Toy Stories (2009) s01e01 Episode Script


(dramatic music)
- So you think computer games
are more exciting than old-fashioned toys?
Maybe you should think again.
(upbeat music)
With the help of the great British public,
it's time to liberate them
from the toy cupboard,
supersize them, and unleash
their true potential.
This week, Airfix.
I take a bunch of unruly teenagers.
Was he what?
- [Student] Was he mental?
- No he wasn't mental.
And show them the joy of model making.
- Isn't it more like for older
people, not really for kids?
- Is it?
I also realize a childhood dream.
There's England, upside down.
And I have some work done on my face.
I prove that I'm still down with the kids.
Who's Beyonce?
- The singer.
- You don't know who Beyonce,
- you're actually joking me?
- All with the aim of building
the biggest model airplane
the world has ever seen.
(dramatic music)
Do you think it would be possible
to replicate the simpler
Spitfire kit, but scale of 1:1?
- No.
(whimsical music)
- If I had to identify the
most important influences
on my young life, then,
well, my mum and dad would
be in first place, obviously.
And then a few outstanding teachers.
And there was a girl called Jane
who developed quite quickly.
But in fourth place, in all
seriousness, would be Airfix.
This is a Hawker Hunter.
I know that without having to
look at the plaque behind it.
If you're my age, you
probably know that as well
because you made the model.
It was always very difficult
to get near real airplanes,
but by making models you
could have a whole air force
from all over the world and
it all fitted on a table top.
It was brilliant.
You might think Airfix
is just a cheap pastime,
designed to keep kids off
the street and stop them
knocking a policeman's
helmet off with a catapult,
but it's so much more than that.
It was actually designed
to be educational.
I mean, look at the things
you can't help learning about
if you make models.
Aviation, military history,
automotive engineering,
space flight, railway
architecture and rolling stock,
human anatomy, the Industrial Revolution,
lives of the Saints and
even, if you were a bit soft,
I think Airfix is good
character building stuff
for young people.
After all, look how well I turned out.
But since the mid-'80s, sales
of plastic kits have plummeted
which is why GCSEs have to
be made easier these days.
(whimsical music)
Today, most of the
people making Airfix kits
are as old as me.
In this scene, filmed secretly
in a London model shop,
we have obscured their faces
to protect their identities
and spare their families.
All of this makes it doubly difficult
to get young people interested
in Airfix modelling,
because let's be honest, they've grown up
with some pretty remarkable things.
Video games, an entire record collection
that goes in a little
box in your back pocket
and is never scratched.
All I could offer them is
a pile of plastic parts
and an old hobby populated by old men.
(dramatic music)
I want to see Airfix
reclaimed by the young,
so I've come to the Thomas
Telford school, near Telford,
to recruit some 13 year
olds for my campaign.
Airfix demands patience and
the ability to sit still
for more than five minutes.
- In my spare time, I'm
more of a sporty person,
doing Tae Kwan Do and cheerleading.
- Normally when I get home,
I would either go on the
computer or play on the X-Box.
- I like to play hockey, I swim.
And I sail at Chelmarsh Sailing Club.
- When I was 13, doing Airfix at school
would have been almost
as good as a day off
because the boilers had broken.
Things may have moved on.
I've got a project which I
want you to have a go at.
It is an Airfix model.
This is the very first
Airfix model ever made,
the first kit they did from 1952.
It's the Golden Hind warship.
When that model came out,
people about your age
and a bit younger went
absolutely mad for it,
they thought it was the
best thing ever created,
a ship that you could
actually build yourself,
and they sold hundreds
of thousands of them.
The 13 year olds went mad with excitement.
And, as if I needed to,
I offered them a further incentive
to get stuck in to Airfix.
And if you do like it, I've
got some other Airfix-related
stunts and activities lined up
that you can come and help me with,
but only if you like it.
If you turn out to be
absolutely useless at it,
I'll have to go to a school
in Yorkshire or something.
(upbeat music)
When I was a lad, Airfix was a joy,
but a joy tempered with deep frustration.
In this age of shallow fads
and swift gratification,
it seems that it still
is, and that's good.
- [Student] No!
- What's happened?
- I just stuck it and now it's foul,
and now them come loose.
- [James] Did you break that in a rage?
- Maybe.
- [James] Maybe, you did, didn't you?
- Maybe, no.
- It's fun, it's just really frustrating.
Keep gluing it but it keeps falling apart.
- I think James was interested in this
because it was the
fashion and, like, it was
the only thing to do and it was
basically what all boys did.
- [James] What don't you like about it?
- I think it's a bit more
like for older people,
and not really for kids.
- Is it?
- I think so, yeah.
- [James] What I'd forgotten
in the last 40 years
is that the Golden Hind is
a pretty tricky little kit.
- I can't do it.
This is really difficult now.
- And it's a bit of a boring old boat.
I think my best chance of
reaching the hearts and minds
of today's young people
through Airfix is to ask them
to make the greatest, the most popular,
the most iconic Airfix model
of all time and that is,
of course, the Supermarine Spitfire.
Here's one I made earlier.
1975, I think.
(dramatic music)
Now this won't be a normal Airfix kit.
I've got something more
inspirational in mind.
Here's my plan.
Eventually I want my chosen
young people to join together
in making an Airfix Spitfire,
just one, and for that reason
the original Airfix Spitfire
kit is not really good enough.
I thought they should have
something a bit bigger
and after a bit of thought I've settled on
an Airfix Spitfire kit at a scale of 1:1,
full size, as big as the real airplane
but made up from the same
parts as the original kit.
I'm not actually sure how to do this,
but it can't be impossible.
In fact, I'm amazed it
hasn't been done before.
I decide to start at Airfix's HQ,
now part of the Hornby empire in Margate.
Here, I intend to feign interest and then,
when no one's looking, nick
the plans for the original kit.
But Trevor Snowdon has worked for Airfix
since I had glue on my face
and he easily sidetracks me
onto a visit to Airfix's
spare parts store.
- First thing we have here, of course,
is the spares department
where, if you lose the part,
damage it, then we do in fact
supply a replacement part.
If you haven't got the part,
you can't complete the model,
and it's one of the things that
Airfix pride themselves in,
that we will replace them.
(whimsical music)
- This is like the arc of
the covenant in kit form
with comprehensive instructions.
Walking through it is like shining a light
into some neglected corner of childhood.
I'd save up for ages to buy
one fairly small model and then, you know,
make it and then I'd be slightly
sad when I'd finished it
because I'd have to save
up again to buy another.
I never had the luxury of
thinking I've got too many
models to make, I'd better
put some in the loft.
It's madness.
- [Trevor] But you know
stuff's still in the loft now?
- I do.
'Cause when I got a bit older
people still bought them
for me for my birthday
but I had discovered
beer and ladies by then,
so they ended up in the loft
and they're still there.
(whimsical music)
Finally, we make our way
to the ancient archives.
Somewhere in here are
the plans for a Spitfire.
- [Trevor] But I thought you might.
- Some of these drawings are as old as me
and even more fragile.
Oh yes!
- Mark 5 V, April '76.
- April '76, mark 5.
But it doesn't take much of
a leap of the imagination
to see that if you made these bits bigger,
you'd have a kit but that would give you
a full size Spitfire.
- Well that's quite true, yes.
- You can see where I'm coming from?
- Yes, sure.
You might want a very big molding machine.
- Yeah we can probably get around that.
After slipping the priceless
Spitfire drawings up my shirt,
I visit one of the factories
where Airfix kits are made,
with its MD, Paul Blackmore.
It's a fascinating process,
these two plates come together
to form the mold.
Hot liquid plastic is
injected, allowed to cool
and there you have it, piece
of cake, or a Spitfire.
Do you think it would
be possible to replicate
the simpler Spitfire kit
in this form on a sprue,
but a scale of 1:1?
So those fuselage halves are
as big as a real Spitfire.
- No.
- Why not?
- Because the size of the tool
and the weight of the tool,
you would not be able to
create the physical size
of the tool to go on a machine.
- I thought he might say that.
I have to find another way.
That's why I borrowed the drawing.
(upbeat music)
Now, whenever you drive
past a historic RAF station,
this is High Wycombe, you will
see a Spitfire on a stick.
And I hate to shatter your illusions now,
but they're not real.
They used to be in the olden days,
but they were far too
valuable to leave outside,
they're worth millions of pounds,
so people worked out a
way of making replicas,
which is exactly what that is.
That's actually a glass fiber Spitfire.
It is in a way already
a giant Airfix model,
so whoever made that
should be able to help me
make my massive Airfix kit.
Down in Cornwall, a
company called Gateguard
makes these glass fiber
Spitfire lollipops.
Job done?
It isn't quite that simple.
Now, some of you will be
watching this and thinking
well, these people already
made something like
a giant airplane kit,
so what is the problem?
Well, there are several.
One of them is that it
doesn't actually go together
like an Airfix kit does, ow.
This is just the fiberglass
shell and this is
already fairly weighty, but
because it has to live outside
on a stick, and it's expected
to last for 50 years,
they also add the bit you can see
in this one they're restoring.
It's actually built around
this massive steel frame
and in fact this replica
Spitfire weighs almost
as much as a real one,
which is nearly two tons.
I couldn't lift that.
Time to meet displaced
Brummie refugee Dave Hobson.
Can he make me a giant Airfix
kit that's strong enough
to stand up but light enough
for children to handle?
What I want to know is can
you make this like that
in a scale of 1:1 so
that it looks like this,
it's on the plastic runners,
and kids and their mums and
dads can build it, paint it,
put the transfers on in a public place,
have a giant community
Airfix modeling experience?
But I need a massive kit.
- Oh, do you actually
realize the size of that?
Do you have any idea how big?
I mean if you wanted to actually,
is it okay to open this?
- Yeah, yeah, fire away.
There's only something
like 20 components in it.
- Well, I mean, to actually
build something that size
we'd have to strengthen it up,
I mean but if you wanted
it exactly like that.
- This isn't the sort of talk
that won the Battle of Britain.
- I'm not being defeatist, we
can certainly have a go at it.
- It's not that big.
I know this isn't going to be simple,
and I know how big a real Spitfire is,
but Dave shows me anyway.
- That's the whole width of the wing
that you're asking us to build.
And you want me to make
that in one structure.
- Well, top and bottom halves.
Make it light, make it strong.
- [Dave] It's a big structure.
- [James] I know it is,
but it's not, you know,
I didn't ask you to make
a Lancaster bomber, did I?
- But this is totally alien
to what we normally do.
- I know, I know it is.
- We build structures, like real aircraft,
and you're asking us to
build a hollow structure.
- Yes.
It's like that first man
who ever went on television.
He says he didn't know what he was doing
but it's okay 'cause no one
had ever been on television,
so nobody knew what they were doing.
No one's ever done
this, you are a pioneer.
You are the Wright brothers
of giant Airfix models.
Their main concern is if
they make it light enough
for my purposes, it'll be
too floppy and too weak
and it won't stand up,
which is why they're getting
all worked up about this
unsupported wing nonsense,
and admittedly it's not
the sort of materials
and the sort of methods they're used to,
but they're the nearest we
have to a giant kit maker,
so I think they'll do it actually.
Well they'll have to do it,
otherwise I'll be fired.
I've decided to keep the giant Spitfire
as a complete surprise
to my Airfix disciples.
They still need more kit practice anyway,
but the question is should
I break them in gently
or make them suffer?
This is a Chieftan tank,
it's a massive great hulk of
metal parts, weighs around
50 tons, but as an Airfix
model, which is about that big,
it drives you absolutely up the wall
because all these wheels and these tracks
are tiny little impossibly fiddly bits.
It really is utterly frustrating
and actually hardly worth the bother.
- Right team.
- [James] I send the
package to the headmaster.
- Dear class, please find
enclosed some tanks to make.
These are quite fiddly,
so please be patient and take your time.
Two boxes of tanks,
Chieftan tanks and T62 tanks.
(upbeat music)
- [James] I'm effectively
asking modern children
to spend a few evenings in the 1960s.
I'd have them eating
spam fritters as well,
to get the full effect.
- [Dad] You've got to find that bit,
2A, they're normally numbered.
- [James] But here's something
I hadn't reckoned with, their dads.
- I played with Airfixes when
I was a kid all the time.
I had Phantoms, I had
tanks, I had everything,
aircraft carriers, the whole lot.
You know, I'm still reliving
my childhood, to be honest.
- Yes, he's a big kid.
- [James] It's a school day,
so I've decided we should have
a school trip, on a bus.
In my day, we'd have amused ourselves
by making rude gestures
at the lorry drivers.
Do normally play with mobile
phones and iPods on bus trips?
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
- Is that all you ever do?
- We talk.
(upbeat music)
- [James] But let's wait until
they see what I've lined up for them.
this will make those long
hours at the table getting
a thick ear for putting paint
on the carpet seem worthwhile,
the chance to experience
for real the thing
they just made in miniature.
- [Student] Hooray!
- Not only is this much
better than the field day
at the sustainability farming project,
it will help reveal the
relevance of Airfix.
Look, the whole point of making models
when I was a kid is that
they were supposed to be educational.
The bloke who set up, or
rather the bloke who ran,
the Airfix models factory
was a mad historian.
He was absolutely obsessed
with it and he thought
everybody else should be.
That's why he put on the
instruction leaflets,
little bits of potted history
of whatever you were making.
Didn't matter if it
was a tank or the model
of the human skeleton or
anything, you got the history,
you got the story behind it.
That way you learned stuff,
that's what he wanted,
so you must know something
about, was he what?
- [Student] Was he mental?
- No, he wasn't mental.
I change tack and try a bribe instead.
Tank driving with major nick.
But even at 13, that
part of a woman's brain
that only thinks about shoes
is already full developed.
- [Student] Oh my God, I've
got my shoes are muddy.
Oh my God, that is so not good.
- Well, they're not really
tank driving shoes, are they?
No, can we get our wellies on?
- [James] Yeah, in a minute.
- [Student] I don't want to get.
- I just want you standing here,
we've come to look at a tank museum.
- [Guide] It only goes down to your skin.
- full of real tanks and
you're worried about your shoes
and your mobile phone,
pull yourselves together.
(dramatic music)
I'll do anything to persuade this lot
that tanks are cool and
that making models of them
must therefore be cool too.
This next bit's from a low priced DVD.
- Okay!
Give it a bit more.
- [James] That's preferred right there.
- Yeah you've got it now, right.
Keep the power up, plenty of power.
Yeah, flat out, go on then.
Oh yes, oh I love that noise.
Keep going, keep going,
keep going, keep going,
keep going and about there, I reckon.
(dramatic music)
You'll be all right.
- Now between you and me, viewers,
I don't really approve of
running over cars with tanks.
It's a bit of a cheap stunt, to be honest,
I've seen it hundreds of times
and it's not exactly sporting, is it?
But 13 year old kids seem
to like smashing things up,
so if that's what it takes to
get them on side, so be it.
But as impressive as some
of this footage might be,
it is now possible using
readily available technology
to produce something even
better using the models.
This is the idea.
When I was about your age, we used to
build these tanks all the time
and the thing we would have
wanted to do more than
anything in the world
is make them into a small film.
So we're going to do that with your tanks.
It's going to be the Chieftan
tanks versus the T62 tanks.
Now we've got something we
used to do when I was a kid,
small amounts of
gunpowder out of fireworks
that you put in the tank
that will make the odd one
explode with some sparks,
which we will film.
Happy to blow your tanks up?
- [Students] Yeah!
- [Student] No.
- [James] Who said no?
You don't want to blow your tank up?
That's okay, yours can
survive, I admire that.
- [Student] The loner survivor.
- Anybody can blow things up,
it takes skill to make something.
I'm going to set it up on its tripod here,
we'll get the shot lined up
and then you can start moving
tanks and taking pictures.
After just a few hours on one of
the smallest action
film sets in the world,
a masterpiece is born.
Right, rolling.
(dramatic music)
I'm moving.
- [Students] Wow!
- That must have looked quite good
(dramatic music)
This is like Sam
Peckinpah's Cross of Iron,
only a bit jerky in places
and not quite as long.
But it was done with a
conventional stills camera
and a simple computer program.
The impressive bit is
actually the model making.
Blowing your newly
completed Airfix model up
with firework gunpowder or shooting at it
with air rifles was perfectly normal,
it was a rite of passage,
but interestingly there was one boy there
who didn't want to do
it, the quiet lad, Tom.
He didn't want to shoot at it,
he didn't want to blow it up,
he wanted to keep his tank that he'd made,
his tank that he'd made particularly well.
Tom will go far, I think.
Tom is not completely alone.
There are signs that the
Airfix resistance is cracking.
- Airfix is really fiddly and annoying
but once you've done it, you
get a really good feeling
like wow, I just did that!
And it's worth it, it's
worth all the little argh,
like when you do make it and
all that, it's worth all that.
- What's amazing, though,
is that even in 2009
the Spitfire remains the
most popular Airfix kit.
Why is this?
Why are we totally
transfixed by an airplane
that is chronologically
closer to the Wright brothers
than it is to aircraft of today?
It's a very good question
and in order to answer it,
I've decided to indulge myself
in some gratuitous Spitfire history.
(dramatic music)
Carolyn Grace is the owner
of this rare two seater.
She has flown and loved
it for over 20 years.
What is it about Spitfires in particular?
I mean, from all the
airplanes from that era,
this one is, it just
endures in a strange way.
- The Spitfire is, it
fulfills all your senses,
it sounds wonderful, it looks beautiful.
And it is just superb to fly
and they knew that in the war.
And I think because it's a
British design at its very best,
I think it covers everything.
- Did you ever make an Airfix Spitfire?
- My son did.
- [James] Did he, did he
make a good job of it?
- Richard did.
Well, he never painted
them so he always ended up
shooting them or burning them.
- Yes, we should point
out that Carolyn's son
looks after real airplanes these days,
including mine, actually.
I might find someone else.
(whimsical music)
Time to get suited up and, as
with all military clothing,
one size is designed to fit no one.
It's a bit short in the
leg, but I'll take it.
(engine roaring)
(dramatic music)
- [Carolyn] Are you ready to go?
- Ready to go.
Right, here we go, take off
in a Supermarine Spitfire.
This is the beginning of
the ultimate male fantasy.
God, what a racket!
We're flying!
Bloody marvelous.
Just have a look at this fantastic
and immortal shape, everybody.
But everything was this way
for very good aerodynamic reasons.
The slim fuselage is more
streamlined but it's strong.
The elliptical wings,
just have a look at them,
they're absolutely fabulous.
- [Carolyn] Now pulling up.
- Here we go, yes!
There's England upside down.
Woo hoo!
(engine roaring)
Oh, it feels like victory to me.
Carolyn then fulfils a
lifelong ambition for me,
with the immortal words you have control.
Ready for action, tally ho.
Sorry, that's a bit
childish but I had to do it.
I don't really want to
say anything about that
except that this is the
Supermarine Spitfire
and I was flying it.
(upbeat music)
That's enough gadding about as ginger.
It was time to come down
to earth in Cornwall
to see if Dave had cracked the problems
with the kit version.
It's now just 10 days before
my chosen young people
assemble the giant Airfix Spitfire kit.
Unfortunately, it's
also nearly three weeks
since I heard anything
from Dave, who's making
the giant Spitfire kit.
For some reason, he won't
answer the telephone,
he doesn't respond to emails,
I've no idea if he still lives here, even.
I've had to come 300 miles,
all the way to ruddy Cornwall,
just to find out what he's up to,
so what you're about to see
is a piece of genuine reality television.
He doesn't know I'm here.
I don't know if he is, actually.
Morning dog.
Why don't you answer the bloody telephone?
- I do.
You don't.
- 'Cause you're working.
- And you don't answer your emails.
- Yes we do.
- You don't.
- Yes we do.
- You've no idea how nervous
I've been about this.
- You've no idea how nervous
I've been about it either.
- But at least you know that it's,
I don't even know that you're doing it.
I'm just sitting 300 miles away thinking
is he making my Spitfire
or has he buggered off to Australia?
- We've been doing chess pieces.
- Look at that, big Dave
has found a combination
of glue and glass fiber that keeps
the polystyrene supports in place.
Strength and lightness together.
So that's what half the
thickness of it would be
in one of your real airplanes?
- [Dave] Yeah.
- [James] Can I feel the weight?
- Yep.
- It might work.
- I can lift that and I'm feeble.
It's a result and Dave and
his team can now forge ahead,
although we've yet to
see if this technique
is good enough for the big wing section.
(upbeat music)
But there's one job I'm
not entrusting to Dave,
making the pilot, a critical component.
I'd like it to be a
full size likeness of me
and as the job involves
laying hands on me,
I've rejected the big Brummie
and instead I'm going to visit
someone called Poppy in her
Chessington studio, or shed.
You've heard about this?
- Yes, we have been told.
- Airfix Spitfire.
And I need to be represented as the pilot
but I wanted to have my face,
he's there, I've taken him off.
- [Poppy] He's tiny.
- [James] He is tiny.
So he needs to be in that position
because he's holding the
joystick and his feet
go down into the cockpit to the rudder.
- Right, you've got quite a lot of hair
so we'll have to get rid of that first.
- We can't take it off.
- We won't be that mean,
we'll use a bald cap,
so you can see what it
feels like to have no hair
and then we'll start doing your face first
and then we'll work our way down the body.
So are you ready?
- Including the joystick.
- Hmm, that might have to be not done.
(upbeat music)
- [James] What's the weirdest
request you've ever had?
- I have been asked about a
gentleman who wanted to make
his own doorbell and he
said that he'd like to use
a certain part of his
body as the door pull.
We do get the odd people
wanting their bottoms,
and breasts, and things like that.
- Let's just do my head.
- Brilliant.
- Make sure your nose is still free.
Nice and slow, okay?
- [James] This takes 45 minutes to dry,
and because I can't see, I don't realize
that everyone else has gone for a pint.
It's slightly stuck to, that's
it, it's gone, it's gone.
- Adjusting your eyes slightly,
and there you have it.
- Wow, and that's the actual shape of my,
that's pretty good, isn't it?
Those are the bags under my eyes there,
captured for all time.
Several hours later, my resin
head is ready to be released
from the mold and appropriately attired.
(upbeat music)
Good evening, I'm James May
and this is my partner James May.
No, partner's not right, is it?
That makes him sound like a gay lover.
I'm not entirely sure about
your eyes, you know mate?
How do you feel about being part of
the world's largest Airfix Spitfire?
You do realize that once you're
stuck inside that fuselage,
you're going to be in
there pretty much forever,
or at least until someone shoots at you
with a giant air gun or blows
you up with the gunpowder
from some giant bangers?
(dramatic music)
This is turning into a
giant project in all senses.
Solo Airfix assembly work
at the kitchen table is out.
My modeling apprentices now
need to learn to work as a team
and I know the perfect training location.
The Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich.
Now, a lot of cars have
been made in this factory
over the years, ever since the 1950s,
but the factory wasn't actually
built to make cars at all.
What was it built for, does anybody know?
- Spitfires.
- It was made to build Spitfires.
So today, we're going to build
Spitfires and what's more,
we're going to make this kit,
but we're going to do
it in an organized way
exactly like in this factory.
Make sense?
- [Students] Yeah.
- Can you do it?
- [Students] Yeah.
- Arrange yourselves around the table.
(upbeat music)
What I tried to do here
was break the making
of that Spitfire model down
into very specific tasks
and then we'll be able to make
consistent Spitfires very quickly.
Doing all this whilst
watching the cars going past
being made is an absolute inspiration.
(upbeat music)
So do you prefer making them like this
or would you rather
make them individually?
- Like this.
- This is more fun, isn't it?
- Yeah.
- I used to dream of
this when I was a kid,
if you could buy 50 Spitfires at once,
I could get all my mates round
and we could make a production line,
we could make them all in
a day, it'd be fantastic.
You don't look very convinced.
- What would you do with them?
- Give them away to a museum or something.
Or shoot at them, as
usual, but look at this,
they're making Airfix
without any bullying from me,
although I have said they can't eat
until they've made at least six Spitfires.
- Connor let's just finish our jobs
before we start assembling the cockpit.
I've only got one more of these to do.
- I'm starting to see evidence
of systematic working.
Maybe it happens naturally
when you put people together,
but look, there's a little
propeller assembly line
going on there, there's
some instrument panels
being made in series there
and most impressively,
come and see this.
This man clearly has the
right sort of mind for this.
Look at that, he's ahead.
Within two hours,
Spitfires are rolling out
of Castle Bromwich once more.
It's a fantastic effort,
because I said this was an easy kit,
it's actually extremely tricky.
It's got very difficult
stuff inside the cockpit
and the flaps under the wings
and they've done it excellently.
I'm quite moved by it,
I think they're ready.
(dramatic music)
Well, they might be in the midlands,
but down in Cornwall
Dave is still not sure
that the polystyrene bracing system
will be good enough for the bigger bits.
- That's the bottom wing.
Now, that across there is 34 feet,
and with the wing tips on,
which the tip's on that side
of the wing there, that
then becomes 36 feet
because that's the wingspan of a Spitfire,
but they wanted that in
one piece and then we tried
the top wing on exactly
as the way it's cut out
and as soon as we did that,
when we put the top wing on it,
it went like that, and
that's exactly what we said
it would do, so I don't have any idea
as if it's going to work
tomorrow and this is what's taken
16 hours extra to do.
Everybody is so tired now that we're on,
we've past adrenaline.
We've gone past 48 hours
of no sleep while James
is probably tucked up
somewhere in bed, fast asleep.
(animal calling)
(upbeat music)
- [James] It's the big day.
The giant kit has arrived at RAF Cosford.
- If you just put that
one bar across the middle,
that's reminiscent of what this bar
would probably look like anyway,
across the middle of the aircraft.
- [Man] Why don't I just stick it?
- [Dave] Yeah just do it.
- Before the builders arrive,
I discover there's a rather
pressing issue in the hangar.
We have a small problem here already.
This is the biggest part of the kit,
you remember it's the
bottom half of the wings,
it comes in one piece.
It is also the part around which the rest
of the airplane will be built.
Made the way we decided,
with the thin fiberglass
and the honeycomb, it's too floppy.
So it has to be strengthened
with some steel pieces.
Which sort of means Dave
was right all along.
But we can edit that out.
(dramatic music)
The Telford prodigies arrive,
still oblivious of the
enormity of the Airfix task
that lies before them.
Right, gather round, everybody.
- [Students] Yeah!
- Good, this is a very important
day for me, personally,
because we're going to do some Airfix.
This is an ambition
that I've harbored since
I was about five or six years old.
- That's a long time.
- It is a long time, it's
the previous century.
And it's an opportunity for you
lot to be a part of history.
- [Students] Yay!
- But only the history of Airfix.
- [Students] Oh.
- But that's pretty good.
Cue the door, sir.
(dramatic music)
There's the box with artwork.
It's a Spitfire.
- [Student] It actually looked like.
- When I saw the kit,
I was like oh my God, we're never going to
be able to do this, 'cause
it was absolutely massive.
- I was really shocked that
it was actually that big.
And I was like how are we
going to stick this together
with glue like that?
- [Student] Whoa, it's him.
- [Student] Is that James?
- [Student] That's James.
- It's creepily lifelike.
- This is the biggest
Airfix model in the world!
There has never been one this big before.
This is where you have to apply everything
that we've learned about
making Airfix models
over the past few weeks.
Still up for it?
- [Students] Yeah!
- [James] Right, good.
(dramatic music)
The first job is to remove
all the pieces from the sprue.
That's the frame holding them together,
for those of you who don't know Airfix
and are therefore incomplete.
- [Both] Lift.
- [James] Ellie and Caitlyn
ran the plumiest job
in the hangar, painting me.
- That's one of the harnesses, isn't it?
So it's gonna need to be black.
- Yeah, this'll be yellow
because it's the life jacket.
- [Student] Yeah, and they're
gonna be black as well,
'cause they're little like toggle things.
- [Student] Yeah, they're toggles.
(dramatic music)
- But it's not long
before we hit a problem.
the steel reinforcements have, after all,
made that big wing piece a bit weighty.
Right, in order to lift that
main bottom wing section,
I can turn it up the other
way and put it on trestles.
We need more people, 'cause
that really is too heavy
for you to lift, so if you all
go and find one other person,
there's Air Force cadets,
there's a fat bloke from
Birmingham over there,
some of you have got mums
and dads and things here.
- Can you help us please?
Can you help us to lift
the wings in there please?
- Yes, that's fine.
To your duties, fall out.
- [James] Luckily, my father
has turned up to help.
Only right, really, because
this is all his fault.
- I have to confess I
initiated him with a Spitfire,
that was his first Airfix
model, and we did it together.
It was a gift for him to start with
from the local newsagent
shop, a little Airfix kit.
And then he became a regular visitor
to the local newsagents when he'd saved up
enough money to buy the next
kit and the next kit and so on.
(dramatic music)
- [James] And now the
lifting of the bottom wing.
I feel a bit for the youths.
They have an Airfix model to build and,
not for the first time,
dads have taken over.
- [Man] Keep going.
- [Man] Forward a bit.
- [Man] Pull it back.
- [Man] About here?
- [Man] Shall we try that?
- That's fine, that's fine, happy?
- [James] Success, the
biggest piece is in position.
And perhaps more
surprisingly, still one piece.
Now youth's exuberance
can be added to the mix,
gluing together the two
halves of the fuselage.
This is tricky when
they're five inches long.
These ones are almost 30 feet.
- Concentrate on the top
edge and then get that bit,
get the bottom edge lined
up, that's what I think.
- 'Cause the chances of
getting both edges lined up
with it that floppy are nil, aren't they?
- Yeah, or close to it I think.
- Good thinking, dad, let's do that.
- That's my boy.
(upbeat music)
- [James] I've told them a hundred times
not to use too much glue
but of course they don't listen
and I'm beginning to think they shouldn't.
Do it right.
- [Student] Yes boss.
- [James] You ready?
Three, two, one, glue.
- [Man] Get out the way!
- [Student] It's not together.
- [James] Superb, the
fuselage is now one piece.
That is set aside to dry while we add
the top halves of the wings.
Three, two, one, gently up, careful.
- [Man] This way, you can connect it.
- Wow!
That's fantastic.
I know this is going to sound
a bit nerdy and sentimental
for a 46 year old man, but
this is actually something
I dreamt about when I was
about six or seven years old.
Could you make an Airfix model
the size of a real airplane?
And there it is, look.
There are the wings of the giant Airfix,
there are the wings of the original kit.
There's the giant Airfix fuselage,
there's the original Airfix fuselage.
I never thought that would
actually happen and there it is.
That's excellent.
With the airplane coming together,
I wonder if Ellie and Caitlyn
are doing my body double justice?
You've got a lot of paint on your hands.
- Yes, we didn't have gloves.
- I wouldn't bother cleaning it off
because you're bound to get some more on.
Can you have your lunch break
quickly and then get back and,
you know?
- We've got to go.
That's why we're cleaning
our hands, go to see Beyonce.
- Who's Beyonce?
- The singer.
- You don't know who Beyonce,
you're actually joking me?
- You must know who Beyonce is?
- Well, no I don't.
- The American singer.
- Oh you're going to a concert?
- [Both] Yeah!
- So you're saying you're
going to go and see Beyonce
rather than stand here?
- Beyonce-ay.
- Beyonce.
You'd rather do that than stay here
and paint a big plastic model of me?
- We tried to do both.
- Well you haven't done very well,
you've done the boots
and you've got brown paint on the boots.
- [Caitlyn] Ellie, that was your fault.
- Caitlyn, that was your half.
- That was your boot, that was my half.
- No it wasn't.
- [Ellie] Bye.
- Bye.
- Honestly, young people,
they don't know anything.
With two recruits going awol
and the others more
interested in mucking around
than doing Airfix, even I can tell that
I'm not winning these kids over.
- I think James is like
a perfectionist here,
so he's really, like,
wants everything perfect.
It's really annoying.
- You're 13, you should
be able to do that.
- I think James is quite bossy
because he is a perfectionist,
he wants it to be perfect.
- He is a little bit
fussy with the painting
and how careful you do everything.
(upbeat music)
- [James] Okay, time to change tack.
Time to let the kids do it their
way, however much it hurts.
So you've kept me with my eyes closed?
- Yeah.
- [James] How do I see where I'm going?
Or am I just having a
bad moment on approach?
- I think you've just sneezed.
- [James] Just sneezed, okay.
- But I'm not convinced
that he really wants to let
anybody else play with
this, other than himself.
- [James] You've put a few
hairs up my nose as well.
- Yeah, I tried and make it
as realistic as possible.
- All right, all right, all right.
- He's doing very well
not to shoo them all away
and roll his own sleeves up
and do it all himself, I think.
- [James] I allow Connor
to replace me as foreman.
I taught him well.
- There's little bits
of blue here and there,
if you want to give it maybe another coat,
and you've been a bit messy
with that painting on there.
You've ended up splattering
it all over the floor.
- I need someone for a very dangerous job.
- I do.
- [Student] I'll do it.
I'm dangerous.
- You do everything.
(all clamoring)
- Hoisting the fuselage
onto the wings is a top job
for any Airfix fanatic,
but I graciously allowed
Tom to be the main man here.
You've got to go there
and pull that chain.
- What chain?
- The chain that lifts the
Spitfire up into the air
to go onto the wings.
- [Students] Oh!
- No pressure Tom.
(all talking)
If it breaks, everyone'll hate you.
(dramatic music)
- It's a tense moment.
If my polystyrene ribbing
isn't strong enough,
the fuselage will now break up in midair.
The fuselage takes the strain,
but there is a small problem.
It doesn't line up, does it?
We didn't think carefully enough about
where we positioned this before we started
putting the fuselage on the things.
We try some adjustments.
- [Man] Hang on, whoa, whoa, whoa, pause.
- [James] But even then, we
have to resort to a power saw.
These other Airfix modelers will know
that you sometimes have to trim the parts
very slightly in order to make
them fit together properly.
That's exactly what we're doing here.
It looks like a huge
amount being cut away,
but that's only because
it's a very huge model.
(upbeat music)
The team is working excellently
and efficiently together
largely because I've been made redundant.
- Extend the brass bit
out by like a bit further.
Make it the same shape though.
Did that make sense?
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
- I think so.
I begin to think that we, or they,
might actually get this model finished
and that the young people
might even enjoy it.
- Oh, look at that.
That's looking like a real Spitfire!
Put it a bit more to the left.
- Okay, Connor, are you
reaching okay there?
- I'm reaching okay.
- [Dad] Lift it a bit.
- [James] The Spitfire
is progressing well,
but we're almost out of
time, and what the workers
don't know is that I've
arranged for their model
to be revealed not just to their families,
but to people who actually
flew these planes in the war.
(upbeat band music)
- What sort of quality
or what it's made of,
I haven't the faintest idea.
- How they're going to
build up a right size model
of a Spitfire, I think
will be extraordinary.
I'm looking forward
very much to seeing it.
I think it's brilliant.
- Well I expect it to be
of a very high standard.
- But there is one last
critical job to be done.
Everything that has been
achieved up until this moment
is effectively pointless
because the true test
of this Spitfire is whether
or not it will stand
on its own wheels when
the trestles and the props
are taken away, and it's
not only the Spitfire
that has to rest on those
wheels, it's the reputation
of big Dave from Cornwall.
In the next 10 or 15 seconds,
he could be a broken man.
(dramatic music)
The wheels are put on and the
airplane must be winched down
to see whether it will support
itself or fall to pieces
when the kit and legs
take the full strain.
It's so close to breaking.
- [Dave] Yeah.
- Is that officially down?
- It's officially down.
- Congratulations, good work.
We've done it, the world's
biggest Airfix model is complete.
(cheers and applause)
(dramatic music)
And our VIP guests have
been waiting long enough.
It's time to reveal it.
- [Student] Be gentle.
- [James] Be gentle, be gentle.
Be gentle.
For the first time in more than 60 years,
the hangar doors of RAF
Cosford open to reveal
a brand new Spitfire.
(cheers and applause)
But as ours is only a model,
we're not sure it will make this next bit.
Simply crossing the hangar threshold
is a mighty undertaking for this Spitfire.
- [Student] Pull!
- Yes!
And again.
Bit more.
And stop.
Excellent work.
God, that's made me feel
quite emotional, fantastic.
I don't know what to say.
I know you've done it
already, ladies and gentlemen,
but this lot built it, and
painted it and were very patient.
Give them another round
of applause, please.
It's absolutely superb,
thank you everyone.
(cheers and applause)
- I didn't expect it to
be that big, actually.
I thought it would be
a little Airfix model,
so yeah, I was quite shocked.
- All that hard work.
End result, brilliant,
absolutely brilliant.
(cheers and applause)
- It was much better than I expected
with all the smoke as well,
and it made us really proud, didn't it?
- [Woman] It did yeah.
- To see it all done.
It was fabulous, really good.
- Beside my dad, my
mum has also come along
for the unveiling.
What do you think of that, then?
- I never doubted for a
moment that you and your team
would achieve what you set out to do.
- That's very not you,
that's a very motherly
thing to say, mother.
- I've been practicing.
- [James] But what did
real Spitfire pilots
make of our model, was it up to scratch?
- I must say, the paint job's good.
They've got the colors right.
- Absolutely terrific 'cause
it looks just like them.
Really very clever, can't
think how you did it,
and they were beautiful to fly.
- Congratulations, it's
wonderful what you've done.
- Thank you.
- I think you ought to be
really proud of yourself.
- [James] We must have done a good job,
because we earned the
approval of none other
than the general manager of
the RAF Museum at Cosford,
Alex Medhurst.
- I'd put it in our exhibition.
- You would?
- Oh yeah, definitely.
- And will you?
Because we haven't got a home for it.
- Yes, I will, I will.
- You will?
- I'll take it.
- Excellent, right, there
you go, it's got a home.
- I've got a bit of a lump in my throat,
I might have to go away.
(dramatic music)
But the real test for me is
did a new generation enjoy it,
or have I put them off Airfix forever?
- I do feel proud of what we've achieved.
We've made a whole life
size Spitfire out of Airfix.
I think that because of doing that,
I probably will actually do a
lot more Airfix in the future.
- Yeah, there might be
more Airfix in the future.
Hopefully big ones.
- I think some of the boys
will probably carry on building
Airfix models, whether the
girls will or not, I don't know,
but my house is now full of Spitfires,
so thank you very much.
- [James] So, you see, it's just possible
that this great old hobby still
has something going for it.
and our Spitfire can stand as a monument
to what it's all about.
One day, these children
will be as old as me,
but maybe they'll bring
their children to this museum
and they'll look at the
Spitfire that they built
and they'll say that's
what it was all about.
That is the spirit of Airfix.
(upbeat music)
Next Episode