A History of Mechanical Inventions, Abbot Payson Usher. It's a reprint of a fairly old book, but at that it's a peculiar read. There is a lot of discussion of theories of history and the author apologizing for not subscribing to other theories. The most intriguing bit from the past-is-a-distant-world perspective: ``It is presumed that [ Leonardo da Vinci's ] talents were greatest in the field of art, and the time given to science and technology is deplored as an unfortunate distraction that resulted in the painting of fewer pictures and in the abandonment of work on many canvases before they were finished.''