In this article we will go through the essential items you will need to get started with building plastic model kits. For a more in depth look at model kits check out our Buyer's Guide to Plastic Model Kits.
Choosing your first model kit
I advise choosing one of the many starter sets available from Airfix and Revell for your first model kit. These are the perfect place to start. The models contained within a starter set are specifically chosen because they are easy to assemble for beginners. The Supermarine Spitfire is iconic and is the most popular choice for a first model. As well as aircraft there are starter sets for cars and tanks.
In addition to the model kit, each starter set also includes paints for the main colours required for the model, as well as a small tube of glue and a brush. I advise also getting an adhesive for clear parts, such as Revell Contacta Clear, as the normal glue can cloud up clear parts like car windows and aircraft canopies. I also advise getting a set of brushes such as the Humbrol Flat Brushes Pack as the brush included in the starter set is great for smaller details but not so good for larger areas.
Essential Tools & Accessories
There are a few tools you will need to construct your plastic model kit. The most important tools are a pair of clippers for removing the parts from the sprues and a knife or abrasive file to remove burrs left over from where the part was attached to the sprue and for removing mould lines. A cutting mat will help protect the surface you are working on. There are tool sets available containing the essential tools, such as the Model Craft 9 Piece Plastic Model Tool Set.
Check out our Buyer's Guide to Tools for Model Making for an in depth look at all of the additional tools and accessories available.
The starter set includes the main paints you need to complete the model, but you have the option of getting additional paints for smaller details. As an example, with the Spitfire you will get the paints for the camouflage on the upper surfaces, for the underside, and for the propeller and nose cone. The instructions will also indicate any additional paints required for the interior of the cockpit, control panel, and any other small details. For your first model I recommend building it with just the main colours, then getting the additional colours for your next kit. As you build more kits you will slowly build up a collection of paints, so that you will need to get less and less when buying more kits.
Check out our Buyer's Guide to Model Paint for an in depth look at all of the different kinds of paint used for plastic model kits.