What are the best model airplanes, and why are they great choices? All the answers are below in your essential buyer’s guide for aircraft modellers

by Silvio LeGrand

Building model aircraft is one thing, and spending hours to find a good kit is another. You are busy, and you’d certainly prefer to invest your time in building plastic model airplanes rather than browsing the internet. You will find below several lists with 50+ high-quality model kits in total that will help you save a good deal of time with the research. We did that for you, and we loved it. Just scroll down and pick that great model aircraft kit. Or learn how to find it by yourself.

What Are the Best Airplane Model Kits?

Many kids, but also adults, enjoy spending their spare time building and collecting plastic model airplanes. These scale models usually depict, in the tiniest details, the aircraft that served various countries from all over the world throughout history, starting from the early era of glider-type aircraft to the advanced, complex, and sophisticated supersonic jets. So you can easily find a wide variety of model airplane kits available for sale in local hobby shops or online, on the internet. As long as you get the model you like, have some patience along with the right tools, and you will be able to build a nice model quite quickly.

The lists from this guide are far from being something complete or definitive, but they can help you get the right model kit for you. You will find here only what we thought to be the best kits for every category of modellers: some kits for beginners, some suggestions for more advanced modellers, some model plane kits for adults, and also several model airplane kits for kids.

Best Plastic Model Airplane Kits – a Quick Overview

If you are really in a hurry, try one of the 10+ kits from the list below. They are high-quality, and hundreds of modellers love them. They can’t be wrong.

Why you will love this model airplane

Even though the first version of this kit came out more than 40 years ago, it is still valuable because it is the only B-29 in 1/48 scale of this quality.

Very detailed model kit with great building instructions.

Specifications

  • Scale: 1/48
  • Skill Level: 5
  • Kit Dimensions: 0.04 x 0.04 x 0.04 inches

TAMIYA 1/32 North American P-51D Mustang

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/32
  • Skill Level: experienced
  • Kit Dimensions: 19 x 11.5 x 4 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Tamiya 1/32 Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/32
  • Skill Level: intermediate
  • Kit Dimensions: 15.75 x 11.5 x 3.25 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Revell 1:32 Messerschmitt Bf110 C-7

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/32
  • Skill Level: 5
  • Kit Dimensions: 600 x 425 x 117 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

TAMIYA 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6

★★★★☆

  • Scale: 1/48
  • Skill Level: intermediate
  • Kit Dimensions: 13.75 x 7.88 x 2.5 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Revell 1/32 F/A-18E Super Hornet

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/32
  • Skill Level: 5
  • Kit Dimensions: length 22.8″ x wingspan 16.5″
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Airfix Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat 1:24

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/24
  • Skill Level: expert
  • Kit Dimensions: 27 x 14 x 5 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Revell 1/48 B17G Flying Fortress

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/48
  • Skill Level: 4
  • Kit Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 11 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Hasegawa 1/48 Nakajima Ki84-I Type 4

★★★★☆

  • Scale: 1/48
  • Skill Level: intermediate
  • Kit Dimensions: 11.02 x 7.87 x 3.15 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

TAMIYA 1/32 Vought F4U-1A Corsair

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/32
  • Skill Level: intermediate
  • Kit Dimensions: 19 x 11.5 x 4 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

TAMIYA 1/32 F-14A Tomcat Black Knights

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/32
  • Skill Level: beginner
  • Kit Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 5 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

TAMIYA 1/48 Grumman F-14D Tomcat

★★★★★

  • Scale: 1/48
  • Skill Level: intermediate
  • Kit Dimensions: 19 x 11.5 x 3.13 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Revell 1/32 De Havilland Mosquito MK IV

★★★★☆

  • Scale: 1/32
  • Skill Level: intermediate
  • Kit Dimensions: 16.69 x 20.32 x 6.52 inches
Check Best Price on Amazon.com

Why Are They the Best Model Planes?

We listed below a short list of features to help you in the buying process in case you are looking for some quick tips. If you want to dig deeper, you can see all our criteria explained in greater detail further down.

So, all the kits we listed and reviewed in this guide

  • are made of high-quality material with lots of fine details.
  • contain a detailed Instructional Manual.
  • are easy to assemble.
  • contain all the accessories needed, and the pieces fit together smoothly.
  • are historically accurate

How did they get on our list?

Well, we thought that our direct experience was far from enough, and we went beyond our ideas and preferences. So we studied articles and watched clips where seasoned modellers shared their impressions. But this guide tries to help you buy a good model aircraft, so we paid great attention to what other customers said about the kits we suggested here. That being said, you shouldn’t go wrong with any of them.

Best Alternative Model Aircraft

Want something more specific? Well, just check our suggestions below.

Top 5 Best Model Plane Kits Reviewed

Vought F4U-1A Corsair Kit

Intensely detailed model complete with an accurate fit

The Tamiya Vought F4U is one of the best seller aircraft model kits on Amazon that will well suffice the needs the experienced modelers.

During assembly, you have been given the liberty to either assemble the model with folded or extended wings; and you also get to install the flaps or elevator in the position that suits you best that is either up or down.

This model has been equipped with different main landing gear, complete with a tailwheel part, which gives you the option to either assemble the model when airborne or when parked. The rubber tires have a real tread pattern necessary for traction when put on display while giving a feel of the original item.

Important to note is that this model airplane kit represents the first Corsair with bomb-carrying ability; Tamiya consequently included parts that recreate that capability designed to be attached to the belly of the aircraft (500lb bomb). The manufacturer was generous with the details, including those to be included under the plane. You will, therefore, find the main landing gear bays at the bottom; the fuselage belly has also incorporated a depiction of the window.
Pros
• The degree of detail and the fit of parts is exceptional
• Offers a rewarding experience
• Is a realistic recreation of the real model
• High-quality materials used in the making of the model

Cons
• It is a little complicated kit to assemble
• Assembly is for the experts

Airfix Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat 1:24

Great for experienced modelers who love the WWII Military Aviation

The Airfix Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat is no child’s toy and thus only fit for experienced modelers. So, while a model kit for beginners has quite a few pieces, the Grumman has up to 567 that will surely eat up a good chunk of your time while putting to work your modeling skills.

The manufacturer has also been generous enough and allows you to build the wings as you like: either open or closed; you also get the full cockpit detail complete with open or closed canopy options. The kit has detailed undercarriage bays complete with an arrestor hook, the modeler can therefore either build the wheels up or down. You also have the option of integrating the landing flaps either closed or extended.

And just so you know, you will require up to 180 hours to build the model to the high standard that it is when finished; there are also many different options you could choose from, so you will be able to build the 3-4 models.

Pros
• Comes with a detailed instructional booklet
• Perfect kit for expert modelers
• Has incorporated incredible detail
• Made with quality plastic

Cons
•  Fit tolerances are a bit tight

P-51D Mustang Hobby Model Kit

Great choice for all skill levels

The Tamiya P-51D mustang kit has some very impressive details. For starters, the model has been equipped with magnets meant to enable the modeler to detach the ultra-thin engine cowlings even after assembly. The manufacturer also molded the engine together with the fuselage for easy assembly.

Also, the cockpit interior is highly detailed and contains parts for both early and late production; these elements are the seats and instrument panels. You will also be able to explore the radiator flap and the oil cooler, as they are movable parts. Additionally, the wheel wells and the inside of the landing gear bay have also been crafted with high detail, completed with solid rubber tires that have integrated accurate tread patterns.

Modelers also have the option to select either the early or late type tails, including the parts for the fabric and the metal-covered elevators. And as a bonus, the manufacturer incorporated two pilot figures, one that is seated and the other who is standing.

Modelers who wish to paint the canopy should not worry because the model comes with a masking sheet that will aid them in painting.

Pros
• Is an accurate depicted form of the P-51D
• The incorporated control surfaces are all movable
• The model has three kinds of markings, with one that depicts the Lt. that piloted the aircraft
• The instructions have been done in four languages that are English, German, Japanese and French

Cons
• Best for experts
• Requires a lot of patience

De Havilland Mosquito MK IV Airplane Kit

Solid kit for both the experienced and beginner modelers

It was one of the fast and powerful bombers adopted for use in the II world war. This model kit will take you right to the battlefield as it has incorporated some of the textured surfaces, completed with a detailed cockpit and instrument panel. The model has also been provided with two pilot figures.

Other parts that are sure to excite curious minds are the RR Merlin engines and the moveable propellers. You can also mount the detailed undercarriage either in a top or down position. The kit has also been provided with a detailed rudder and removable engine cowlings.

Pros
• It is a classic kit for both the beginner and experienced modelers
• Offers extra paint job activity
• The model has been made with good quality materials
• Makes a nice display piece for the office or the home

Cons
• The two halves leave a ragged joint and thus need to be sanded
• Needs spraying before the clear pieces are put on, or risk being fogged and ruined

1/48 Messerschmitt BF 109 G-6 Plastic Model Airplane

The model has raised the standards

The Tamiya 109G-6 plastic model airplane is a mass of details and features. The kit comes with one pilot figure, alternate windscreens, and canopy masks. Modelers also get the drop tank and the underwing cannon pods.

Extra work is to be done on the landing flaps, the wing slats, and the radiator flaps, as they need some adjustments. You can, therefore, cut them or alternate the parts as you try to modify their position. Additionally, you can either position them up or down.

The model features a cowling that can either be closed up or changed to be open to display the engine and the oil cooler. And for ease of use, Tamiya offers magnets to hold the parts together.

For the oil cooler housing, the kit has at least two assembly options – open and closed cowlings. Also, the modeler has the option to attach and remove the drop tank by using a vinyl keeper. Modelers should be aware that the maximum time expected to complete assembly is about 27 hours.

Pros
• Made with durable parts
• The model is well detailed
• Has magnet to allow for the easy removal of the movable parts
• The instruction manual is extremely detailed

Cons
• The model is rather small
• Best for experienced modelers

Best Model Airplane Kits for Adults

Sale!

1/48 Scale Model Aircraft Kits

Revell 1: 48 B25J Mitchell , Brown

$45.43

1/48 Scale Model Aircraft Kits

Revell 1:48 P – 51D Mustang

$17.99

1/48 Scale Model Aircraft Kits

Revell 1:48 Spitfire MKII, Multi-Colored

$19.76

1/48 Scale Model Aircraft Kits

Revell B17G Flying Fortress 1: 48 Scale

$69.99
Sale!

1/48 Scale Model Aircraft Kits

Revell F-15C Eagle Plastic Model Kit

$28.95

How to Buy Plastic Model Airplane Kits [Aircraft Modelling Tips]

Best Model Airplane Kits – Buying Guide for Beginners

Get ready for the fascinating and equally rewarding hobby of building scale model aircraft kits. At the end of this guide, you will know:

  • how to buy model plane kits
  • where to buy airplane model kits.
  • what you should pay attention to when buying the first model aircraft kits.
  • what are the best model plane kits for beginners? Not all of them, of course, but you’ve already go some relevant suggestions anyway. You will learn now how to choose them by yourself.

Finding and buying the best plastic model airplane for yourself or as a gift for someone else is not too difficult. The key factor in buying any one kit is making sure whoever is building the model Plane has the skills to build it. Plastic model producers even help with this by placing the suggested age level on the packaging of the kits themselves.

The next concern when purchasing the best plastic model airplane is interest, meaning interest in a particular type of aircraft. There are kits replicating jet fighters and other Military Aircraft and there are kits that replicate commercial aircraft, from jetliners to flying trainers.

Some plastic model airplane builders simply love Limited Edition models and these may not always be so easy to find. This is especially true for collector type replicas. Hobby shops do carry them, but often they don’t offer a wide range of choices. However, the internet provides site listings for a large number of model distributors, even those who specialize in strictly plastic model airplane kits.

Prices for these kits can vary widely but is dependent on how detailed or simple the kit is. Also, brand name airplane kits are usually more expensive than off-brand names. But keep in mind a brand name producer will more than likely produce a higher quality model than an off-brand will.

Anyway, when it comes to buying plastic kits you never have too much information; even experienced modellers find, from time to time, new things to learn. So, whether you are a first-time buyer or have experience in buying, you should find the following tips useful.

What is a Plastic Model Aircraft Anyway?

A plastic model airplane is a scale model aircraft built and sold as a plastic kit to be assembled by hobbyists. Plastic aircraft models depict military or civilian aircraft and are intended primarily as a static display, alone or as a part of a diorama.

The first plastic airplane model kits were designed in the nineteen-thirties by a business based in the British isles named Frog. Inside of 10 years, a number of United states businesses such as Hawk, Lindberg, and Renewal made available their unique airplane models. Through the nineteen fifties, other companies started to jump into the popularity hunt, such as AMT, Monogram, and Aurora in the states. English developer Airfix and French creator Heller SA also started manufacturing.

It has been only as recently as the nineteen seventies that Asian companies started to get acquainted with producing airplane model kits. Developers from Japan such as Tamiya and Hasegawa, plus China builders AFV Club, DML, are now mainly associated with this marketplace. Most recently, brand names are also surfacing from Central Europe, Russia, and Korea.

Initially made available as toys, plane model kits have become widely marketed and sold to generally be retained as collector’s items. Technological innovation has also improved the kind of airplane models readily available, allowing them to develop into considerably more advanced when compared with earlier designs. Extra details in airplane model kits do not occur devoid of monetary consequences, nevertheless. As the technological innovation of models has grown, so has the cost.

Present-day airplane model kits are really well detailed and occupy very little space as part of your exhibit case . Having said that all airplane model kits may be enhanced by careful utilization of aftermarket parts and scrap constructed parts. However, if you aren’t the perfectionist, a gratifying reproduction may be constructed on a small budget, with a bit of know-how, some fundamental tools, and beneficial study resources.

You may need to make sure you have acquired the proper tools and supplies to put together your airplane model kits. Quite a few hobby retailers provide a wide array of tools and supplies, If need you may have to send away for some tools or supplies, in particular, those intended for particular uses. You’ll also like to hand some t-pins and model knives that commonly can be obtained through your neighborhood hobby store. To put together your airplane model kits you may also want to have on hand some model glue, dope thinner, plus some paintbrushes.

As soon as you have plotted out your workspace and have acquired the necessary tools and supplies you’re ready to commence building your airplane model. But, spend some time to look through the directions. This will organize you for the building process. For finding a hobby shop in your neighborhood you should browse your telephone book and attempt to come across a hobby shop in an older shopping area

These are the old mom-and-pop stores that generally provide an obscure assortment of plastic model aircraft kits for relatively inexpensive selling prices simply because they purchased the airplane model kits from the big chain retailers that couldn’t sell them.

So, building, painting, and collecting plastic model airplane kits have given many young and not so young people a solution for their free time. Actually, we can say that this hobby – building plastic airplane model kits – is one of the true pastimes for boys and girls of all ages today.

Models can be made of almost any material, actually, such as wood, metal, paper, or resin, but here we will only focus on plastic models.

Most model kits are injection kits made from polystyrene plastic, also known as Styrene. This is quite a soft and smooth material that modellers can mold into sophisticated, complex, but also precise models with very fine recessed or raised details.

This type of plastic can be cut filed sanded or drilled and is also very easy to glue and paint. It is also is suitable for scale models with sizes that range from four inches or so to two feet. However, the molding technique may not be the best solution for smaller models – the material can’t be molded sharp and thin enough to show all the required details. On the other hand, larger models could be quite hard to produce too and can come with another type of problem, such as warped, out-of-shape parts. Also, the finished scale model would end up being too heavy and much too large for normal display, and also way too expensive to buy.

There are several companies making injection moulded model kits. Some of the most known ones are Revell/Monogram, Airfix, Hasegawa, Tamiya, Heller, and Italeri. There are also a number of smaller companies producing limited-run models, vacu-formed models or replacement parts made of other materials, such as resin.

Some model kits are cheap and available in most hobby shops, while others can be very difficult to find and have a pretty hefty price tag – sometimes as much as 80 dollars or more.

What is the scale of a model?

The actual size of a model depends on two things:

  • The size of the original object
  • The scale of the model

The first point should be quite obvious: a passenger airliner is of course, much larger than a single-seater biplane from World War I.

Most aircraft models are in 1/72 scale. This means that the real object is exactly 72 times larger than the model. Thus if the distance between the wingtips of the model is one foot, then the wingspan of the real aircraft is exactly 72 feet.

The other popular scale is quarter scale, or 1/48. But there are also models in larger scales like 1/32 and 1/24, and even smaller ones, such as 1/144. Tanks and armor models are usually in scale 1/35, and ships usually in 1/350 or 1/720.

Which scale you prefer to work with is really a personal choice. The general rule is that the larger the scale, the more detail you will have due to the model kit being much larger. I myself like working with quarter scale kits, because the finished models will be big and very nicely detailed, without forcing me to work with microscopic parts. But of course, a large model kit is more expensive and also takes up much more shelf space when finished.

TIP – don’t let the 3D sizes on the boxes or the various online markets deceive you, check on the dimensions of the model airplanes kits. Modelers have over time complained about the size of the airplane model kits claiming that they are too small for the money.

Inside the box

Most of us have probably seen plastic model kits even if we haven’t built one yet. Often they are sold in toy shops, in shrink-wrapped cardboard boxes with some fancy artwork on the cover – such as the one shown at the top of this page.

Inside this box, you will most probably find a transparent plastic bag or two, containing a number of “runners” or “sprues” molded in greyish plastic.

The parts of the model are connected to these “sprues” and must be removed from it before you can build the model.

For someone who never tried his or her hands-on model building, plastic model kits may appear almost half-finished. This is even more apparent when a plastic model kit is compared with kits made entirely of wood or balsa (such as many models of classic ships), where the builder usually must start with raw blocks, sheets, and rods of balsa and metal.

For instance, check out the picture of the laid-out sprues above: it is quite obvious that this kit is going to be an aircraft model. Some sections of the model are already semi-finished and ready to be used straight away – such as the sides of the fuselage, the propeller and the shape of the wings.

All this will make plastic models a lot easier to get started with than wooden models. But a plastic model kit will still require a high amount of craftsmanship to turn into an appealing scale replica, and not just a toy.

A complex model kit can have as many as 200 – 300 parts, but a simpler one only as few as ten or fifteen.

Inside the box, you will also find a more or less detailed step-by-step description on how to build and paint the kit, and most often a decal sheet to help to add those finishing touches to the model.

But you will still need more than just what’s inside the box. You will need at least a basic set of tools, a small paintbrush or two, some glue, some paint, and a decent workspace. We will shortly look into all those things later!

What You Should Look for Before Buying a Plastic Model Airplane Kit

Finding model kits that best suit individual interest in airplanes can be challenging. What would be an interesting and enjoyable model plane may differ greatly, depending on whom the gift is being bought for, so find out what your friend really is into. They will love to talk about their hobby, if they are true model enthusiasts, so pick them for ideas.

Interest in the unique aircraft is always at the top of the list. Some hobbyists are more flexible and enjoy building any plastic model kits. They simply love starting and doing new projects. It can be a quiet time, like a kind of meditation, as they gaze at the pieces and imagine the time when the aircraft was actually being built.

You can spend as little or as much money as you want on model plane kits, of course; there are affordable, but also very expensive kits. However, don’t spend more than your budget allows.

What makes a good model kit?

So here are some of the most important features of the good plastic model kits.

Best features of a high-quality plastic model airplane kit

Durability – we definitely don’t want parts breaking up whenever you are trying to piece up your plastic model plane kit, and given that they are made of plastic, it would help if they were made of durable material that will not break easily even if it accidentally falls on the concrete floor. So, a good kit will always have high-quality molded pieces, made of good, strong plastic.

Instructional Manual –  high-quality kits have good documentation, with detailed assembling instructions.

Given that most of these aircraft model kits are made in China, they tend to only write the instruction manuals in one language, which is Chinese thus it becomes difficult for other people. Just find out from your retailer or read the reviews on some of the plastic model airplane kits, to know if you will be able to successfully assemble or if you will encounter hurdles.

Ease of assembly – plastic airplane model kits are designed for two categories of users: the beginners, and professionals. So as a rule of thumb best, try you get the best model plane for your skills, one you can build instead of a complex model with hundreds of pieces that you will take ages to put together.

Accessories – before purchasing a plane model kit check to ensure that it has incorporated the relevant accessories; you will, therefore, find that some have incorporated the bomb feature on the underside and others come with two or one soldiers in full military fatigue.

Some more features:

  • good kits are historically accurate
  • a good model kit is one with pieces that fit together smoothly.
  • high-quality kits usually have lots of details; not necessarily many pieces, but great attention to details.
  • the difficulty level is displayed – this will help you choose the right kit for your skill (optional, but useful).

TIP – read the customers’ reviews before buying your plastic model aircraft kit. Yes, those comments buyers post on Amazon and other online shops can be very helpful, especially if you are a beginner. The best model airplane kits usually have a high score and positive reviews.

How to Buy Model Airplane Kits

The market is vast and dynamic, companies are producing a huge amount of models, so at one moment, you will have to deal with the choosing problem.

Well, don’t worry, there’s hope. You can find below a quick checklist that will help you figure out how to find the best model kits by yourself.

So, here are some tips, and key points that will help you get the right model aircraft kit:

  • The right difficulty level – when purchasing and putting a model airplane together, the more parts included, the more difficult the build usually is. When buying a model airplane, make sure that the person planning to build it has an appropriate level of skill to actually complete the project, as the frustration that results from failing to build a model due to its difficulty can leave a lasting effect on the younger model builders. However, the guiding principle here is – do not tie your own hands trying to meet someone else’s expectations.

This also applies in reverse. If you feel staying at a beginner level for a while is best for you, then do it. If you are on a tight budget, it may be the best way to go. Building scale aircraft models is both an art and science, and you can practice your skills on all scales of aircraft.

It is very important to figure out which difficulty level a scale model is before you buy it. Sometimes, vendors help you with descriptions of each difficulty. As an example, a beginner-level model may only require fitting pieces together and applying stickers. An advanced aircraft may require more difficult assembly, detailed painting, etc.

Model kits usually come in one of the five skill levels that describe how difficult the kit will be to be finished:

  • Level 1: very easy model kits. Pieces join together and don’t require glue and paint to complete.
  • Level 2: easy kits; they need glue and painting to fully complete. This type of model kit usually contains less than 100 pieces.
  • Level 3: moderate kits, with over 100 pieces.
  • Level 4: advanced model kits with extra-fine details. They definitely include over 100 pieces.
  • Level 5: for expert modellers only. These kits include super-detailed elements, with hundreds of pieces, and usually have moving parts, such as rotating propellers.

Occasionally, you’ll discover model kits with no skill level displayed. In these situations, you can safely consider that it is at least a 4 difficulty level kit.

Building a scale aircraft model has some particular challenges that are unique from other types of models. One of those areas is the canopy of your model plane, a delicate element that is usually made of clear plastic. Fitting it correctly is one challenge but applying the cement can be a greater one because even small mistakes stand out. So choose a model that has as little clear plastic as possible to minimize your frustration level. Helicopters, in particular, should be avoided until you get some experience under your belt.

  • The right age – when buying a model airplane for a child, make sure that the model includes a rating for the child’s age. Typically, these ratings range from young children around 3 to 4 or even 5 to 7 to models for 8 to 11, 12 to 16, and 17 years and up. The higher the age rating, the more complex the model is, so a small child of 4 might find it difficult to put together a model for a 12-to-16-year-old. This can lessen their enjoyment, causing them to prematurely give up on the hobby, so it is best to encourage them with easy, age-appropriate models early on and introduce them gradually to more complex models over time.
  • The right airplane scale – you should also consider scale when buying a model airplane. Model airplanes come in a wide variety of scales, with the most popular scales including 1:24, 1:32, 1:48, and 1:72. Some of the other scales available include 1:50,  1:144, and 1:200. For the most part, larger-scale planes allow for greater amounts of detail, while one of the benefits of smaller-scale models is the ability to display more models due to the lesser amount of space they require.

Anyway, as a first-time buyer, you need to keep the scale small. The more popular 1/72nd scale is a good starting point, though a 1/144th scale is best for beginners.

There is a general principle to be applied with regards to scale – the devil is in the details.

You have probably heard of it before, and when it comes to building scale models, the details can stress you out to the point of giving up before you actually get started. It takes time to develop modelling skills, and even if it comes naturally to you, there will still be a learning curve.

So, the first-time buyer needs to start out with the smallest scale, as the larger ones have more details; learning how to craft the smaller scales will greatly improve your skills and take advantage of the amount of detail on larger scale models.

  • The right model airplane type – Before buying any model airplane kits, make sure you are familiar with the type of aircraft you want to build. Some model builders focus on a certain type or era of aircraft, while others build models of airplanes from a variety of different periods.
  • A reliable vendor – As a first-time buyer, you want to be sure to go to a store that is both knowledgeable and provides high-quality materials so you can get the maximum benefit from your experience. The best way to do this is to employ another general principle: if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. It is a good practice to consider vendors you have done business with before. Did you buy a model car through a website and it turned out that the plastic was so flimsy that it cracked when you were building it? Or, did you go to a website, order a model boat, and find that the product was of high quality and the directions were very clear? If you haven’t ordered models before, that’s fine. Just ask around to see if anyone has already ordered one, and could recommend you a good source (we have a great Facebook community here).large scale model aircraft Finally, it’s important to check the online reviews, even if someone recommends a specific hobby website. You can help yourself tremendously by taking the time to do your homework about the type of aircraft you are interested in buying, any local dealers, and what experienced online buyers are saying in blogs and on discussion boards. If you know someone who has personal experience in dealing with a vendor, talk to them about the pros and cons in dealing with the vendor. No vendor is perfect, no matter what your friends say. A vendor can know a lot but still sell low-quality material models. Go beyond just the physical aspects of the model and also consider the instructions that come with the model.
  • A fair price – Start low and aim high. There are some very serious people about modelling who are willing to pay some quite high prices to pursue their hobby. As a first-time buyer, you do not need to max out your credit card or bank account to get started. So, if you are a first-time buyer, it is strongly suggested that you aim low on the price end. Why? Because despite your best intentions, building a scale aircraft model is a skill that improves over time. Several years from now you will look back on your first attempt with sentimental tears. But it is equally likely you will have taken your work of art and hid it in a place where no man has gone before – or will ever. You can learn from your mistakes, but you don’t have to pay a high price for them. Another consideration is whether you will finish the project at all. Prices for kits can be amazingly high, and spending money on a model that potentially goes unfinished or takes years to complete has to be given very careful consideration. Rushing through it is a mistake, but taking years to complete it is also a mistake. You will fit somewhere between these two ends of the spectrum, but until you are sure you know where you want to go with model planes building in the future, it is best to keep your sights low and your price lower. The general rule is to take it slow and create a history of completed projects before spending big money.
  • Paint Scheme – Experienced modellers love a complex paint scheme for both the end result, but mainly because of the challenge of painting. Most of these schemes, like a WWII German aircraft camouflage pattern, for instance, are hard to achieve and often call for complex masking and a top-quality airbrush. So, pick an aircraft that has a rather dull colour paint scheme, for your first scale model kits, with just a couple of colours; a WWI fighter could be a good idea. It is quite depressing to finish a model and then ruin it just because the paint scheme was too complicated. Novices who are just beginning to enter into scale aircraft modelling have already been cautioned not to spend too much at the beginning. But with lower prices comes a lower quality of the material. You may want to start building scale aircraft models as a hobby, but you probably don’t have an unlimited amount of time.

Some vendors actually list how much time it takes to complete a model. If the time isn’t clearly listed, you can do one of two things:

    • first, you can take into account the difficulty level, materials required, etc. and figure out how much time the project will take from that information. Usually, painting and dealing with advanced assembly can be big-time sinks.
    • if that doesn’t work, you can simply ask customer service and their knowledgeable staff should be able to assist you.

A big challenge for the aircraft model builders is being able to create the metallic finish so often seen on planes. Plastic is a very difficult material to get the right paint color and finish to come through as realistic, so keep your expectations low until you get some experience with painting. Be warned that the metallic finish would cost you more money for the special paints and colors needed to achieve the desired result.

  • plastic model airplanesQuality of Material – The “devil is in the details” also applies when deciding on how many parts of the aircraft there will be to build. Beginners may look at their first model, usually made of plastic, as a relatively simple job. If you know what photo-etched brass and resin parts of the model are and have built them, then you have advanced beyond the beginner level. The greater the number of parts, the more detail will be required, and the more advanced skills will be needed to create a work of art. The reality is: working with a lower quality material means you should expect lower quality results.
  • Total Number of Parts in the Model – The “devil is in the details” also applies when deciding on how many parts of the aircraft there will be to build. Beginners may look at their first model, usually made of plastic, as a relatively simple job. If you know what photo-etched brass and resin parts of the model are and have built them, then you have advanced beyond the beginner level. The greater the number of parts, the more detail will be required, and the more advanced skills will be needed to create a work of art.

A related topic to the detail is the amount of available time you have to commit to model building. The more parts there are, the more detail there will be, and the longer it will take to complete the building project. When buying, consider how much time you have and how much time you want to spend building. Both of these measurements will change over time. Many kits will display the average amount of time it will take to complete building the model.

Where to Buy Model Airplanes

The options are countless; however, they reduce to two main places where you can purchase model airplane kits.

  • off-line, meaning brick and mortar shops. The main advantage here is the ability to ask for advice directly to the shop personnel, or even the owners, as they are usually modellers themselves, with plenty of experience.
  • on-line. A more convenient way to do shopping. Reviews are good sources of information, containing useful tips and tricks.

Buying Plastic Airplane Kits – Final Words

Creating scale aircraft models can be a great way to spend time, especially for beginners just getting into the hobby. Just be sure to follow the advice above, and you’ll be on your way to successfully buying your first model airplane kit.

Approach buying and building your first model as an experiment. Maybe you have decided to build a model of one of those legendary aircraft, but you really won’t know how much you will like it in the end, or how much time you will have to spend on it. Spending a lot of money and then seeing it in a heap on a desk or workbench three weeks later will unsettle you. Keep things simple, go into it with the attitude that you will enjoy it, and be patient with yourself. As most first-time builders discover, you will be proud to have completed your first project and will show it to your friends.

Your first scale model airplane will seem like an easy task – just like mowing the lawn. It looks easy, and in some ways it is. But to do it right and continue to get better at it requires patience and experience. It is more than just going through the motions. It is about finding better ways to do things and developing your own personal signature to your work.

As you develop your modelling skills, maintain a proper perspective of your results. Your initial efforts will almost certainly pale in comparison to your results years later. One of the biggest reasons for this is because you are paying more for models and are working with higher quality material.

We hope this guide has been useful to you. We also wish you the best on starting and completing your first modelling project. Visit our website often to read more about scale aircraft modelling and experience the entire universe of this amazing hobby.

Useful Resources

Building Plastic Model Aircraft Kits