There’s something therapeutic and relaxing about building something with your own hands, but most of us have grown tired and bored of brick and mortar. A great option is model building, but where do you begin? This guide highlights some of the considerations to make when building or collecting a car model kit.
The defining characteristic of car model kits is that they feature small parts to be assembled to create the final product. They’re also made from different materials including plastic, wood, and metal. Depending on the material you choose, there are different methods to put everything together. It could be glue, small nails, screws, or a combination of the three. A functional tool kit
is helpful if the model you purchase will need screws to assemble.
After the assembly, you may need to paint the kit to complete the look, and a good acrylic paint set
will come in handy for painting most models. For more flexible paintwork over a wide range of materials and other toys, you can opt for an airbrush kit
You can’t talk about model kits without mentioning scale. The scale tells you how much the model has been shrunk relative to the original automobile size. It’s represented as a ratio, and most models will range between 1:10 to 1:2500. The first scale means if the model is 1 foot long, then the real thing is actually 10 feet long.
Building a car model kit may not be a piece of cake, especially if you pick a model without checking the skill level necessary for assembly. The model you choose should be something you fancy and with parts that you can figure out. If you go for high complexity levels, it’s possible to get discouraged along the way.
With that in mind, it’s time to delve deeper into features to look for in a car model kit before we recommend our top picks. Let’s go!
There are many factors that affect the price of a car model kit, and the first is material. Wooden or plastic models tend to be the simplest to assemble and by extension, the cheapest. Metal models can come with hundreds of parts and moving or rotating units that can raise the price. With a budget of $15 to $30, you’ll get a decent car model kit that suits your needs. If you’re a beginner modeler, it’s a good idea to start with something simple and affordable, and to upgrade as time goes by. That way, you can avoid spending too much on a kit you won’t manage to complete. Even though you can find cheaper car model kits on the market, we strongly discourage you from those that are probably made from low-quality materials.
Car model kits may seem simple, but a lot of features come into play when shopping for one. Let’s take a look at what features matter most:
- Scale – The first thing you need to look at is the scale – the correlation between the kit car and the real car. Where are you planning to display your model kit? Bigger scales means your kit car will be smaller and can fit in shelves and souvenirs. Smaller scales results in bigger model kits and can cost more.
- Assembly and Skill Level – Most manufacturers indicate the recommended age for each model car. Generally, skill level 1 comprises of models that easily snap together without needing glue or paint. Skill level 2 has easier model kits that require some glue and paintwork to complete but come with less than 100 parts. Skill level 3 is designed for kids aged 12 years and above and feature heavy die-cast molded plastic which requires some glue. Skill level 4 contains advanced model kits with some extra fine details, and you’ll have to assemble more than 10 parts. Finally, skill level 5 is for expert modelers and come with super detail parts (in the range of hundreds). These kits usually have moving parts like a functional suspension on a car, rotating propellers on a plane, or movable turret on a military tank.
- Package – In addition to the main parts, most car model kits come with replacement parts for bits that can easily fall off or break during the assembly. Some manufacturers sell kit parts and you can order specific parts from their website.
- Material – Beginner car model kits usually come with all or most of the assembling materials. You can find a 50-piece kit that easily snaps together with no need for extra materials. 100-piece models may need more detailed parts, paint, and glue to assemble. The common materials for car model kits include plastic, resin, die-cast metal, and wood. Plastic is the most common material and costs less.
Construction and Design
Car model kits come in various complexity levels and designs. The easiest models to assemble will not even require glue or paintwork. More complex designs are generally made of brass and steel parts and may involve different techniques to assemble together. Such models may not be appropriate for the novice.
Beginners should start off with simple kits with a few parts that utilize only injection molded polystyrene. As a novice, you’ll get plenty of time to hone your skills with various media like photo-etch brass and resin. The products currently being manufactured go through rigorous quality assurance checks to ensure that the end products are precise and easy-to-assemble. Check out user reviews to get an idea of what other modelers have experienced with the kit you’re planning to purchase.
Whatever model you choose, ask whether you’re enthusiastic about the product. Perhaps you like the final look of the kit or you’re fascinated by the history of the vehicle. Most molders revel in complex paint schemes to spice up the challenge and improve the appearance of the end product. For best results, you need complex masking and a perfect airbrush. But, for beginners, going with a simple color scheme will make your work easier and hassle-free. It can be devastating to successfully complete a model only to ruin it with poor paintwork because the paint scheme was too difficult.
Performance and Ease of Use
The most important aspect of car model kits to evaluate is the appropriate skill level. Depending on experience or age, get a model that suits your needs, and the rest of the process should be a piece of cake. Size does matter, and a lot of models on the market can be huge. While this may pose the challenge of displaying the kit, it comes with a couple of benefits. A bigger kit means the parts are bigger and easier to handle. You can achieve much greater detail and get a lot of room to add your own special touches. It’s also possible to find some fabulous display stands for large car model kits to display the gorgeous models with ease.
Conversely, smaller models are typically faster to assemble, and you can display them almost anywhere. However, the small size means it can be fiddly to put them together and to paint them. Some modelers love this challenge, but it can be tedious for beginners.
When you’re ready to assemble the model kit, always keep the scale consistent. Sometimes you may complete a model and later on decide to make modifications on the same kit. A consistent scale will help keep the breadth, length, and width of the modification parts to avoid compromising the final look of your model. The good news is that you can now use an online scale conversion calculator to get everything right.
A car model kit is comprised of a scale down replica of an automobile. They carry all the necessary pieces which you can assemble and personalize using decals and paints. There are two types of hobbyists: the collector and the builder. The builder is fancied by the hands-on aspect of creating the kit while the collector focuses on possessing luxurious car model kits and displaying them in their original packaging. So, where do you fall? With this information at your fingertips, it’s time to get out there and choose a car model kit that suits your style and budget.
From the design, planning, mold construction, and packaging, Tamiya has an intense in-house manufacturing process that focuses on detail. Some of Tamiya’s products are so detailed that they’re often referred to as “museum items” by modeling experts.
The Tamiya Toyota Supra Car Model Kit gives you the opportunity to build some of the most popular cars, including racing and eminent sports cars. This plastic model kit requires assembly with parts, and you will also need to paint it. Items needed include modeling tools, paint, and glue (not included).
Perfect for ages 10 and above, the Tamiya Toyota Supra Car Model Kit is recommended as an introduction to creating car models and just for the fun of building. The directions are easy to follow and the finished product looks exactly like the real Toyota Supra. This is a must have for any Supra enthusiast!
The Heller Joustra Company began as a merger between Joustra and Heller. Founded in 1957, the company has already produced more than 1500 moulds, providing elements necessary for building many items in their collection: aircraft, military cars, military ships, yachts, cars and racing, and motorcycles.
The Mini Rallye comes in a clever design and has won over the entire world since the sixties, thanks to its sassy British elegance and simplicity. The Heller Austin Mini Rallye Car Model Kit comes with 26 parts, 52 puzzle pieces and a scale of 1:43. It includes waterslide decals, plastic sprues, and clear parts. Take note that it does require assembly, and you’ll need glue and paint (not included in the package).
Founded by Frank Winspur, Moebius Models’ aim was to bring back conventional horror model kits to a group of enthusiasts that had been forgotten by mainstream companies. Their first model kit was a version of DR. Jekyll, which became the missing link in many modelers’ collections.
To continue the tradition of high-quality model kits was the Hudson Hornet Car Model Kit, which debuted from the 1953 model year. This was Moebius' first venture into the field of 1:25 scale plastic car models. The first thing you’ll notice is the contact points of its parts: although they are large and nearly cartoonish-looking, they join together seamlessly. The fit is exact, precise, and snug.
Perfect for ages 15 and above, the Hudson Hornet Car Model Kit features more than 120 parts, detailed H-145 engine, authentic stepdown chassis, opening hood, optional sunviser, and incorporates practical decals for the interior and engine bay.
Model kit cars have entertained, inspired, and educated several generations of builders. Revell Group has supplied hobbyists with high quality, fun, easy-to-build, and affordable model kits for over six decades. The brand never compromises on quality and accuracy. Revell was purchased by Hobbico® in 2007 to mark an exciting new era for the brand.
The Revell model kit car features a four-wheel drive with a 350 cubic inch V-8 engine. Its high-mounted driving lights provide a clear guide on the road when darkness falls. The kit comes with a fully detailed snow plow, a pickup bed, a four-wheel drive suspension, a mounted roll bar housing the driving lights, separate frame pieces, chrome plate parts, soft black tires, and decals with custom graphics and stock.
In terms of size, the package comes with 103 plastic pieces that are molded in classic white waterslide decals. It measures 8-1/16 inches long with a scale of 1:24. Note that you will require model paint and glue that are not included.
The Testor Corporation stood the test of time by manufacturing and supplying high quality products for craft and hobbyists for over 80 years. Founded in 1929, the unique oval Testors logo has been recognized for quality and integrity. Their products include Testor glues, paints, airbrushes, and a whole host of accessories that are proudly made in the US and sold worldwide.
In 2012, Testor launched the CreateFX, which has enhanced learning and creativity in schools, clubs, and craft and hobby projects across the globe. CreateFX is a full line of finishing products designed for detail, effects, and texture, making projects come to life.
Testors Unpainted Plastic Activity Kits come as an all-inclusive unit, so you won’t have to buy anything else. These are quick build models that you can assemble in less than 15 minutes. You don’t even need glue: you simply press together the parts and you’re ready to go. It includes a complete 1:32-scale model kits for the Saleen S7 and Dodge Viper and. Each kit comes with three colors of acrylic paint, decals, and a paint brush. Since they feature minimal parts and easy press-fit assembly, these kits introduce kids aged 8 years and above to the art of model kit building. It has 3 acrylic Paints: 1/10th fl. oz. or 3 ml each, water wash up, and non-toxic.
You can create a showroom of your favorite classic cars by choosing the best car model kits we’ve reviewed here. What makes these brands popular is that they are precise and accurate downsized replicas of real cars and you can easily assemble them yourself from the comfort of your home. Get some glue and paint and get started with your modeling project. Apart from adorning your living spaces, car model kits can keep you and your kids entertained for several hours. Hopefully, we helped you find an ideal car model kit you’ve been looking for. Feel free to sample other alternatives from these same brands for more options.