Modeling for Competition: Picking the Kit

Category: Reviews and News
Created on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 08:45
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 08:45
Published on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 08:45
Written by MrT
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Ok you’re saying I’ll build any dang kit I want to! Yes you can, but you might want to consider a few things before you do such as. I’m new to the hobby and competition where do I start? What kit is best for me? What kit is going to allow me to compete and master my basic the skills? These will be some of the things we will explore and discuss in this topic.

There are literally dozens of kit manufacturers out there. Anything from cast resin, injection molded plastic, metal to wood and paper. There are multiple levels of difficulty. Different levels of accuracy and kit quality is all over the place. So where to begin?

I think the biggest frustration for modelers just starting out is the kit that is more than they can handle. There is nothing more disappointing then doing a poor job on a model simply because it was just too much for you. I’ll let you in a little secret that has happened to every modeler so don’t throw in the towel just yet. The object of this hobby is to build, but things will be more satisfying when you build to your skill level. Eh that is as long as you don’t stay there. Yes we always want to get better at our hobby. Well then what are we looking for. If you are just starting out in the hobby or considering your first contest you need to look for a kit that is well molded and has well-engineered parts, have a moderate number of parts, has strait forward instructions, and has reasonable level of accuracy.

Why a kit that is well molded and engineered? Keeping in mind that IPMS judges are looking for good basic skills a model whose parts fit well, have minimum sink marks, very little flash, and a minimum of seam lines will get you closer to your goal. In other words the less we have to clean up the parts the better. Now I’m going to make the car guys mad, but car kits are notorious for have these kinds of problems. Poor fit, flash, sink marks, mismatched parts (big seams) which make them not for the beginner. To be fair most car kits out there are re-pops of kits made 50 years ago and tooling does wear out or was not very good in the first place. Just remember the better the fit the better the model will be and the less work you need to do as a beginner.

Why worry about the number of parts? Now days a model can come with as many as a 1000 parts which can boggle the mind of the most experienced modeler. Photo etch, optional parts, metal parts, etc. etc…….all very cool I’m sure, but could be very frustrating to the beginner. The more parts you have the more chance for error. Does this mean you should do only “Snaptites” no, just don’t get in over your head. A simpler kit has just as much chance of making the first cut as one with all the bells and whistles.

Aren’t all instructions the same? No they’re not! The quality of instructions is as varied as kits themselves. Tamiya instructions are generally good. Dragons can be very complicated and sometimes just plain wrong. Many are very vague on where parts should go or are poorly printed. Car kit instructions……..well you better know something about cars. Just ask my daughter. If the instructions are bad that could lead to a poorly built model. Glue is very unforgiving if you need to correct a mistake.

All kits are accurate right? Sorry, but no. Again keeping in mind the IPMS rules judges expect the modeler to correct contours and obvious errors in a kit. Some kits have been poorly researched and can contain errors regarding shapes and fittings that would require correction that could be daunting for the beginner. So selecting a kit that is fairly accurate could make the difference in competition and save a lot of frustration.

I have focused on the beginner, but I think this can apply to everyone. We all want to build a good model. The beginner can be a successful builder and the advanced modeler can spend less time correcting construction errors and concentrate on super detailing. Selecting the right kit can make the difference between enjoying the hobby and being frustrated.

Ok for those who have decided to the join the group build that goes along with this series here is your “homework”. Select a kit and start a thread! All campaign rules apply i.e. we need to see pictures of the kit not yet started along with the time and date. Once selected you must complete that kit. Don’t start the kit until told to. You must follow through to the end no matter the difficulty. Hopefully we can work through those as we go. Are you ready…..GO!


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