Plastic Model Kit Buying Guide

Views 2 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
Plastic Model Kit Buying Guide

There are many kinds of excellent plastic model kits available to buy on eBay ranging from relatively small and less detailed beginner kits, to large designs of a more complex nature intended for experts and avid hobbyists.

Plastic model kits are usually based on feats of mechanical engineering, such as military vehicles, famous automobiles, and historical vessels. The joy of constructing a plastic model is often equal to the pleasure of admiring it once it has been completed.

Many plastic model makers display their models in transparent cases and cabinets, whilst others prefer to adorn their creations with scenery, props, and buildings to form a diorama.

Types of Model Kit

The most popular subjects of plastic model kits are vehicles such as:

  • Aircrafts
  • Boats and Ships
  • Cars
  • Helicopters
  • Motorcycles
  • Tanks
  • Trucks

The majority of these model kits are based on military vehicles, because there is a greater level of diversity and a richer variety of historical context compared to civilian vehicles. However, scale models of famous cars and motorcycles are also widely available.

Another popular subject for plastic model kits is sci-fi, and these can be provided in the following different categories:

  • Monsters and Aliens
  • Rockets and Spaceships
  • Buildings
  • Characters From Films

In order to avoid paying expensive license fees, some plastic model manufacturers give their sci-fi products generic names such as “Bat Hero Figure” or “Spider Superhero”.

Model Kit Scales

Models come in different sizes. In terms of the scale ratio, the smaller the number, the larger the finished product will be. 1:72 indicates that the model is 72 times smaller than the original vehicle.

Generally speaking, for aircrafts, 1:72 is a good size for beginners because it is relatively straightforward, however if you are looking for a little more detail, then 1:48 is another popular option for first-time model makers.

The plastic model scaling system is well established and each type of model has a set of standard sizes. The sizing guides are provided to help maintain consistency across collections. These are the most common scales ratios for different subjects:








Military Vehicle





















As a general rule of thumb these ratios will help to determine the size and scale of each model. However, due to the diverse range of different plastic model manufacturers there can occasionally be differences between the sizes of components in some models. For example it is possible to find a 1:25 automobile that is actually larger than a 1:24 scale model of the same subject.

During the 1960’s some companies used the scaling system as a method to simplify shipping; rather than work out the size of the finished model, some manufacturers would categorise their products by what size box they could fit into. This became known as the ‘fit-the-box’ scale.

Basic Tools Required to Make a Plastic Model

To construct a plastic model there are a few basic tools required:

  • Glue
  • Sharp Craft Knife
  • Cutting Mat
  • Scissors
  • File or Sandpaper
  • Side Cutters
  • Tweezers
  • Paint Brushes
  • Flat-nosed Screwdriver
  • Cocktail Sticks

To ensure that the building process goes smoothly it is also important to follow these guidelines:

  • Find a large, well-lit, flat surface to work on.
  • Ensure that the knife blade is sharp, so that it can cleanly separate model parts from their plastic sprues. Sometimes a knife can also be used to carve out defects from the plastic mold.
  • Non-slip cutting mats are an important safety procedure, they also help to preserve the quality of the work surface, and prevent the knife becoming blunt.
  • Do not use too much glue because it can be messy and cause the parts to slide around before it dries. Needle applicators are useful to aid precise glueing.
  • Paintbrushes come in different sizes. It is essential to have a large surface brush and some fine detail brushes in order to accurately decorate the model kit.
  • It is useful to have two small glasses on the work surface to clean the paintbrushes. One should be filled with water and the other with turpentine.
  • A piece of sandpaper or a file can be necessary to smooth out imperfections in the plastic
  • Elastic bands or hair bands are helpful to hold pieces together whilst the glue dries. This method is particularly useful when sticking two halves of an aircraft together.
  • Blu tack can be used to test how well parts fit before they are permanently glued together.

Skill Level Required for Model Kits

Some plastic model kits are harder to build than others. It is important to choose a product that is equal to your own individual skill level. One fundamental thing to consider is whether the kit uses glue or not. Sometimes it is best for beginners to start with plastic models that do not require glue. These kits are often described as ‘snap together’ or ‘snap tight’ models.

Model kits that require glue are slightly more difficult to build and require more skill or experience. Most model manufacturers use a standardized rating system to mark the difficulty of their kits:

  • Skill Level 1 – Kits that do not require glue and do not contain many detailed parts. These kits are great for beginners and children over 8 years old.
  • Skill Level 2 – Kits aimed for ages 10 and over. These kits involve glueing, and may require some basic painting.
  • Skill Level 3 – These kits require glue and painting. They feature detailed parts and are designed for people aged 12+.
  • Skill Level 4 – Kits that require intricate glueing and painting. They sometimes contain moving parts.
  • Skill Level 5 – These kits are very difficult to assemble; they contain moving parts and finely detailed components.
  • Skill Level 6 – Extremely complex kits requiring a lot of skill and attention. These are only designed for experienced and highly skilled model makers.

How to Assemble a Plastic Model

Putting models together can be fun and rewarding, but only if you do it right. It is important to follow the instructions carefully and pay attention to detail. Parts are numbered, but some pieces can appear very similar so it is vital to double-check the numberings as you go. This is a simple guide on how to assemble a generic plastic model kit.

  1. Using a side cutter and a modeling knife, cut off the parts from the sprue in the correct order. Always follow the instruction manual to make sure that parts do not become mixed up.
  2. Carefully cut off any imperfections or excess sprue with a modeling knife. This is vital to ensure that parts fit together properly.
  3. Use the glue to stick the pieces together. Apply a small amount of glue to one piece and press it tightly against another. Then leave the parts until the glue has dried.
  4. For the larger parts of the model it is best to paint them with spray paint. This is a lot easier and gives a much better finish. Shake the can to mix the colours evenly, hold the spray can around 30cm away from the model and spray on a thin layer of paint.
  5. It is important to apply multiple layers slowly to avoid the paint running and ruining the finish. When one layer has dried apply another, wait for it to dry, and repeat this process several times until the surface appears thick and smooth.
  6. To protect the model from dust and humidity, let it dry for at least 24 hours in a vacuum packed area.
  7. For the smaller parts of the model it is sometimes best to paint them while they are still attached to the sprue. Once the pieces have dried cut them from the sprue and paint over the remaining bits.
  8.  When all of the smaller parts have been painted it is time to glue them together. First test each piece by fixing it together without glue. This will ensure that all parts fit together properly and will show you exactly where the glue needs to be applied.
  9. To complete the model making process, cut out each decal sticker from the sheet, dip it in warm water, and apply it to the model. When decals are in place, remove any excess water or air bubbles by wiping them with a cotton swab.
  10. Wait 24 hours for the decals to dry, and the plastic model kit is complete. Now all that’s left to do is decide on where to display the finished product.

How to Buy a Plastic Model Kit on eBay

There are thousands of different plastic model kits available to buy on eBay. These products include:

  • Aircrafts
  • Boats and Ships
  • Cars
  • Helicopters
  • Motorcycles
  • Tanks
  • Trucks
  • Monsters and Aliens
  • Rockets and Spaceships
  • Buildings
  • Characters From Films

To find a plastic model kit, visit the Toys & Games portal, then click the Model Kits link, and choose a category. For example: Military, Cars, or Science Fiction. To find a specific size, model, or make of plastic model kit, click the eBay search bar at the top right-hand corner of the page and type in a query. For example: “Academy 1:48 Strike Eagle Plane Model Kit”.

When a suitable plastic model kit has been found it is important to look at all of the pictures and read through the available literature on the product before making the purchase. This helps to give a good understanding of the exact specifications of the model. If more information is needed just Ask the Seller a question.

To buy the chosen model kit, either place a bid, Buy it Now, or place your Best Offer. Most eBay payments are made with PayPal, which ensures that the transaction is safe and secure.


There are lots of different plastic model kits available to buy on eBay but to get the maximum enjoyment out of the experience it is very important to make sure that you choose a kit with the appropriate skill level. It is also vital to ensure that you have all of the necessary equipment and follow the instructions carefully. If used correctly a plastic model kit can provide hours of enjoyment whilst it is being constructed, and a lifetime of admiration once it has been finished and displayed. Buying the right plastic model kit is simple and rewarding on eBay.

Have something to share? Create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides