This time, I’m going to write for all people that would like to start scale modeling tanks. Many of you will probably have admired these little pieces of art and want to build a scale model yourself. But how do you start? What do you need and how do you do it? Note that this might be a longer article, but when you’re done reading this, you’ll be ready for your first armour model!
First things first, you won’t pull off a masterpiece with your first model. It will take some time before you will create the mind-blowing things you’ve seen on the internet or somewhere else. But with a bit of determination you will pull it off in due time.
And before you question that, Yes, anybody can build a model!
„But Sir, I don’t have the patience do build scale models!”
Yes, Patience is something that comes in handy with something like this, but even with a lack of it, you can build and complete a model. Many modelers will consider themselves to be impatient and have a certain lack of patience as well, including myself.
In the end, you need to remember that there is no rush in completing your model, take all the time you need and you’ll pull it off in any way.
Now, to get things rolling, let’s look at the tools you’ll probably want to have if you want to make your own tank (or aircraft, ship, etc). But first it would be best to think about what you would like to have and build.
Best is to look what you like the most, what gets you the urge to build stuff?
For this post, I will focus mainly on tanks. Now, most of the new armor kits come in 1/35 scale these days. They can be rather expensive and take up quite a bit of space after a while. If you don’t have this budget or space, you might consider building the newer 1/48 armor or the 1/72 scale that has been around for ages. There is also a bigger choice of aircraft kits (1/48 & 1/72) and ships (1/72), so if you want to build these as well that might be a better option. However, if you solely want to build tanks, 1/35 gives you by far the most choice
Please note that the 1/48 tank kits are newer. While most fit great and are very detailed and less expensive than the 1/35 kits, there isn’t as much choice out there at the moment. However not to worry, as there is more than enough to get you started and there are new kits released each year.
So you’ve bought your first kit, what are the main tools to get your new model assembled?
You can go all out on this, going into the hundreds of euros/dollars (or even thousands if you’re a complete nutjob) for high end tools like an airbrush, spray booth, Dremel drill, etc.
It will make your work better, but you don’t need this for your first model. After you’ve build a few, you might consider getting some of these more expensive tools one at a time.
Let’s say we have a starter budget of around 65 euros for our first kit and tools (although a bit more wouldn’t hurt). Don’t worry, this will be a one time price and you’ll have most of these tools throughout your scale modeling career. You’ll probably have some of these things in your home already so not to worry. Let’s say you’ve paid 15-25 euros for your first kit. That leaves you with a budget of 50-40 euros to buy various tools.
Your basic tool layout:
- – Super glue (I prefer Zap-a-gap, it is cheaper and does the same job)
- – Model cement, preferably with a fine needle
(there are many out there, I prefer the Revell glue with a needle)
- – Sanding paper (various grains, at least 600 or higher)
- – Sprue cutter (small pincers)
- – 3 Paint brushes (fine tip, middle and big)
- – Hobby knife/scalpel
- – Tweezers
- – Filler putty
- – Masking tape
- – Thinner (to wash your brushes, depending on paints, you could use water)
- – Scissor
- – Toothpicks
- – Box of tissues (very important to have a supply of these!)
- – Rubber bands
- – Very small claps (you can also use clothespins)
- – Small cutting mat or a hard piece of cardboard
With these you should have your most basic tools now and hopefully a small bit of budget left over, only thing now is paints. Which kind you want is up to you.
The most known and used ones are the Tamiya and Mr hobby/Gunze (acrylic), life color (aquarel) and Revell &Humbrol (Enamels). There is no ‚best kind’, this is all up to your personal taste. You must experiment to find out what suits you best, but it is recommend to stick to modelling paints, as not all types of paint adhere well to the plastic. You can however buy ‚off the rack’ paint from art stores for the ‚weathering’ of your models. (Weathering is a term for the various techniques to give your model a used or worn look.)
Personally, I like the Acryllics from Tamiya and Gunze the most. I haven’t used the Life colors series yet, but hear a lot of good stuff about it from other modelers. I also have a lot of Revell Enamels from my early modeling career but I don’t use them that often anymore.
The prices of the modeling brand paints vary from 1,60 to 4,50 euros/dollars a jar. The price mostly depends on the kind of paint you pick and the brand. These jars usually go a long way and most will go for years. Many colours in my rack (85%) were only bought once during my ‘modelling career’ and still used today.
So, you are ready to go with the tools and paint. Now let’s see what kit you really want. I’ve already talked about scales. To give you an idea we’ll take the M413 as an example. In 1/35 scale that is 172mm long and 76mm wide. In 1/48 scale that would be 119mm long and 59mm wide. A 1/72 WWII Sherman is about 83mm in length.
When buying kits, prices will also play a big part. These are most often affected by 3 things. The brand, the amount of parts in the kit and when building tanks, you must take in effect if the tracks are made from rubber or styrene. (When using rubber tracks, you must know that these will eat away your model after a certain amount of years, with often devastating effects.)
There are many brands out there. Prices often vary from country and/or region. Because I’ve been talking about tanks, I’m going to keep it to the most known armor brands.
List of manufacturers
Tamiya: Japanese, 1/35 & 1/48, http://www.tamiya.com/english/e-home.htm
- Expensive: great detail, very accurate and awesome fit.
- Do need to watch out a bit what kit you take with 1/35, some are older, but those are often still a lot better than what other brands have to offer. The 1/48 kits are very basic and awesome kits for both beginners and experienced builders.
- Their older kits are good for starters, their newer 1/35 kits might have a bit to many parts for a starter.
Airfix: (British), 1/72, http://www.airfix.com
- Cheap: medium detail, accuracy could be better.
- very cheap, a lot of very old and bad kits, but they also have newer ones which are really good. Good for starters in 1/72.
Italeri: (Italian), 1/35 & 1/72, http://www.italeri.com
- Medium price: medium accuracy and medium fit.
- Not the best but not the worst, a good all round brand. They have some cool stuff other brands don’t have.
- Going from really bad to really good accuracy & fit.
- The brand that is often found in the toy stores. These kits can basically be horrible or be be complete gems.
- It often depends what kit it is and where it comes from. If you buy one of these, it is often best to go on the internet for reviews about the actual kit in question.
Trumpeter (Chinese) 1/16, 1/35 & 1/72, http://www.trumpeter-china.com
- Expensive: good accuracy, awesome fit
- A lot of German, Chinese and Russian subjects. These kits are great but stack a lot of stuff in it and are very detailed, but maybe ‘overenginered’ at certain moments.
- I would only recommend this to a starter if he has build one kit and wants to step it up a notch.
Hobbyboss (Chinese) 1/16, 1/35, 1/48 and 1/72, http://www.hobbyboss.com
- Cheap: middle accuracy, great fit
- This is the same company as Trumpeter, but the kits are cheaper and less detailed.
- Very good for starters, but I recommend their newer kits, the older kits from when they just started suffer from annoying fit issues.
Cyberhobby/Dragon (Chinese) 1/35, http://www.dragon-models.com
- Expensive: awesome accuracy, great fit
- This company has very accurate kits, but you will pay for that. Would only start with this after you have done at least a few kits.
“Where you do find friends and shops?”
Go to Google and type IPMS followed by the name of your country or large city. These are the „International Plastic modeler society” clubs, which are various clubs from all over the world. They often have monthly (over even weekly) meetings where you can meet fine people which you can learn a lot from. Most also host conventions, which draws many traders from all over and modelers selling their older kits.
These secondhand kits are a potential goldmine for a starter. If you don’t have a certain tank/kit in mind or have a small budget to work on, you can take advantage of this. However, do remember that it is also important to support your local hobby shop!
You can also try forums, although you have to watch out. We are still on the internet, filled with trolls and other jokers who from time to time love to start unnecessary drama.
I will gladly try to assist you with any questions or anything else you might want to know. If you want to see some of my models, you can watch a few of them here in the gallery.
I hope that this might get a few of you building. It would be fun to see some of you guys works in progress and maybe even completed models! Don’t be ashamed to post anything, this is supposed to be constructive and helpful and we all had to start somewhere.
For more info on various, You can try these websites who even provide tools to keep track of your wishlist or stash.
With regards, Ninetalis.