Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scale Modeling: Choosing the First Kit- General Considerations.

I always thought that building scale models was only kid’s stuff and that going into this hobby head on, especially as a late bloomer, would just be a walk in the park: buy kits-build/paint-display. Done.
Of course THIS scale modeling is NOT kidstuff.... :-). Just wanted to post this one
from Tinselman for effect and to get your attention:  Soviet Era Moscow, photo by Natalia Grishkina © 
Well…it’s turning out to be more than that. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it’s difficult and fun. Actually it’s much more fun than I expected. What I did not expect was that it was “deeper” than what I thought it would be. In reality, you can go into the craft at whatever level of enthusiasm you want and still enjoy it. This may be the reason why the appeal crosses all ages. For me, I am a bit geeky and enjoy technical stuff so that’s what I bring going into scale modeling. I crave not only building things with my hands but also enjoy the peripheral stuff like the history behind the models I build which can be of use especially when going into the details of the kit itself or making a diorama for it.
Talk about details! A one-third scale model of an Aston Martin DB5 used in the filming of the Bond movie Skyfall 

So how did I choose what my first kit would be? The following are the general factors that I considered:

1. Cost
The price of scale models kits can vary depending on many factors. One common advice I heard was not to spend too much on your first kit/s as there is a good chance that your first models may not come out as expected (unfinished, better kept than displayed, etc.) depending mostly on your initial experiences and much on your temperament- as a newbie anything can happen with your first toys.
Since your first kit may turn out not as envisioned, it is important to set personal expectations very early. A lot of mistakes should be expected from building to painting the first few models so it would be best to treat this as a learning process and to experiment with different techniques and skills at the onset. In short, it would not matter much if the results are not too good if you work on cheaper models first. It is better not to expect to build good models with your first few builds, so do not spend too much money on them.

2. Size and Scale
It is common sense to start modeling with small models and that generally means choosing a small scale.

3. Complexity
Newbies should start with kits that do not have many parts and that use only injection molded polystyrene.  First gain the skills of working with plastic before moving on to other media (photo-etched brass, resin) that require different glues and skills.
Photo Etched parts
There will be plenty of time later to develop skills with different media moving forward.  

4. Quality
It is wise for beginners to avoid older kits and stick with recently released models from mainstream quality manufacturers. Though modellers expect parts to fit together well with very little need for fillers, this has not always been the case especially with those released decades ago.  You can challenge yourself later on with these older kits when you are much better equipped skills wise but it would be best to get more recently released higher quality and simple kits at the same time. Reviews in modeling magazines and on the Internet can help you out with this search. 

5. Subject
Simply put, build models that you like. For whatever reason one has, enthusiasm will always be the key in choosing the subject for the kit. The interest for the kits would make the big difference if the kit project you will choose will eventually become a chore that you will loose interest on or a passion you will find time to finish and enjoy.

6. Paint Scheme
It is a common advice to start with your first few models with fairly simple and bland single colour paint schemes. It can dampen a beginner’s enthusiasm to complete the build of a model only to be ruined and disappointed by a difficult color scheme. You can always progress to more complicated color schemes once you build your skill and confidence moving forward.
Tamiya Focke Wulfa has a gorgeous paint scheme, but the soft-edged and 
mottled camouflage effect can only be done well with the expert use of a quality airbrush.



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