The Ultimate Guide to Plastic Modelling and Model Building

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The Ultimate Guide to Plastic Modelling and Model Building

The Golden Age of plastic modelling is here. A wide variety of plastic modelling kits are available than ever before. Using vinyl cutting machines and 3D printing, unique parts can be created.

Whether you're starting with an intro to building or you are well experienced, plastic model building is a fun and rewarding hobby. Learn more about plastic model building and how you can grow in your hobby.

Choose a Model at the Right Level

Choosing the right kit will help you get the most from plastic modelling.

To have the best model building experience, choose a kit that corresponds to your skill level. Plastic model kits come in five levels. The level depends on the number of parts and how hard it is to put together.

Snap-Together Kits

Snap-together kits are Level 1. These are good plastic hobby kits for beginners. They don't require any gluing or painting.

The simplest snap kits are similar to Legos. They have a smooth exterior when completed. Classic snap-together kits are slightly more challenging.

Glue-Together Kits

Plastic model kits in Levels 2 through 5 require glue and painting. Kids usually benefit from starting with snap-together kits, but adults may choose to jump right in at Level 2.

Level 2 kits can have as many as 80 pieces. The models have much more detail than snap kits.

Level 3 kits contain up to 100 pieces. The painting and assembly instructions are more complex.

Level 4 and 5 kits are even more detailed and intricate. Level 5 kits can include hundreds of pieces. They may have moving parts and result in a true collector's piece.

Choose a Model that Interests You

Plastic model kits come in an almost endless variety of different models. Common types of kits include:

  • Military
  • Aircraft
  • Cars and motorcycles
  • Ships and boats
  • Science fiction
  • Figures

Choosing a subject that interests you will keep you motivated. You'll enjoy plastic hobby kits more when you're happy with the completed model.

Be Sure the Model Is the Size You Want

Model kits come in different sizes. Most kits use scale sizing, which is the size of the kit relative to the lifesize item.

For example, a 1/48 model car kit will be 1/48 the size of an actual car. If the real car is 450 cm, the model will be 9.38 cm. Being aware of what scale model you're choosing will avoid surprises when you bring it home.

Work on Your Plastic Model Techniques

You don't need to rush to get to the next model level. Taking your time helps you work on your model-building techniques.


Accurate gluing can be harder than it appears. If some glue misses the target, let it dry and then sand it smoothly.


It takes time to apply smooth, consistent brush strokes. Be patient and pay attention to detail. Overlapping the paint slightly makes for a more even surface. Building up the colour in several layers will help you preserve the details of the model.

Applying Decals

You'll need a steady hand and the right tools to attach the decals accurately. Be sure to check that the image is in the right place before you fully remove it from the backing paper.

You can apply them in whatever order, which makes building the model easier. For example, you may want to apply some decals before you finish assembly.

Get Plastic Modelling Advice from Your Local Hobby Store

Plastic modelling is a fun hobby for kids and adults of all ages. Your local hobby store can help you get started and develop your skills. You can find the right kit for your interest and experience level.

PM Hobbycraft has been a hobby and craft superstore for more than 60 years. You can visit our Calgary location or order for delivery or pickup. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff can help you find the perfect plastic hobby kits.

Check out PM Hobbycraft's extensive collection and let us know how we can help you get started.