Plastic models have been a part of people’s childhoods for generations and many carry on the hobby into adulthood. But with such a range of designs and levels of complexity, where do you begin?
For young potential modellers and adults wanting a quick and easy project, we recommend sticking to model kits labelled as “Level 1”. Each manufacturer has their own ranking system, but level 1 kits are usually small with few parts and some also come with paints and glue included. The general rule of thumb is the higher the level, the more components you will have to assemble and, certainly with the larger models, these can be quite fiddly.
Another thing to consider is the scale of the kit. Scales are usually expressed as a ratio – 1:100 for example – and the smaller the second number, the more detailed the kit will be and the more components you are likely to have to deal with, not to mention the physical size of the finished model itself.
Whilst level 1 kits often come with paints and glue included, higher level kits usually don’t and it helps to understand a bit about what paint and glue are available. Standard poly-cement is still the best option for gluing model kit components together as it is easy to apply and relatively cheap. The instructions in the model kit will come with numbers referring to the particular colours of paint needed for the kit (no reason why you can’t choose your own colour scheme, of course!) and it’s best to have a couple of brushes of different sizes, one large for painting large areas and one small for fine detail.
It’s always best to go through the instructions first before starting any assembly just to make sure you understand what will be required and to highlight any potentially tricky sections. You’ll want a suitable craft knife for separating the components from the plastic frame they come on and a small file for getting rid of any extra bits of plastic.
If you want a “no-mess” option, some manufacturers offer what are called “quick build” kits which are easy, snap together kits that require no glue and no paint. These are great for younger modellers just starting out or as a very quick project for those with more experience.
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