Plastic Model Kit Selection

 A Buyers’ Guide to Model Kits...

In recent years a number of people have returned to their childhood hobby of building model kits. In my youth it was the Saturday morning trip to the local toy shop to buy an Airfix kit, the main criteria at that time was how quickly we could build them and in the beginning they were never painted, now younger modellers can quickly put together a pre-painted snap together kit such as Revell’s Easy Kit range. As I got older attempts were made to fill gaps with putty, paint the correct schemes and building kits from the leading Japanese manufacturers such as Tamiya

Many gave up the hobby in their teenage years, me included, as other priorities took over, work or university and then family life. For us returnees the hobby it had changed vastly in terms of the quality and variety of kit, also the availability of aftermarket upgrade parts in the form of Photo Etch (PE) and resin, this can make it all a bit daunting.

 Airfix ModelsRevell Model KitsTamiya Model Kits

Model Kit Selection

Plastic model kit selection is always a personal choice; your main interest may be aircraft, armour and vehicles or ships and boats. There are some additional considerations when selecting a kit: how much time, currently skill level and available space to build and store completed kits.

Limited time could mean that large complex kits are avoided, there is little satisfaction in working on the same project for months only to lose motivation, and I’ve experienced this myself. On several occasions in my 20 and 30’s I purchased kits that were too complicated and time consuming, an Airfix 1/24th Harrier GR3 springs to mind, only for them to be eventually discarded.

1/24 Harrier Kit

Skill Level   

Skills come with persistence and practice, if you are new or just a bit rusty you may want to start on a smaller less complicated project, this has the added attraction of finishing a project quickly without wasting money on an expensive kit.  

There are many to choose from however Airfix have recently produced some great priced and well received 1/48th kits such as the new BF 109E.

Model Kit Scale

If you have limited space then a collection of 1/32nd or 1/24th scale aircraft will take up far more room than 1/48th or 1/72nd aircraft.

The most popular scales for plastic model kits are as follows.

Aircraft: 1/24, 1/32, 1/48, 1/72, 1/100, and 1/144

Military vehicles: 1/16, 1/35, 1/48 ,1/72, 1/76

Automobiles: 1/8,1/12,1/16,1/18,1/20,1/24,1/25,1/32,1/35,1/43

Ships: 1/72, 1/96, 1/144, 1/350, 1/450, 1/600, 1/700


For aircraft generally 1/48th allows a good balance between size and the level of detail; however if this is your first kit or first kit in a long time you may want to select a straight forward 1/72nd kit.

Basic Modelling Tools & Materials

To complete a model to a reasonable level there are some basic tools the modeller requires.


Sharp craft knife

Side cutters



Paint brushes

Revell and Tamiya supply starter tools sets for the modeller, I would also recommend a filler product to deal with any gaps where the plastic kits join, most of the manufacturers have their own branded versions there are others by companies such as Squadron whose products are used by a lot of modellers.




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