Matchbox Madness part 1: The 1/72 Northrop F-5B

When I was a child I built Matchbox Kits.

I had to, in the small Cotswolds Village I grew up in we only had one place that sold model kits, the local hardware shop, and they only stocked Matchbox kits (and Humbrol Paint).

I loved Matchbox – I loved the subjects, the colours of the plastic, That window, and most of all I loved the boxes – the boxart was always great (and those multi-coloured swooshes – Wow!)

As with all things I have the ones that I remember the most fondly, and those were the F-5B, the F-16A/B, the EE Lightning T.55 and the H.S Hawk T.1.

The F-5B holds a special place in my heart, as it’s one of the few kits I can actually remember getting, and one of the few good memories I have of my Mother. The 8 year old me had just been to the doctors to have a red hot bit of plastic shoved up my nose (this was apparently a cure for the daily nose bleeds I suffered from) and because it was rather horrific, she took me to the shop and let me pick out a kit to build – and I chose the F-5B, because it was cool.

F-5B Box

I don’t really remember what happened to that model, I suspect it was shot down over the many battles my toy soldiers had in the back garden, but I’ve never forgotten buying it, and I’ve always wanted another one.

And here it is!

This one I managed to get hold of through a kit swap on the UAMF, and I really enjoyed the process of putting it together.

It has a scratch-built cockpit and AM decals depicting an aircraft licence built by CASA for the Spanish Air Force circa 1970 (Spain has a long history with the F-5B and A, and still has them in service). It was brush painted with Citadel Metallics and weathered using Humbrol Weathering powders and a PITT artists brush pen. Overall it’s a realy nice kit, it went together with no major issues and would be a really good kit choice for a newbie. Yes it’s not my best, there’s a wacking great seam line on the underside (but hey who looks there anyway) and I may well still change the Sidewinders – but overall, I loved it.

I hope you like it, I’m REALLY happy to have this on the shelf again…




Next up – that H.S Hawk T.1



(oh and no, it didn’t fix the nosebleeds, I had another that afternoon!)



  1. I’m right there with you, Stuart, when it comes to the fond memories of the Matchbox models as a kid growing up in Arizona in the late 6o’s/early 70’s.
    Keep the models coming!- John

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stuart, I sincerely enjoyed having you place the kit in context of your own history. Growing up I remember making only a few trips to a hobby store which was quite far away from where we lived—but each visit was magical—a wee bit intimidating as well.

    Strike that “wee bit” part. It was very intimidating.

    The older modelers and shop workers would keep to themselves in the back section amongst the stacks of armor and aircraft models, ignoring the wandering customers. I remember the lit glass displays with all of the painted models inside being part of this back section of the ship, and wanting to head over there to stare, fighting down my feelings of discomfort, because I felt the way that back section kind of hummed in a different frequency from the rest of the store, it was a place of real model builders at work, amongst their finished products, all lined up in neat rows behind brightly polished glass windows.


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