How to build a plastic model (1)
I decided to create a comprehensive multi-part tutorial that describes how to start building plastic models. Articles are intended for very beginners, so do not worry that still you do not know some things. Gradually I will build a plastic model and describe its construction.
There will be many tips in every article for both beginners and for those who already have built scale models. The main purpose is such that I would like to introduce plastic modeling as a hobby for people who would like to build their favorite plane, helicopter or even a car, but they do not know how to do it.It will be possible to add comments below every article and so you can ask anything regarding the construction of your model. I will try to respond promptly to all questions.
Insight into the history of modeling
The first attempts of creating scale models can be already found in prehistoric times, when the primeval people spend free time by carving and modeling little scale models of animals and characters from clay, wood and bones. And yet, we encounter plastic modeling much later. The first plastic models were produced by Frog in the UK in 1936. In the late 1940s, the first manufacturers appeared in the United States and many other manufacturers from different countries entered market in the 1950s.
Before a commercial production of plastic models, during the Second World War in 1939 - 1945, there were plastic scale models of aircrafts, which were used for training pilots of the RAF in the UK. When discovering an enemy aircraft, pilots could compare the shape and determine what type of aircraft it is.
As modelers in the Czech republic, we can assemble plastic models for some years. In the fifties and the sixties, there were starting to appear the first plastic kits on the Czechoslovak market, especially models of airliners. Since then, the market has made great progress. With improved computer technology and machinery we have now almost perfect plastic kits with great precision.
Production of plastic model kit
The first series of models produced by British Frog was made from cellulose acetate. It is the same material that was used to produce records. Currently, models are made from molten polystyrene.
First of all, there has to be produced metallic mold, which usually has several parts. The mold is made by electrical discharge machining or using more modern CNC milling machines, which can work with computer model and can produce an exact mold.
When the mold is ready, it is filled with molten plastic, which is injected into a mold under high pressure. Plastic gets into all channels and cavities and plastic molding is created. Based on the composition of the plastic, injection-molded kits may have a different color, which is usually gray or dark green. In addition to opaque parts, there are also manufactured clear parts that are used to imitate the glass.
Which scale models you can build
In addition to well known models of various aircraft, we can build military vehicles, battleships, helicopters, railway models, sailboats, sci-fi models or figures. All these models are manufactured in various sizes. Thus, it is your choice if you decide to build aircrafts, military vehicles or something else. Most of the modelers try different categories and they choose one which is their favorite. But sometimes, doing one and the same thing is not good enough anymore, and eventually they move on to some other category of models.
The size of the model is influenced by the chosen scale. The most common scales for aircraft, which are produced, are 1/72 and 1/48. Which means that 1/72 scale is 1 inch (1 cm) on the model 72 inches (72 cm) on the real aircraft. Also, there is a rule that the larger model, the more parts, and hence it is more difficult. For beginners it is good to choose model in 1/72 scale.
In addition to traditional plastic model kits, where the individual parts are glued together and then painted, there are much simpler kits called Easy Kits. Such a model is usually painted or already has individual plastic parts in matching colors. The model can also have pre-printed insignias or there are stickers included in the kit, which can be easily stick on the model. There is no need of using glue, because individual parts can be snapped together. This type of model is designed especially for younger children (from about 6 years) that do not yet have the experience, skill or patience to build classic model kits. The advantage of Easy Kit is undoubtedly its simplicity and lower price. I have assembled several similar models myself when I was starting with my hobby, and I can only recommend it.
Although Easy Kits can be nice models of high quality, they are not the subject of this tutorial. Due to their simplicity, there is virtually nothing that could be said furthermore. Therefore, I will pay attention only to building classic plastic models, which must be glued and colored. It is more difficult, but the results are much more interesting.
What comes next
I think it is quite enough for the introduction. Next time we will choose a suitable plastic model kit for beginners, and we'll tell what we need.