There is a bug in xfig since RH5.1 up to RH6.0.
The bottom icons disappear. Xfig FAQ points out that
it is due to wrong version of Xaw library.
under what circumstances do they disappear? Please give us a test
case (or set of steps to produce the problem).
Here is what xfig FAQ says:
Icons in side and bottom panels appear then disappear
On Linux (2.0.29 at least), the libNextaw version of the Athena Widget set
(libXaw) seem to cause this problem.
Relink with vanilla libXaw or libXaw3d.
As to your question -- they always disappear.
They should be there from the beginning, after you type "xfig".
They are not!
fixed for next release.