Tips on Building Model Cars

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Tips on Building Model Cars

Model cars provide hours of delight for youngsters and elders alike. It’s a fantastic hobby that dates back many decades. A well-made model car is as good as the real item.

However building one can seem confusing to a new hobbyist and with the following guide building a model car is easy as putting your foot on the gas.

Tip 1: Research the Model and Skill Level.

  • The exciting part of building a model car is picking the car the hobbyist wishes to make. But there is the important matter of picking the skill level that is appropriate for the hobbyist. For a total beginner a kit with fewer pieces is the best way to start.
  • There are very simple kits which won’t even need glue as the plastic pieces will clip together. For a hobbyist with more experience in assembling smaller pieces an intermediate kit will be perfect.
  • The range of model car kits are not strictly defined as ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’, they can vary so it is always best to read the packaging or eBay listing to ensure the kit is right for the hobbyist.

Tip 2: Prepare the Work Space

An old table or desk would be ideal as models are often painted and put together with glue. If an old piece of furniture is not available then cover the area with a few sheets of newspaper to prevent the work surface from staining. Good light is helpful so either have the workspace in a well lit room or make use of daylight bulbs in lamps.

  • Here is a list of basic but handy tools to help with building a model car, these tools should be at hand and knives stored carefully with a lid on after use.
  • Craft or hobby knife-these are used to sculpt and remove the plastic pieces from the frames.
  • Glue-different types may be needed but the basic plastic cement is the most common one to use.
  • Metal ruler- good for cutting a straight edge and also measuring parts to ensure the car is symmetrical.
  • Tweezers- these help for positioning the smaller bits in the kit and for picking them up without damaging the plastic.
  • Magnifying glass- this can help with painting some of the smaller details on the car or for fixing the smaller pieces into the right place. Some magnifying glasses come with ‘arms’ that can grip the model piece and allow the hobbyist to work with both hands which is advantageous for fiddly pieces.
  • Small file- a fine grade file is good for removing finer bits of plastic and rough surfaces.

Tip 3: Prepare the Plastic

For this stage the user will need to lay out all the pieces and then read the instructions carefully. Prepping the plastic is a vital part of the process as there is often residue left on the plastic from the factory process. This can impact the painting process and also if the car model kit is old there may be dust on it due to its age.

· Take some warm, soapy water and place plastic parts in the bowl. Wash the pieces gently then let air dry. Take an old hairdryer and dry the pieces on a cool setting from a distance so the heat of the hairdryer does not warp the plastic.

Take a hobby knife and then gently remove the plastic pieces from the plastic frame. Use the tip of the hobby knife to get rid of excess plastic pins. Use a fine grade file to rub away any imperfections.

Tip 4: Fit Together before Gluing

Take the pieces, and following the instructions piece them together to see how the edges fit. If the edges overlap then carefully file away any excess. Apply the glue then hold the pieces together for 30 seconds. Glue together the larger pieces and allow to dry overnight.

Rubber bands are useful for holding pieces together overnight to ensure that the pieces dry together and don’t collapse. Clothes pins with a soft grip are also invaluable for holding larger pieces together.

Tip 5: Paint Carefully

It’s best to choose the colours carefully before applying to the plastic pieces. Take the paints and mix them carefully to ensure that the colour is even throughout the paint. Test the colours on a scrap piece of plastic to see how it dries. If unsatisfactory then mix the paint to the desired shade.

Before painting with the main colours a priming layer is needed for the model. Tinned spray paint is ideal but when applying the primer coat ensure the area is well ventilated and the workspace is covered with newspaper. Ideally use spray paint outside. Let the pieces dry properly then begin painting the smaller pieces such as the detailed seats and wheels. The larger pieces can be glued together than painted, but this can depend on the hobbyist’s preference.

Use good quality, fine brushes for the detail work and always allow the paint to dry between coats. A good tip is to make sure hands are always clean and dry as the oils from the skin can sometimes affect how well the paint goes onto the model.

Handy Tip: For some models rub the surface very lightly with fine sandpaper, this can help the paint to stick to the surface more evenly.

Tip 6: Applying Decals

Decals are little details or emblems that are soaked in water before placing carefully on the model. They make great additions and make the model look more realistic. Applying a decal may seem easy at first but if not done carefully it can end up in the wrong place.

  • The model should be left to dry for 24 hours before applying can decal. Clean the area where the decal will go, a little soapy water will work fine.
  • Cut out the decal and let it soak in water until it can be moved very gently with the tip of a brush.
  • Take a fine pair of tweezers and lift the decal onto the model. Hold the base paper with one hand, gently hold the decal on the model and then slide the paper base slowly away from the decal. This will prevent the decal from being torn.
  • There are likely to be some air bubbles under the decal. Take a dry, wide brush and carefully brush away the bubbles from the centre outwards.
  • Seal the decal with a clear coat of paint.

How to Buy a Model Car Kit On eBay

To begin looking for the perfect model car kit go to the eBay homepage The first option is to type ‘Model Car Kit’ into the search bar to see what general listings come up. The second option is more precise: go to Toys & Games and then Model Kits..

The main types of model can be searched for as well famous names like Porsche or Lotus. The scale of the model can be searched for as well by using the sub category. There are subcategories such as scale which range from 1:16 and to 1:43. Choosing a brand is also another way to search out for model car kits such as Airfix or Tamiya.

The condition of the item can be searched; this is easily achieved by simply clicking on one of the options at any stage in searching, such as looking for used ‘Model Car Kit’. If however looking through the various subtypes is not ideal, then using specific search terms in the home portal, a variety of listings can be searched for example ‘New Porches Model Car Kit’ or ‘Vintage Model Car Kit’.

Many of the kits will be made of plastic and therefore quite light, so the postage will be reasonable. Heavier models made of metal may cost more but are still worth while having posted due to convenience. Larger models may require picking up, but this is at the discretion of the seller on eBay.

Buying through eBay is usually done through two means:

  • Bidding
  • ‘Buy it now’

Bidding is a fantastic way of buying on eBay, as the buyer can chose not to go above a certain limit. ‘Buy it now’ options are great ways of securing an item without the worry of losing out on a bit. Once the desired Model Car has been bought the payment process can start. PayPal is a safe way of paying as it offers protection for the buyer.


There is great advantage to buying a model car kit eBay; there is no need for travel to view an amazing range of model cars for all ages and abilities. The hobbyist’s personal budget and preferences can be found easily, there is no need to spend much money on pursuing such a rewarding hobby. Vintage model kits can be found on eBay as well, and these are often very collectable items.

Everything the model car collecting hobbyist needs is on eBay, from the brushes to the extra detailed decals. The range of model cars available on eBay is always changing, and a variety of payment options makes a purchasing decision that bit easier for the hobbyist, whether beginner or experienced.

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