Be A Maker!

Model Making - Getting Started

Have you coveted an awesome model of your favorite spaceship or vehicle? Have you wanted to obtain said model without spending 100’s of dollars? Does the thought of building a model yourself give you a sense of pride and accomplishment? Well I’m here to tell you that you can build a model with limited experience and have it look great.

You don’t have to be an expert builder or put out a lot of money to build a great model that you can be proud to put on your shelf. Many of the models made in Japan (and easily available on eBay or Amazon) are molded in the proper colors and are snap together. You don’t even have to worry about gluing your fingers to one another!

The A-Wing Fighter is one of my favorite Star Wars ships and Bandai makes this great kit that new builders and veterans alike can use to create an amazing looking model that you can show off (Bandai makes a ton of Star Wars kits - from spaceships to droids). All of the Gundam kits are also snap together and in the right colors out of the box. More experienced modelers can paint and weather the kits to meet their expectations, but that isn’t necessary, especially if you are just getting started.


I’ll use this A-Wing fighter kit over the next few weeks to walk through how you can build this yourself just as it is in the box and how to step up your game to give it some realistic weathering and color.

But first, there are a few specific tools that you need to buy that can be found at any hobby/craft store (or online if there isn’t a hobby store near you). Here’s a list of the basics to start your modeling journey:

Sprue Cutter - The plastic spine that holds all the little pieces together is called a sprue and to properly cut the parts from the sprue without damaging them it’s best to have a Sprue Cutter.

Hobby Knife/X-acto Knife - Great for cleaning extra plastic off pieces and an all-around handy tool.

Model Glue/CA Glue - I know I said that you’d be working on a snap together model but it is always good to have some glue around just in case there is a piece that needs that little extra help staying on. Plastic model glue is good but I tend to go with the CA glue (basically Crazy Glue) which dries pretty quick and holds really strong.

Toothpicks - Best tool to put glue on your model pieces.

Sandpaper - You’ll want some sandpaper to help clean up the edges of parts and to sand/rough up areas that you may want to glue. I suggest getting some very fine grit paper (the higher the number the finer the grit). I’d say get a 320, 400 and then jump to a 1000 for some super fine work.

Tweezers - Sometimes pieces get really small and a pair of tweezers helps get those pieces where they need to be. You can use a regular pair from around the house or a long pair designed specifically for modeling work.

Paints - This is totally optional at this point in your journey. I like to stick to acrylic paint (that’s water soluble so it cleans up with just water) but enamel works well too (needs a paint thinner to clean up). The colors you would need depends on the model you are doing, so if you are going to take the extra step with painting always check with the instructions in the model kit to build the list of the colors you need.

Paint Brushes - If you are going to paint you need brushes to apply. You can start with a basic set of a few widths or get fancy with an array of brushes. Hobby/craft stores have a lot of options for a good price.

This list represents a good starter kit for your toolbox. Next time we’ll start cutting out pieces and get to building!