As a child I was obsessed with the scale-model sets that I’d often see in hobby shops while we were there on one of our many trips to fuel my sister’s insane cross-stitching addiction. Something about carefully putting together these complex models really appealed to me, but my mother refused to buy me them because of an unfortunate reputation I had acquired for clumsiness and she wasn’t particularly taken with the idea of paint spills or tiny plastic pieces super-glued to the carpet.
As an adult I’ve finally been free to delve into the world of model building and I’ve got a couple of tips for any other prospective builders out there.
Have the Right Tools to Hand
Once you’ve found the perfect starting kit, before you pop the box open and distribute tiny pieces all over the room, it’s well worth making sure that you have all the right tools to hand. Some of the biggest must haves are a sharp hobby knife, a pair of needle nose pliers, magnifying glass, scissors and some sand paper. You’ll be able to find boxed kits that contain a lot of these items at most good hobby shops. You’ll also probably be in need of glue and paint, but make sure you check the box of your model to make sure that you get the right ones. Some people will advise getting lots of different paints, glues and tools, but for a beginner starting their first kit, this will be pretty much all you’ll need.
Most plastic kits will come in a couple of different sheets of sprues with the individual pieces contained. Before you get started on removing the parts from the sprue you should wash the plastic with some warm soapy water and allow it to dry, this will improve the effectiveness of glue and the appearance of paint. Instead of twisting and pulling the parts out of the sprue, you should instead use a sharp hobby knife to cut the parts out. You’ll probably find the sprue has left some small bumps or raised areas on the side of the part, so I recommend sanding that down gently until the part looks right.
Keep Your Hands Clean!
Even though you’re not planning on eating the plastic (I hope), it is important that you regularly wash your hands thoroughly during the building process. This will get rid of any paint or glue that your hands have picked up, stopping you from transferring it to undesirable areas of the model. Washing your hands regularly will also help to remove some of the oils from your hands that can damage the plastic and paint.
Work on Your Painting
Before you start painting your model it is definitely recommended that you get in some practice with your brushes on some scrap material first. This will help you to get the hang of the brushes, learn what strokes work best and avoid turning your scale model Spitfire into a Jackson Pollock piece. Before you commit to a colour you can try using the paint first and then let it dry, to see how it looks before you start painting on your model.