Plastic models



Colour and tools


The first time you buy a model maybe you choose a start box and think you can start at once when you come home. Donít use cheap enclosed things of not so good quality. If you want to build more than one model you have to buy good tools.


Look what colour you need. Even if you buy a start box with the colours and a paintbrush enclosed you must look so the paintings is correct. Sometimes you have to buy more colours than containing. I have once brought a car model which should been painted in green, it was a green colour included but with the wrong number.

If you buy a model from Airfix you should have colour from Humbrol, if you buy a Tamiya model you should have Tamiya colour and so on. You can read this on the box or in the build description.

Itís easiest for you as a beginner to use that colour you are told to use, because you know the colour and the plastic like each other and you just have to look at the numbers on the description. You can buy all colours you need in the store there you have bought your model.


You have colour converting tables to colour converting from one colour manufacture to another. You can find some colour converting tables by clicking on the link to the left.

Sometimes the model description tells you to use for example Paint Markers. For example Tamiya have the most used colours as paint markers, because it should be easy to paint some parts. Some like the Paint Markers, others do not. If you have a very small paintbrush you can paint without use the Paint Markers. If you use the Paint Markers for the first time, please try them so you know how to do before using them on your model.


If you want your model to look real, do as the description say and use the colour they told you. It means you can have a lot of colours at home. If you use another colour than they have told you it makes a whole lot of different, even if the colours seems to be close to each other. Of course you can make your model more personal with use another skin colour than they description told you, and you can paint a car just like a real car youíve seen. If you want the model to look more personal you can choose other colours than described, for example can a car or a plane be painted different in real life and you may want to paint it that way.


Some plastic models is pre-painted, but you can paint them in the colours you like. If you have model paintings at home, use that. Try painting on a little surface you donít use, and wait for the painting to dry. If you canít remove the colour, the colour donít make you dirty when you touch it and the plastic do not react strange you can use the colour.


The colours from Humbrol you can use to the most different kinds of plastic models and you can (in Sweden) easily get the colour.


To paint your model you need paintbrushes in a few different sizes. Donít use a paintbrush you get with a start box, buy paintbrushes in the hobby store instead.

You need a very small paintbrush to paint very small details, a paintbrush to paint big surfaces with and a paintbrush somewhere between.

Some models you may want to spray paint, for example the outside of a car. Itís hard to spray paint a model and you must practice a lot. Donít spray paint if you donít know how to do.


Glue in a tube you use to glue together big surfaces. Glue on a bottle with a little metal tube on the top you use to glue together small surfaces. On the model box you can sometimes see ďuse glue of that sort for the best resultĒ, but itís most advertising. You can use the same glue to all your models. If you want, you can try it on a part you donít use to the real model.


You must have some tools:

  1. To make holes or make patterns you need a hobby knife with different kind of blades.
  2. A little nipper is good to use when you have to cut off parts you have to glue together.
  3. A sandpaper file of that kind the women use to their nails is good when you have to file the edges.
  4. One pair of plastic tweezers is good to hold small parts with
  5. Something to wash your paintbrush with.


Donít buy everything at once! After a while you know what tools you need best.



Getting started


Now when you have coming home with a lot of things from the store, you should start with finding a place there you can sit building your models. Donít forget you must have good light. You can use a good desktop lamp. If you havenít a table there you always can sit working with your models, you have to find a tray with high edges. Take a tray you donít need to something else. On that tray you can have your models when you build them.


Soon you get many colours. Find your own system so you easily can find exactly that colour you need. Sort them by colour.



Put all tools in a box, for example an empty ice cream box, so you have them all in the same place.

Now you can start building. Open the box and read the description not just once. Look in the box and check so you think everything is there. If some parts is missing, itís a special paper with instructions how to get that part.

Donít cut parts together yet! Start painting small parts without cutting them together.


Read the description and start painting small parts. Donít forget to mix the colour before use.


Paint each piece two or more times. Let the painting dry before you paint it again. On the colour you find how long time it takes for the colour to dry. Always wait to paint a second time for the best result, remember if you touch the painted part and it feels dry, maybe it isnít.

If you put tape (that white tape you can buy in the drugstore) on parts you donít want to colour, for example windows or part you want to have in another colour, you donít get colour in unexpected places. Be careful the tape sitting correctly on the plastic so the colour canít get down under the tape.


Donít paint the surface on the parts you have to glue together! If you do so, maybe you get trouble to glue the parts together. Paint too little, not too much and try to avoid paint there you put glue later. You can always paint it afterwards and correct your misses. If you have painted a surface you want to glue together with another part, file or take a knife and put the colour off. Doesnít file too much, just do it a little so itís easier to glue together.


Look always carefully on the description and cut off only that part you have to glue together. Donít use your fingers to cut off the part, use only a nipper! File off all abounding plastic before you glue together.


Look at the description again. Do exactly as it says! Build together without glue, study the description and look how the parts should be glued together.


Sometimes the parts can fit badly. If you feel they fit too badly, you can fill with putty or take away some plastic. Donít putty or take away plastic if you donít know how to do! Itís easy to take away, but hard make right if you have taken away too much.


Glue together two parts at a time and press them together with your fingers or the plastic tweezers until it fits together without pressing. Use rubber bands to fit together big parts, as body parts and parts to wings. Sometimes the wings can be separating from each other on a special place. Put a clothes peg there, ďstanding right outĒ from the wing.


When the model is glued together, look at it carefully. File away all glue you can see. Look at the description and paint all parts you havenít painted before. For example you donít paint a plane on the outside before itís glued together. Paint always the primary colour first, and then the rest. If your model should have different kind of colours, start with the lightest one. To have straight lines, draw them with a pen and put tape (that white tape you can buy in the drugstore) beside the line. If you donít should have straight lines, you must paint them without any help.


Now when all is painted and the model look finished, you have to put on the decals.

Look on the description where you should have the decals. Cut off just one at a time. Often it is water decal you have to put on your model. Fill a bowl with water, look the temperature is somewhere between cold and hot. Put the decal into the water and wait maybe ten seconds before you take it off the water and put it on the model. You can put it into the right place with a match. The match can you also use if you have to put the decal near some other part or decal and want a special space between or just look it is straight. When the decal is wet, you can move it into the right space. If you wait too long and the decal is not wet anymore, you canít move it. If you recognize the decal sitting on the wrong place you can have some water on the decal put it into the right place; but if some hours have pass itís too late to do anything about a decal sitting in the wrong place.

When you are satisfied with a decals place, it can be some water on it. Dry the water away with some kitchen paper. Itís easy to move the decal, so take it easy and look so the decal sitting there you want when you have taken away the water. Donít touch the decal!

Do you have many decals who should be very close to each other or sitting one upon another? Place one decal and let dry before you place the next one.

When the decals are dry, you can move the model. Donít touch the decals more than you have to.


You canít see how fast a model is build together, but you can see how well itís build together! Use a lot of time to the model and donít hurry. Your first models may be not so well. Buy cheap models with a few decals and take it as training. Donít be sad if a window is being full of glue or you make another mistake. You have learned something, and remember it so you donít make same mistake again.


Some manufactures have a bad fit on their models. If you always put together the model without glue and is careful when you glue them together you donít get any surprises.



To build a scene


When you gets better you may want to show your models in any way. To avoid too much dust on your models, you have to put them into a display cabinet.

You can also make a scene into a box with a glass window at the front, or a scene you put into your display cabinet.


A scene can be everything from a car on a parking space to a big scene with a lot of people and things. You decide. Try to get everything from the same time as your model. Look on pictures in books and papers, or go outside looking at the nature.


You can buy a lot of things to your scene or make it by yourself. Some things you have to build yourself because you canít get it in your hobby store. If you want for example a hangar to your plane you have to build it by yourself, you can do it in wood or hard paper. Remember the hangar must be as big as the plane, even if you donít want to put the plane in the hangar. Is the hangar too small, it can look strange.


If you build an open scene without glass around it, you buy a piece of wood in the right size to build your scene on. If you have a too big piece of plywood, it can curve. Make some holes, and both glue and screw some wooden strip down under.

Use putty to make the surface smooth, so you canít see for example the screws. Paint it with a light colour and let dry. Use sandpaper and paint again.

Now you can use your model colour to paint grass, asphalt and so on. Build up your scene. Mark there you want to have houses, cars and so on.


Use putty to make your landscape more realistic. You can use gips too. Just take a net and make that shape you want, fill it with gips and let dry. Do as the directions on the gips package says. When the gips are dry you can glue it into the piece of wood and paint it.



Do big things first, and always start with a light colour. Itís much easier to make a light colour darker than make a dark colour lighter. Think on the perspective, things in the background is smaller than things in the foreground. Glue houses, cars and other big stuff. Save small parts to the end.


A scene into a box is one piece of wood to the bottom, three sides and a roof. Do everything in plywood (or hard paper, if you like to work in that material). The fourth side is a piece of glass. Gauge the size and go to someone who is selling windows and let him make the piece of glass for you.

Do the scene as described and put together the sides and the roof when everything else is done. Paint the roof inside so it looks like the sky if your scene is outside. Paint also the three sides with houses or nature.


A few advices which model you should start with


At last: Donít be afraid of making some experiment! Make a mistake, and do it all over! Donít be afraid to make a mistake. Begin with some easy models you can build together and learn of you mistakes. When you become more capable, you can assembly more difficult (and more expensive) models.


How do you know you donít buy a model that is too difficult for you?

On the box you can read how difficult the model is to assembly, mostly it is a scale from 1-4 or 1-5. Different manufactures can have different scales. 1 is very easy models with a few parts, 4 or 5 is models hard to assemble with a lot of parts. You have also models for children you can snap together without using paint or glue, for example models from Burago and Maisto.

Mostly you have a description of the difficultly level on the box. Sometimes you only have the age the model is adjust to, +8, +10 or +12 is the most frequent used ages.

Always ask in the store if you can open the box and look, if you are unsure. A model with a lot of small parts is always harder to build than a model with a few big parts.