Schabak und Herpa


I know, the title sounds like a German doctor telling you that you have a venereal disease. It’s not.

I was cleaning up in my storage room last weekend when I came across my collection of metal planes. I started my collection in the late 1980’s and the best models at that time were by a company called Schabak. Unlike previous “toys” – which were made out of plastic and totally out of scale – Schabak made these die-cast metal planes which were quite realistic. The main drawback was that the plane logos were made of decals – they could at times be applied sloppily (you had to take the plane out of the box and inspect before buying) and over time the decals would become very dry and break/peal off. But I loved collecting these planes during my late teens and early 20’s. They weren’t always easy to find though and were rare in North America. I would search for them especially when going across to Europe and would ask anyone I know to pick one up for me if they were going. My criteria in picking a plane (which usually retailed between $8 – $13) would be: 1) an airline I had previously flown, 2) “exotic” airlines that you don’t have a chance to see everywhere. I ended up with over 100 in my collection.

Not knowing what to do with my collection, I built myself an airport made out of wood and cardboard. I bought miniature lights which I built into the runway and also installed within the airport. I built gates to park my planes and made accessories like buses, gas trucks, fire engines, and baggage carts. It looked pretty cool. When I met my ex-wife she made me get rid of the airport. I’ve kept most of my planes in a box since then but have added a few over the years (see below on Herpa planes). But when I looked them over this weekend I realized there’s been a lot of changes in aviation, both of the models of planes flown today and the colour schemes of the airlines. I thought it would make for an interesting post on the changes in aviation over the last 20 years.

Below are some of my old planes (purchased mostly in late 80’s and 90’s).


Above: Our national airline. You don’t see many L-1011’s or 727’s around anymore.

BA L-1011

Above: I miss the old British Airways colours. I hated it when they changed their colour schemes in the late 1990’s, adopting the “ethnic leveries” where they used art and designs from international artists on the tails.


Above: Hawaiian Airlines DC8. You rarely see DC8’s anymore.

NW 747

Above: I always liked Northwest’s colours.

SA Fokker

Above: Who ever figured SwissAir would go broke?

United 757

Above: United’s old colours

PanAm A310

Above: I also miss Pan Am

AL L-1011

Above: Air Lanka L-1011 (I lost a wheel)

BA Concorde

Above: younger people won’t recognize the Concorde.

AD 747 & A320

Above: I’ve always loved Air France’s colours.

Aeroflot TU204

Above: Aeroflot with one of the old Tupelovs.

American DC10 AT 767

Above and below: I always tried finding the more exotic airlines

AM 747

Ecuatoriana DC10 & A310

CA 767

Above: Another airline I miss – it gave Air Canada some competition and was the better airline in my opinion.

SA 747

Above: Old South African Airlines with the springbok.

Saudi L-1011


In the late 1990’s Herpa (another German company) started showing up more in toy stores. They were more for the serious collector though than the above Schabak planes; no decals, the logos are painted on. The quality was far superior visually, even the wheels roll (you probably started judging me as a geek when reading this post so I’m not embarassed to admit that us plane enthousiasts also like to roll our planes down imaginary runways and pretend we are taking off). The problem with Herpa planes is that they’re not meant to be played with because the tails tend to snap off. Herpa planes also much more expensive, most of the ones I have are in the mid- $20 range. But the thing that annoyed me the most is that Herpa has built them in 1:500 scale versus Schabak which is in 1:600 scale. It means my plane collection isn’t compatible – I can’t have my Schabak and Herpa planes sitting next to each other on the tarmac of my airport .

Below: Herpa planes


Above: UTA, my favorite airline that no longer exists (broken tail and front wheel).


AN A310

Above: again, broken tail, broken wheel

AZ 767

Above: I had searched for an Air Zimbabwe for a really long time. Finally found it.

SL A340

CA 747


Anyone else have a model plane collection and not too embarassed to admit it? I’d love to see photos of other people’s collections as well as any accessories (like airports) that they’ve built around their planes.




  1. I’m dying. Seriously, tears are falling down my face from laughing so hard. But, while I think your post is amusing, Kris agrees 100% with you regarding scale. You guys need to meet up and compare your collections. Although, not too many are left in his. He does have his retirement gift from his time working at the airline, a 1:100 757 America West Livery (as seen here:
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    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Lissette says we cannot meet, she doesn’t want us comparing model planes all night long 🙁 Oh well 🙂
      Thanks, glad you got some chuckles from the newsletter.

  2. Now you have two comments on this post. 🙂 I remember the first flight of the Concorde (hey, sounds like a good name for a New Zealand TV show!) to JFK – my high school teacher at the time made us look out the window as the plane was coming into JFK. She said “You’ll always remember where you were for this historic event” and she was right. My first overseas flight was on Pan Am so that one will always hold a soft spot in my heart. My aunt used to work for them and when I was 8 years old she took me on a trip to England and Ireland on Pan Am. So sad that the ex made you get rid of the airport – sounds like it was a real labor of love!
    Travels and Tipples recently posted…Something’s Brewing in LichMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Those are great stories Patricia. The only time I actually saw the Corcorde was on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle. You actually saw it in flight? I never flew pan Am but I watched the TV show. Those were the best days of travel. I felt about UTA the way you felt about Pan Am.
      Its ok about the ex, in the end I turned the tables and got rid of her too. Then I put my planes back up 🙂

  3. Juan Carlos Harris says:

    Now you have THREE comments on this post. See? you are not a loser! It happens that I love planes too and I wasn’t aware of this post before! 😛 I just loved your scale planes.
    Greetings from Mexico City

  4. Ha ha, you should meet my dad, he was an aeronautical engineer and one of the guys who designed the Boeing 747 engine (he’d be so chuffed to know it’s your favourite!). It was him who taught me all about how ailerons work, and what thrust is! One possibly more useful than the other to a teenage girl not remotely interested in mechanics! He had models that he built himself and flew off our local hill. I remember him spending a year lovingly building an acrobatic little number, painted all shiny in red and white, only for it to be lost over a cliff on it’s inaugural flight. It’s still down in the sea somewhere off the coast of Wales. He’d be impressed with all your toys, I’d hate for the two of you to get together, although at least I’d have a few days solid to go drown my sorrows with Lissette 🙂
    Heather Cole recently posted…Champing – would you sleep in a church?My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Your dad sounds like a cool guy!
      The only other plane high on my list that I really want to fly is the A380. But I have to change our flight back from SA from Cape Town to Johannesburg and I hear that BA flies 380s on the J’Burg – London route. If so I’d be pretty darn excited…

  5. We flew on the Emirates 380 last year to Dubai (en-route to Joburg), can confirm even in economy class it was pretty nice!
    Heather Cole recently posted…30 unique travel gifts for ChristmasMy Profile

  6. That is quite a collection. I remember flying on L-1011’s, Delta’s had a lot of legroom. Remember the Big Orange that flew into DFW? Also I worked on Concorde Development for BAC. Years later it would fly directly over our apartment at around 1700 hours every day – noisy, but a beautiful plane.
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