Am I just nuts? Old Kit Question

Hi All,

Yesterday, a comment on my current Pyro Santa María build got me thinking:

There is a REASON they are named Pyro … You want to burn the things at the stake like the spawns of Satan they are.

Am I the only one drawn to older, lower quality kits like this? They are usually a mess of problems, but I find myself drawn to them again and again.

God knows I appreciate the more recent highly detailed, perfect-fitting model kits. Flyhawk’s H.M.S. Campbeltown, for example, was probably the finest quality injection plastic kit I’ve ever had the pleasure of building.

Still, there’s something about those flawed older kits (Pyro/Life-Like, Aurora, Heller, old Revell) that appeals to me. I guess it is because they invite and challenge you to engage with them.


The parts always seem to look great in the box, but the fit is sometimes wonky, and they usually sport simplified, exaggerated, and often just plain inaccurate detail. You can still get a good result, but you have to apply more effort and creativity to get there ‒ and that, for me at least, is a big part of the fun of model building!

Or am I just nuts?


There is a guy in our club who does a lot older older kits and kit that are known to have problems. Every time he finishes one he swears it is his last but he keeps on building them. While he complains, like you I think he derives great satisfaction in these type of builds. They are challenging, require some creativity, and generally test ones modelling mettle.


I always enjoyed the challenge of improving these older kits. These are/were the kits where I first learned and developed the skills I have today. And I still enjoy building one of them every now and then. But with the new technology, and the instant gratification society we now live in, so many of those old skills have died, disappeared, and probably will never reappear.
As you said, you found your enjoyment in this hobby. Keep doing it, because that is exactly what this hobby is about—enjoying what YOU created, your way, with your hands, mind, and creative talents.


i agree with some of what Grumpyoldman says.

new kits today go together so well that they hardly need glue (bandai star wars kits spring to mind). in the past our choice of kits were limited but now there has been an explosion in kit manufacturers, types and quality which means there is an easy option for people who don’t want to face an up hill struggle with a kit.
the older kits are usually cheaper but require more work and effort on the part of the builder so are not always popular.
simply put, do what makes you happy!

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I get the nostalgia bit - kits I built as a boy . Only tried revisiting once . One of my phases as a lad were the (1/48 ?) western theme wagons by Adams / Athern et all . I bought the ranch wagon off e bay - got as far as gluing the mules together but that is as far as it got . I remembered them as being so finely detailed but in reality they are , by today’s
standards , a bit soft . My hat is off to Tim and others though - he really seems to enjoy the old stuff and I enjoy following.


I like old kits.
Despite issues with fit, accuracy etc… they’re often a lot of fun. And in a couple of cases, some oldies are still the only game in town. Matchbox’s Stranraer for example. Some can even be surprisingly good for the age.

I’m having a lot of fun working on the Airfix Mig-23 at the moment. A kit I first built in the mid 90’s and I think the 4th or 5th model I built. It’s a real product of the Cold War, so it has some shape and accuracy issues, but it’s gone together really well.


And I don’t mean to flog a dead horse , repeat myself , be a P.I.T.A . , etc but I would love to see Tim do the Polynesian outrigger… hint hint


To each his own,but not me.My bench time is limited so i dont want to spend my time slogging my way thru a bad kit.
Plus a lot of corrections and scratching parts is beyond me.

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I was thinking about this yesterday as I contemplated almost finishing Airfix’s Beach Buggy, the kit I’ve been working on since March. I have greatly enjoyed it even though there was so much to correct, at the same time, so much to improve. It’s true that this particular subject gives almist unlimited scope for customization as hardly any two buggies look the same. But it also made me think about the other kits that have given greatest satisfaction, and it has often been those that needed the most work. Of course these builds involve scratching and improvising (and sometimes buying) bits, so you need to enjoy that.

There’s actually a personal challenge I sometimes set myself with these “work needed” kits: to look up photos on the net of what other people have produced from the same kit, then aim for making the best example out there (at least of that have been photographed and published). I suspect if you’re making a newishly kitted Panther or Phantom or something, that would be a very tough call indeed. But if you’re working on a 50 year old Airfix or Bandai mould, then it’s a more realistic challenge to set.


I like building many of the old kits. My building skills have never been too strong. I can’t justify to myself the expense of the new kits when I know I’ll make a hash of it in some way.

Tim, you’ve inspired me a lot over the last few years, especially your builds of the older kits. Right now, I’m looking at a pair of old Heller 1/225 Bireme kits, wondering if I could kit bash to make a trireme. Even if I don’t build it I get the enjoyment of the research. It’s a hobby. If you like it, build it. Just my $0.02.

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Everyone has some facet of this hobby they enjoy the most. Some are builders, some are painters some love the 1800 piece kits and some just like the older simpler kits. To each his own. One advantage of the older kit is no preconceived notions on what you have. if it gets mucked up oh well. If it turns out fair, you did good. If you have the 1800 piece kit and something goes south, darn because they are expensive and if they don’t turn out fantastic then it is obvious.


My 2 cents…
First, I agree with all stating that hobby is what you like to do and how you like to do it, and that’s just perfect. I don’t think there’s anything to add.
And second, there are different preferences for each, just as TopSmith points out.

I am more of the ‘well designed complex kit’-type, because I am interested in technical details (sometimes a little too much).
And then the old kits - it is a completely different approach of modeling, imho. What especially Tim is showing here is sometime more artwork than modeling and requires skills, artistic skills, that I don’t have to that degree. I’m always happy when I can do some complex PE, some building, but working with scales, and not ‘free hand’. I admire Tim’s work and follow his build logs of e.g; those Pyro kits with a lot of fun and even more awe seeing what he manages to transform these kit into. That’s great, more artwork often than modeling, and somehow I know I would never be able to do it with fantastic outcome like Tim.
So, I’d say you are definitely not nuts! I truly enjoy following your work, but as someone generally taking a more technical approach to model building than an artistic one (that’s why I don’t do dios by the way), I don’t get the feeling ‘I want to do that’ because I know (from experience not shown anywhere, for a reason), I won’t be happy with my results…


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… I can’t justify to myself the expense of the new kits when I know I’ll make a hash of it in some way…

John, that’s a good point! I too feel “freeer” in building less expensive, less beautifully crafted kits! For me it is less the expense (let’s face it, some of these “vintage” kits now go for obscene prices on Ebay and elsewhere) than a fear that I won’t fully realize the potential of a really great model kit. Plus, it feels like there is more of “me” in the build if I have to make a lot of changes.

By the way, I really liked the Earl Lagertha Viking ship you did some time back!

… I am more of the ‘well designed complex kit’-type, because I am interested in technical details (sometimes a little too much).

Thanks Jan -

I guess I go there sometimes too with the “techie” details which baffle most people and that only us modelers seem to love!


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Thanks Tim,
That Viking ship was a lot of fun. Painting the 6mm crew figures was a challenge too
Looking forward to your progress on the Santa Maria.


Yes, I’m sorry to say it, Tim, but yes you are… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
But that’s not to say the rest of us salty side modellers don’t share that wonderful nuttiness too :laughing:
Seriously, who else in their right mind would work at microscopic levels to achieve the level of details we expect and then repeat over and over (oerlikon cannon fit out for example)… :innocent:

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I like old kit, sometimes stuff like the boeing 2707 are only done in the 60’, then reedited from time to time and heller 1/100 scale concorde allow to do the 1964 project, so you can do original stuff with old kit.

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…who else in their right mind would work at microscopic levels to achieve the level of details we expect and then repeat over and over (oerlikon cannon fit out for example)… :innocent:

I hear ya Russ!