Standing on the shoulders of giants?
Additional point: a boffin should build on the work of his or her predecessors. They can take the work of Newton, Einstein, Galileo, Oppenheimer et.al and think "wouldn't it be neat if we did this?" Of course, when their new ideas come to fruition, they should credit the original sources and perhaps explain what led to their examining this new line of research.
Anyone who takes someone else's research, builds on it and then claims all the credit is not a boffin. He or she would be a rip-off merchant.
Grammar Nazi icon because he has the look of a boffin-turned-lecturer :-)