With literally tens of thousands of kits on the Market, where do you start? Whether its for you or a gift we have tried to break it down for you…
Most manufacturers offer a wide range of subject matter, from WW2 Vehicles through to Modern Supercars. Ultimately its pretty straight forward, choose something that you or the intended recipient is interested in. If you are buying as a gift then the range of “Starter Sets” from a manufacturer like Airfix (more Starter Set info below) will give a good indication of the most popular subjects, e.g Spitfires, Classic Cars, Tanks etc.
Large manufacturers like Airfix and Revell advertise a Skill Level on the packaging of nearly all of their kits. Use this to help choose a kit suitable for either yourself or the recipient. Assume that a lower level kit has less parts and detail – however you can still create a great model!
Airfix – Skill level from 1-4, a higher skill level often has more parts and is more challenging to build.
Revell – Skill level from 1-5, typically:
-  includes snap kits for beginners which do not need to be glued or painted.
-  comprehends simple model kits to be glued and painted with up to 30 parts for beginners.
-  is the category for challenging models with up to 100 parts to be glued and painted.
-  is suited for experienced modellers, with up to 150 parts to be glued and painted.
-  refers to models requiring the highest handicraft skill level, with more than 150 individual parts to be glued and painted.
Scale is a tricky one, as they vary across the industry, across manufacturers and can have a huge impact on the price and difficulty of a model. If you are buying models for an experienced modeller it’s important to find out which scales they are interested in, as many modellers prefer to build a certain size as it may fit their existing collection. The most important things to consider are: Cost, Size when completed & Difficulty (typically the bigger the model the harder and more expensive it is to finish to a high standard)
Aircraft: The most common scales for Aircraft are 1:72 & 1:48 – typically the bigger the model the more detail it has and the more expensive it will be to buy and finish. Aircraft are also commonly available in 1:32 & 1:24 – however please note that these kits will create large models typically reserved for more experienced modellers.
Tanks and Armoured Vehicles: The most common scale for Tanks and Armoured Vehicles is 1:35 (A Tank is approx 20cm long in this scale).
Cars/Trucks: The most common scale for Cars and Trucks is 1:24 creating a car up to 20cm long. Cars are often available in 1:12 or even 1:6 scales – but are notoriously difficult to paint as you typically have large surfaces of solid colour which generally requires an Airbrush/spray paint to create a high quality finish etc.
Boats/Ships: Common ship scales are 1:700 & 1:350. Boats are tricky as they are typically long and thin – with a 1:350 ship being up to 50cm long when completed. However due to the shape & proportions of the vehicle you typically need a large model to be able to add a good level of detail. 1:700 kits are smaller and easier to store/display – but will not contain a huge amount of detail due to its small overall size.
Starter sets are designed for total beginners or as a re-entry to the Hobby. They usually include everything you need to finish the model to a basic standard, i.e adhesive, paint and brushes. Some of the manufacturers (e.g Revell) offer sets that do not require glue and simply clip together! At Jadlam’s we try our best to make it as clear as possible in the product title/description – but do ask if you are unsure.
If you are looking to introduce somebody new into the hobby we would recommend starting with an Airfix Starter Set. This comprehensive range comes complete with Adhesive, Paints and Brush and detailed instructions – it also covers a wide range of subjects from a classic Spitfire to a Modern WRC Rally Car. We personally think that that every Model maker should give the A55100 Spitfire a go – its a great little model and typically only costs around £10-12!
It’s always important to make sure you’re 100% sure that you’ve checked what actually comes in the box as it can vary between manufacturers and you don’t want to gift an item that only includes half the parts!
You have to be very careful with Gift sets, as they are easily mistaken for Starter Sets, i.e they come with Paints and other accessories. This often leads inexperienced modellers (or gift buyers) to believe it’s an easy kit to build. However, these sets can be large scale/high detailed kits that requires a lot of time/experience/attention to create a top quality finish. Revell for example offer nearly their entire kit range as “Gift Sets”, thus you can have a high skill level kit packaged with a basic selection of accessories.
However, Gift Sets can offer even an experienced modeller great value as it ensures they have most of the accessories they require to complete the specific models (i.e the correct colour paints etc). So on the whole Gift Sets offer great value – just ensure that the model is of the suitable build level.
Typical Boxed Kit
As a rule of thumb, if a box does not clearly advertise the inclusion of Adhesives and Paints, then assume these are not included. If you are buying a Model for an experienced Modeller then this is probably the best option, as they are likely to already have everything they require to build a kit.
Similar to Starter & Gift Sets, the majority of kits from the larger kit manufacturers will have a “Skill Level” on the box – as above this typically indicates the amount of parts/detail and thus time and experience required to create a good finish. Many of the smaller Model manufacturers do not advertise a “Skill Level”, do not be scared of this – but be aware that more niche subjects and brands are typically built for the more experienced modeller and can sometimes require extra work to create a very good finish (Filling etc.)