With any hobby, you can’t just start on day one with everything you’d ever possibly need at hand and expect to excel at it (unless, of course, you were learning to do handstands). It takes a little time and experience to get the right tools and bits & bobs to help turn a hobby into a pastime. One such hobby that is all about finesse and having the right tools is the humble world of model making.
It used to be that the hobby focussed on the likes of ships in bottles and making miniature trains. Nowadays you can make everything from the Star Wars starships and famous movie cars to Marvel heroes and Game of Thrones characters in incredible detail. And it can be great fun as long as you get off on the right foot.
Have you started taking up model making as a hobby? Here are some tips of what pitfalls to avoid, and how to make the experience as fun as possible.
Get the basic tools to avoid mistakes
You may wonder why someone building a model from a kit would need the likes of a side cutter or mini knife to work away. It starts by knowing that preparation and care are key. Being eight or nine hours into a replica kit and seeing that you’ve entirely broken one piece by snapping it off the mould, rather than cutting, is only going to cause a little heartbreak knowing you can’t get the job finished correctly.
There are some standard tools you should use when model making that aren’t found in a standard toolbox. These include a cutter, penknife, angled tweezers, files, and glue. I recommend going to your local model store and asking what a good starting kit is, or shopping online for beginner sets as advanced kits can be expensive and won’t usually be needed unless you’re making a custom model.
Get your surface prepped
Most people tend to carry out model making on their kitchen or dining room tables. When you’re using your tools for the first time, the last thing you want to do is leave the tabletop covered in knife scratches and glue blotches. That’s where your new best modelling friend, the humble cutting mat, comes in handy. They can take some punishment and help with cutting to precision.
If you’re waiting on one to be delivered and already have your kit, you can use a polythene sheet if you have any lying around.
Get models you want to build
You only ever want to build something you’re interested in. That means opting for models you’ll be happy to show off and place on shelves. Again, the hobby has moved on quite a bit from old fashioned vehicles, and you can find replicas for all sorts online. Build things you like first, rather than going all-in on a highly detailed replica of something you’ve never seen before.
Get used to taking your time
A good model is like playing a challenging video game or reading a lengthy book. You want your commitment to pay off in time. For those who want to take a flexible approach to model making, I recommend getting a monthly delivery of parts so you can go slowly with models you like.
For example, ModelSpace can deliver model airplane parts either as one full kit or in monthly instalments to suit your time and budget. With many kits needing you to paint the parts yourself, taking that time to be careful and concentrate can be weirdly relaxing. Some people even equate it to focussing your breathing or trying to get a yoga stretch just right.
Get the right type of model
One last point I want to address is the confusion some people have over model planes. In this article, I’ve been referring to replica diecast planes you would use craft tools to build. Don’t get that mixed up with model RC planes which require an engine and remote control, or model planes that can be flown.
Confusing yourself will be the difference between enjoying model making at the table and wondering how you can build a replica 6ft plane in your garage. Just make sure you have fun and you’ll be an avid model maker in no time at all.