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Model Making


Model making is a fun and fascinating hobby. It can be described as making miniature replicas of real life objects. This can range across just about anything in the world. But most popular are models of people, aircraft, war machines like tanks, ships and more. Another very popular form of model making is architectural in nature where people make models of buildings and even groups of buildings or whole communities. In this aspect of the hobby it blends in with diorama making and even can cross into the professional world.


In this article I will show you how models are made and I will use a few military models but these techniques and ideas are pretty much universal across much of the plastic model making world.


Three military models

Here is a picture of three models I have made, two aircraft and one tank. These are from plastic kits that are easy to buy from companies like Revell and Tamiya.

A kit like this is a great way to start in the hobby and it might cost you between ten and fifteen dollars. The planes cost me 15 and the tank cost me ten.

You get everything you need for the actual model itself including the stickers. But you will need a few tools and some glue. I will explain this to you and show you the process of how a model is made.


Making A Model

Inside the kit

This picture here shows the contents of a plastic model kit. You get a bag of parts along with some decals and an instruction booklet that tells you step by step how to put the model together.

Most of the makers of models will give you guidelines for difficulty right on the box so if you are new to this you can get a rough estimate of what models are good for you. The difficulty level of the model shown is a 2.


Revell has three skill levels for their models.

  1. A skill level one is for ages 8 and up and requires no painting.
  2. A skill level two is for ages 10 and up but requires painting
  3. A skill level three is the most difficult and is for ages 12 and up


The parts on the sprue

The Process for making the model is to simply follow through the steps in the instructions. The parts will be grouped together on pieces of plastic called sprues. You gently separate each piece from the sprue as you need it and glue it to your model. I am using a sharp hobby knife to separate a smaller part. You can see the fuselage of the aircraft in this picture.


Model Cement

When putting together a model like this you glue it together with a special glue calle Model cement. This is special because it actually melts the plastic together creating a very strong bond. You can apply it very sparingly and it works very well.


A sub assembly

Typically you will make some sub assemblies of the model and add these to the overall model. In the picture here on the left you can see the cockpit sub assembly. It is made up of a floorboard, a couple of seats, the pilot and the gunner. This will be painted and then installed into the fuselage of the plane.


Building the model

This model is starting to come together. The cockpit sub assembly has been installed and the wings and fuselage put together. I have also put the propellor on.


The model airplane is complete

This model is now complete and ready for painting.


The  Painted Model

This model is painted! Looks great. And the instructions and guidelines for painting it come with the assembly manual so you can paint it in an authentic manner.


Model Making Tools and Supplies

You can really start out in the hobby with just a few basic tools. But as is often the case the more tools you have the better! And as you do more you are going to want more tools. Here is my recommendation for a few of the basic and inexpensive tools you should get.


Recommended Tools

  • Model Cement
  • Tweezers
  • Emory board for light sanding
  • Needle nose pliers for holding parts
  • Side cutters for cutting
  • Sharp hobby knife
  • Small pieces of fine sand paper
  • Toothpicks
  • Paints and paint brushes
  • Optional: Magnifying Glass
  • Optional: Bright Light


Model Scale

There are just a few different generally accepted scales when it comes to models

There are three scales that are the most popular: 1/35, 1/48 and 1/72. If you are unfamiliar with what these terms mean it is that the model is either 1 35th, 1/48th or 1/72nd the size of the real object. An easy way to think of it is that in the 1/72 scale one inch equals six feet. So if a tank were six feet in length the model would be one inch in length. And a 1/35 scale model would be just about two inches in length.

There are other scales but they are not as common: 1/9, 1/16, 1/24, , 1/48, 1/144, 1/250 and 1/300 and 1/87 (This 1/87 scale is the same scale as HO railroads which is perfect if you want to include railroads.

In this video I show you how this model is made.



Putting your Model in a Diorama

models in a diorama

For me this is one of the best parts of model making - using it in a diorama to create a scene. In this picture you can see a WWII Scene. There is a Sherman tank model in the background and an anti tank gun and soldiers in the foreground. The anti tank gun was a model that came with a variety of soldiers.

Something like this is a very fun project and if you are interested in making a diorama like this I have a complete tutorial that uses the actual diorama you see in the picture: How to make a WWII diorama. The tutorial takes you through all the steps including making the models, creating the terrain, the barbed wire and everything else from design to completion.


Resources, kits, models and more


Walker Bulldog

1/35 US M41 Walker Bulldog


German Hanomag

1/35 German Hanomag SdKfz


1/35 US Army Infantry

1/35 US Army Infantry


1/48 P51D Mustang

1/48 P51D Mustang


Lots more Military models in the 1/35 scale made by Tamiya on Amazon.com Just click here


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