Tips and tricksPlasmo > Tips and Tricks > How to build a plastic model (2) - Model selection and equipment
How to build a plastic model (2)
Model selection and equipment
The first plastic model kit should be simple enough. Suitable are models of aircrafts with single engine or helicopters in the scale 1/72. We try to avoid aircrafts with multiple engines or biplanes, which are very complex and difficult. If you are limited by your financial capabilities, choose a cheaper model. The result of your first efforts may not be perfect, and therefore you will not disappointed too much if you damage a cheaper model.
For the purpose of this tutorial I have chosen model kit of Supermarine Spitfire MkI in 1/72 scale made by Airfix. The model can be bought for a price of 5 €. In the box, we will find 40 parts, detailed instructions with colored camouflage scheme and screen-printed water-slide decals. You should read the instructions carefully and keep it for later use. One important thing is that you should get to know what colors you need.
Construction equipment and tools
First and foremost, we should have sufficient space for construction. You will need solid board with dimensions of 40 x 20 inches (100 x 50 cm) at least. You can also build your model on an office desk, but I recommend to protect the table with some cover against unwanted scratches or paint spills.
List of things you will need:
- break-off blade knife - for cutting and cleaning plastic parts of a kit.
- pincers - you will need pincers for cutting parts from the molding tree.
- adhesive - for bonding and joining of individual pieces of a kit. I usually use model glue made by Agama. You can also use a gel superglue for smaller parts.
- masking tape - it is produced in different sizes for the needs of modelers, but you can make do with an ordinary masking tape that is used for painting rooms.
- nailfiles and sandpaper - for sanding down small protuberances. I use sanding paper of grit from 250 to 2500, which is used for smoothing.
- model putty - is used for sealing gaps between joined pieces.
- brushes - the best way is to buy some brushes of high quality in the specialized shop. You will need at least two of them. A thin round brush for small parts and a larger and flat, which is better for painting larger areas.
- model paints - one of the most important things for the construction of each model. Using paints is described in the separate paragraph.
- skewers and toothpicks - can be useful for mixing paint or gluing.
- scissors - for cutting masking tape and water-slide decals.
- solvent - you need it mainly for cleaning brushes and occasionally for minor dilution of colors. I use technical solvent S6001 for dilution and S6005 for cleaning.
As you can see, it's pretty long list. Gradually you will find that you need a lot of other things. At the beginning, you will probably need clothespins, Play-Doh (modeling clay), ears sticks, pins, tweezer, several small plastic bowls and cups, pieces of cloth for cleaning models, brushes and your worktop as well as caps from beverage bottles (like beer), which will be used for mixing and diluting small amounts of paint.
These are very basic tools. Step by step, I will introduce several other tools and chemical products during construction process which will be utilized mainly by advanced modelers.
Perhaps most important of all mentioned things are the paints. You can have an expensive model, but without mastering the techniques of painting you will never have perfect models. Therefore, I will describe this topic a little more.
Most of the plastic models kits let you choose from a variety of different camouflage versions of the model. Usually, each version has the list of paints. There are many manufacturers of plastic model kits, and each manufacturer prefers different maker of paints. Manufacturers do not use a standard for paints, so it may happen that the same color has a different names. Therefore, we usually have to transfer one name to another, eg from Model Master to Humbrol. This is done with color converter. There are electronic converters which are provided by manufacturers, but also by the modelers themselves. Usually, you can get the color converter in paper form in specialized shop for scale modelers.
Which brand of paints to chose
I use Humbrol paints because they are cheap and have good quality. For airbrush spraying I prefer Model Master. Their paints are more expensive, but they have better quality. However, there are also many other manufacturers, so the actual choice depends only on you.
What comes next
In the next part of the tutorial we are going to start building the model. I will show you how to properly cut off the parts from the molding tree and we will start assembling the cockpit.