What Makes or Breaks a Scale Model kit? | AeroScale

Modelers base their purchase decisions on different factors. In the last decade, with the enormous amount of new manufacturers coming to the light, this is even more difficult than ever. Here's what I think one should look for.

This is partial text from the full article (usually with photos) at https://aeroscale.net/video/what-makes-or-breaks-a-scale-model-kit

“What Makes or Breaks a Scale Model kit?”
With me what makes a kit is glue (far too much and frequently in the wrong places) and what breaks it is the wall I throw it at…


I agree with the video. Excellent fit, very accurate and high quality molding are the items that make a great kit for me. The further away from this you get, the less interested I am.

1 Like

Indeed, why would one make a kit that the producer itself did not take seriously :slight_smile:

It’s impossible for me to argue against any of his “categories” of excellence. Good fit, good detail, good dimensional accuracy, good historical accuracy, good instructions and good packaging… What’s not to like?

I do think that he makes a pretty broad and incorrect assumption that everyone has the same reason for building models as he has, though. And this assumption clouds his detailed assessment of his categories.

This is particularly evident when he speaks out about modelers who enjoy kits with “high parts counts” stating that the only thing that matters (to him) are the finished models on his shelf. His mistaken assumption, IMO, is that everyone has the same goal of creating a collection of finished models. He seems to believe that the only purpose anyone could have for building models to amass such a collection. There are no other reasons or purposes.

For some modelers, though, the process of building and / or finishing are their main sources of enjoyment. For them, “it’s the journey and not the destination” that counts. If some of them find that the challenge or effort in building “high parts” kits is what they believe “makes or breaks a scale model kit,” who is this guy to say they’re wrong?

So, sure, speak for yourself about what you think makes or breaks a kit, but don’t assume that your modeling goals and reasons are the only ones that matter.

1 Like

For me it the subject matter. So long as the kit isn’t a total dog I’ll build it. I am also one who enjoys the process, as Mike put it “the journey not the destination.” I generally try to avoid high parts counts but if the subject is right. . . Not a big fan of MiniArt kits in part because I don’t like the plastic they use and also for the high parts count. But, if you are a fan of the T54/55, and I am, then they are the go to for the various variants and markings.

1 Like

I build models from all kinds of manufacturers including alot fo the old Revell, AMT and Jo-Han offerings and while I like the clean fit of the Tamiya kits, it’s the building process that I enjoy the most and I enjoy a good challenge. The older kits fill this bill for me because I get to really lean on my skills not only as a modeler but as a problem solver and to me that’s the fun of it all. So for me…what makes a good kit would be one that gives me a good challenge because it makes me become a better modeler. Like I always say…“that’s modeling”.

1 Like

I agree. For me it’s also the subject matter. Now if I have a choice between two or more kits of the same subject, I’ll start to consider other aspects, dimensional accuracy being for me the most important in descending order (next would be fidelity of detail regardless of how that’s achieved - high parts count or low - doesn’t matter if one is better than the other).

However, if a kit is the only game in town of some particular subject, then as far as I’m concerned, that’s the “perfect” kit at the moment.

I also really don’t care how long a build takes or how much work, as long as I remain engaged with the subject matter. Working out problems, figuring out how to improve this or that, complicated finishing schemes or sequences, are all just part of the enjoyment. Sometimes I’ll even pick a hard kit of a complicated subject just for the challenge.

The “perfect” kit is always the one I’m building at the moment… LOL!

1 Like

I buy kits based on these criteria (in more or less order of important… to me).

  1. Subject matter: Regardless of whether it is civilian or military, ship/plane/land vehicle, it should be an interesting treatment of the subject. For example: armor with full detailed interiors, especially engines. Aircraft with positionable flight surfaces. Ships with included PE so railings and antenna look right.
  2. Mold accuracy and fineness: a la Tamiya, Hasegawa, Meng, Kitty Hawk, Ryefield, etc.
  3. Parts count: I like a lot of parts, but there’s a limit. I just finished both the Ryefield Sherman M3A4 76W HVSS and the Meng Bradley BUSK III. The Bradley had individual link tracks with 1 part per link. The Sherman had individual link tracks with 7 parts per track link. If Meng made a detail part with 3 parts, Ryefield would make 15. The transmission on the Sherman had 70 parts! Just because you CAN make something with lots of parts, doesn’t always mean it’s better.
  4. Lots of decals: Again, it’s good quality decals that are a) thin, but usable, b) have no clear film around the edges, and c) have no film if they have to go around an obstacle. Meng does well with this.
  5. Thick instruction books: because they’re fun to read, but they also must be accurate and unambiguous. Airfix has improved their booklets by showing 3D images of how the assembly looks when the previous step is completed. This is very helpful when dealing with complex mechanisms. A good example is their 1:24 Typhoon where the relationships of the myriad of frame parts that had to be carefully placed.
  6. Packaging: I like it when delicate parts are packed in separate protected containers. I also like a full box of lots of stuff. Makes you feel like you’re getting value for money.

The subject matter is the most important criteria for me. Next would be the scale of the kit ( 1/700 rather than 1/350; 1/72 rather than 1/48)… Third would be accuracy and part fit. (Accuracy but not rivet counting)
High part counts can be/are a reason to skip a kit. Detailed interiors that will never be seen once the kit is done will be left out. I have (and will again) replace poorly done detail parts and decals with aftermarket parts.

In my book, and for aircraft, there is only one true scale: 1/48 and yes, the subject matter is what determins the “next build decision” and then I search for the best kit.

That is sometimes difficult to decide; it has to look realistic (for instance the F-22 from Hasegawa with these raised panels looks totally wrong in my eyes) have a good fit etc…