Model Car Guide for Beginners

Do you dream about owning the fastest race car? Perhaps you prefer trucks or even tractors. Or maybe you collected model cars as a child. For many people, the price tag of owning their dream car is out of reach. An alternative to buying a life-size car is building your own model car. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s also fun, and kits are easy to find.

Getting Started

Finding a model car kit that meets your needs will increase your chances for building success. The model should be something you like; if you build a car for only practical reasons, then you may not finish it. You should also be comfortable with the complexity level so you won’t get discouraged by a project that is too hard to build. Scale, or size, is important also. Common car model scales are 1:24 or 1:25, which is about six or seven inches long. Look for a kit that’s within your budget. Once you decide on the model and size that you like, you can start looking for a beginner model kit that meets the rest of your needs.

Research

Shopping for your first model car kit, either online or at a hobby shop, will reveal a staggering amount to choose from. To help narrow your selection, search for labels that indicate skill levels. Kits are usually labeled with skill levels that can help you decide which kit to buy. The lower levels, sometimes labeled 1, 2, and 3, have the fewest number of parts and are simpler to build. Beginners should stick with the lower levels. Higher levels are generally for experienced modelers. Although skill level numbering is helpful, it is not consistent within the model kit industry, so make sure to read the level descriptions thoroughly.

Materials

Beginner car kits usually contain all or most of the materials and pieces you need. Fifty-piece kits snap together and need no other materials for assembly. Kits with 100 pieces usually need glue and paint for the model. Kits with more than 100 pieces have more detailed parts and also use glue and paint. Model kits are available in plastic, die-cast metal, resin, and wood. The most common and cheapest models are plastic. Before you buy a kit, keep your needs in mind. Do you like the kit? Does your experience level fit the kit’s skill level? Can you afford it? Is it too big or small? If the kit meets all of your needs, you are ready to purchase.

Building Tips and Techniques

Before you start constructing your model, make sure you read the directions to get a good understanding of the whole process. Compare the parts list to the actual parts that came in the box. You can identify anything missing, and you will also familiarize yourself with what the parts are. Cut the parts apart with a knife or cutter; don’t break them off. This will prevent accidental breakage or bending. Examine the parts for accuracy, and if needed, use a file to smooth the pieces where you separated them. This will ensure that the parts fit correctly. Use glue sparingly and reapply as needed. Apply light pressure after gluing. File off any extra glue after it is completely dry. You can use masking tape, rubber bands, or clamps to hold sections together while they dry. Review your work as you assemble the car: Refer to the directions frequently, and make sure that you don’t leave out any parts.

Organizations and Publications

The thriving community of model car enthusiasts has existed since the mid 1900s. Numerous magazine, websites, and forums exist for this unique worldwide community. There are multiple model car clubs to join through online, and some clubs even have Facebook groups and Twitter accounts. There are also museums devoted to model vehicle building, preservation, and collection.

Additional Resources