50 YEARS OF DB MODELS
(Written in 2009)
by David Boddington
I never had any specific intention of becoming a model aeroplane kit manufacturer. It happened because of the introduction of an early type of proportional radio control equipment called ‘Galloping Ghost’. I mentioned in one of my magazine articles that although this rudimentary form of R/C did work, it was only suitable for certain types of model designs and that there was nothing on the market in the way of kits.
I immediately received numerous letters suggesting that I should turn some of my Galloping Ghost designs into kits. Simple, I thought, just cut up a few pieces of balsa wood, put them in a box with some lengths of piano wire and a plan and there you are! It was only as a result of putting the theory into practice that I found out that it wasn’t quite that easy and that unless you had every component of the kit it couldn’t be sold. I was often held up for the want of a couple of screws, or pressed tinplate parts for the fuel tanks.
From the small beginning of the ‘Ghost Rider 38’ and ‘Ghost Rider 50’ the range of DB Models began to grow, at a fairly alarming rate – the designing and test flight proving was always the most exciting part. So, onto the ‘Tyro’ and ‘Tyro Major’, the ‘Pronto’, ‘Barnstormer’ and ‘Bistormers’, ‘Mannock’, ‘Richtofen’, ‘Autogiro’, ‘Sopwith Pups’ Club 20 Pylon Racers etc. Etc.
David Toyer, an aeromodelling friend from the time he was ‘knee high to a grass hopper’, cut the balsa wood strip for the first batch of kits and as demand increased he took the bold decision to join me on a full time basis, a partnership which was to last for nineteen years.
Around the middle of the 1970’s we became heavily involved in television and film work, including the BBC ‘Wings series’, Flambards’ and ‘The Goodies’ and we were unable to keep up our model kit supplies to Micro Mold, who were, by then, our distributors. I therefore passed over the manufacturing of the DB Models range of kits to Micro Mold; as a point of interest, we had sold 8,000 ‘Tyro Major’ by this stage. Inevitably the television work began to wane after a few years and with Micro Mold’s blessing we started manufacturing kits again, under the title of ‘DB Sport and Scale’, with Micro Mold continuing to manufacture and sell the original DB models range.
A change of aeromodelling direction saw me more and more involved in magazine contributions and then to becoming editor of Radio Modeller, RCM & E and Scale titles, it was time to pass over the ‘DB Sport and Scale’ business to Derek Cox, another long time local aeromodeller. The fairly extensive range of scale models was then increased by the larger ‘Spitfire and ‘Hurricane’ kits, introducing such new construction methods as veneered foam wings. After a few years of manufacturing Derek opted for the warmer climates of the Mediterranean and the business transferred to Chart, which takes us to the mid-90’s, when DB Sport and scale again moved, this time to Bill Harding at Northampton – almost returning home!
Present owners Eddie Stocker and his wife Judith, took over next and I will leave it to them to describe their input to our long running model kit business. From a personal point of view it has been an exciting and pleasurable journey, it is given me the opportunity to meet hundreds of fellow aeromodellers and make friends with many of them, both in the UK and abroad. It has also furnished the opportunity to design some 40 kits models and to witness many of them flying at such events as the Old Warden DB Models Days.
On 5th May 2009
We celebrated 40 years of D B Models
From Left to Right; Eddie Stocker, David Boddington, Gill Boddington, David Toyer, Judy Stocker.
11th July 1932 ~ 9th April 2010
Well, it's sad regarding David's passing, but it is a fact of life that this is something that touches all of us at sometime. Judy & I attended David's Funeral on Friday 23rd April, which turned out to be a very good celebration of his life, while tinged with a little sadness.
We have attended many such occasions, but none so different as this (but then again, David was a bit different "was he not"). After the Cremation, there was a get together at the Old Grammarians Sports ground, Wellingborough. We all turned up and were greeted by a spectacular formation fly by that was put on by the local Sywell aerodrome display team (The Blades). They performed a diamond formation of 4 Extra's "aerobatic display aircraft" (similar to those used in the Red Bull air racing) with smoke on doing 2 full formation loops immediately overhead. Apparently, this had not been pre arranged by the family, it was done purely off the bat of those within the team (and very welcome and appreciated too).
About half an hour after that there was a pre arranged fly by of 3 Tiger moth's also in formation, which again, was a very nice touch to the event. Although we didn't count those present, we estimate that there must have been around 120 people at the Old Grammarians, comprising of a good representation from the magazines, aeromodellers, aeromodelling business associates, friends and family. It was not a sombre occasion, it was a very good memorial to a vey well known and talented aeromodeller who had a great hand in spearheading the introduction of radio control use in model aircraft.
It was a real privilege to meet David & Gill's two sons Andrew & John and their daughter Sarah, they really are a very nice family. It was quite interesting to find that when they were youngsters, they all had a hand in kit production and promotion. They thought it very normal to be earning their pocket money by counting out clevis's, collets, u/c clamps, split pins, screws etc. and putting them into bags for kits. To them it was the norm to see Mum running up wing bags on the sewing machine, and getting up to make sandwiches at 6 o'clock on a Sunday morning ready to go to another air show. And when they got there, these youngsters then assisted with taking gate fees, and collecting litter at the end of the show (just another normal weekend to them). What a lovely way to teach young ones the value of money and the importance of earning a living, and what a credit to the family.
Shortly before his death, David implored us with great feeling to be steadfast in keeping kit manufacturing going. We assured him that as long as we had the business, we would always strive to do our level best, not only to continue production of these fine designs, but also to continue upgrading and improving them by the use of extra innovative ideas and technology. David was well aware of our determination to improve where possible, he oversaw a few of our changes to things, and he approved them unquestionably. What a privilege we have to be running this business, also we are so pleased to have taken the opportunity to celebrate the 40 year mark (below) and to have had time to get to know him & Gill on a personal level.
Eddie & Judy Stocker
Since Judy & I bought D B Sport & Scale, & through our various discussions with the man very well & affectionately known as ‘BODDO, it came to our notice that it must be around 40 years since David first started D B Models. I asked him if in fact that would be the case, and when he thought about it, he said "well yes, that would seem to be true".
This was sometime last year (08) so Judy & I suggested that we get together to celebrate the fact that the Business now known as D B Sport & Scale had survived for 40 years. Despite having been transferred through several ownerships (which in itself can cause its own adversities) the business has now been re-organised to fit in with the demands & requirements of today’s modellers. This has been greatly assisted & encouraged by David himself over the last few years.
David & I approximated a time of around May 1969 when D B Models would have been started, so we decided that it would be a good idea to get together for a celebratory meal during May when we would be in the Wellingborough area. Well Judy & I could not have wished for a warmer welcome than that received from David and his lovely wife Gill, together with their long close friend who worked with David from the start, Dave Toyer.
We had a lovely meal at a really nice restaurant called Dunkley’s, we discussed many things that were assosciated with this model business from its early days through to today, as well as our intentions for the future. It has to be said that when we became the new owners of the business, we had absolutely no idea of what really was involved. So many different aircraft designs, each with it’s own peculiarities & design specifics, where do you start?
It soon became apparent that the customers would dictate the direction in which we should go. Bill Harding (who sold the business to us) came over and showed us a method or two that were previously used in the production of kits. We very soon picked these up and produced our first batch of Tiger Moth kits.
Well a lot of time and water has flowed past since then in 2000, and we eventually progressed on to laser cutting. This brought yet more challenges as neither Judy nor I knew about computers prior to owning D B Sport & Scale, hence our learning curve maintained a vertical climb as we now tackled CAD drawings.
We have made a few very significant modifications to many of the designs in order to bring our models up to the expectations of today’s aeromodeller. These changes have essentially been internal constructional alterations to make the airframes easier to build. Also we elected to completely remove all foam construction from our airframes. On the larger aircraft, changes are also being implemented to facilitate wings to be in either two or four panels "depending on what aircraft it is" monoplane or biplane.
To bring these changes about meant that we needed to make alterations to the drawings. I have to say that this made me feel somewhat uncomfortable as these were the designs of a very well known & special designer, one with a very highly recognised ability to know that the aircraft would fly straight from the board with little or no trim required. So really I felt as if I were trespassing on ground that I had no right to. When this came up in conversation with "Boddo" he expressed complete surprise at this, as he hadn’t thought about it like that before, but he did understand why I felt as I did. He was very quick to reassure us that not only were our worries unfounded, but that also he fully supported what we were doing.
We are now in our tenth year of D B Sport & Scale, and David has been a tremendous source of help & encouragement to us. He has always been there to assist when we have had questions of varied sorts regarding aircraft and the history of his designs. Judy & I feel very privileged to have gained such a fine friend and to be running the business that he started 40 years ago.
We can only say a big THANK YOU to David for his continued support, and we will continue in our drive to bring D B Sport & Scale to the expectations of today’s customers.
Richard Bristow (Current)
Now for the awkward bit, writing about myself...:)
My eighteen earliest years were spent living in Tonteg, near Pontypridd in Wales. Having proceeded through sixth form at BrynCelynnog Comprehensive school I moved onto Aston University (Birmingham) to pursue a degree in Computer Science, this lasted for four years with one year being spent at what used to be British Steel in Port Talbot as the 'placement' part of my course. Hugely interesting with getting to go to the various plants within the massive site and don all the protective gear required for being in relatively near proximity to steel making processes.
Having successfully earned my degree, I relocated to Reading due to having accepted a role with a computer company in Hungerford. It was then called Kerridge Computer Company and I started working in the support department, we supplied and supported complete in house created, ERP software to the Distribution trade which was a very good foundation for many of todays challenges. Throughout the next seventeen years the company went through some changes and ended up being Kerridge Commercial Systems, new software but still complete ERP systems to companies with thousands of users through to companies with a few employees. I spent approximately half that time as Technical Support, ending as a Team leader and the other half as Application Support Team Leader, only in the last couple of years more team leader positions were created and members of my team successfully occupied these slots.
During that time, I have supported all the various modules you could find in an ERP system. From Accounts in the older NL, SL, PL format through to more recent GL developments. Through to Sales Order Processing, Purchasing and all the addons that go with those, to Warehouse management, Stock control and analysis Tools. Add to this being on the 24/7 out of hours technical support and dealing with more printing, unix/linux, web, ecommerce and ebusiness problems than you could possibly count, along with having designed and written innumerable rebuild programs to correct many issues (or just to locate issues). Customer meetings, customer training, internal training were all part of my activites throughout the years along with mentoring my technical and, later, application team.
In summary, I did alot in those seventeen years but the time had come to choose whether to remain in my relatively secure, decently paid job with pension and benefits or to pursue something more personally fullfilling. Around about that time, I happened across Eddie and Judy's retirement notifcation and eventually embarked on many months of planning to get to the current point.
In terms of modelling, I have always had an interest in many different types of modelling and will generally repair anything I possibly can first before turning to tradespeople but about five-ish years ago I was looking at model Boats. However, I then reminded myself my original Childhood 'want' was to fly Model Planes and Helicopters. Subsequently I bought some RCME's and commenced a test build from plan. I also embarked on training with Paul Heckles School (by now-friend, Dave Mordecai - plasterer, model flier/builder, windsurf teaching, fellow Welsh person).
Sadly I don't fly as much I would like because of our lovely weather and limitations with my previous work. I love building and I love flying (although I've still not got over the first flight of the day sweats!) and now I've gone one better than that and I now create beautiful kits for others to enjoy - can you beat the feeling and smell of opening a brand new box of laser cut balsa and ply, let alone one which also includes all of the other paraphanalia? I think not.
I have many plans but first and foremost is to retain all of the quality these kits now have. Basically watch this space and keep checking our *NEW* ecommerce website.
Happy Building and Flying,