Learning Scale Modeling the Kit-Bash Way

Beginners in the world of scale modeling would mostly purchase a kit and work on it by following the instructions provided. Putting together some tiny parts and going through the most difficult assemblies often requires patience and a keen eye that’s able to find a way when the layout guide fails to do its job.

As you build more and more models, your confidence and skill will also move up to the next level to the point that you no longer want to stay inside the box. Yes! You will certainly reach the point where you want to “kit-bash” or combine different kit components into a beautifully unique scale model masterpiece.

Kit-bashing is even more enjoyable if you’ve got some spare parts that’s been piling up over the years as you work on more and more projects. In this article, we’re going to give you some tips for achieving success on this kind of scale modeling approach.

Planning is Crucial

As the famous adage puts it, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Kit-bashing may sound like it doesn’t need any planning but the opposite is actually true. Without a work plan, your scale model is destined to fail so before starting, it’s good to have a clear idea on what you really want to achieve.

Take time to brainstorm or even grab ideas from existing pieces that match the spare parts which you already have. Do this until you feel content of the idea or concept that you have in mind. Once you have a clear idea of the direction that you want to take, the next crucial step is thinking out how you can get there.

Break up the whole project into small systemized steps and pieces to make things easier to complete. For instance, if you want to create a unique starship, you’ll need to think what materials to use on its wings, its main body, and even its landing gears. What material will you use on the cockpit? What design will it take? By dividing the project into smaller workable segments, it becomes easier to find the materials and tools needed to complete every part. It’s just like building a regular model kit but the difference is it’s you who’s in charge of what to build in every step.

Looking for the Pieces Needed

If you’re a veteran scale modeler then you would most likely have a pile of spare parts from the different projects that you’ve already completed in the past. However, if you’re new to scale modeling then you’ll find much-needed parts from friends and fellow scale modelers out there. List down the parts that you need then take time to find the best sources online. Gather as many parts as possible before starting.

Once you have the parts, be sure to store them in an organized manner keeping them in easy-to-manage containers that are labeled accordingly to the parts that you’re planning to use them for. Add random parts that you find so you have plenty more space for creativity through repurposing.

Start Simple

Now that you have the parts ready for assembling, it is time to start employing your own magic. It doesn’t need to look complex or use some advanced materials at first. Use transparent tape or blue tack to get the pieces together for a start and see if they look great together. It won’t be perfect right away and you need to do some experimentation in order to find the best combination in terms of mechanism and structure. Avoid gluing parts together if you don’t have a sure 100% vision yet of what you really want to build.

Cut Unwanted Parts

Since you are building a scale model out of spare parts from model kits, you will notice that most if not all the parts don’t fit together perfectly. This is where you can use the tools that you have and start shaping parts so they perfectly fit to form the desired result. Follow the plan you’ve created and make ways to cut and sand away unwanted areas that prevent certain parts from joining perfectly. This stage sometimes requires cutting off certain parts that look really cool.

Test Before Sticking and Filling

After repurposing the parts, it is time to test fit every single one of them to see if they form the intended shape. You can use transparent tape at this stage to hold things in place temporarily. Move and adjust positions as needed. Once you’re happy with the appearance and overall fit, that’s the only time you can start applying glue.

Only stick together parts that you’re sure and happy about in terms of appearance and fit. After things are bonded together, it is time to fill in the gaps that are left using putty, filler or even plastic glue. Fill each gap applying slight pressure using your finger if needed then wipe away any excess to avoid unwanted lumps and ugly marks.

Detailing and Finishing Your Masterpiece

After going through the steps detailed above and you finally have all the pieces together, you should be able to see what you have envisioned from the start. But there’s a final step that will make your masterpiece shine. Adding a few more details and parts or even applying paint on areas that look quite barren.

Take some pictures of it from every angle and see if there are certain parts that need to be enhanced or details that need to be toned down. Tweak it to your liking until you’re satisfied with its overall looks. Show it to people who have the same hobby and solicit ideas. You’ll surely be able to make use of some tips and ideas especially from those who are experienced with the craft.

 

About the Author: Adam Bailey

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