What are model kits – Beginner’s Guide

If you love building something from scratch with your own hands and love history, machines, and vehicles, a good creative experience you can engage in is the hobby of model building. 

Model Kits Beginner’s Guide – Everything You Need To Know

Model kits are scale miniatures of real production vehicles. Most people build model kits for the history of the model, for the enjoyment of the building, and even as a therapy.

Basically, when people buy model kits, they build them according to the instructions, paint them in several different ways, and put them to display. 

Yet, today, the challenge of the model hobbyists is to re-make the original model in a build size that showcases the features of the actual item and is affordable enough for the buyer. For this reason, the most popular model kits usually come in the 1/35, 1/48, and 1/72 scales.

However, you will sometimes find a few other more unusual scales in the market, such as the 1/18, 1/24, 1/32, 1/43, and 1/64 scales, especially if the model subject has a large form.  

Regardless, what defines model kits is that they come in several small pieces that requires reassembling to craft the final product. 

What types of model kits are there?

Model kits have different categories, from model trucks to cars, tanks, planes, boats and many more. Yet, choosing a model that fits your interests is never easy. You need to understand that you will be putting lots of hours and labor into achieving a realistic model. Hence, you need to know the types of model kits on the market. 

The most common model kits in the market are: 

  • Model Car Kits: Love cars? Model car kits will help you create a look-alike version of your favorite or dream car, no matter the year or brand. 
  • Model Truck Kits: if you are into larger vehicles like trucks, these kits also allow you to build your favorite truck. 
  • Plastic Model Kits: A plastic model kit is a model made from dense polystyrene plastic. They often require painting and usually include water-slide decals to apply.
  • Model Plane Kits: This is for the air force fans. If you love planes, these kits will help you build a model of your choice even without you having the experience flying one. 
  • Model Ship Kits: Love the movie the Pirates of the Caribbean? Model ship kits will help you create your realistic version of Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship. 
  • Model Tank Kits: Love history? Do the military tanks fascinate you? With a Model tank kit, you could build yours to display them in your home. Model tank kits are often designed for advanced builders since they require more skills and technical knowledge. 
  • Engine Model Kits: If you are interested, even the smallest size, engine motor kits help you craft a geniune motor while featuring mechanical components like ignition sounds and spark plugs. 
  • Rocket model kit: The engineering enthusiast will find the rocket model kit an educational and fun experience, almost like building the real thing. 
  • Metal model kits: These models are crafted with flat pieces of thin metal and will require some fine motor skills and small tools to help with assembly.
  • Wood model kits: Love wood craft? Wood kits will help you design several automobiles and fun model building pieces in wood form. 
  • Star Trek model kits: If you are a sci-fi fan and have watched the original Star Trek series, you must have seen the iconic ship, the Battlestar Galactica. You could build yours for your shelf with Star Trek model kits. 
  • Star Wars Model Kits:  The best way to keep your Star Wars fantasy alive is to create a miniature model of your favorite part of the movie. 

10 most known model kits brands

Unlike ancient times, every market has more than one major player, no matter their niche; the model kit market is no different. Today, you will find more than ten different companies producing one form of large-scale vehicle miniature representations the other, each with its type of material. 

Here are ten of the most known model kits brands in the industry

Are model kits still popular?

Model making has existed since before civilization, from being buried in tombs of ancient Egyptians to represent possessions the dead took into the next world to being used as documents of warfare that are highly prized today among antique collectors. For this reason, you may think the model building is a thing of the past. The good news is that today there are more exciting and diverse kits available than ever.

While once the core hobby of many people born in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, the model building today has grown industrial technology to make them appear seamless, functional, and more aesthetically pleasing to conform with the current digital age.

And, unlike model kits in ancient civilizations, modelers of today combine the best elements the digital age has to offer to create simple, versatile, large, bright, and colorful scale models never produced in ancient times. 

Hence, if you’re wondering whether model kits are still popular today, the simple answer is YES. More and more people are harnessing their love for creation, while some are finding new hobbies to stay active, and building a scale model is the perfect go-to choice for them. 

Are model kits hard

Model kit building requires you to understand the basics of design and technology since it involves creating structures and unique designs and fixing control mechanisms.

Plus, math skills are essential in taking measurements, calculating space, and developing shape. 

To build advanced and expert scale models, you also need to know about sciences, including force, energy, and motion. Apart from this, creative skills are essential. For this reason, building model kits can be challenging for people without the right skills and experience. 

Model kits are grouped into five skill sets, representing how difficult they are to complete; they include:

  • Level 1: The perfect level for beginners and younger model builders between ages 5 to 10. It is a snap-together skill level that does not require glue or paintwork. Younger modelers will only need a knife and file to create their model. 
  • Level 2: Also, at a beginner level, it’s easy to make your miniature automobiles at this level. Unlike level 1, this level requires glue and paints to complete. Model kits in this range usually have less than 100 pieces.
  • Level 3: Often used by intermediate modelers, model kits in this range comes in smaller and more detailed parts. The kit pieces usually range from 1 to 100 pieces.
  • Level 4: This level is perfect for advanced modelers since they get to build with advanced kits that have extra-fine details. Plus, the kit pieces often range over a hundred.
  • Level 5: Unlike the advanced kits, only expert and professional modelers can use this skill set. Also called customized kits, the model kits in this level have super-detailed parts, can contain hundreds of pieces, and often come with moving parts, like the car suspension, plane propellers, and movable turrets on tanks. Other electronic part modellers under this level will know how to fix includes the bumper, engine, and hubcaps. 

Are model kits toys

Most diehard fans of scale model building find it offensive when people mislabel their model kits as toys. However, many non-modelers believe these model kits to be toys because, by definition, any object bought or used for personal enjoyment and entertainment is a toy. 

While model kits are not exclusively made for children, they are a hobby that requires skills and competence. Add the fact that, unlike toys, you can never really play with them since they break easily.  

Hence, while just anything that helps you achieve fun can be called toys, model kits are more than toys. They take a lot of time building, painting, and customising, they require a skill set and passion as other model makers and authentic vehicle manufacturers do. 

Can you play with model kits?

Though many model kits come with locomotive parts that add more fun to the experience, they are not toys and should not be played with because they are delicate and quickly snap if used continuously and wrongly. Model Kits are meant for display purposes, whether finished or painted. 

Many products used in building model kits, such as topcoats and modeling cement, are hazardous to humans and should be treated with care. Hence, they are not 100% safe. Plus, they also require attention, especially when handling things like screws and piping.

Instead of using it as a play object, model kits are best used for harnessing concentration skills, relaxation, and technical assembly skills. The process also helps you learn more about how things work. Scale model building is meant to entertain you while giving you an inner sense of fulfillment of having accomplished something worthwhile.

What do you need for model kits?

Models kits are designed with different materials, and depending on the material type, you may be required various tightening and holding gears such as small nails, screws, glues, or the three combined to put them together. They will also require some painting to complete so they appear as they do on the box. A sharp knife and file are two essential tools needed for cutting and smoothing the model. 

Additionally, you might also want to consider your skill level since it determines how well you can cope with the building process. It also determines the results you get. 

In short, building model kits is never a simple task. It demands you have experience with other types of building products, so you know where your skill level lies.

You will also need cutting, smoothing, tightening, bonding, and painting materials to create a worthwhile miniature of the original automobile. 

What is the benefit of building a scale model?

The simple answer is that building a scale model entertains you, helps you fulfill your urge for creation, and acts as a therapeutic process that helps you concentrate, relax, and unwind. It also piques your research interest. 

Like every other hobby, the main benefit of building a scale model is that you are entertained and satisfy your urge for creation. Rather than buy a ready-made model, you get the chance to build it from scratch and get involved in the process.

For more advanced builders, the benefit of model building is that they have the opportunity to produce a model that fits their imagination, so they are not limited to buying customized models. 

On the other hand, building scale models can be a therapeutic process for many. It is also a great practice to maintain my focus, motor skills, and concentration. Plus, it helps many people unwind, relax, and ultimately have a great sense of achievement when a model turns out as they imagined. Scale model building also has educational benefits since it helps you know more about the historical background of whatever you build. 


Model-building is a fun hobby with no age restriction, and while many non-modelers consider model kits toys, they are much more. Used rightly, building scale models can be an educational and rewarding activity that not only provides the much-needed leisure people need in this 24-hours round-the-clock lifestyle. It is also beneficial in alleviating anxiety and depression and improvees one’s cognitive skills such as concentration, visual-motor skills, and many other organizational, strategizing, and planning processes in the brain. The best part is that model kits come in different types to suit your preference. 

If you are in the market to keep your creation hobby alive, manufacturers like Tamiya, Revell, and Airfix are some of the most common brands to consider.