The early kits all had a single picture of the boat on each kit box - an artist's illustration of the imagined full-size craft in a typical setting. See the Range list for a description of each boat.



Ernie Webster did a lot of the advertising layout and photography work, and his son Dudley is often featured prominently in the EeZeBilt adverts....
By the late 1970s the kits came with a different box illustration. These later boxes had three or four pictures on the front, showing the illustrations as before, and you needed to look on the side of the box to find out which one you had.
Early 'Model Maker' pages reproduced by kind permission from the collection of ModelBoatMayhem's 'Circlip'.
When Keil Kraft finally closed, the company name was still the leading brand-name for models in the UK, and the companies who bought up the remains often distributed items under the old name. Lots of old stock remained in model shops throughout the country, so it was not immediately apparent that Keil Kraft had ceased to be. Amerang took over production and distribution of many kits, amongst them the EeZeBilt boat range, and changed the box art yet again, to a set of photographs of the finished kits rather than an artists impression. The Keil Kraft name is still displayed prominently...
I recall buying an EeZeBilt boat kit from a UK model shop in 1989, then looking for one of the kits in the early 2000s, and finding that the local shop no longer stocked it. Amerang may have withdrawn the range sometime around 1995?

When the EeZeBilt range went they took with them something that ready-built carbon fibre hulls and brushless motors could not replace. We lost a cheap and easy introduction into the world of making model boats, a kit which a child of 10 could afford and build for themselves, a kit which would provide a sense of accomplishment and confidence, and spur them on to better and greater creations. And in the long run, this may damage the world of modelling more than was appreciated at the time...

Ernie Webster died a few years ago, after retiring from his position as Head of Art at John O'Gaunt School in Hungerford. Much of his life was spent teaching, and it is good to know that seven primary lessons of his in the art of marine modelling still remain with us, and countless future generations...
In the late 1950s Britain was just pulling out of the 'Austerity era'. Average wages were 12 a week, making a 1958 pound worth 40 in today's money. On the modelling scene simple radio was beginning to make its first appearance, though it would be 10 years before the first digital proportional systems were cheaply available. In the meantime, young kids gazed at catalogues and magazines showing boats costing the equivalent of 100 or more, boats they could never afford...
Eddie Keil, a competition aeromodeller who had moved into model manufacturing and distribution before the war, had a growing range of aircraft kits, many designed by the legendary Albert E Hatfull. His company, Keil Kraft, was to become the premier modelling name in the country, and in 1946 he had signed up an enterprising and talented 22 year old designer, E. J.(Ernie) Webster, perhaps less well known now but no less talented than Albert.

As well as working on Keil Kraft control line and free-flight aircraft, Ernie Webster designed the static series of galleons, and, with an eye to encouraging new modellers, most of the EeZeBuilt starter range. This started with the Sedan and Sportster aircraft in 1955, but a few years later marine modellers got their first cheap beginners kits.

Here is the 'Model Maker' for Dec 1958, when the new EeZeBilt boat range was just coming out for the Christmas market.....
The first tranche of EeZeBilt boats looked well placed to take on the opposition. They were cheaper, not that much smaller, and included everything apart from motor and glue. The quality of the fittings was low, but the pocket-money price was irresistible...
I suspect few readers will have bought the Swan or Cygnet under those names. By 1960 they had been renamed Triton and Neptune (perhaps a name clash with some other manufacturer?).

During 1960-61 an additional smaller range of three even cheaper boats was announced, the Terrier, Otter and Curlew. The EeZeBilt range was set to become the biggest seller of model boat kits in the country ...
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Early 'Model Boats' pages reproduced by kind permission from the collection of ModelBoatMayhem's 'Kiwi'.
Here is a less common sight from 1974 - a picture of the made-up boats. Keil Kraft advertising usually employed graphic artists to give an evocative picture of the finished article...
As far as I can tell, the Keil Kraft company did not survive the 1980s. Their last handbook was issued in 1980, and I think that the company ceased trading not many years later. As part of the retrenchment which must have accompanied this decline, some time between 1975 and 1979 the 'Cresta' Outboard Motor Boat was withdrawn. It had required the purchase of a specialist model outboard motor which cost a lot more than the kit, so I assume it was a poor seller, and perhaps the outboard motor became unavailable?
The 1960s were years of change for Keil Kraft. In 1966 Ernie Webster left to pursue a career in teaching, and in December 1968 Eddie Keil died in a motoring accident.

The company continued for at least ten more years, so these blows were not immediately fatal, but the EeZeBilt range was not developed any further. The metal propeller included with the kit was changed to a plastic one, probably sometime in the 1970s, but that would have been a supplier-driven decision...
KeilKraft brand name owned by Amerang Ltd ,Commerce Way ,Lancing Business Park,Lancing ,West Sussex BN15 8TE
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