Used Model Kit Buying Guide

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Used Model Kit Buying Guide

There are many types of used model kits available to buy online, from military aircraft, boats and cars to monsters, rockets and superhero models. eBay is a great place to hunt for rare or unusual used model kits, as many of the listings are for used kits in excellent condition, whether purchasing as a collector's item or for a children's toy.

Model kits are popular with children and adults of all ages. Although originally designed as a ‘toy for boys’, they are now also very popular with girls. Models can be made from a variety of materials including wood, metal and plastic, with plastic kits being extremely popular today amongst hobbyists of all ages. Many of the more specialist kits take days or weeks of work to assemble and require the use of specialist tools, cements and paints to finish the model

Types of Kits and Construction Methods

Plastic model kits first came into existence in 1936 and were manufactured in the UK by 'Frog'.  During the 1950s and 1960s, American manufacturers started to mass-produce plastic model kits, and some of these are valuable collector's items today, available on websites such as eBay.

There are three variations in the types of construction that can be undertaken with kits:

Type of Construction



This method of construction uses a kit as a starting point and the model is then modified into something else. Filing, sawing and adding pieces can turn one model kit into another.

Scratch Building

This is where a model is created from scratch rather than using a kit. Genuine scratch-built models use hand-assembled parts, but some hobbyists do use parts from kits to complement hand crafted parts. Truly handmade scratch-built models are rare.


This is similar to scratch-building but involves taking pieces from various kits and combining them to make a new model.

Wooden Model Kits

Wooden model kits have been around for a lot longer than plastic kits and are a particularly popular option with hobbyists. On eBay there are used wooden model kits and matchstick kits across a variety of styles, from helicopters and cars to animals. This type of kit is particularly satisfying to finish as it can be left as is for a natural appearance, or painted depending on the look required. Brands such as Billing, Humbrol and Keil Kraft are popular choices, and wooden model kits can be equally as durable as plastic ones, making them an excellent investment for collectors.


When purchasing used model kits on websites such as eBay, it is also possible to purchase used or rare decals for kits dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. Browsing through the selection of decals available brings up listings of assorted decals, as well as packages relating to specific model kits. For collectors, this is particularly valuable, as decals are often the first area of a model to age and become damaged.  It is easy to buy replacement decals for most model kits online.

Choosing the Right Size of Model Kit

Model kits are sold in various sizes or scales.  On websites such as eBay, most scales can be found, from 1:8 to 1:144. Some popular modelling scales are listed below:


1 inch Equals

Type of Models Commonly Using Scale



Aircraft and steam trains



Cars, motorcycles and trains



Cars, motorcycles and dollhouses



Cars, motorcycles and trains






Cars, trucks and dollhouses



Aircraft, cars and No 1 scale trains






Cars and trucks



Aircraft and O scale trains



Aircraft, armour and boats






Armour, HO scale trains




Scale conversion kits and tables can be found online and it can be helpful to utilise a scale drawing when constructing a model using a kit.

Military Model Kits

Military model kits are a popular choice and kits can be found for model aircraft including helicopters and fighter jets, tanks and boats as well as military model figurines such as paratroopers. When choosing a used military model kit, it is important to study the product description carefully, particularly if purchasing from an online auction site such as eBay.

Some used model kits will come with everything included such as figurines and the original decals, and will be mint condition in box, whereas other kits may have items or parts that are either missing or damaged. It is easy to find used model kits in good condition as many have been well looked after by collectors who are now looking to sell their kits on to a good home. One of the most popular brands of military model kits available today is Tamiya.

Tamiya Model Kits

Tamiya is a Japanese manufacturer that is rated highly by professional hobbyists and those passionate about high quality military model kits. Their 1/35 Military Miniatures Series is one of their best-selling ranges and features World War II vehicles and figures from armies worldwide. The level of attention to detail is clear to see, with even the expressions on the figures’ faces and the tiny details on the tanks copied from photographs and museum artefacts for authenticity. The 1/35 Military Miniatures Series includes the following plastic model tank kits:

Kit Number

Kit Name


German PanzerKampfWagen II


German Hanomag


British Infantry Tank


German Kettenkraftrad


US Light Tank M3


US M41 Walker Bulldog

Car Model Kits

Used model car kits are available to buy online, on websites such as eBay and prices are competitive. Model car kits are available from a range of manufacturers and cover modern vehicles such as Ferraris and Citroens, as well as retro vehicles from a Corvette to a Triumph.

Car model kits are a popular choice for children of all ages and leading manufacturers such as Revell can be found online. Whilst model car kits were initially marketed as toys for children, during the 1940s they started to become popular with adult collectors and hobbyists too, who have made up a significant part of the market since the 1980s. The first model car kits were wooden and manufactured by Ace and Berkley.

Today model car kits can benefit from the latest technology and materials and many kits feature photo-etched details, wiring for engines, and adhesive foil to simulate chrome trim for a realistic finish. It is not uncommon for hobbyists to power their model vehicles by using engines, rubber bands or springs. However, serious model makers consider any car that has power to be a toy rather than a model.

Used Model Kits for Collectors

Used model kits are even more valuable to collectors than brand new kits. On sites such as eBay, used kits can date back to the 1930s and 1940s and are often sold in mint in mint box condition, meaning that they can be kept this way as an investment for collectors and then re-sold in the future. Some collectors prefer to assemble their models and their passion is for the finished article rather than the boxed kit itself. It is easy to find rare kits online by searching on websites such as eBay and kits vary in price from a few pounds to many hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Choosing Age Appropriate Model Kits

It is important to select a used model kit that is age appropriate for the child in question, and most kits listed on eBay will mention the age range in the product description. If this is not listed, then it is worthwhile checking on manufacturer’s websites or Google for a suggested age range, as many model kits contain small parts, toxic paints or sharp tools and so may be unsuitable for younger children. 

Smaller children should always be supervised and assisted when assembling models, and never left alone with tools or paints which could cause injury or illness.  Simpler model kits on a larger scale are ideal for young children and require minimal assembly. Adults can assist with finishing the model, for example, painting and applying any decals. Older children and hobbyists will enjoy more complex model kits such as military aircraft with detailed sections and those kits that require tools to assemble.

How to Buy Used Model Kits on eBay

The easiest way to buy Used Model Kits is to browse on eBay. Visit eBay and go to the drop-down menu of categories, which you will find at the top of the page. Select Toys and Gamesand this will open up a list of sub-categories. Click on Model Kits, or click on More categories and select the type of kit, for example Wooden and Matchstick Kits. Then in the left hand side bar is a list of search terms under the heading ‘Condition’. Click on Used and all the currently available used model kits will be listed.

A search can be narrowed even further by selecting the type of model kit (for example, aircraft or cars) and then selecting a subtype such as decals or paints. In the left-hand side bar there is an option for choosing the scale of model kit required, as well as options for choosing a specific brand such as Airfix.

There are many types of used model kits available and using a specific term to search can help in finding the correct kit. Just type the words related to the item, such as ‘Airfix Vintage Model Kit’ into the main search box. For further tips on how to search eBay, go to their Search Tips page.


Model kits are as popular with collectors and hobbyists as they are with children of all ages. Used model kits can be found easily online on websites such as eBay and it is possible to find a bargain with rare and vintage sets often available for sale at competitive prices. Model kits make a great choice for children to explore their creativity and enhance motor skills, as well as teaching them the value of patience and attention to detail. Some of the more complex kits can take weeks to complete and time is needed to ensure that the model is assembled accurately.

With so many different types of used model kits available, from military aircraft and cars to motorcycles and kits that tie in with film releases, there is something to suit even the most experienced hobbyist. eBay is a great place to begin searching for the perfect used model kit, with a wide range of options available to choose from such as the brand, scale and material of the model. Model kits will continue to be popular with all ages, whether as a collector’s item or as a children’s toy.

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