For many builders, scale modeling is mildly therapeutic, while for some, it satisfies their primal urge to build and create something.
Building model kits is fun but can also be hard. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to try to get pieces to fit appropriately or try to find an almost microscopic piece of plastic that has fallen on the floor.
Often, you’ll get frustrated trying to hold tiny pieces just right so you can sand and glue them to ensure precise assembly on the model.
The good news is that not all parts of the model building are frustrating.
For instance, armored tanks are easily fun to engage in because it requires no masking and is tolerant to less than a perfect finish. Cars, on the other hand, aren’t difficult to build. You’d only have to put more effort into the painting.
The hard part of model kits
Piecing the interiors and painting are two hard parts of building model kits.
On one hand, you have some easy kits like the old Tamiya models, which you can assemble in a single day because they have low parts count. On the other hand, you may get some Airfix, Dragon, and Meng models with insane interiors, which means hundreds and hundreds of parts. Only those kits with hundreds of interiors will make building your kit a frustrating experience.
Besides this, the painting phase can cause quite a stir, especially if you’ve never painted a model before. Even experienced painters still find painting a difficult task because of the thinning, mixing, and layering techniques they have to use.
Painting model kits is the hard part
The assembly is usually the most straightforward phase when building scale model kits, while painting has a learning curve that makes it quite tasking.
You can assemble a Tamiya kit in a single day as long as the parts are few. But, no matter how good you are at painting, you’ll need more than a day to complete the painting task and achieve a satisfactory finish.
Although painting techniques like hand brushing are easier even for entry-level painters, it has a learning curve. So, also do airbrush and spraying techniques.
Also, consider that you’ll need to know how to color blend and mix colors to get the perfect shades intended for the model. Moreover, colors with thick pigments could destroy your hard work, so you’ll need to strip the paint and start over.
Luckily, painting can prove easier when you learn how to thin paints to get the right consistency and mix well, especially in an airbrush, and also learn precision control so you get the perfect thin layers that build up to create a satisfactory showroom finish.
Good instructions will make the build easier
Manufacturers understand that no matter how experienced one is in model kits, they also need a detailed pictorial and illustration description to guide them on how to build your model kit.
For this reason, they designed the user’s manual in the simplest form possible with spruce numbered and represented with diagrams to show each stage of the building process. Plus, many non-English manufacturers make the instructions available in English so that non-native speakers of their language can understand what they see.
But that does not mean all instructions are perfect. You’ll find some with vague diagrams, lack of parts or spruce details, and bad English translation (or lack of translation).
Some brands will be harder to assemble than others
Japanese model brands like Tamiya, Hasegawa, and Fujimi, are some of the finest brands with the straightforward build.
But, brands like Dragon, Trumpeter, Meng, and Rye Field can be challenging to build because they are so detailed and typically have millions and millions of parts in them.
Ships are the hardest model kits
Most model builders will think that because airplanes have fragile parts they are typically harder to build, but they aren’t.
By far, ships, whether sailing ships or World War II ships, are the more complex builds. They usually come fully rigged and railed with many parts and gun emplacements and they may take ages to build.
It also becomes more difficult when you have to drill out portholes. Even harder is when the ship has a wood or plank frame.
Choose the right difficulty level to your skills
There are five skill levels in model building:
- Level 1: These kits are no more challenging than drawing a circle. They usually contain less than 20 parts and are ideal for entry-level modelers and kids.
- Level 2: Like skill level 1, level 2 kits are also straightforward but have high parts count, typically between 20 to 100 pieces.
- Level 3: Model kits within this range are a bit more complex than skill level 2. They require cutting, filling, shaping, and constructing parts to ensure precision build. They usually have over 100 spruce parts.
- Level 4: these are advanced kits with more detailed parts than skill level 3. And like level 2, they usually have more than 100 pieces.
- Level 5: Model kits within this skill level are typically for more advanced modelers because they are at the helm of the complicated build. Their kits are built to depict every detail of the real-life model. You’ll often find advanced pieces like rotating propellers on aircraft and suspension on automobiles.
What level should you start with model kits
Experience and age play a significant part in determining the right model kit to start with.
If you’re getting a model kit for someone below ten, a skill level 1 kit, built snap-fit will be a good start. It only requires a little work to get accurate details since the kits are mostly pre-assembled and require a little fix.
Adult modelers will do best with a level 3 kit since they are challenging but still easy to assemble.
If you are missing essential tools, the build will be harder
Regardless of your skill level, the most common tools you’ll need to start building a model kit include:
- Sprue cutter, typically a hobby knife
- Sandpaper or sanding file
- Paint Brushes
A good starting kit
Good starting kits are those kits that won’t make building your first model frustrating.
1/35 scale armor tanks, 1/72 and 1/48 scale aircraft models, 1/350 or 1/700 scale ship models, 1/144 scale Gundam kits, and 1/24 scale cars are some of the easiest kits you want to start with. They are usually small and won’t have large spruce parts. Plus, they are straightforward.
A good starter kit you want to consider is the Revell 1:48 Spitfire MKII. It has only 34 parts and is a good level 1 and 2 kit for beginners.
So, is it hard to build model kits?
Building a model kit is a rewarding hobby because it allows you to recreate real-life and fictional models.
While it can be frustrating to build, especially if you prefer chip models, it can also be a therapeutic hobby that helps you relax after a stressful day or week. Just forget about the time needed to complete the build and focus on having fun.
The instructions guide will put you through no matter how complex the build may seem.