Beginner’s How-To Guide To Plastic Modeling

  • By: Richard
  • Time to read: 9 min.

If you are interested in building plastic models, this is the guide for you. It will take you through all of the basics and beyond to help make your hobby as enjoyable as possible. From choosing what scale model is best for you to assembling a kit and painting it, we’ll show you how easy it can be! The more time that passes since I’ve come back from Japan with my first 1/144 Zaku II (and one last Gundam!), the more I’m itching to get back into modeling again.

Some Useful Tools

I’ve found that the tools you use can make a huge difference in how your model comes together. I recommend using these specific types of tools, but also be creative and think outside the box! When building my models, I often develop ideas for homemade or improvised materials to create different items like tiny pieces of wire, cotton swabs (the kind doctors usually use), etc. Be thinking about what type of tool will work best when working on a project-you’ll soon find yourself coming up with great new ways to go from one step in construction through completion by improvising whatever is needed at any given moment.

Here are some of the tools that I use when making models from left to the right:

  • Sandpaper & Emory Boards
  • Dental pick
  • Micro files
  • Side cutters
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Deburring tool (Red handle)
  • Hobby Knife (Yellow handle)
  • Needle nose pliers (Orange handle)
  • Awl
  • Scissors
  • Shown also are a parts holder with magnifying glass and model cement
  • Rubber Bands/Clothespins (not shown)

It can be hard to know where to start when you’ve got your eye on a new hobby. Let this list of essential supplies and equipment get you off the ground!


  • I didn’t even know that this stuff existed until recently. I’m going to give it a try. Underneath is putty, which is scale-model easily. I haven’t used it yet, but I probably will.
  • This is essential for thinning out the paints. It is a bad idea to paint directly from the pot.
  • Decal Set. Again, I had no idea that this existed. These solutions will make it easier to apply decals and keep them from peeling off in the future.
  • Of course, glue is a must. It comes in different consistencies pala. I’m such a newbie.
  • Panel accent. This I had to try. It fills in the panel gaps and makes the car look more realistic.
  • Surface primer.A real essential and quite pricey. As you can probably now tell, painting a scale model is a lot like painting a real car.
  • There are so many to choose from, but I will use what paint is required for now. There is a guide on the instruction sheet.
  • These are for handling small parts. It would help if you also had a nipper for cutting from the sprue and paint mixers and the super-important hobby knife.
  • Painting stand. You can rig up your own, of course. You don’t have to buy a Tamiya-branded one. But after using this thing, though, it pays for itself.

I never thought I would say this, but the 1980s have come back in style. When it comes to scale-model cars and their prices, some people can’t get enough of them. And for those who want more than a single model car (some don’t even know what they’re missing!), then you might be tempted by these bad boys! It’s so easy now with online stores that cater to collectors like me looking for specific models or factory paint jobs on an old favorite toy from our childhood days!

What is a Plastic Model Kit?

A plastic model kit is a great way to create your version of something you love. From the military, like an aircraft or tank, to science fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek models; from cars and trucks up to figure kits for anything in between – there’s no limit on what kind of craftsmanship can be created with these little pieces!

The process used to create a plastic model is known as injection molding. The manufacturer will first use steel plates with engraved models and fill the engravings with liquid styrene to harden them into solid shapes when cooled by air or water. After cooling down, these are removed from their molds in one long strand of parts for each kit made – this becomes called a “spur.”

Building plastic model kits is a classic yet modern hobby that has progressed with the evolution of technology in manufacturing. Although people have been building model kits for many decades, the newest models being released are of an unmatched quality we never thought possible just years ago, and they’re not only designed to be built by experts but also newbies like you! With more detail than ever before molded into each piece from factories, today’s manufacturers can finally provide us with what we’ve wanted all this time: an affordable way to learn how to build intricate pieces without breaking your wallet or patience.

Model kit building is a great next step for kids who love to build Legos and similar toys. It’s also a hobby that would be good for someone looking to try DIY projects with their hands. Model kit builders often take it up as the natural progression from Lego or like a toy, but model kits are on an entirely new level of experience!

How do I Know Where to Start?

It is always a good idea to start with the basics. Before beginning any project, the first thing you should do is determine what your interests are and how much experience you have in that area of interest. For example, if I wanted to build an airplane model kit from scratch but had no previous modeling experience, it would be best for me to work on something smaller like a car or truck so that I could gain some confidence-building models at this scale; while still working towards my goal!

Every modeler has their tastes and preferences, so it’s best to explore the different sections of the hobby shop before deciding what type of kit is right for you. You can find kits in military-type models like aircraft or ships; if your taste veers more towards cars, then look at scale car replicas such as Lamborghinis or Ferraris. If sci-fi/fantasy is a bit closer to your heart, see our selection of science fiction figures with everything from Storm Troopers to Darth Vader (or even Harry Potter!)

The scale determines the size of a model kit. The bigger the number, like 1/72 or 3 foot long to represent an object that’s 36 inches in real life – smaller objects are more likely to be represented with small-scale kits such as 1/24 and built at about 7.8″ for example (relative to their actual sizes). Be aware of the size of a model kit you are looking at. When all else fails, Google the real-life vehicle and divide it by its scale!

Once you’ve determined what category is best, there are endless possibilities for model kits to enjoy. You can pick one up that looks interesting and get started on the fun!

What Level of Kit do I Want to Buy

You might think that choosing the right model kit is an easy task, but there are many factors to consider before making your purchase. For instance, you can narrow down by skill level and size as well as a type snap kits come in three varieties:

  1. Airfix’s Quick Build kits are a great way to introduce the next generation of builders and hobbyists. Creating realistic-looking models from these kits is easy enough for any aspiring builder but challenging enough that it doesn’t bore experts either! The first kit in this article was made by Airfix using brick-building technology (similar to Lego), making assembling even more fun than before. There’s something here for everyone for those who like building smooth exterior curves with typical model pieces or those who were exploring their creativity through modeling techniques such as scratch building!
  2. One of my favorite beginner model kits is the Build ‘N Play made by Revell. These 12 piece models come with instructions telling you how to build a toy after it’s completed, which I think makes this kit more fun for kids than traditional ones that can’t be played once they’re built.
  3. The final and most popular kind of beginner model kit is a classic snap-together kit. These kits are great for beginners because they don’t need glue or paint to complete the project but can be challenging at times, especially when it comes time to assemble them – these models do not come apart without bending or breaking the plastic!

What Levels Of Kits Are There

If you are new to model kits, start with snap-together ones. If your child is too old for these or if they have already mastered them, move on to glue-based models. A general rule of thumb when selecting a kit: the more parts it has and the harder it will be for kids (or adults) to put together means that this requires greater skill levels than those with few parts and simpler instructions. Make sure you’re comfortable at one level before trying another!

I’ve Picked Out My Kit – What Else Do I Need To Buy?

Depending on what kind of kit you bought, you will most likely need some tools and supplies to complete the project. A hobby knife is needed for any model, while a pair of sprue cutters or “nippers” is necessary only if one has purchased advanced kits. The nippers help remove parts from their sprues cleanly, while the knives provide our mediums with which we can shave down models that don’t fit together properly or scrap away leftover pieces after the process is completed.

You will need some glue, paint, and brushes to start with. If you’re starting in the model building hobby, don’t overspend on supplies; purchase basic glue along with paints or even a kit. Please make your first few kits into learning experiences by not worrying about making them look professional–the result may surprise you! As time goes on, there will be plenty of helpful tools available at any price point that can make working easier and more enjoyable, so have fun experimenting as this new skill develops!

You can paint the kits without prior knowledge of painting or modeling if you have a basic understanding of color theory. Model kits will list what colors to buy, and most places that sell them will let you open one from their shelves, so they know which ones to recommend buying. Start with just enough tools for assembling your first kit!

How Do I Put it Together?

Every model kit comes with instructions, usually with pictures detailing what parts to use and which order. The parts are numbered by sprue and number (e.g., A5 would be part 5 on Sprue A). Follow the instructions one step at a time, remembering not to touch it until paint or glue has dried for later steps when you need solidified models, so they do not break during handling.

Past that, how you build the kit is completely up to you – and that’s what makes this hobby so great! Feel free to be creative with your kits by trying new techniques or experimenting with different color schemes. There are no rules for model building – as long as it’s fun, then everyone wins!

This is Not a Race

Scale model making is a time-consuming and, in some cases, arduous task. It takes patience to make sure that you take the necessary steps; after all, it’s not just about getting things done quickly! Make sure to break for lunch or on different days of your project if possible it’ll help keep motivation up and provide perspective when tackling these large projects. Remember also: every piece has its place so try not to be intimidated by tasks like sanding off any rough edges before premiering with filler primer then painting over it again later using lacquer paint.


In general, the more detail a kit has, the longer it will take to build. The simpler kits usually have fewer pieces and are quicker to assemble. If you’re starting with plastic modeling or your first kit, we recommend buying one of these simple kits for starters. However, if you know what level of modeler you want to be – hobbyist, expert, professional- there are specific types of models that might suit your needs better than others based on skill level (and time required). We hope this guide helped help you find a great place to start!

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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