Model Building - Still For All Ages!

Model building used to consist of battling with sticky glue and unremovable paint - see how the new wave makes it easy to create your own empire at home!

Remember those long nights spent hunched over your desk; fingers stuck to small plastic pieces as you vainly tried to create the P-51 Mustang model you dreamed about but ending up with a Space Cruiser from the Vortog System because you just couldn't make it work? Well, those days might be gone but you can still relive the fun without the pain of having your fingers stuck together with the new improved models available!

Years ago the typical car or plane model consisted of small plastic pieces designed to be glued together with either special model glue (guaranteed to stick to anything BUT the plastic!) or you had to mix your own epoxy (resulting in plenty of mixing disasters as it tended to harden within minutes if not used quickly). Of course, this also included instructions that would boggle many computer experts in the future, the twisting and turning arrows and components resembling something like a torture chamber as you tried to construct something that generally resembled the picture on the front cover of the box; but never did.

But thanks to advances in both technology and common sense, you can return to your roots and start building all over again with the same eagerness but not the same results. You'd be hard pressed to find models requiring glue these days in many hobby stores, and many of the most popular ones don't even come from America!



A major step forward was the realization that snap-together models could be just as strong and hardy and detailed as the ones requiring glue. It used to be that the simpler models would automatically default to the snap format and anything requiring more than twenty parts had to be glued together - posing a problem for youngsters who were experienced in creating their models without glue but demanding more entertainment for their buck. Often you either dealt with the frustration of model kits and glue that was beyond your ability for your age, or felt left behind as you stared longingly at the deluxe models of the B-52 Bomber and the stock car racers that required epoxy or regular modeling glue. The experience difference led to many youthful modellers leaving the hobby for years and then returning as adults when they had acquired the money, the patience and the space for such complex creations.

As well, the new era of stickers have arrived, meaning that the days of fighting with little microscopic stickers that sloshed off the wet panel and onto your fingers and desktop while you fought to align them before they dried is over. Many kits now come with easy peel-and-stick panels of stickers that make it a breeze to add those special details to your model without the frustration and annoyance of positioning wet soggy transparent symbols and watching them dry out of place.

One of the most popular kits right now is Gundam Wing and its companions, inspired and based on the popular Japanese animated series about different types of giant robots. One major move forward was for the manufacturers to not only color different areas of the plastic parts; reducing the need for paints, but making the entire model snap-together AND movable - a revolutionary concept for model kits worldwide. While many other kits presented themselves as easy-to-make and "no painting needed" usually this consisted of weak snap-together parts that barely held, encouraging you to once again reach for the tube of glue to keep the model intact. "No painting needed" often meant that you got black and gray colors, hardly the variety needed for the majority of models.

But more and more models are following suit and producing different and flashier colors of plastic parts; from green to white to red without the need of paints. This allows the amateur modelist to obtain a good-looking model with a minimum amount of effort and expense, a long way from the days where buying the kit was only a small part of the cost when you factored in the brushes, the paints, the thinner and of course, a few tubes of glue so that when one hardened, you could open yet another one.

Posable models are also becoming more and more common as manufacturers realize that the builders want more flexibility in displaying their models. While most planes used to have maybe their landing gear be the only movable part, now many kits include cockpits that open and wings that move back and forth, depending on the model. Ships have compartments that open to display intrinsic workings, as cars once again return to the flashy engine display they've always loved to have. Model kits have moved out of the realm of just for kids to a newer and better level where not only kids can build and collect them, but adults can as well; reliving their youthful days but minus the stress.

Such products as Lego have also leapt into the model building arena, producing popular models based on such formats as Star Wars and medieval knights; giving complex instructions and parts to create Sith Infiltrators and Castles ready to be plundered by the barbarians at the gate. Such kits are aimed at the younger builder who wants to create quickly and safely, but it also generates more interest in the actual kits as they grow older and demand more complexity in their creations. Often adults collect and build both Lego models and Revell model kits, reveling in the variety now available for the avid builder and modeller.

Over the years model kits have evolved from the simple snap-together sets for children to the complex mega-kits for adults to a familiar and popular common ground where adults can easily have their favorite Gundam on their desk at work with minimum time and effort while their children construct Lego empires at home. Thanks to the ingenuity of the model kit creators, now anyone can create their dream plane or ship in their home without sticking their fingers to the table or painting the tops of their desks green... well, almost anyone!

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