A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO PLASTIC MODEL KITS
WHAT ARE PLASTIC MODEL KITS?
Plastic model kits arrive in the form of plastic parts which need to be assembled and painted to create the finished product.
The plastic parts usually arrived attached to a frame called a sprue. Each part will be numbered so that the correct part can be easily found according to the step-by-step instruction manual. To detach the plastic parts from the sprue, a pair of clippers are recommended, as these minimise any potential twisting of parts caused when detaching by hand. A rough patch is often left after detaching the plastic parts, here you can use a craft knife or file to create a smooth finish. The parts may need gluing or snapping into place, as per the instructions. It is recommended to use polystyrene cement for gluing parts. The instructions will indicate which colour the parts needs painting & where decals are to be placed, if any. Some plastic model kits arrive pre-painted, eliminating the need to paint the parts.
WHAT TYPES OF MODEL KITS ARE AVAILABLE?
The most common plastic model kits found are of cars, motorcycles, trucks, military vehicles & figures, ships, boats & aircraft. In addition, there are also model kits of modern and historic dioramas (such as the 1969 moon landings), famous landmarks, trains, farming, machinery, buildings & animals.
WHAT ARE MODEL SKILL LEVELS?
Plastic model kits range in complexity from smaller snap-on kits to larger complex kits. Some brands such as Airfix and Revell indicate a skill level for each of their models, ranging from Level 1 to Level 5. Level 1-2 kits are suitable for first-time modellers. Level 3-5 offers a more difficult challenge for experienced modellers, which more parts and complexity. A modeller with the experience to build Level 3 models would likely have the skill needed to build a Level 5 model, but these include significantly more parts and would take much longer to complete.
Most other brands don’t indicate a skill level, but the number of parts & size of the model gives a good idea as to how difficult a model will be.
WHAT ARE MODEL SETS/STARTER KITS?
Some brands produce a range of starter sets, these include base paints, glue & brushes. Starter sets tend to be around level 1-3 in terms of difficulty, making them perfect for the first-time modeller.
WHICH TOOLS AND PAINTS DO I NEED?
Essential tools and accessories can be found in the Essential Modellers Tool Kit. The following is a list of the tools and paints which we recommend.
GLUE: The most important tool for building plastic model kits is glue, also known as poly cement. It effectively holds the plastic parts together. Some glues come with a needle applicator (most suitable when working with smaller parts) and others with a brush applicator (most suitable when working with larger parts). There are also thin-liquid glues that dry quicker than their normal counterpart.
PLIERS/SIDE CUTTERS: These can be used to detach the plastic parts from the sprue.
CRAFT KNIFE: This can be used to cut out some parts, and smooth out any rough areas caused by detachment from the sprue.
TWEEZERS: Tweezers are useful when dealing with small and intricate parts. And can be used to hold plastic parts for painting and applying decals.
ABRASIVES: Abrasives such as files & sand paper develop further upon the craft knife, to provide a smoother, more blended finish if necessary.
PAINT BRUSHES: Paint brushes are used to apply paint to plastic parts. There are multiple types of brushes, the two main being flat or round. Flat brushes are most suitable for flat and large surfaces. Whereas, round brushes are most suitable for smaller, more intricate parts.
PAINTS: Most plastic model kits require paints. The instruction manual for your model which indicate which paints colours are recommended.
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